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Something needs to be said for life’s small victories.  I recently had quite a big-small one.  After scouring two grocery stores (that term is used with quite a bit of liberty), visiting the local market and bartering with a neighbor for some eggs I managed to coble together the ingredients to make pancakes from scratch.

Over the last month or so I moved into my own apartment, assisted with the construction of a champa, walked in my town parade and drank copious amounts of chicha.

When you join the Peace Corps you agree to stay with a host family, whether you know it or not, for a fair amount of time.  In Honduras, it’s 5 months, 3 during training and 2 in your site.  I have lived with three separate and very different families.  All of them were great but eventually every bird needs to leave the nest, especially a 28-year-old one.

Looking for an apartment/home here is not quite like what you’re used to.  It’s more akin to solving a crime than anything else.  You go off of evidence, large patches of unstained concrete shaped like spent volcanoes – this is a good sign, this means that concrete was recently being mixed in the area and you may be in the immediate proximity of a new or remodeled habitation, rumors, “well so and so has a brother who has a friend that might have an apartment for rent in the center of town” or every once you stumble across the Golden Ticket for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and find an actual for rent sign with the proprietors number attached.  After being dragged around town for more or less six weekends, in something I can only relate to the Batten Death March I ended up deciding to move into the second place I looked at but that’s just fate I guess.  The proprietors were nice enough to donate a fridge, bed and some miscellaneous furniture until I have the time to build my own.

The town of Gracias just got through celebrating Dia de Lempira.  This fair takes place on July 20th every year and celebrates Lempira’s last stand against the Spanish Conquistadors.  During this weeklong celebration there are 3 parades (that I counted), a miss india bonita contest, a visit by a Honduran orchestra and a reenactment of Lempira being cornered and shot by the Spanish.

My coworkers were very enthusiastic about me participating in the final and biggest parade with them and the rest of the students from the school.  This was something that I wanted to avoid not because I don’t like getting up early and walking 2 miles very slowly but because I wanted to avoid being the only Gringo in the town parade, something that I was sure would draw ridicule and humiliation.  To my surprise, I made it through the entire thing without being called a Gringo or having anything thrown at me.  At the end of the parade just before I was about to turn and head back to my house for a much-needed shower I was invited by a co-worker to try chicha.

The drink is something that I can only compare to moonshine.  From my understanding it can come from either corn or pineapple.  Instructions: take some corn or pineapple combine with water and sugar put the concoction in a jar close the lid and wait.  The time you wait depends upon your desired level of intoxication.  Thinking of serving this delectable treat at a holiday party, might want to play it a bit safe and uncork at around 7 days.  Looking to burn the house down and wake up in a ditch wearing nothing but a woman’s blouse?  In that case you should give yourself about two weeks worth of lead-time.  Judging from the burning sensation in my mouth, throat and stomach after ingestion I would say I was drinking something closer to the latter.  There is nothing more refreshing after a two-mile long procession than a glass of room temperature chicha that is unless you have the good fortune to have four. In anticipation for the mind-altering punishment that I knew I was in store for after ingestion I did a Fairbanks Shuffle and disappeared.  The river rock streets, which are normally nothing but an inconvenience, become infinitely more difficult to navigate when you are doing the drunken walk that can best be described as being pulled by an invisible leash because your head seems to lead and your body seems to follow, reluctantly, as if there is a delay in between the intention and the firing of neurons in your brain that gives the instructions to your body to move.  Luckily, I did make it home before the clothes came off…..

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“No sir….. You accept it. Life’s a wild ride buddy. Not enough time here on earth to stay bitter about anyone’s actions.”

-Jacob S. pontificating at a bar somewhere in Boston at approximately 10am on a Thursday.

I have learned that life is an experience best viewed from a distance and preferably with a good cup of coffee. I say this while sitting in a hammock a 1,000+ miles from home, reflecting on an action taken the other day that would have tied me up in knots for days if the reaction of my action had any perceived concreteness even with the excellent, borderline philosophical, advise above. I will not bore you with the actual event, partly out of my own personal embarrassment for letting something like it trip me up in the past and partly because it serves no broader purpose in this post.

I have started to sense a growing amount of distance and space from the life that I had. What I have now is a surreal focus on the immediate. I have started to see problems and perceived solutions with clarity that my life has lacked up until this point. It is not that I have become smarter or that things have become easier. The noise has been reduced, considerably – the only handicap that I seem to have now is an incessant urge to check Facebook, a need that I hope fades with time.

Friends and bonds formed have been reduced to one of two things; a valuable connection: someone communicated with on a regular basis or on the other hand someone whose friendship was in a sense, a trophy of my popularity. It seems that my communications have a purpose or rather have to have a purpose, as there are very few concrete tangible things one can receive from a phone call or an email.

I have virtually stopped watching television as well. I understand the gist of most programs and can usually follow the plot but it turns out I am not the biggest fan of Dona Barbara or most of the other telenovelas, which blare into your conscience whenever the television is turned on. I have stayed connected to the world with The Financial Times, which is delivered to my Kindle (your welcome for the plug Amazon) and have found that at times, even this can be information overload but how else would I get priceless quotes like “ass to kick” from my President or follow up on the much rushed and sure to be faulty financial reform bill (people should run from or better yet write their representatives about anything named The Dodd-Frank Bill).

Graduate School, a goal I had set to achieve shortly after entering the working world has also been called into serious question.* Replacing it are goals, scary ones at that, of pursuing a life that’s rewards are pure unadulterated enjoyment.

As far as changes here I can’t say that there have been many. Some notable ones are that I will be moving into my own apartment in a week. I found a store that vends beer for the equivalent of $.52 as long as you return the bottles and that work is becoming a little bit easier each day.

*Don’t worry Karen, I still plan on going and I know that you think my life has been about pure unadulterated enjoyment.