Successes and Surprises
It was the beginning of May, and I went to Teguc for a multiday spanish class at the Peace Corps Office. I learned some new skills, and I realized happily that I had refined my Spanish abilities quite a bit. Being surrounded by Hondurans at most times, I had really improved my Spanish over the past seven months. The class was a success, and I felt positive. While I was there, I bought a dress and a "Santa Biblia" for the baptism of my new goddaughter. It was going to be a delight returning to work with my new friends in San Miguelito!
While I was in Teguc, I met up with my best friend and fellow volunteer, M. To my dismay, I found out she wasn't going to the class, because she was being medically separated from Peace Corps. After being transferred to a new site, she had some bad asthma attacks, and felt that it was best to go home to LA. Needless to say, this was incredibly sad for me, because she had been a great support through all that had happened thus far. I had just started meeting up with her on a regular basis again, and now she was leaving. What shock and disappointment! I felt completely lost, like I had a pit in my stomach, and wondered who I would talk to about all the drama. How would I keep myself grounded? I would write to her thourghout my service, but it just wasn't the same.
I knew I still wanted to stay in Honduras, even though I was melancholy about losing access to my best American friend in country. After finding out about M, I felt that I wanted to see my friends and family in the US. I talked to my mom and planned a trip home in July of that year. I was beginning to realize that I would never really belong in Honduras. In letters, I see that I started counting the days to my departure for home. It was a good solution to my disapointment over my friend. I was a little worried that I might not return, but as you will see, I did and everything continued along well.
Once I got back to Concep, I was ready to head off to San Miguelito again. I was disappointed that I had to go alone, but I was able to remember how to get there, somehow. I was prepared to stay for a couple of days, and I brought the Bible and the dress. Everybody thought it was the perfect gift, and the christening was simple but sweet. We celebrated with tamales and dancing afterwards. The men tried to get me to drink, but this time I didn't partake, even though they put forth their best attempts. I knew that women didn't drink there, and without my friend O I lost my nerve. I spent the night at Don M and Dona G's house.
The next day, I headed off to the school to work on their garden plot. We layed down some level dead barriers of old corn husks and rocks. They would plant using new planting practices- less seeds per hole and closer together, and we would see what happened. It was fun working with the kids, and this one teacher who had lived in New York for a while before being deported. He always wanted me to sing with the kids or do something else interesting. I didn't pay much attention to the other teachers since I'd heard that they were admirers. I figured it was better to ignore them.
In the afternoon, I helped the men of San Miguelito set up the land so that they could plow it with a pickax. I hoped that they would be prepared to plant when I came next, although I was a bit worried since they had all been drinking. I thought we would be making bread with the women, but the ladies were expecting me to bring all the ingredients, which I hadn't done. Needless to say, I was frustrated, but we made a drink that featured the nitrogen fixing beans instead. It turned out well, and I was hopeful that we would be able to make bread in the future. That day, I finally got home at 7 pm. Boy was I tired!
Every night, I would listen to "The Voice of America" or "The Christian Science Monitor" on my short wave radio. I got my news from these shows and the Newsweek magazines Peace Corps sent. I remained quite well informed about the world through these avenues. Every night one of these shows would feature a section called Letterbox, where the Emcee would read different letters from around the world. I decided to write in, hoping that my letter would be chosen. I wrote about my work, where I lived, and killing cockroaches and scorpions every day. Every night I listened for it, and then it was time to go to San Miguelito. I brought my shortwave and took it outside while I was brushing my teeth in hopes that my letter would be featured. It never was, but I still enjoyed listening to that section of the show.
One of my counterparts invited me to attend a class that he was holding in town. He started the class with an explanation about planning ahead, and not being spontaneous when planting. I wasn't really impressed, because he rushed through a lot of very technical information, talking mostly about specific chemical fertilizers. He kept on referring to his calculator, and cranking out numbers of how much fertilizer to use on corn or beans. Peace Corps had told us that we were supposed to only teach about and use organic materials, so this was against our teachings. His whole presentation was so complex and involved, I wondered if anyone got anything out of it. Unfortunately, this was the last time I ever worked with him.
Every other weekend, I would go to La Esperanza for a change of scenery, and maybe to speak some English. I also enjoyed visiting my friend Dona D, who lived there. I usually stayed with her when I stayed in La Esperanza, and this time was no exception. Unfortunately, when I left my room in Concep, I forgot to close my back door. I had a door to the courthyard, and a door that bordered on my landlord's backyard. The chickens roamed loose in the garden; so, when I got home, they had messed up everything. It was complete mayhem in my room. I had to wash all my clothes, dishes, and sheets, because the chickens had been everywhere! I laughed with my neighbors, but it really wasn't that funny.
There were some positive things that were happening in La Guaruma and Jiquinlaca. It appeared that potentially quite a few people wanted to work with me. I thought I might be very busy. My friend V's brother was willing to try out some more work in a new plot, and someone named Don J made a compost pile on his property. I was also selling quite a few of the nitrogen fixing beans. We were all hoping for a good rainy season, which was just around the corner.
One night V and her daughter came to stay overnight, because they were taking the early truck taxi from Concep to La Esperanza. At about midnight, I woke up to a horrible stinging sensation that felt like a hot needle piercing my skin. After I described the pain, V told me I'd been stung by a scorpion. It had gotten in under my sleeping net, which was supposed to protect me. We all got up, found the scorpion, and killed it. Then, V told me to eat a teaspoon of sugar, and rinse off my hand with cold water. After this, I did go back to sleep, and I felt a bit better the next day. As I walked to see Don F in Guachipilincito, I felt as if I were drunk. When I got there, I was happy to see that he was planting with good technique as I had directed. He was planting maybe, 2 or 3 seeds per hole, instead of the traditional five seeds, and the holes were closer together. I didn't feel like doing much that day, so I went home directly after I saw that he had taken my advice.
At the end of May, I went to Teguc for a doctor's appointment. While I was there, one of the other volunteers was saying goodbye, because he and his wife were expecting an unplanned pregnancy. At this time, Peace Corps rules on pregnancy were as follows: if a couple were pregnant, they were both obligated to go home, because the medical attention was much better in the US. Sadly, they had waited for almost three years to receive an appropriate assignment they could both do, but rules were rules, and they had to leave. I was able to say goodbye, and wish him well the day before he left. His wife had already left the month before, because things were getting too difficult for her. It was truly unfortunate, since they seemed to be a perfect fit for the job!
Throughout the time I was there, a few other volunteers left early, because they just couldn't hack it. In the beginning a young man was bitten by a rat, and had some other unfortunate things happen, so he left. We also had the volunteer who was on Cuerpo de Paseo. This meant that once she traveled to all the locations she wished to see, she left early. In the business group, a married couple left and ended up divorcing shortly thereafter. These were not the only people. It was hard to adjust, and some people just couldn't. It was always sad to say goodbye, but I felt proud of myself for staying!