The Latter Part of Training
Each of the trainees were assigned to visit a volunteer in action. I was assigned to visit K., who was stationed at El Filon, which was straight up a hill. One of the teachers gave me a note on how to get there. He informed me that it was uphill a long way, and laughed. Well, I took the bus for about five hours to the north coast, and then I started walking up this hill. It was a long way up, and I had my backpack on. At one point, there was such a horrible thunderstorm that I crouched down to connect my knees and elbows in case I was struck by lightening. Fortunately, I got up the hill in about four hours, and just as I was coming into town, K. was going out to meet me in a neighbor's truck. Well, she got out, and we walked to her room. Apparently, that same teacher had not given me a note to meet her down the hill in Tela! At least, I was there. That night, we found out someone had been struck by lightening!
K. was in and interesting situation, because she had an American boyfriend who was her fiance, living in the US. He had come to visit, and she had said they had gotten married, so they could stay in her room together. Otherwise, that would never have been tolerated, and a few other women volunteers did that, when their American fiances came to visit. In fact, one was very ambiguous as to whether they had maybe gotten married already!
Over the course of the next four days, K. showed me some farms that she'd been working with, and I met some of those people. She lived in a small room that was connected to a family's house.They only had an outhouse, but she had a cement floor which was a requirement for health reasons.One time, she asked me to go and get something at the little store down the street. I was so scared, that I almost couldn't do it, but I finally did. On the last day, we walked down the hill, and I took the bus back. I thought I might like to go to that site, but I was thankfully assigned to another much prettier one name Concepcion.
Concepcion was far away, down a long unpaved road. First, I took a bus to Siguatepeque, a middle sized city; and then I caught a bus for La Esperanza. This length of the road was only dirt, graded road, and the bus had a hard time traveling it. Two hours later, I got there and spent the night, as my counterparts were going to take me to my site the next day. I stayed in a simple but comfortable hotel that served breakfast. That next afternoon, I was picked up by my counterparts, and taken down a really rough road beyond my site, to a town called Comasca. It seemed nice, and I stayed in a room that was right by a small waterfall, that made a somewhat relaxing sound all night.
The next morning, One of the guys came on a motorcycle and said that he was going to take me back to Concepcion. Well, I told him that Peace Corps told us anyone who road one would be thrown out immediately, because of safety reasons. He said, "You can walk or come along." With my backpack, a walk of two hours in hot weather didn't sound at all good. I took the ride, and continued to take these motorcycle rides, when offered. No one ever caught me, and it sure was fun!
We got there, and I was delivered to the little city hall, where they decided that I should be shown to Don T.'s house. He had a room I could stay in for that week; so, I got situated. He came and talked to me, and I ate there at his house. The next day, I found a permanent place to live that was the school principle's house, and courtyard extension. I was going to be living in a small room on the inside of this courtyard. It seemed nice but small. It was right on the main street and cost about $10 a month. I ordered a makeshift closet, from his next door neighbor.
The next day, feeling adventurous, I decided to venture down the trail behind town. I met a very friendly woman named V. She proved to be a valuable contact, because she knew everybody. Even though the family didn't have their own farmland, she connected me with a lot of people, and knew who was married, etc. She was also a very fun friend, who wanted to visit every Saturday, during the market day. Her daughter was cute, too. They really were wonderful friends that first year.
That week, I read a whole book in my room. I left thankful for the beauty of the site, but a little nervous. I made my way back to Santa Lucia at long last, and I thanked the person who had assigned me there, because I had a feeling it was one of the richer more beautiful site options. It just seemed so European to me with the courtyards. I was very happy, and ready to go back.
The next week, we had our graduation ceremony. One guy didn't pass the Spanish test, so he couldn't be a volunteer, but everyone else got through! He went on to teach English in Copan for a while, so things worked out.
At the time, Concepcion was in a contested area with El Salvador. The second day after arriving in town, there was a possibility it might become part of El Salvador. I asked everyone in my group how I should proceed. They all had different opinions, but I ended up going, anyway. You'll see how it all turned out in the next chapter!