Saturday, November 19, 2011

Curiosities

As our time here wanes, I keep noticing peculiarities of living here that never cease to amaze me. So I thought I’d share some of the funny/interesting things.

First and foremost, they are paving more streets in our town! Our street in fact is being paved – although they stopped a measly 1 block before our house. But it feels like a new city already! A bustling metropolis as I like to call it. Additionally, our wonderful supermarket is just finishing a year-long expansion/renovation, which we thought would bring in a greater variety of food products, but might just be an addition of notebooks and other household items instead.

Paved Road!

La Esperanza Sky

We’ve begun watching the local news stations more which, as one might expect, are underfunded channels with cheesy graphics that look like they were done by a high school AV club. The funniest part is when the live broadcasters either answer their phone and begin chatting with someone in the middle of a story, leaving you to wait until they finish, or they start texting someone yet they continue to talk about the story, their words becoming more labored and sporadic as their attention diminishes. There are no cultural taboos on cell-phone use here yet.

My women’s group is full of amusing ideas. Their latest: send a solicitud, like a funding request, to the President of Honduras himself, to ask that he donate nearly 1 million Lempiras for them to buy land in the middle of nowhere to open a new store. The solicitud they sent was 2 pages. I’m not sure if this type of thing in Honduras is merely symbolic in a sense, or if they actually believe that Pepe would personally respond to their request, but it struck me as very different than the approach in the U.S. Even if one was to write a proposal for your governor or President in the U.S. (which first of all is far- fetched), you’d think that a proposal for such a project would have to include many more than 2 pages, perhaps more like 100’s of pages detailing the project.

Their other new idea is to try to incentivize their member women’s groups to contribute more in annual dues. Instead of paying out interest earned or dividends on profits (of which, to be honest, there aren’t many of) the governing board suggested another payout, tamales. Yes, instead of a few hundred Lempiras in dividends, please accept 3 tamales to show our appreciation for contributing to our group. Now I’m not saying that my women are incompetent or uneducated or ridiculous, it just strikes me as amusing the cultural differences especially in regard to running a business.

I go frequently into the mountain communities surrounding our town to give charlas and trainings and meet with different women’s groups. What has surprised me lately is how adamant city people seem to be about buying land in the country and starting a small farm or finca. In a way, it is the same bucolic dream that many Americans have, to leave the grit of the city for more pastoral living. However, rural living here is not nearly the same as rural living in the U.S. Rural living here means driving 1 to 2 hours on bumpy dirt roads that are frequently impassable only to arrive at a place with no water, electricity or services of any kind. Just to grow a few potatoes? Seems like people aren’t really thinking that through. Plus, they seem to think that rural produce and animals are superior (my counterpart frequently buys beans, squash, potatoes and chickens when we visit rural communities) even though living in the city here would afford you the same opportunities to raise and or buy the same products. It’s not like having chickens is banned in the zoning code; it’s not like there is even a zoning code to being with. They’ve barely started to urbanize here and already there is a back to the land movement.

Dogs here are noticeably malnourished and abused unfortunately, a truly sad sight. But that doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent. Most stores sell commodities (corn, beans, rice, etc) out of 100 lb bags that they just leave half open in the entrance to their store to scoop out the necessary quantity. Normally this includes dog food. The other day, while no one was looking, a particularly sad looking dog snuck over to the store and began chowing down on the food, right out of the bag! Why doesn’t every dog think of this? Because, as Nolan pointed out, they would probably get kicked if someone saw them. But it seems like it might be occasionally worth the risk in order to eat food instead of trash.

It is the season for Chinapopos, a beautifully speckled variety of heirloom runner bean that they grow here. They beans come in pink, purple, blue, brown, white and every speckled color in between. We decided after an extensive internet search that they were similar to, or possible the same as, Sadie’s Horse beans, an heirloom runner variety they sell in the U.S. We were fascinated by these beans color and ended up making a very delicious ham and bean soup out of them.



Chinapopos


Ham and Chinapopo Soup

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