Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tu bandera, tu bandera, es un lampo de cielo….

So we’ve arrived at our new home in La Esperanza! But let me go back a little first. Friday (the 14th) we had our jurimentacion (swearing in) ceremony at the embajada (embassy). We met our counterparts in the morning for the first time and had a working session and catered lunch. It was a little awkward at first, as it always is meeting new people in a new language, but both of us have friendly and nice counterparts. They then accompanied us down to the embassy. At the embassy we were told that we couldn’t bring in cameras, so most of us put them back on the bus. Then Trudy arrived later and told us if we had checked our cameras with security we could go get them. “But we left them on the bus!” we protested. There was nothing more we could do. Hence we have no photos of this event and we hope someone else will give us theirs. Overall it was a standard ceremony, we sang both the Honduran and US national anthems. Yes, we sang the Honduran one too – which has 7 verses and a chorus. The kids here have to learn to recite it, sing it and analyze it to graduate from primary school, high school and college. We luckily only had to learn the chorus and one verse, which we did in two days. It reminds us slightly of the Canadian national anthem, although they are nothing alike.

We got back to our house late and had to finish packing and go to bed early. Saturday we woke up at 3 am and that’s when the real fun began. You see, we had the luck to live in the house farthest away from all the others. It was about a 20 minute walk to the bus stop in the morning, which involved climbing down a steep hill, crossing a creek and then climbing up another steep hill. Taking the actual road which led from our house (we were at the end of the road) to the nearest other bus stop would be about a 40 minute walk at least, all uphill also. When we arrived, it was no big deal because PC dropped off our stuff at our houses. However, leaving, we were responsible for getting all our stuff to the bus stop by 4:45 am. Unfortunately as well, we have acquired un monton de cosas since coming, including manuals, binders and books that weigh a lot. Our host mom basically was like, I don’t know how you guys will be able to do it because I helped my volunteer last year and I’m not doing it again! Hmmmm….

So we had tried to procure a ride, but with no luck. Our counterparts both had taken the bus (others were lucky enough to have their counterparts drive). What’s more, there was only one PC arranged bus, leaving very early in the morning to take us to Tegus because some people needed to go 12-14 hours and needed to be there very early, so we all had to go then. So, our host mom was finally able to call a cousin or uncle or someone to come get us around 4:15 am. We got all our stuff into 5 bags, the two largest probably weighed 75 pounds each. At 4:15 our Mom says, the guy can’t make it down to our house in his truck because the gate is locked and I don’t have the key. So, we began dragging our suitcases up the hill. It took me and my host mom pulling together to drag one of our big rolling suitcases! My suitcase meanwhile was getting torn in half on the rocky road. Then, because the gate wasn’t open, we had to squish ourselves through a hole in the side of the gate, shove the suitcases through, which barely fit in their enlarged state, and then continue walking up the hill to the truck. Luckily it was a real truck and not a mototaxi. The uncle with the truck was very helpful and ran back down with Nolan to get the other bags. Then, this guy literally hoisted a 75 lb suitcase up onto his shoulders and scaled the hill like a mountain goat! It was a sight to behold. He was probably 60 years old.

So we made it to the bus stop, got all our crap on the bus and were in Tegus on a bus to La Esperanza by 6 am with our counterparts, who were extremely helpful in carrying our stuff and getting us taxis and just everything. We really lucked out in some sense. The bus was direct, about 4 hours, and we mostly slept and bought some papitas, which are kind of like baked lays but puffed. When we got to La Esperanza, our host mom came in a car of a random guy to pick us up. So we really didn’t have to take our suitcases far, but we were still exhausted.

So Sabado and Domingo we didn’t do much, walked around town a little bit to explore, met our host family, met the other volunteers in town, slept a lot, started to arrange our new apartment for at least the next two months. The apartment is more separate than we expected, but it doesn’t have its own kitchen. It has a spot for a kitchen, and has a sink, but no stove or fridge. We do have a living room with table and chairs, a bedroom with beds, a small bathroom and electroducha (yea!) and a little patio with our pila to wash clothes. It’s bigger than where we lived in Alexandria, smaller than Baltimore, but a good size. We wish it had more of a yard, but if we can’t find anything else and our host family is willing, we could make do here. It would be ideal simply because it’s already partly furnished and we don’t get a lot of money to buy stuff.

Monday we met our counterparts in the morning at our “offices.” Nicki’s work is only two blocks up the street. It’s a store where the organization sells all kinds of products made by Lenca women in the surrounding communities. She spent the morning there, chatting with the president and her counterpart (a manager basically) and the women who came in. Nolan’s work is not much farther, a few blocks more down the street at the municipal offices of Intibucá. He met with his real counterpart, an engineer, for a bit in the morning, and then went back in the afternoon to meet with some people from the environmental office. We did mostly nothing after lunch because it was a downpour, took a nap, read a bit. After Nolan was done in the afternoon, we went over to the supermarket to get some Gatorade (Nolan wasn’t feeling good, perhaps it was the disgusting spaghetti we had for lunch….). We ran into Mark, one of the other volunteers who lives here, and he invited us back to his place. We had some tea and chatted and he gave us a bunch of stuff he is trying to get rid of because he and his wife are leaving in September.

This story is going somewhere. We walked back home, stopped to get some papel higienica (TP) and when we got back around 5:30 we couldn’t get our front door to open. The dead bolt wasn’t opening and then the key got stuck in the lock. So we got our host mom, she tried, no luck. She got a guy off the street, he tried, no luck. Tried the back patio door as well, but we had locked it from the inside to be safe, so that didn’t work. An hour later, holding about 5 bags of stuff still, we decided to have dinner and our mom would call someone. The first guy who came couldn’t do anything, no one really knew what was wrong still. So she called another guy, a locksmith perhaps who came with his nephew. We played UNO for awhile with our host sister Laura, she was not paying attention at all and as a result perhaps, one single game lasted probably 45 minutes. Meanwhile we were worried about our door. Finally, ay 8 pm, they got it open. They had the little nephew climb on the roof and come in through the kitchen window (which involves taking out about 12 glass blinds and a screen) to unlock it from the inside. We still don’t know what went wrong because everything was working fine until that moment, but the locksmith is coming back Tuesday to put in a whole new lock for the front. It was an interesting couple of days to say the least.

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