Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ups and Downs: A Story in Two Parts

Part 1: Up – Nicki’s Story

Friday was a fulfilling day, I gave my first solo business charla! Every year the US Embassy has an artisan fair and invites PCVs who work with artisan groups to participate. I’m bringing two groups this year. The groups who come have to receive a charla on basic business plans and so came Friday, my first charla. I’d given charlas in groups in the past, but this was a 3-4 hour serious charla with tons of information and activities and I was flying solo. I prepared my charla papers for 4 weeks before the big day, they were sparkling and perfect. Nolan came along to be my ayudante and photographer. It was a misty, gross day driving out to the community and I was sick with a cold and feeling nervous. Then we nearly died skidding off a hill in the bus at it hit a patch of mud. That didn’t help my nerves.

We arrived to the site of the charla, someone’s small house with no electricity that was nearly pitch black because there was little sun. I nearly freaked out trying to figure out how I was going to give the charla in the space. First lesson in Peace Corps, be flexible! I had Nolan hold the charla papers rather than put them on the walls and I stood practically in the doorway to be sure people could see. We did activities in the small living room because outside was puro lodo. The best part was that the charla went really well! Second lesson in Peace Corps, have faith in your participants! Everything was pretty smooth, including my Spanish, and most of the group was actively participating and laughing, and (I think) learning new stuff about how to improve their weaving business. I can’t even explain how great of a feeling it was to be finished and to have the group thank me so sincerely for giving them this new information. Angela, my counterpart, and Nolan were equally proud and supportive. It felt like I was doing something real and actually making a difference and despite my exhaustion, I was full of adrenaline from my first successful charla!

Why are my eyes always closed in pictures?

Traditional wood loom that the group uses to weave their products

Part 2: Down – Nolan’s Story

Coming back from the business plan charla in El Cacao, we needed to get a jalon since the bus ya se fue. Catching a jalon in Honduras is not that difficult, as long as you are prepared to sit the bed of a pickup truck driving down bumpy, dirt mountain roads. We finally were picked up after walking for 45 minutes down the road and not seeing a single car or truck. Being that it is the rainy season and the visibility through the fog was about 100 feet where we were, the driver was nice enough to let Nicki, who had a cold, sit inside, while Angela (Nicki’s work counterpart) and I sat in the paila (truck bed). Due to the rain, the roads were pretty muddy, so after about five minutes, the driver got out and put chains on the tires to maintain traction. But the chains apparently didn’t help much since we still wildly fish tailed down the next hill. It wasn’t really as bad as it sounds, it’s not like we were driving along a cliff (actually we kind of were at one point). But still, just imagine sitting the back of a truck, fish tailing down a mountain with low visibility. And if that wasn’t uncomfortable enough, halfway down, we stopped and they loaded half the bed with big bags of potatoes, so we had less room to sit. In the end, everything was fine, we made it down the mountain in one piece, ready for any jalones in the future.

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