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Skipping Christmas

There is a wide range of people who read our blog – information-hungry Peace Corps hopefuls awaiting invitations and departure dates, former co-workers and acquaintances, random folks with an interest in Honduras, and of course our families and friends.  Those in the last category most likely already know the latest news but for those who don’t, here is a short summary.

Recently, there have been some major shake ups in Peace Corps Honduras that will affect not only David and I (and the other 156 volunteers in country) but also all of the projects we’ve been working on for the past 20 months.  In short, due to the rising incidents of violent crime in Central America, specifically Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Peace Corps has decided to cancel incoming training classes to these three countries.  In addition, PC operations in Honduras are being suspended for the time being until the program can be reviewed and additional safety measures can be put into place.

While this program review is taking place, all 158 PC Honduras volunteers will be sent home to the States and placed under an Administrative Hold.  Currently, we are on Standfast (in Honduras) and must remain in our sites.   In about two weeks we will pack up all of our belongings, say goodbye to Trinidad, and head to a PC conference where staff from PC Washington will be present.  After the conference we will board a plane and head home to NC.

There is still hope that the newer volunteer classes may be allowed to return to Honduras to complete their service but nothing is for certain.  As for our training group (H16) who were scheduled to finish in April/May, this appears to be the end of the road.

This information began slowly trickling in while we were still on our work trip in Copán.  David and I did a lot of talking about the “what if’s” especially regarding our upcoming (at the time) trip home for Christmas.  After we found out that all volunteers were to be removed in mid-January, we made the difficult decision to cancel our trip home for Christmas.  Of course we wanted to be with our family and friends and had been looking forward to the trip for months but we felt it was important to spend our last few weeks in country settling our affairs and saying goodbye to our friends.

It never quite felt like Christmas to me, maybe it was the fact that we were still wearing shorts and t-shirts or that the mosquitoes were out like never before.  But we did get to enjoy the holiday lights and various decorated trees set up in town as well as a Christmas Eve tamale dinner with our closest friends.

Christmas "tree". Actually a metal teepee with Spanish moss all over it

There were no stockings this year but we did find some little stuffers around town – chocolate coins, sparklers, and some snap ‘n’ pops that were more like miniature explosives (which we found out after David “popped” one in the house).

Stocking stuffers

We will continue blogging including some more thoughts on our service as we draw near to its premature end.  Until then, we hope you all are thoroughly enjoying the Holiday season!

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Los perdidos

We hope to have new posts up at the end of next week.  We’ve been out of town and/or busy and unable to post… Sorry!

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More Tulito Pics

 

Rodman Mario

Tiniest helpers

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New Posts Coming Soon

We’re taking a little time off this week…

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Cruisers

New shoes

Not an FJ but sweet anyway

Red Cross Cruiser

Peace Corps Cruiser

In the shop

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Quick Update

We’ve been out of town for a bit meeting with NGOs in another part of Honduras trying to bring their support and funds to our region. We’ll get a full blog up (or two or three) next week describing our efforts!

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I’ve been a little anxious lately.  Although I think it’s the status-quo for new PCVs, I haven’t been very busy with work.  I’ve been patient, waiting for my work partners to start sending some work my way, but in the meantime, I’ve been looking into starting projects of my own.

I did some research at the Cruz Roja here in Trinidad (Kristi’s work partners) and using their files of the communities they service, I was able to pinpoint two communities in a neighboring municipality, Petoa, that lack potable water systems and sufficient human waste disposal (very few latrines in poor shape).  The Cruz Roja health promoter that works in this area, JC, also runs a local sporting goods store that sells fútbol equipment and sweet jerseys.  Over a business transaction (me buying a phatty “Marathon” jersey, which is a team from San Pedro) JC and I agreed to take a trip out to these two communities, La Fragoza and Agua Sarca to talk with the community leaders.

The ride was pretty rough but allowed for some amazing views of the surrounding terrain.  I was unable to stop for photos but the next time I go I’ll be sure to get a few.  The two communities are neighbors, roughly, and sit at about 800 meters (2,600 feet) elevation at basically the top of this particular mountain chain.  The area is very remote and each community could benefit from a water system (although they do at least have electricity).  They currently bring water by rubber hose or bucket to the houses, a very labor intensive and time consuming process.  The houses are spread out which may be a challenge if the projects progress as I hope they will.  The more spread out the houses, the more materials will be required to hook everyone up.  Also, there are very few latrines and those that exist are poorly maintained.  These communities may also benefit from latrine projects and maintenance charlas in addition to potable water projects.

Coincidentally, this areas happened to be the exact same area that Kristi and I visited a while back.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit our pig friend who we spent some quality time with last visit.

The community leaders, or “patronatos”, granted us meetings in each community where I, with some help from JC, gathered information about their current water/sanitation situation, community motivation, potential water sources, etc.  We discussed the many difficulties that may arise with respect to funding (or lack thereof) and the need to be patient and understand that these are community projects which will require sacrifices from every community member during the design, construction, and after construction to make the projects sustainable.  We were sure to let them know that no promises were being made that day, but that we would talk to the mayor of their municipality and with CRA and hopefully return within the month to do a study on their potential water sources (springs).

The communities were grateful for our visit and I am very excited about the possibility of working with them in the future.  The area is beautiful, surrounded by coffee farms and forests.  I can’t wait to go back as soon as possible.

Posted below are some pics of a strange sight in La Fragoza.  Next to this very simple, relatively poor community was a walled, gated piece of property owned by a lawyer from San Pedro for reunions and vacation.  A gardener allowed us inside to check it out.  It’s crazy to see such sweet digs right next to a community that lacks so much.

And one more pic… We found this guy late one night right before bed.  It took Kris a while to finally fall asleep.

So big, so fast, yet he still couldn't get out of the sink, now he's dead...

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