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With my inevitable, albeit temporary, return to the greatest country on earth, otherwise known as the United States of America, looming I have started have started to reflect back on the last nine months I have spent here in Honduras. Below are some things that I am thankful for, most of which my friends and family will find utterly surprising.

Thank you Peace Corps/Honduras for the following:

Introducing me to a new breed of people, the do-gooders. Until coming to Honduras I was convinced, as I believe Charles Darwin would have been, that these people couldn’t exist, as natural selection would have taken care of them. Since coming here I have met a mountain of them and as their name suggests, they are just out to help people other than themselves, which is a mind blowing concept for someone as self-centered as I am. This experience has also opened my eyes to possible career paths, think Republican Party strategist.  I am not and don’t claim to be a Republican but I do understand their mortal enemy a lot better than most people.

Making me sit on a bus for at least eight hours every month. There is nothing like sitting on a bus for an extended period of time to prompt some deep self-actualization. The second part, and coincidentally least publicized, is the fact that you will be spending this journey with a very interesting cross section of people and likely in a very uncomfortable situation.  The other day I stood for a three hour bus trip smashed up against a not attractive nursing women and a man that had not taken a shower and/or bothered to put on deodorant for at least three days.  Was I bothered?  Nope.  I just stared out of the window and thought about…. well I suppose I forgot but I remember it being important. These challenging times have built up my capacity for patience and tolerance of people different than myself to levels never seen before.

Teaching me, or rather forcing me, to learn Spanish and making me adjust to another culture. ¿Usted tiene frío?  Hearing that sentence nine months ago put me into cold sweats, as I would have had no idea what was being said to me.  Now it just makes me laugh because this country, barring a few places, is hot as shit.  I also remember arriving nine months ago and being greeted with English speaking Peace Corps staff and Pizza Hut pizza, which was a horrible trick as dinner was in Spanish, like a telenovela that you can’t turn off, and accompanied with fried bananas and mantiquilla (a strange sour/sweet derivative of butter?).  Now a meal doesn’t feel complete without either and my xenophobia has been dialed down to levels most people would find tolerable.

Making me a patriot. If you don’t think – I am assuming that my entire audience is from the United States – that you live in the greatest country on Earth you should leave, literally.  I hear that Iraq is accepting applications for citizenship.

Things I could do without:

Roosters. Roosters do not sound like the wind up storybook barnyard animals of your youth; they sound like a cross between the screeches of a cat in heat and the screams of a dying person.  Also, contrary to popular belief they do not crow at dawn, they crow at every hour but, including but not limited to 2.30a, 3.15a, and 4.45a.

The deeply ingrained Honduran belief that corn tortillas are vital to every meal and the accompanying grief that you will get for not eating them. No explanation needed.

Honduran Slang. There is nothing like the healthy addition of some caliche, Honduran for slang, to make an otherwise perfectly understandable sentence completely incoherent to a non-native speaker.  ¿Que pija es esa chava? or ¿Te gusta chupar pollo? I won’t enlighten you as to what either of those means as this is something best learned the hard way and I imagine some of my audience may not appreciate the translation.

And with that I am out.  My countdown clock tells me that I have 8 days, 2 hours, 1 minute, and 51 seconds till I eat Chipotle and get ragingly drunk with some of the best friends a person could have.