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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