This blog reflects my personal views and not the views of the Peace Corps. This is for the cross-cultural enjoyment of my friends and family.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So Bored

I’m completely unable to get anything done. I love working on topographic studies. It’s fun getting out into the mountains and changing up the scenery. You get to meet some pretty interesting characters up there.

For example … The last day of my most recent study the guy who was helping me with the equipment was so incredibly unusual in terms of Hondurans. He was so forward thinking compared to most people I have met. Don’t get me wrong, the guys that live in the aldeas are great, hard-working people. I generally enjoy their company more than the people here in Corquin. But, at the same time they tend to be incredibly uneducated and close minded. These interactions always lead to some interesting conversations, but this guy was really interesting. We talked about a range of subjects from religion to marriage and protecting the environment.

God a van blasting music just decided to park outside the office. REALLY? Here. In front of an office? Is that appropriate? Necessary? Hondurans are so NOT annoyed by annoying noises/high volume. Like when the generator the other day (that fed ONE computer) binged the entire time. We’re talking high pitched BIIIIINNNNG. Me and my sitemate had to leave because it was so obnoxious. Also, we wanted to watch the latest episodes of Weeds. Everyone thinks we’re really antisocial because we both work with headphones on, but really it’s just that I can’t take people screaming in the office. Like professionalism doesn’t exist here. At least if I’m going to be distracted it’s by Justin Bieber’s music and not Loud Mouth (her nickname because we talk in English but they still understand their names) screaming about wanting some coffee. And yes, the one Justin Bieber song is permanently stuck in my head!

Back to interesting campesino man … At one point in the conversation I just looked at him and said something to this effect, “This might be rude, but why are you this way?” He didn’t understand at first, but then he basically picked up on the fact that I was a little stunned by how different he was. Apparently, he’s been studying under a Catholic priest that has taught him everything. They work on conserving the forest in this area and educating people about the environment and the importance of protecting flora and fauna.

He also doesn’t eat any preservatives or processed food. He claimed because this was due to a mental imbalance, but this guy is even on the organic food movement! It was quite interesting talking with him and witness him trying to “educate” the other guy who was working back with us. The group of guys in front periodically called him out for holding us up when, after I finished a shot and we could move forward, he would be interrogating me on any given subject.

One very exciting development from that study is the fact that this community, Agua Caliente, is really interested in buying some property that is a part of their watershed. With the development world focusing a lot on water it has come to everyone’s attention that many communities are getting water, but because of problems with wasting water, many are needing new systems in 5 – 10 years (they are designed to last 20 years). With new efforts to increase the lifetime of these water systems there is a big push that communities buy land in their watersheds. With enough land they can delineate the watershed and have it declared a protected area. This protects the quantity and quality of the water simultaneously and helps the communities value their water system more.

So … Agua Caliente is really pushing to buy this land, which is above the stream that feeds five communities in the area. I have worked with all the communities and there is a new Volunteer in Agua Caliente. Between the five communities and two annoying gringas harassing these communities we’re hoping to get the each family to chip in about $55 each (yeah, sounds cheap but for most of the people in these communities it will be really hard to come up with that money).

So, needless to say I’m excited because it would be a really big step for these communities and they’re doing it on their own. My counter-part office just did a project similar to this with three communities, but it would be really impressive if they could get this stuff of the ground on their own. The whole idea of Peace Corps is sustainability and this would be one of my biggest achievements if we could actually get it working. I hope it works out!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Day Honduras Really Kicked My Butt

So Honduras gets me on a regular basis. We’re running like Honduras 123,767,454,345,987,456 to Hannah’s like … maybe 5. That’s being optimistic. So today I started a new study in Gualme. We’re improving an old study that they have because, they tell me, they’ve always had problems with their system.
So we go out and I always feel a little self-conscious on the first day. First, it’s a man’s world down here and being a woman, no matter how educated, doesn’t always get you the respect that you’d hope for. In all actuality, the men in more rural areas are much nicer, but still. Also, I’m around all these campesinos who have grown up in the woods and their romping around like it ain’t no thing. So in the end I feel like I have to prove myself.
We’re crossing all these creeks and they’ve got their high rain-boot like things on and walking straight through the water. I have my, albeit nice hiking boots on, but they do eventually let the water in and I was having a harder time crossing these creeks. My name may be Graceful One, but that I am not. Eventually I gave up and started trudging through the creeks being all like … “Whatever I won’t die of wet feet!” I was trying to be all cool and smooth, which I have never been in my life!
So it’s been raining a lot and we were in a heavily forested area so things were quite slippery. From their dam we followed the creek going up and down and all around.
Ok so here’s when Honduras got me. I had just taken a shot a couple of feet above the creek. There was barely enough space on the ledge for me and the tripod. The kid carrying my equipment (tripod with Carl Theodolite on top) was climbing up the embankment/hill and I climbed up after him. He’s climbing and I’m climbing … he’s falling and I’m falling.
He started to fall down the embankment and all I could think is, “Not the equipment!” So I kind of stood behind him hoping that my weight would stop his momentum. I don’t really know what I was thinking in the end. Anyways, my weight didn’t stop his momentum and as a result I went flying down off the embankment and about 7-8 feet below into the creek. Somehow, SOMEHOW I landed semi-on my feet and didn’t crack my head open on the massive rock in the creek bed. OH and Armando had his machete hooked through his belt which, on my way down, slashed a couple of gashes into my thumb. Nothing big, but the gashes combined with landing on that palm has made my poor left hand sore.
In all my toughness I refused to let them feel bad about me and was like, “Equipment is more important!” Silently in my head I just wanted to go home and watch more House episodes and by the end of the night be convinced that I had some freaky, rare worm growing in my cuts. I think I did impress them though because I jumped right up and got back to things. I did drop the entire notebook in the water too, which was upsetting until I realized all my numbers were still intact.
I few minutes later I tripped and landed on the same hand and now have a stigmata-like wound on the palm too. All in all … good day. Gained some tough points!

Bouncy, Bouncy

I’ve realized in recent … months … that my personal happiness is closely related to the relative cleanliness of my house. There’s nothing worse waking up a little on the down side and seeing your disastrous looking house and thinking, “Great when I want to lie in bed all day I realize that I really should be cleaning up.” There’s nothing like ruining a good veg session with a healthy helping of guilt.
In the interest of Bourbon and mine’s personal hygiene and health I decided to get up this morning and get a really good cleaning in before my beg session. Tomorrow I start another study which usually results in considerable laziness in the evenings, which does not encourage nightly cleaning. Therefore, I bathed the dog (no use having a clean house with a dirty pup) and cleaned out my water filter. The kitchen is considerably … disgusting … but actually the bathroom is much worse (toilet gave out on me).

In tackling the kitchen I noticed that the defunct wood stove was particularly cluttered and maybe I should clean off some off the bottles and crap to make the room look more feng shui … It was there that I found a long forgotten pile of zip lock bags that I intended to clean and instead let rot on top of the stove. No, seriously. Upon viewing and removing said pile of bags (with mountains of mold) I realized that:

A) I am going to die because of how old and dirty this house is (I’ve been watching episodes of House and I just pictures mold spores flying through my nasal passages, latching onto my brain and in a few days I will be completely incapacitated – dramatic right?)

B) When people enter my house hopefully to feed Bourbon and retrieve valued items they will realize that I lived in fact, like a bachelor, and had a relatively non-existent cleaning ritual. That is embarrassing.

So here I am cleaning my house (or actually taking a break to write a blog) and I already feel the happy hormones flooding my brain. Bourbon seems happy (despite the bath) and I’ve taken a couple breaks to play with our new toys. Yes, he’s such a goof and I enjoy playing with him so much that they’ve become my toys too. On that note, if I ever hope to get this done, I should go back. More to come on the Bouncy, Bouncy part.
…. I’ve hit a new low … There’s a giant arachnid in my fridge. Ohhhh disappointment.
Well the spider had expired, but I was afraid when I flicked it out of the fridge it would thaw and become alive again. Didn’t happen. So gross. Accidentally tossed the spider stick into my clean sheets hanging on the line too. Just can’t win. How do these things happen?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I feel moved to write about my experiences of feeling like an imposter. People often ask me, after hearing that I majored in international relations, how it was that I got placed in the water and sanitation program in Honduras. Generally, my answer is because I did for Habitat for Humanity work one summer. Whether or not that is true, I don’t know, but it’s still my answer.

These past few weeks … yes weeks … I have slowly noticed that indoor plumbing in my how was becoming increasingly nonexistent. First to go was the shower, which is the highest connection in the house, next the kitchen and bathroom sink, and eventually the toilet. It’s amazing how comfortable I am with things going wrong and it’s starting to worry me. Slowly my indoor plumbing disappears and instead of asking questions and wondering why, I just assume that it’s because the general water system in Corquin is off and the water will eventually will come back. Now, that assessment wasn’t entirely off most likely, but wouldn’t you think that after a few weeks of this and less rain (generally the cause of major water system problems) that the water would have come back?
Anyways, as the connections in my house lost water I still got water in my pila (big concrete water holding thing), which really as long as I still had water I was ok. Well, except for washing dishes and hauling water to the bathroom got annoying, but I had this unfounded belief that the water was coming back any day!

Well, I get back from El Salvador and low and behold … not a drop of water! Not a single drop! Odd. I went to the owners’ house to show them how to use their new washing machine and decided to inquire about the potential causes of my now distressing water outage.

Well, fijenseque, the house always had water, but the neighbor had been complaining that she had a stream of water running through her yard and maybe she entered my yard and turned off the water to my house via the valve in my yard. Valve in the yard! Useful piece of information.

I did not operate the valve correctly and thereby to misjudged my problem for an extra day. I will forego the details, but in the end I decided that the municipality shut off my water. Clearly, I shouldn’t be an investigator.

1) Slow progression of loss of water in my house points to pressure problems.
2) No water in the pila points to pressure problems.
3) Gradual disappearance of water in my house would not suggest that the municipality cut off the water.
4) Water running through my neighbor’s yard would suggest a major leak.
In the end I figured it out, slowly but surely, and decided there was a broken tube. The next task was to set about finding someone who could fix everything for me. There’s a certain nervousness you get from hiring someone to fix something in your house from the phonebook or something. Will they do a good job? Are they reliable? Will they charge me a reasonable amount? Try doing that in a foreign country and in a different language.

I was racked with nervousness, which is kind of funny because I’ve most certainly endured worse. This whole time the people who own my house were of no help. They didn’t even bother to recommend someone. I asked around in my office and was given a phone number.

Now, I hate talking on the phone in Spanish because it’s that much harder to understand people. I would think that speaking to someone face-to-face would be more stressful, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I get up nerve to call this guy and walk outside my office (I never make phone calls inside lest they judge me) with my phone. I dial his number, press send and proceed to shove a whole cookie in my mouth. Like, what was I thinking? The guy answered and I’m like, “Mum bum gringa bum num agua.”

He was really nice and showed up later that day to see if he could diagnose the problem. As I’m writing this blog he’s outside (the next day) fixing everything. Basically, as he’s outside fixing the problem (leak and clogged tubes) I was reflecting on how funny it is for the wat/san Volunteer to hire someone to fix problems of which I am supposedly knowledgeable. I felt like an imposter. I could have done the job. I consoled myself by saying that I didn’t have the necessary tools, i.e. big metal bar and shovel, and that otherwise I might have undertaken the project myself.

On the brighter side, my standard of living has improved 100%! I washed dishes inside and my house no longer smells of sewage because A) I have the water to flush the toilet B) toilets seem more efficient at flushing themselves than buckets of water. Apart from the toilet, there’s the general cleanliness of the house, which seemed to suffer with the water problem.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Insects Attack!


Is it possible to be bitten/stung by 6 different insects in one day? Why yes! Just come to Honduras and traipse around the jungle for the day.

Hannah and I, once again, took to the forest to complete a topographic study for a potential agua potable project. After getting fijese qued on Monday, we headed for the hills early on Tuesday. It went as a typical study would go, campesinos frolicking up near vertical mountain sides in mere seconds, while 2 gringas hold on to roots and branches for dear life, trying not to twist our ankles. And of course, many of the branches had thorns. Ouch. The topo study started in the depths of jungle, everything green and bright, teeming with insects. It is terrifying to know that the jungles of Central America have n times more species of plants and insects than the US, and I bet there are still many species yet to be identified. Our first encounter happened to be mosquitoes and those damn moscos (see previous blog entry). Unfortunatel , moscos are unaffected by DEET, so my arms and hands were swollen by 10 am. As if that wasn’t enough, I had an epic battled with a large bee when I was precariously balanced on a rotten tree trunk, needless to say, the bee won.

After lunch, biting ants SOMEHOW managed to crawl into my pants and bite me on my inner thighs (I know what you all are thinking, ants in my pants. ha.ha.). Severe burning near my crotchal region is never a good thing. The campesinos laughed and laughed and laughed when I started jumping up and down, smacking my legs, swearing.

“We are learning English!” they exclaimed.

“No, just maldiciĆ³nes, “ Hannah corrected.

At the end of the day, I found several ticks on me, which were about the size of a pin-head. They look like specs of dirt. Luckily for me, there is no lyme disease down here. And courtesy of Hannah’s oh-so-cute hound, Bourbon, I got a few flea bites that night, too.

So there is your 6. Oh, but wait, there is more! As if my insect troubles weren’t bad enough. Before bed that night, I went to fill up my water bottle from Hannah’s 5 gallon water jug. To my surprise, a large cockroach-type insect was floating around inside. A true anomaly because the cap only had 2 holes poked in it the size of button. How the hell does that big of a bug get into a hole that small? We decided to take the cap off, and let it free. As soon as it crawled out, that damn bug flew directly into my face and crawled up in my hair. The next thing I knew, I was shirtless running through her kitchen screaming and flailing my arms.

(Hannah Note: Meanwhile, I'm standing there laughing so hard, with my legs crossed to ensure that I don't pee my pants! I had a good 2.5 gallons left of that water and being poor and stingy I decided to disinfect the water so that we could continue to drink it. Now, in a liter of water you're supposed to add 5 drops of of bleach to chlorinate the water to disinfect it, but still be drinkable ... I put a whole cap-ful in ... like a gazillion droplets. Needless to say the water tasted like bleach and we couldn't drink it! Over zealous S.O.B. .... hahahaha )

In the end, I think karma has finally come full circle. In response to my ongoing war in my apartment on sugar ants, the insect gods unleashed their unmerciful vengeance that day in the wild. Point taken.

That was from Kathryn's Blog:

Cheese and Ramblings

I just discovered that Bourbon ate the remainders of a block of cheese that I had bought. He’s lucky it wasn’t American cheddar or mozzarella, because I most certainly would have disowned him. You don’t eat a woman’s cheese when the best cheese she can get in mozzarella. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on mozzarella, but what I wouldn’t give for a cheese as interesting as the little piece of stinky cheese Chris and I encountered in Belgium … well, let’s not go there.

Now, I want to explain to you why I had such a block of cheese in my possession because it’s an interesting story. Being me and not trusting my abilities to chop things with a machete, the grass around my house has gotten increasingly taller. Bourbon started getting lost, which says a lot because he isn’t a small dog. Anyways, I was notified that the municipality was going around fining people for high grass in their yards. Now I find this HILARIOUS! They can’t people to pay their electric, water and cable bills, but by God you better believe they’ll fine you for that high grass. Now, I understand that there have been increasing cases of hemorrhagic dengue and high grass tends to breed mosquitoes, but … seems unfair.

Anyways, went the house of the family that owns my house to translate the knobs on their washing machine and mentioned that I needed help finding someone to chop the high grass. The Dona offered up her grandson, but hinted that there would have to be some sort of compensation for his time. Immediately his aunts jump on the opportunity to embarrass him and suggest that a kiss for me would be sufficient. Not wanting to go too far down that road, I offered to make him a pizza. The very small circles I run in, people have been slowly realizing that I make pizza. Generally this comes into play when they ask if I can cook and I offer up that yes, indeed I can, and I like to make pizza.

Well, I kid jumps on the idea of pizza (ham and cheese) and I breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t have to shell out 100 Lemps for his time. So, I went and bought a big block of cheese to make said pizza (and just eat slivers … all the time). Now, how did Bourbon get it? Well, I made lunch and left the cheese on the counter and being the bigger dog that he is it was within easy reach. It was devastating really because I was going to make another pizza for my host family.

Still on the subject of cheese … My friend Jackie, who is an open-minded Honduran, loves cooking and food. I told her when she visits the States I’m going to go to Whole Foods cheese section and show her what good cheese really is. I’m sure she won’t like the cheeses, but I will and as long as someone in the world appreciates it then we aren’t all doomed.

So I’m still doing my English classes at night. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think about quitting like every day. The kids aren’t learning because they refuse to allow themselves to even believe that they possibly could begin to understand a different language. The one girl in my classes who seems to have a gift with languages is intent on leaving Corquin because she broke up with her boyfriend and the world has come to an end. Teenagers.

I consulted a bunch of people on whether they thought I should quit and most said yes, because I generally don’t have time and it seems like a waste, but when I went back that one night and had so much fun with my kids. I’ve been teaching there for a year now. Can you believe it? I have developed a good relationship with a few of the girls and often find myself giving them boy advice. They never like to hear what I have to say, though. I’m too practical and encourage them to enjoy their youth, while all they want to do is have babies and get married (in that order as well).

There are several more boys in my class now and I have always been partial towards boys. One insists that he is going to marry me and also claims he is 9 years older than he is (to make him 24 years old too). I just find it so hard to grasp the concept of openly hitting on your teacher. In middle school and high school kids always had crushes on teachers, but can you imagine what would happen to them if they openly voiced their feelings? It’s always funny to think how different things are here. If I complained to the guy who runs the program he would probably slap the kid on the back and join the kid in hitting on me.

Nonetheless, the boys are funny and provide a lot of entertainment. I’ve become especially fond one of the kids, Carlos. He did something the other night that reminded me of Will, which just melted my heart. His older sister is in the class as well and one night we were leaving the classroom and I walked part way with them. He was so sweet and held the umbrella for his sister. Of course, when I pointed it out he stopped and called her stupid, but there was a sweet moment there.

Point is they’re just funny and fun to hang out with. Granted, they piss me off too, but I never thought I would enjoy interacting with kids and definitely not teaching them. I mean, come on, most people who know me will readily acknowledge that I’m even more awkward with kids and most certainly babies.

Do you realize how hard it is for me to operate here not really liking children? The easy way to win people’s hearts is through their children. Any meeting, any encounter with new people in this country and I generally find it easier to hang with the children to win their trust. I do this in a different language. Kids don’t go easy on you: they don’t speak slower, they still use slang and they will call you out when you make mistakes. It’s brutal. I will leave you to reflect on this thought and laugh at the imagined awkwardness.

Anyways, so I tried to quit my classes and couldn’t because I like the relationship I have with my kids. The other woman who taught for almost 5 months (she lasted the longest) recently quit and there are two new girls helping. I kind got a smug satisfaction when I got back from Teguz and a bunch of the girls ran up to me, yelling my name and gave me big hugs. I’ll admit it, I was like, “Yeah, they’ll never like you like they like me!” Hahah.

So it’s been raining here a lot. My kitchen floor is permanently wet because of leaks in my roof and my ceiling tiles have grown record amounts of mold. My motivation of keeping my house clean was quickly dashed by the numerous puppy foot prints everywhere. The gross factor of my house has been elevated by the humidity.

In my life of housekeeping it’s all or nothing. Either everything is cleaned and kept “nice” or nothing is. So if the floors can’t be clean then there’s really no point in cleaning the dishes in a timely manner. Problem with that is that with the constant rain mold starts growing exponentially faster and I don’t have the patience to deal with moldy food. So gross. Kathryn came over once and told me I live like a bachelor. People think I won’t let anyone come into my house because I don’t want them to see all my grand possessions, but it’s really that I’m embarrassed by the appearance of my house. I don’t mind it, but Hondurans are so meticulous about cleaning and they would be appalled.

I’ll tell you another thing about my living situation … If I have one more person question me about my living alone I might punch them in the face. Generally, this is how a conversation goes:

“So where do you live?”

“In a house near the plazita … below the stairs of the Church of San Isidro.”

“Ahhh ya. Who do you live with?”

“I live alone.” If Bourbon is with me, “Just me and my dog.” At this comment I get a sympathetic look like I’m a cat woman or something.

Then I am asked if I eat out every meal (all Hondurans are convinced that Americans cannot cook our own meals and we eat at McDonalds morning, noon and night).
Now, I always seem to be having this conversation with women only. I guess men don’t find it appropriate to ask or don’t really care about my living situation.

“Aren’t you scared that someone is going to come to your house and attack you at night?”
Well … I hadn’t been before, but now that you all mention it … YOU’RE STARTING TO FREAK ME OUT!

Single Honduran women would never dream of living alone until they were married. Jackie lives alone too and she gets SO much crap from her friends. Find a man, marry him and then you won’t be alone; doesn’t matter who, just get it over with. They seem so concerned for our well being, but not in the nice way, but like they pity us. Like, I don’t have any other options but to live with my dog. Then, they look at Bourbon and say, “Well at least you have him to take care of you …” The conversation is just dripping with pity and I want to smack everyone.

Oh, this is also generally accompanied with an inquiry into my marital status. When they find out I’m not and never have been married, do not have children, do not have a boyfriend and live alone … well they basically give me look like, “Wow you fail at life. How can you possibly be happy?”

With all this rain the lights have been going out a lot and I spend a lot of nights in complete darkness. Such conversations always come back to haunt me, but luckily instead of feeling sorry for myself I just get angry. God help anyone who did ever break into my house because I would have been going over these comments in my head long enough to turn into Hulk if anyone tried to mess with me.

Just a little ramble on Honduran life. I’ve been meaning to clean my house all day, but I’m ready the Time Traveler’s Wife and absolutely cannot put it down. Plus, I’ll admit, I just don’t want to clean my house.

Crazy Few Months

Well it’s been a while since I wrote, huh? I have this thing that I won’t write a blog unless I feel like it’s full of emotion. Generally I shoot for funny, but some depressing blogs have slipped in too. Of late it seems like every blog I ever started was very monotone. I’ll try to fill you in on more-or-less what has been going on in the past few months.

March – Had some work getting a couple of different communities started on some water projects. I started to work with my local mayor’s office to figure out what was going on with the water system here. Apart from that I spent a lot of time avoiding my office and sitting in my house watching movies. It’s interesting how you don’t realize you’re depressed until you start to feel normal again.

Now I do want to clarify that I’m not depressed because I don’t like my life here or something like that. It’s just life in harder some times and you just don’t feel like dealing. There are days and weeks when you don’t want to interact with people and sit and dream about what you’re missing in the States, which generally brings down your mood a bit. When you have work sporadically it makes it hard too because you don’t always have something to make you feel productive and important.

April – Beginning of the month I had some more sporadic work and then it all came to an end. Waiting on communities to get stuff together, etc. killed my motivation. I pretended to be working on the Junta de Agua guide, but that was generally a big farce. Much of April was spent doing nothing, and when I generally don’t have anything real to do I avoid the office, which means the internet as well.

Also, another factor encouraging me to avoid the office … a bundle of puppies! My friend gave me the keys to her house and almost immediately her dog gave birth to my dog’s puppies. Woops. They are just about the cutest things ever and so I spent much of my time playing with them and sitting in Jackie’s house watching History Channel. I know, terrible.

May – May has flown by. I started the month with a study that I finished in a couple of days; went directly into another study with Kathryn that took about a week. After that we had mid-term medicals. We have been living in our sites for a year now! Can you believe it?? At that point in our service we all have to go to Tegucigalpa for a couple of days to get all these tests done to make sure Honduras isn’t slowly killing us with weird diseases.

I will tell you it’s quite interesting having to do all this doctor stuff in Spanish. By interesting I mean stressful.

So we check into our hotel rooms and our poop sample cups are immediately distributed to us. Joy! The meaning of “regular bowel movements” has become a foreign concept to all of us and in order to ensure that we can fulfill our duties the next morning my group headed off to the mall to eat as much lovely fast food as possible. I had Wendy’s and then went to some cool yogurt stand and got yogurt with chocolate and strawberries mixed in. I love the Multiplaza Mall! It’s our haven whenever we are in Teguz. Any moment we don’t spend in the Peace Corps office we automatically jet off to the mall to wander around and look at all the things we can no longer afford. They have Cinnabon!! It’s like we’re teenagers again.

Anyways, had my first poop-in-a-cup experience … It’s hard man! Not as in the aiming sense, but it’s a lot of pressure having to deliver a sample that early in the morning! Ok, I’ll stop there. But, I am glad to report that the Ferguson stomach has fared me well and I have no parasites. I was kind of worried because on my first water study that month I chugged a 3-liter bottle of unknown origin Honduran water because I was so thirsty. I still have not managed to gather the courage to pee on a study either and suffered the rest of the day for it! But, at least it didn’t give me parasites.
Next stop was the dentist’s office. She was very nice and has a nicer office than my dentist in the States. Also, I got my teeth cleaned and everything by the dentist herself. I must admit, I missed the dental hygienist from home who would always ask questions that would require more than a grunt response whenever she had all her tools and crap shoved in your mouth. Again, good news! No cavities! As always I have to floss more and I have receding gums from putting too much pressure on my canines. I clamp my jaws shut now because of stress and therefore I have an awkward receding gums.
Met with the Peace Corps doctor and nothing new there; they’re amazed that I’m never in Teguz with health problems. My appointment was fairly easy, but then they decided to send the asthmatics to the lung doctor. Apparently, this is new Peace Corps policy to keep an eye on those of us with lung complications. Kind of makes me angry considering all the importance they put on it before I joined Peace Corps when it turns out they didn’t really care about it at all!

So, get there with my friend and the doctor is supposed to get there at 4 pm. Her hours are 4 pm – 7 pm. Odd. The doctor is almost an hour late! AN HOUR! I mean in the States if a doctor is late they will notify you or at least apologize. I went to check in for my appointment and the secretary looks me square in the face and says, “She’s not here yet.” Ok, I understand punctuality in this country is nonexistent, but when you get towards the hour mark and the doctor doesn’t to be interested in showing up for her appointments … well then maybe you should say something to the patients not so patiently waiting? I looked at the secretary lady at 45 minutes and she shot me this look like, “Yes? What do you want from me?” That’s when you forget about countries you once knew that functioned somewhat properly and you and you hunker down to watch yet another episode of some house design show dubbed in Spanish.

The doctor finally shows up and beckons me into the office. I’m sweating so bad just for the anticipated awkwardness of explaining my condition in Spanish. The equivalent in English would probably go something like, “No breath when run. Cough always now. Lots of dust.” The Peace Corps doctors wrote up a little explanation of my perpetual sinus congestion and productive cough. So the doctor has me do a peak flow test, which I have always hated. I’m standing there and she has me blow … Right. Then she does some other test with a machine to measure the functionality of my smaller lung parts or something. Turns out I have a sinus infection. Right. Then she tells me I don’t have asthma. Did I get that wrong because of the language difference? Kind of hard to though because “no” and “asthma” as more or less the same in bother languages … I don’t have asthma. I didn’t point out to her that I have sports induced asthma and she made me do the tests with me standing in a doctor’s office. I didn’t point out that she didn’t have me do any stress exercises before the peak flow test. She kind of scared me so I took my drugs and left. Don’t have asthma. Silly.

That night we went to get … SUSHI! I have never been more content in my life. I had miso soup and sushi. So amazingly wonderful that I can’t even describe it. I think I almost cried when I took my first sip of soup and first bite of a California role. Sushi is one of the foods that we don’t even have a hope of recreating in our homes. I mean my friends are amazing cooks, but they can’t make Sushi the way the Japanese do and therefore it was heavenly.

Instead of taking advantage of the night life in Teguz or the many places that sell decent beer the whole lot of us returned to the hotel to take advantage of the … cable. Most of us don’t have T.V.s and we definitely don’t get Teguz quality cable in our sites. You become oddly intolerable of any program in Spanish. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked, “Why isn’t there anything in English??” Only to get the response, “Hannah it’s because we’re in a Spanish speaking country!” Right.

Sounds lame, but that’s reality of it. We have one rule always: no watching any program in Spanish. It could be the best movie/program in the world, but we will refuse to watch it if it’s dubbed. No go. Not allowed. Inevitably in our search for an acceptable program we will pass Family Guy or The Simpsons on at least one channel. This will prompt someone in the room to fly into a rage about why they even bother showing these programs because the humor, even if it isn’t lost in translation, is completely lost on people here. There’s an inevitable sequence of events when we watch T.V. together:

1) Insistence on a remote
2) Reminder that we cannot watch anything in Spanish
3) Rant of Family Guy/The Simpsons
4) Criticize music videos in Spanish
5) Find a good program and watch if for a few minutes before we realize it’s not in English, but we just didn’t realize it and are forced to change the channel again …
6) Squeal when we inevitably find something worth watching.
Hey, it’s the little things that count!

I’m walking around at the moment (still) looking like a heroin addict because the PCMOs (Peace Corps doctors) made me get blood drawn. I’ve always had problem with getting blood drawn and IVs. My arms just don’t seem to have very good, accessible veins. I understand this and generally warn people that my veins always put up a fight. It never fails that the nurses don’t believe me, thinking that I don’t have confidence in their skills; the problem is that they have too much confidence.

So I walk in there and they sit me down and the nurse pokes and prods me for a while before she isolates a vein that satisfies her. Deep breath, she slides the needle in … nothing. She gives me a look like, “Give it up!” She slides the needle a little bit to the right, to the left. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there trying not to notice the needle in my arm moving every which way with still no blood coming out. Then she calls over another guy and he saddles up like, “I got this!”

He chooses to torture the same vein and gets a little bit of blood into the vile. I look at the tiniest trickle of blood and ask, “And how many of these do you need??” Three. Poop. Then, I liked this part, they have the nerve to blame it on me! I’m not relaxed and the blood won’t flow. Excuse me?? You want me to relax when you’ve practically severed my arm at my elbow by jabbing that darn needle everywhere? Would you be relaxed? I’m trying with ever nerve in my body to maintain consciousness because the last thing I want to be is the white girl that fainted in the office, but you’re making it awfully hard right now and I’ve never come close to fainting before in my life!

Now, I’m not a doctor and maybe my state of high stress at the time (most of the time) was causing my blood to flow slower, but a little lesson in patient-doctor relating skills: don’t blame it on the patient! That generally does not encourage them to relax!
He finally gave my poor arm a rest after he had successfully bludgeoned my vein to death. He still hadn’t gotten the blood he wanted/needed and moved his torturous practices to the other arm. Instead of using some needle that just lets the blood flow naturally into the vile he chose to use a syringe to DRAW the blood out. He locates the vein, tells me to relax in response to which I shot him a death glare, and he shoves this massive needle into my arm and a couple of times pulls out the little stopper guy before he draws out blood. He practically fills the syringe and I’m just about out when he finally guesses he has enough. NEVER AGAIN. If they want blood from me again in Honduras they’re going to have to evacuate me to D.C. where people have some good doctoring skills and don’t stab my arm to death.

On the bright side though, when people in town have asked me where I’ve been and I say in Teguz for doctor’s appointments (people don’t understand why we don’t stay local) and they give me a skeptical look … I shove my right arm in their face as proof that I indeed saw doctors and they tortured me as well!

That’s about all for now. I will right more in a bit. Kathryn wrote a funny story about our day of bugs and I’ll copy that into my blog too.