Monday, April 26, 2010

Just a Sunday in Honduras

Hey guys, I´m trying to get a better feel to my blog with more stories and less reporting, thanks to some other blogs I read and have been inspired by.  I guess that´s my writing style though, one of my old teachers called my style "folksy."  Whatev...

Yesterday 11 of us took a trip out to the Painted Caves, as they´re called in my friend´s Lonely Planet.  It´s probably about a half hour drive if you have a car.  We don´t.  First you wait for one of those old school buses in the town center to roll by.  Then you wait as it passes through town and people will make it stop every 100 feet to get on instead of there being a bus stop.  (Even our Honduran teachers have said Hondurans are lazy when it comes to that, but I´m just saying make your own conclusions!)  So we hop on the school bus which has been pimped out with some air brushed paint all over the inside roof featuring an American flag and a Confederate flag, with the loudest sound system ever blasting 90´s rap and hip hop.  In our short ride we heard Bone Thugs N Harmony, old skool Dre and Snoop and even some that I didn´t recognize.  Now, mind you 11 gringos hopping on the bus causes quite a few looks.  Imagine what happens when at least 3 of those gringos start singing along with all this music quite loudly.  Yes...it really was hilarious and yes, Hondurans have NO SHAME in staring, so we were watched pretty much the whole ride.

Once we got to La Cruce, which is the Central American highway 5 towards Teguz or the South we hopped off the bus and started walking towards the caves.  According to one friend who had been shown the way they were only about a mile down the road.  Well, we started walking and 20 minutes later, we still hadn´t gotten to the point to enter the caves.  She said it seems a lot closer when you´re in the car with our director who drives about 100mph.  Anyway, at that momemt a nice Honduran gentleman stopped and offered us a jalon, which is a free ride.  Four of the guys jumped in front of the twin cab pick-up and the other seven of us piled into the bed.  Yes, it´s not the safest thing, but it´s probably the most common way to travel around down here and when you make about $3 a day, you do what you gotta do to save money. 

Once at the site of the caves there was some confusion on which trail to follow.  Our director had said always stay right, yet the group of Hondurans we passed had said to go left.  After wandering about (no, we weren´t lost!) for maybe half hour we all decided to stop and have lunch.  I feasted on the amazingness that my dad had sent me in my last care package.  Salmon from a pouch on Tabasco Cheez-Its.  Yes, it was amazaing and one of the best things I´ve eaten since being down here!  After refueling we made a game plan to split up (insert scary movie reference here) and try to find something.  Luckily, one guy encountered a Honduran who showed him the caves and then he was able to show us. 

The caves were greatly underwhelming.  They were more like big holes in the side of the mountain.  Despite the disappointment, it was still really fun to get out and do something.  We did find one cave that went back maybe a couple hundred feet only to dead in and it was quite small so we had to do the duck walk all the way down...and yes Mom, you would have freaked out! :)  It was dark and those of us who brought our headlamps-flashlights got gold stars!

Post caving we got a few more jalons and didn´t take a single bus.  We got dropped off closer to Santa Ana, which is the town just before Ojojona and did have to walk that little strectch, but it was well worth it when we were followed by the conos van.  That´s the Honduran version of the ice cream man.  Here it´s this really sketchy van, where one guy sits in the back and scoops cones from a big ice chest while his friend (aka co-worker) drives.  It´s only 6Lps for a double scoop, neopalitin cone of goodness which is about $0.50.  It´s definitely one of the most amazing things Honduras has to offer.

We proceeded into town to stop at Don Ricardo´s house, who is probably the richest guy in Ojojona and he lets us chill at his house most weekends.  More on him and his house later...

After a stint at the Don´s we went to the circus that´s in town for 25Lps ($2.25).  It was ok.  The clowns were more of a comedy act and they talked really fast.  I think I got maybe 30% of it.  The "ballerinas" were basically girls dancing like girls would dance slutty at a club in nothing more than a bra and boy shorts.  It seemed quite inappropiate for the number of young kids there.  The oddest thing would be the circus mascot of a buzzard which flys-hops around uncoltrolled during the show.  He spent most of one clown act attacking them, which in itself was more annoying than funny.  I do have to give props to go woman who did some Cirque du Solei type stuff on a metal ladder to Hotel California by The Eagles.  It was the most interesting.

So, there you go guys.  I hope this is a little better chance to see what I do in some down time instead of the previous boring recap of what school type stuff I did in three weeks time!  Next Wednesday, May 5, we find out what our sites will be, so everyone keep your fingers crossed for something good and pray it´s somewhere I´ll be able to do good work in two year´s time!  Thanks for reading!

Hasta la proxima vez...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Quite possibly the only post for April...

Wow, what happened in the past 23 days?!  I know things have been super busy down here being in class from 7:30AM - 5:00PM every day, taking overnight trips to learn about tourism in Honduras and in two days: hearing a four hour HIV/AIDS charla, having four hours to prepare to give charla and then the next day having another four hours to give the charla to another group.  In the meantime, the first free month of time on my modem expired and on these pay as you go systems, it's not the easiest thing to get money on.  Besides that the version of Microsoft Office I had expired, which took my Word with it.  (I usually type my blogs out first and then copy and paste them to the Internet.)  So, as you can see there are bastante reasons that I haven't had time/been able to/felt like posting any blogs.  I'm going to try my best to tell you what you need to know and sum up the past 23 days at the same time.  ¡Suerte!

To start the month off we had some time off from classes for Holy Week/Easter.  Like most Latin countries it's a mostly Catholic country and there are processions and old school practices galore.  The thing here is making alfombras, basically rugs made from sawdust of different colors.  I didn't learn the history behind it, but it's quite involved and intricate work.  Myself and some others helped make a few on Good Friday.  Here's some pictures:


After Holy Week and some time off it was back to work.  That week was Business Plan week.  We shadowed a business Monday, did a little learning Tuesday, went back to check in with the business on Wednesday and then we had until Friday to turn in an 8+ page business plan with about a 15 min. presentation included.  These were individual projects.  My business was a restaurant but turned out to be the restaurant/pulperia because I had a hard time tracking down the restaurant owner.  Kinda typical I think.  We're seeing that most people don't take business ownership very seriously down here.  Our work is definitely cut out for us.

Post Business Plan week we got to take a more in depth look at tourism in Honduras.  It was definitely the best week thus far!  Naturally, with my background I'm interested in tourism and it's got huge potential to do major things for this Honduran economy.  To get the full experience of the tourism market we took an overnight trip and got to camp on the beach on the southwestern side of the country.  It was quite warm...ok straight up HOT, but besides that it was a great trip!  Here's some pix:
(I take that back.)  This is slower than dial-up and I just waited about half hour to have not a single picture upload.  Moving on...

After the tourism week we are up to date with this week.  This week we had some classes on micro-finances here in Honduras and also got the HIV/AIDS charla like I mentioned at the beginning.  We got the charla Wednesday from some current PC volunteers.  Wednesday afternoon we were broken into groups and had time to prepare to give the charla ourselves.  Thursday we gave the charla to a group of kids who may or may not have been interested.  It was an interesting experience to say the least.  HIV/AIDS is something I personally don't worry about and part of the reason I told my PC recruiter that I didn't want to go to Africa.  It's a huge problem I realize, but it's not my problem, nor area of expertise.  Luckily, as Business Advisers we don't have to give this charla later on down the road unless we want to, so I may not be dealing with this material again.

So, here and now I'm sure everyone would like some more "meat" to this, but I'm about ready to pass out I'm so tired.  It's nearly 2AM and the last time I was up this late may have been New Year's...  Thanks for reading and I'll try to do better from here on out, now that I know the drill of getting some money put on my modem.

Hasta la proxima vez...