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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.

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The power was just out for third time this week and I adapted like clockwork: turned the brightness on my laptop down to the lowest possible setting, lit candles and started to boil water for dinner.  When the power came on two hours later I found myself thanking God that it wasn’t off for longer because if it had my favorite watering hole would have forgone opening up.  Immediately after this I started to think about what my reaction would have been like back home.  And that is when it hit me: my norms, if they weren’t strange enough before, have become completely warped.

I haven’t posted anything in a while, mostly because I thought that nothing worth mentioning had happened.  Shortly after the power came on I began thinking about the things that I have seen over the past month or so and realized that I had more than enough for a blog post.  The one is about my buddy Bluto (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).

Bluto is a bolo.  What is a bolo you ask?  A bolo is an alcoholic and not any run of the mill I lost my wife, kids and job alcoholic either.  This is party for a week sometimes two weeks straight alcoholic.  I know you’re reflexively thinking ‘I have partied like that before.  You ever seen me in Vegas?’  You haven’t, take my word for it, that is unless you like dropping peyote.

The most common outcome is that said bolo will pass out in an extremely awkward position in an extremely awkward place, usually on a busy sidewalk in the center of town on a Wednesday.  Occasionally you get to witness something extremely entertaining, two bolos fighting – usually no one gets hurt.  Sometimes you see something you know will end badly, like a bolo juggling machetes, in this case the only thing damaged was his forehead when it bounced off the river rock street after being tackled by the cops.

But back to Bluto.  The Saturday night after I arrived in site I was invited to one of the local bars by my site-mates.  I had some reservations about drinking because my host mother frowned upon drinking and I had no key to get in, which meant that I would need her to open the front door.  Regardless, two hours and one too many beers later I needed to go home.  I walked out the front door of the bar into a deserted street and immediately turned the wrong way.  After walking around in circles hopelessly I approached the second person that I had seen in the last 45 minutes to ask for directions.  This is when I met Bluto.  Bluto was pressed up against a light pole, his back to me using one of his hands to prop himself up.

Me: Excuse me.

Bluto: hrhhrrrhrhhhh

Me: Do you know where the police station is?

Bluto (slowly turning towards me): Why? Do you need help?

Me: Uhhhh.  No everything is fine. I live right next to it.

Bluto: That way.

Me: Thanks man.  Have a good night.

Bluto: You as well. Go with God.

What made this exchange odd and worth writing about is that Bluto was urinating when I approached; something that I didn’t notice when I approached him, probably due to the fact that I was intoxicated as well.  When Bluto turned to face me he forgot to do two very vital things: stop urinating and put his dick away and his golden rainbow came within inches of sandal clad feet.  After our exchange I wandered off a little less lost and Bluto turned to finish what he had started.

What still gets me to this day is not that he forgot to put his crank away but that he had the patience to answer my question, be genuinely concerned about my safety, point out the direction that I needed to head and then tell me to “Go with God”.  I have seen Bluto several times since, usually passed out in the blazing sun, uncovered and on a busy sidewalk but he seems to being doing ‘well’ – everything is relative, you know.

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…..

“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.

The last two weeks have been filled with half understood conversation and semi awkward moments, which usually occur after I blurt out a well thought out Spanish phrase and someone mistakes my well planned axiom for a true functioning understanding of Spanish.  I have also been trying to digest what it is I will be responsible for, the layout of the town and the social norms.

Gracias is clustered around a town park and a huge Catholic church and many if not all of the buildings maintain their colonial appearance.  The towns lay out is pretty standard of most towns in Honduras, it seems that the Spanish left behind mostly religion and architecture after they were done with the country.  From what I can tell the town is about four or five streets wide and about 15 or 16 streets long.  The primary streets are stone, concrete, river rock or some combination thereof and the secondary streets are dirt.  The town has a supermarket, a restaurant called The Flavor Garage, a place to buy used American shoes and clothes and no fewer than ten cell phone shops.

What I first mistook for coldness I quickly came to learn was shyness.  The other day I was invited into a pulperia (like a mini 7/11 in your parents living room) by the owner to escape the sheets of rain assaulting everyone and everything in Gracias.  The proprietor and me had a conversation about life in Gracias, his burgeoning family and why I was here.  And after the rain stopped I left without purchasing a thing and an open invitation to return and chat, something I am sure would have never happened in America.

My work partners have also been working real hard to make me feel welcome, the other night they invited me to a going away party for the head of the police.  I accepted the invitation without much of a second thought.   The night came and when I was picked up we started to head in a direction that I had never been before.  After bumping down a dark rutted out road for about ten minutes I started to worry and then it came into view, the penitentiary of Gracias, and all those questions I had about where the storylines for horror movies originate from became a little bit more clear.  After we rattled up to the front gate of the penitentiary I unquestioningly followed my coworker out of the tuk-tuk.  While being escorted up to the front of the building I started to think, well this all makes sense I mean the guy is a police officer they probably have a room on the outside for functions like this.  As I learned, this was not the case; they had reserved a very special room for us, the prison exercise yard. After being locked in to the yard, as I have heard it is called, I noticed the menacing stares of some inmates who shared a window with the yard. I questioned my coworker as to what type criminals were housed here and she nonchalantly replied “kidnappers, rapists, murderers, etc.”, oh well good, I was really worried there for a minute. The party turned out to be one for the history books, about 20 people attended and it wasn’t long before one of my deepest desires came true, a DJ showed up with four massive ass speakers so that we could karaoke until the sun came up.  Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you have heard Honduran karaoke under the stars in the center of a prison exercise yard surrounded by inmates that could double for MS16 members in Sin Nombre.

The only other notable exception to normalcy these last couple of weeks was what I assumed were gunshots one night.  After a couple of repeating rounds I noticed that no one was running so I just assumed this was just a routine police exercise.  Since I live within relative proximity of the police station I didn’t think this was a big deal – don’t question this, just know that if you visit Honduras that your norms are no longer that useful.  When I was awoken the next morning at 5 am by an explosion that shook my window and could have destroyed a VW Passat I was more than a little worried.  It seems that regular firearms testing had morphed into large munitions testing.  These began occurring with a regular amount of frequency and eventually reached one occurrence per hour.  Convinced that this was no longer a routine police exercise I spoke with one of my coworkers who informed me that this was an annual thing in Honduras.  Apparently the Catholic Church in Honduaras celebrates Christ’s resurrection with the help of explosions that could have rolled back or destroyed the rock that covered Jesus’ tomb.  The last of the IED’s was detonated this afternoon and just when I began to think I could deal with this one time a year I overheard the guy next to me express his excitement for the holidays and the massive amount of fireworks that were sure to come.

A lot has gone down since my last post.  I failed the language interview. Spent an extra week in intensive Spanish classes. Spent an hour on the side of a busy street because of a blown out tire.  Pushed a car up a muddy road. Passed the language interview. Had a private swear in ceremony. Rode a bus for eight hours. Met my new counterpart. Visited the Mayan Ruins in Copan Ruinas. And, finally made it to my city.

My first language interview went about as well as the final flight on the Hindenburg.  An extra language facilitator was brought in to, well I guess mix it up, and guess who got her.  That’s right I did.  Walking across the lawn towards that fateful classroom I started to feel a bit nervous, a feeling that I would equate with Stage One of bubble guts.  Upon crossing the threshold and laying eyes upon my interrogator I went straight to Stage Four.  Needless to say it didn’t go so well.  I was approached a short time later and told that I was going to get to spend an extra week in intensive Spanish classes.

The week went down without much trouble that was until the night before my second interview.  My family, God bless them, wanted to give me a proper farewell, which in Honduras or maybe just in my family is done with fried chicken and ice cream.  Well ice cream is a tricky proposition in some parts of Honduras because of the lack of grocery stores on every corner.  In my case it required a short trip to Tegucigalpa.  After purchasing the ice cream I noticed that the right front tire of the car looked dangerously low.  After mentioning this to my host father he took appropriate measures and drove us to the nearest tire shop to get some air.  We got air, made a quick stop at the neighborhood chicken fryer and hit the road.  About two kilometers later I heard a pop and felt some rubber graze my hand.  I didn’t even need to look down to know what had happened.  After an intense hour of battling Sanpopos, winged ant like creatures that normally appear in Honduras after rain, help arrived, our neighbor with a jack and an extra tire.  And then the rain started.  You are probably thinking to yourself, so what’s the big deal?  Well in Honduras when it rains, it rains and when your driveway is a steep dirt hill this usually spells disaster.  I would say that we made it up a quarter of the way before all traction was lost and the car began to slide backwards. One hour and a lot of mud later we made it home and enjoyed liquid ice cream and fried chicken.

Now, I am working with an Escuela Taller (technical school) in Gracias, Lempira.  I will be the in-house business advisor to their business incubator.  I will try to take some photos of the town and post them as most of the photos on the Internet do it little justice.

As a final note, I know that I have not been good at posting pictures but as luck would have it I did have a friend who did a great job. Link to pictures of Ojojona (where I spent the last 2 months). Thank Owen.

I have been here for almost two months and it feels like two weeks.  Spanish is coming along nicely and I have lucked out twice with host families, so at this point I have no complaints.

Spanish isn’t an extremely difficult language to learn although it is a little challenging when you need to do it in three months.  It has been on mind 24 hours a day 7 days a week, literally – I had a dream the other night and parts of it were in Spanish.  I often worry that I am not picking it up fast enough, although, I did have a light bulb moment the other day while sitting in Price Mart (Costco in Honduras) with my host brother.  I realized that, while eating the same hotdog that any American enjoys on a typical Saturday morning run to Costco, that we were having a real candid conversation about the biggest problem his city has.  This was an oddly reassuring thing and at that moment I realized that if I was somehow abandoned in the center of the city I could get home, a trip which can be pretty confusing since the city doesn’t really have a uniform set of streets or addresses.  I also realized that I have learned a lot in two months.  On to the nightlife…..

The other night was movie night – I know please refrain from leaving comments that are too degrading – and we watched The Hangover.  The town that I am in has rules, and one of them states that certain businesses, specifically places that serve alcohol, are to close by 6:00 pm, so you have to be creative.  After prepping my family about the content of the movie, so as to avoid any of the younger ones from seeing anything that could scar their long term development and removing one of my host nephews who has a habit of trying to watch things he’s not supposed to, a few of the other trainees, two of my host brothers and me watched The Hangover.  This was a difficult call as The Hangover has a lot of content that does not translate into English well, a fact that is apparent when watching the subtitles on the bottom of the screen.  At the end apparently this wasn’t an issue, as it seems that awesomeness translates well into any language.

After learning Spanish, the next biggest concern for me now is where I am going to be placed for the next two years.  This process carries as much mystique and secrecy as the Masons did in the 60’s.  At this point my fellow aspirants and me have had two “interviews”.  During these interviews we review the information that has been presented to us to insure that a tangible amount stuck and we are also asked questions about our interests and the type of community that we would like to live and work in.  Most things are open for discussion but one might receive particularly icy responses if too many probing questions are posed about specific sites or statements are made about the likes and dislikes of certain types of climates (i.e. ¨I really like it when it doesn´t get to hot¨).  Any tangible information about specific sites that an aspirant may receive usually comes from an outside source.  This information is third hand at best and the validity is negligible but it serves as one of the only ways to try and maneuver your way into the spot you want.  For instance I learned that there are at least two sites open for the type of work I am interested in from a volunteer that visited.  I cross checked this information with another visiting volunteer and it turns out that both of the sites open are right up my alley.  I have one more interview left before I have to stand before Jesus, literally his name is Jesus, be judged and receive my destiny, so I suppose I should start strategizing.

That everything in his house was wrapped in a tortilla.  Well, he must have lived in Honduras because everything in Honduras comes with a tortilla.  To me, the odd part is that tortillas are eaten much like Americans eat bread with dinner.  Usually they are eaten on their own or they may be used to sop up anything that remains behind after the meal is complete but usually not as a taco shell.  The first night that I turned my plate into a taco bar I was met with stares of confusion and bewilderment.  And just as my first host family got used to this habit it was time to leave.

We all shipped out for FBT or Field Based Training for those of you not in the acronym loop.  At this point I feel that it is worth mentioning that acronym overuse syndrome (AOS) seems to have infected the entire federal government.  I was exposed to AOS at my last job and I was hopeful that it had been contained within the agency that I worked for but it appears it has spread.  At this point, it is so acute that a specialized dictionary has been developed to aid in the deciphering of memos and working papers.  In FBT we are split up according to specializations (Business, Water & Sanitation & Health) and sent to different communities for seven weeks.  During these seven weeks we focus on our specialization and language skills.  For me this means that I will be honing my ability to ask, politely, for the bathroom, a cookie or possibly a bar of soap.

The move to FBT is worth discussing if for nothing else than the comic relief that it may provide for your day.  Up until this point the atmosphere here seems to be one of uncomfortable comfort.  What I mean by this is that you are constantly pushed outside of your bounds in a manner that doesn’t compromise your safety or sanity in any real way.  For instance, in language classes, I had to walk to a neighboring class and ask them to explain what they were doing.  This may not seem like a big deal but in my nervous state I requested that all the members of the class refrain from molesting me.  While the lesson may not be easy to draw out of the event, eventually I figured out that I just needed to slow down.

Back to the trip from PST (Pre Service Training) to FBT, which started on a high enough note.  My host father communicated that he was going to drive me to the bus stop, which was a giant relief since I lived on top of a mini mountain and I had several bags that needed to be moved.  First issue, dead battery.  I don’t know how many of you have push started a car but I can tell you that it becomes immeasurably more difficult when doing it in reverse down a steep dirt hill.  Eventually the car started and I said goodbye to my first host family with a little bit more dirt and a lot more sweat than I left the house with.

First came the Water & Sanitation bus, a large roomy school bus, and then came ours, a rapidito.  Normally it’s better to take a rapidito, they are smaller, cleaner and usually much quicker but the situation gets a little sticky, literally, when there are eighteen people aboard who have just pulled their luggage between two blocks and half a mile respectively.  After an hour-long ride we were dropped off in the center of our new host town.  As the driver and his helper finished unloading our things, all the while smiling in a weary way that seemed to betray a mix of fear for us and the general hilarity of the situation, it hit me that I needed to find my new host family’s house with little more than some general directions written in Spanish and a buddy that was going to live in the same neighborhood.  After receiving some general guidance from one of the staff members who just happened to drive by I set off with +/- 100 lbs of stuff strapped to my chest and back.

After completing a three-block walk, an event that could be a tough man qualifier, and speaking with several people the first fluent English speaking Honduran that I have met approached me.  If hearing English alone wasn’t great enough, he told me that he was my host brother.  My new host family is large, so far 13 people and counting, spread in between two compounds, not including the two Mormon missionaries posted up in the guest house out back.  I continue to be surprised more and more with each day that passes.  Today while trying to communicate that I had attempted to unlock my iPhone in the states and in the process broke it, my host father abruptly stood up and motioned for me to follow him.  I have to admit that I was a little wigged out but hey what’s the worst that could happen?   Ten minutes later I was standing in his cousin’s house watching him fix and re unlock what I assumed was a broken phone.

I thought long and hard about this but in order to give full justice to the people and culture of Honduras it was necessary.

The staging and flight went down without a hitch.  We arrived in Tegucigalpa around 12:00 on Wednesday and were escorted out of the airport to a parking lot in the back where we were greeted with Pizza Hut, bananas and bottled water.  After a short meet and greet with some of the local staff we were loaded onto a “chicken bus” – a term whose origins or meaning aren’t quite known – and taken to the Peace Corps training facility.  At the training facility we went over some basics and then we were turned over to our host families.

My host family escorted me out to their car in awkward silence, which I have to mention was wholly a result of my poor grasp of the Spanish language.  On the ride home my host mother asked me a series of basic questions like, Where are you from? and What do you do for a living?  In a vain attempt to complete at least one sentence I responded with a series of jumbled nouns and non-conjugated and incorrect verbs.  For all I know my host mother thought that I had no home and that I didn’t like animals (it really was that bad).  If my host mother’s patience hadn’t impressed me enough my host father’s driving skills carried the rest of the weight.  He managed to maneuver the family’s car, which I am certain is not made for even occasional off-road use, up the side of a mountain on a jutted dirt road.  At the house I was greeted by a mass of children who were very excited to have a new gringito in the neighborhood.  The first question they asked was Yo Jugo Futbol? (to this day I am asked this statement posed as a question at least twice a day and most of the time I relent).  The house is nice and has an incredible view of the valley below and the surrounding towns.

The last couple of weeks have been a complete blur.  I have graduated from naming the color of common household items to carrying short but coherent conversations with most anyone.  My daily Spanish classes are complemented with nighttime cram sessions with the neighboring children, who on the whole have a huge amount of tolerance for my butchering of their language.  The food is very palatable but it is different.  Hondurans have a deep affinity for sugar in their coffee and a mixture they call mantiquilla, although it is assuredly not the butter that most people (from the US) are used to.

There is much more but I’ve got an early morning so the blanks will have to wait to be filled……

Bags are packed, most of my goodbyes have been said and I finally authored a web page to keep everyone in the loop.  On February 24th I will be headed to Tegucigalpa, Honduras via Miami, Florida for 27 months with the Peace Corps as a business development volunteer.