Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Times and More...

Greetings again from Honduras. I guess I can say a late Merry Christmas. I did spend it here in Honduras. It was the first time I was away from the family for the Holidays and it felt different. Nonetheless, I had a great time with friends.

Christmas Eve here is really the big day to celebrate. Families go to mass and then come home to a feast and a fiesta. Then, at about 11 o’clock, the madness that is the fireworks starts. No kidding, all kinds and all sizes of fireworks blasted until 1 in the morning…two hours straight. It was pretty impressive.

On actual Christmas day the streets were quiet as most people rest from an eventful night before. Us gringos made it our big day though. My good friends Mo and Rachel visited along with Rachel’s dad and sister. Other volunteers came into town as well. In the morning I took the guys on a walk and mini hike to the back country of my town, then at night we feasted on a fantastic Christmas meal. The night was topped off with some dancing at a local bar with live Honduran music.

For the last week and a half I have taken off work to just relax and enjoy the holiday break. For new years a group of 7 of us are going to the North part of the country to a small Hotel in the Jungle. We will spend New Years Eve there then river raft and hike for 3 days. Another out of the ordinary holiday celebration but I am looking forward to it.

In Honduran news, all is pretty tranquilo (calm) as we say here. Everyone has pretty much accepted that the elections are over, the new president will come into power, and former president Zelaya is all but without options.

I also read a very interesting article on the coup and the effect on business here in Honduras. You can read it (here). It talks about how since the coup nearly 180,000 jobs have been lost (in a country of only 7.5 million) and during the times when nightly curfews were imposed the country lost nearly $50 million a day (with a GDP of only $14 Billion). In a country that is already the second most poor in all of Latin America, the argument of the effectiveness of the coup continues.

I also want to remind people of the Podcast for Peace Corps here in Honduras. You can find it on iTunes by searching Peace Corps, then clicking on “see all” in the podcast section. Its called “La Vida Hondureña.” You can also click here (you will need to open iTunes and be connected to the internet). We explain a little bit of what life is like as Peace Corps volunteers in Honduras. There are 3 episodes up. But for some reason iTunes only shows 2. If you click the subscribe button on the iTunes page however, the latest episode does show up. Subscribing is better because the updates come faster. I am also going to paste the latest podcast below.

So just wanted to say Happy Holidays, even though it’s a little late. I know there will be some crazy New Years parties back home so have a great time. Right now I am just loving things down here…living for the moment and soaking up what I can. Tough times come and I think just accepting that they will is the best thing I can do for those times. Its all a great journey…learning, loving, living.

…Until next time.


LA VIDA HONDUREÑA - EPISODE 3...CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Times are good...

Greetings again from Honduras. A lot has happened since my return and even since my last blog. Here we go.

In Honduran news, elections for the new president are over and “Pepe” Lobo of the nationalista party is victorious. He will be sworn in on January 27th. This doesn’t mean the political crisis is over however. Some countries are recognizing him, some not. The US has an agreement to recognize the winner after congress votes, upon agreement, on the reinstatement of Mel Zelaya for the remainder of his term.

They voted and he won’t be reinstated, and more so, the supreme court still says if he steps foot out of the Brazilian embassy he will be arrested to face trial. Zelaya doesn’t recognize the vote. Mexico then tried to get him safely out of the country, only for Honduras to say he could only go under political asylum. This would mean Zelaya giving up all chances to be back as president. Click here (CNN) for more information.

The other day here in Santa Rosa I had a most memorable day. It was a Tuesday, World AIDS day, and in the morning I had planned to go out to the Aldea (outer lying small town) to work with the kids (check out the video below). In the afternoon I would return to my office at ADELSAR to go back to work for the first time since my return.






The work with the kids was great. It was my first day back with them and very fulfilling. It’s simple work, educational for the kids, and fun. I posted a video about it below.

Then, I took the bus back to town where I went to the Super Market for a bit. When I walked out, on the back of this SUV was a sticker. It was an AIDS awareness sticker, and I had designed it. I saw it on other cars too. It was all so unexpected. People were in the park all day wearing shirts and passing out stickers all with the logo I had created. People put the stickers on their cars and taxis that morning.

I will never forget this day as it really hit me that my work really meant something. I smiled on the outside, and more importantly, on the inside too. That sticker is now all over town…on taxis, cars, and other places creating awareness. I am reminded every day, when a car passes with the sticker on it, that I’ve made some small impact in this town.
My other work is going great too. I am just about finished with a promotions manual for my NGO. I am helping with logos and promotions for an artisan group NGO and will start working with another NGO to help more rural families with business and promotions practices soon.

Also, I started a Podcast for Peace Corps here in Honduras. You can find it on iTunes by searching Peace Corps. Its called “La Vida Hondureña.” You can also click here (you will need to open iTunes and be connectedto the internet). We explain a little bit of what life is like as Peace Corps volunteers in Honduras.

And, unfortunately, we are losing a great volunteer here in Honduras and a great friend of mine. My dear amiga Shannon has decided her time in Honduras is up. She wrote a great farewell blog here that explains it all. Its really hard to see her go as our story is a most rare one. She is a great person, volunteer, and friend. She will be missed.

Its really been a complete 180 here. I do believe all things happen for a reason. And what has brought me to this point has made me all the better. I can honestly say I am feeling good! I have high hopes for the future and am excited about what’s to come. It’s a nice breath of fresh air.

…Until next time

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Beginnings in Honduras...

Greetings again from Honduras. I am getting back to life here in Honduras and am feeling great. The supportive response I got from my last blog was amazing and I appreciate all the emails and messages. It means more than you know.

The elections just ended last night, I am getting ready to move into a new apartment, and things just feel like they are gradually coming a fresh here.

Upon my return I stayed in the capitol one night to hang and say good bye to my good friend Randy. He and his girlfriend decided to head back to the states and I wish them the best. The next day I headed out to the East of Honduras to visit my lovely lady Elisabeth. We just relaxed and had a mellow time. It was awesome.

I returned to my site, Santa Rosa de Copán, three days later. I started by cleaning up my apartment a bit. While I was gone my apartment flooded. My sitemate Kristina came one day to check on my place and she saw it had water all over the floor. She was so awesome as to mop it all up and tidy up the place. I finished off the rest when I returned. The building I live in has construction as they are adding a second floor. They clogged the outside drain hence the flooding. This is also great for sleep as I am woken up 6 days a week by this construction, and if it’s not the guys being loud it’s the dog next door barking at them. This doesn’t help my whole sleeping problem. I can do nothing but smile and say, “I love this country” (just an ounce of sarcasm…I really was happy to get back, upon landing at the airport in the capitol a big smile came over my face and I really felt glad to return, as I knew I was supposed to be back here…those little funny things make me smile though….but I digress).

I then went to a Thanksgiving feast gathering in Marcala in the department of La Paz. Good friends Rachel and Mo hosted and it was awesome. It was a great thanksgiving with great friends, great food, and good times.

Unrelated to the construction I soon will be moving to a new place because of certain circumstances. I really like the possible new place I will be moving into.

And in Honduran news, the elections for the new president took place yesterday. It looks like the “Pepe” Lobo will be the winner but it is not official yet (CNN). This election received much international attention as people here in Honduras and around the world hope it will end the political crisis here in Honduras. The US has now agreed to recognize the elections, along with Costa Rica. Brazil, Argentina, and other countries still refuse to recognize it. The new president will be sworn in on January 27th.

(Former) president Zelaya still sits in the Brazilian embassy. The new agreement by both dueling parties said the future of Mel Zelaya as president would be solved by way of a congressional vote for the remainder of this term. The Supreme Court has to approve it as well but they say before anything Zelaya will have to face trial for breaking constitutional law while in office. This vote is set take place December 2nd.

So while it looks like the political crisis may be coming to an end, there is still a bit of uncertainty, and certainty is necessary to get Honduras completely back on track.

As for work, I go back tomorrow to finish with the kids in the Aldea (small outer town) and then back to the office. My new goal is to start an NGO of my own. More on that to come in future blogs.

I am also starting a new Peace Corps Honduras podcast where I will interview volunteers and have a mini show you can listen to on your iPod or computer. If there is something you want to know about life down here, the country, or have questions please send an email to lavidapodcast@gmail.com . The goal is to get you a fun little show that you can listen to regarding Peace Corps life in Honduras. It will be up in a short time.

So family, friends, folks, and fellows, things are looking brighter here in Honduras. I have this whole new perspective and am trying to remind myself what this whole journey is about. I feel a lot better, am refreshed, and have high hopes for the future. The best thing I am doing is just living, living day to day, and smiling at it all. I’m gonna do what I need to do; be here, be there, work on this, work on that, and maybe some stuff in between. No worries and moving forward…let’s go.

…Until Next time

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gettin back to it....

Greetings again from Honduras. I am sure many of you are noticing I haven’t blogged in a while. For the past month I haven’t been in Honduras…I’ve been in Washington DC.

Well what happened? This is tough to write, but I think there is importance in sharing this. Things were going along in Honduras and quickly I began a slippery slope of sliding into dark times. I was emotionally all over the place my anxiety was through the roof, and I didn’t know where to turn. I have a history of anxiety but it had never got this bad. My pride told me that I could deal with it all myself. We all have the shadow in our lives and the little monsters that we shove away into the closet of our minds past. Well, after long, they want to get out.

With not much distraction, and a lot of alone time, those little monsters came out screaming, and I didn’t know where to turn. Some people turn to booze, some to drugs, but I wouldn’t let myself medicate with any of those. I was just trying to deal with it but things only got worse. Upon talking to Peace Corps in the States, they invited me up to Washington DC, to figure things out.

My time in DC was eye opening. And after a lot of thinking and breakthroughs, I returned back to here to Honduras with a new mindset. So why am I telling everyone this? I am writing this because I want to give you my open reality. I don’t want to hide anything from my experience.

My whole plan was to return to Honduras and act as if I had never left, not telling friends in Honduras or even my family. I think part of it was a little shame. But I was only continuing to hide my situation from those closest to me thus extending my condition. What I found from the people I cared about most is not shame or disappointment, but loving support and words of strength to get me back on my feet. Those who love you are the rock, the team you need to support you. They continue to show you love even when you don’t love yourself.

I discovered some things back here in the states and will continue this process. I found that those little monsters and the shadow will always be there. It is in the coming to terms with it, and with acceptance that this is part of me that starts the healing process. We look at that dark room and those monsters and we get terrified of walking through it, of dealing with it. But it is the fear that holds us captive. Walking through that room is easier than we think, we just need that first step that takes us to the other side.

So I am back today, here to Honduras, with a different mindset and different goals. I have a long way to go. I return with a different plan, a new found self-respect, and the energy to really go for what I want out of my experience. I also have the acceptance that whatever will happen will happen and I just need to live in the now.

I wrote this blog to get off my chest the difficult reality that this service has sometimes brought. It has been a deeply personal time for me but I wanted to share with you this much. By addressing the things that held me back and swallowing my pride I was able to seek what I was looking for. It’s a nice feeling on the other side.

…Until next time

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We Made it Diving...

Greetings again from Honduras. I made it to the island of Utila and a group of 13 of us enjoyed our official first vacation here in Honduras. How amazing it was. I have some pictures below but will definitely put a lot of them in the next video blog I do.

In case people are out of the loop a friend and me had planned a trip out to Utila, a Honduran island in the North Caribbean coast. We got together 11 others to get out there to become certified scuba divers (Utila has some of the best diving in the world).

When Mel Zelaya came back to Honduras and it caused uproar, curfews, and uncertainty for the safety of travel. We all thought we weren’t going to make it on the trip. Well, we did, and it was awesome. There were curfews issued by the Honduras government in the first few days we were there but they didn’t pertain to the Bay Islands (the 3 islands in the Caribbean) so we had good times during the day AND at night…rock and roll!

We dove, got certified, relaxed, and spent good times with friends. I really didn’t want to leave but there is a lot to do back in my site.








The political situation still is uncertain. The de facto government is trying to control the press and tv more and more, then the people speak their opinion, and rules change. Its ongoing, and even with elections coming in November, it may not be the end of the political situation here.

I continue to do a world map project with the kids in a small town close to my site, work on Peace Corps promotional materials, and help out with advertising with my NGO. I know I don’t talk about work a whole lot on here. I do work, as much as I can. The fact is I am not sure stating how I create logos, a website, and help with design elements is all that interesting. Maybe I will get into it more in future blogs.

Hope all is well back home.

…until next time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mel Zelaya is back...

Greetings again from Honduras. So here we are back into heightened unrest. The political solution rears its ugly head again.

After 3 months out of the country ex-president Mel Zelaya snuck back into the country and planted himself in the Brazilian embassy. The news on Tuesday was circling around of his retrn. People thought it was false, then they said it was true, then it was confirmed.

Later in the day he stepped out, addressed the people and returned insie the embassy. Of course being in an embassy the authorities here in Honduras are not allowed to go after him. Honduran police and soldiers dispersed the crowd on Monday, injuring some people. Then, a national curfew was put in place from 4pm on Monday the 21st and was just lifted today, September 23 at 10am. The curfew will go back into place tonight at 5pm.

The current government said it may be willing to have negotiations with Zelaya (BBC). But no one is sure what would exactly happen if there were talks or if Zelaya stepped out of the embassy. Honduras said they would still honor the arrest warrant for him.

In the meantime Brazil is asking for meetings with the UN (CNN). Naturally they are a little worried about the center of attention being on their embassy with unrest brewing in the streets from citizens. Honduras sent a letter to the Brazilian embassy asking them either to give Zelaya asylum in their country or to turn him over to Honduran authorities.

Most of the unrest centers in the capitol of Tegucigalpa and again here in Santa Rosa and most parts of the country all is calm, except for people blabbing their opinion and theories of the outcome.

As I had mentioned before a big group of us have a dive trip planned for next week leaving Saturday to the bay islands. Honestly and obviously this is of great concern right now. Will I be able to be on the beach and scuba diving next week? I sure hope so. Let's hope Honduras figures this out. Really, for the sake of the country.

…until next time

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The great hike...

Greetings again from Honduras. Its Saturday morning and it’s the first weekend in a while I can remember without anything going on. Well, actually my cousin Mike Jr. is getting married this weekend in Tahoe. Obviously I can’t be there but congratulations Mike and Jodi.

So last week I went out to the Eastern part of the country. While there I embarked on the hike of all hikes. We climbed through the jungle, literally, through small waterfalls and cliffs to finally one giant big waterfall. We had a Honduran guide through it all. This guy was a true mountain man yet still very generous in leading us. There wasn’t any passage he couldn’t make happen. He brought his 10 year old son along, and this kid is gonna be one hell of a mountain man when he grows up too.

I can’t help but to just love these moments. That hike was a combination of exploration, soaking in nature, and meeting a man and his son whose generosity I will never forget.

I don’t know, it was a simple (actually pretty grueling) day of hiking. However, in the greater picture of things, it’sa sign of the common bond of humanity. Here I was, in a forresty jungle in the middle of Central America, being led by a Honduran who lived in the hills, giving us nothing more than his skills and his time because he wanted to. He didn’t ask for a dime. Many people just won ‘t do that. Its weird to even think how rare this is. And most of the time this kind of kindness and generosity comes from people who have little to nothing in their pockets.

Its that kind of goodness that gives me faith in a country like Honduras, the US, or any other that needs a little goodness and truth put back into it’s country’s community. It’s those little moments that may seem small, but really make an impact.

This experience and others while serving here in Honduras are just fascinating.

Keep searching…keep exploring…try and try again.

…Until next time

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friends, Cigars, and adventures...

Greetings again from Honduras. Time is flyin down here. Its been a crazy month and September will probably be the same. More lessons learned, more great experiences, and more madness that is Honduras.

In coup de ‘tat news, the US puts more stronghold on Honduras to change the government. Check out this website if you are really interested (buzztracker). This thing drags on and boy is it exciting (sarcasm). Demands are getting weaker and who knows where it will end. Peace Corps is pretty much un-affected now in relation to the political issues.

About my last blog, just a note that is really how things here go sometimes. The unfamiliar atmosphere can do funny things to the mind. Someone asked me if I was drunk when I wrote it...not in the slightest

In the life if me, the end of August was full of events. I took another mountain getaway trip to my buddy Harrison’s place. Its nice to get out, experience the land, and meet the people while having good time with friends.



The next day Peace Corps had “reconnect” for all business volunteers. This is where we all the current business volunteers met up in a town got Siguatepeque in the middle of Honduras to join and have a little re-booster, if you will, related to our work and possible work. It was good to see all my friends from training back together again. Good times.

The last day of re-connect a bunch of volunteers (about 60) traveled to my site in Santa Rosa de Copan to go to an event called “Noche de Fumadores.” This means night of smokers. Here in SR there is a well known cigar plant and the city is known for its puros (cigars). We all enjoyed cigars, aged rum, food and beer. Pictures to come.



The event took place during what they call Feria here. Feria is like the town fair but it lasts two weeks with events at night and during the day on weekends. We watched the crowning of the tobacco queen followed y fireworks one night. It was a great cultural experience.

Work continues along, but not with out frustrations. I remain working on a web page for my NGO which seems like it’s taking some time, but such are projects in Honduras. Its in limbo now because I am going to collaborate with another volunteer on it who will travel up in a couple weeks to help me out. Next week I start a project in a smaller outer Aldea (small town) with a 6th grade class there to teach a bit of geography and paint a world map for them. Other small projects take up most of my days.

And so goes my service in Honduras. At the end of this month a group of us head to the island of Utila to take scuba diving courses and obtain our licenses. Damn I can’t wait for this. The beach is my haven and I miss those California days sittin on the sand, sun in my face, and a nice beverage in hand. I haven’t seen the beach in months. This will be a nice return.

Alright, so that’s that. Hope all is well back home. Fall approaches and new adventures are on the horizon. I await for them. Aaaaand I just though of something…

In star wars (I know this sounds like it may get dorky but hang in there. I am not a star wars fan nor that much into it but I can throw this reference out based on many a hip references to it…damn I digress) yoda tells Luke during his tough training, “adventure, excitement, a jedi craves not these things.” I realize, for me the little green man is so wrong. These things are exactly what I crave, and I love it. It makes me see this world from a point of view that opens me up to the true reality of things, peace, and the vast world community. Always explore. Always search. Have fun. Its all part of a great journey. Such is life and so is my experience.

…until next time

Sunday, August 23, 2009

...its 6 months ya jamoke

Just wanted to say I am a goon. I have been here over 6 months now, not 5. Time is flying indeed. This is like the time I sent out an evite to my half-century birthday party last year. My friend Chet then told me "Lemo, its a quarter century." Oh yeah, again, with a jamoke move. Possibly my 1st grade teacher let me slip a little with math and I never caught up. Sometimes I wonder how this mind of mine works...problems with numbers, selective memory, spouting out random better unsaid thoughts to unsuspecting friends and strangers who then look at me like I am crazy...hey a mango just fell on the roof, cool...stream of consciousness writing.

Yesterday I took a Facebook quiz that told me indeed my mind was playing tricks on me. But I already knew this. Its funny to get reminders like that. Its like "hey, you are living in the middle of Central America." Oh yeah, crazy, I am. And then I remember that I am here...but I digress.

Well this could go on forever, and you may just be thinking "what am I reading?" This is what happens sometimes here.

No really though, it makes me appreciate this experience even more. What is life with out a little bit of nuttyness? Its boring thats what.

Life...what a trip.

...until next time

Sunday, August 16, 2009

5 Months in Honduras...

Greetings again from Honduras. It’s another Sunday blog as this day seems to be the day where I have the most time to shinaggle around. Not sure that is a word but sounded great. I have now been in Honduras 5 months and in my site for 3 months. It is crazy how fast time flies. I have accompanied a video blog with this one too.

I just got back to a great trip in Yaramangila, about 2 and a half hours east of here, visiting a fellow volunteer and some friends. It was a like a trip to a “mountain getaway.” It was a breath of fresh air after some more crazy weeks. Work and life are getting unexpectedly stressful… but more on that later.

The political unrest continues. Former president Zelaya flies around Central America trying to gain support while the current interim government rejects all proposals and says it will hold out until the Nov. 29th elections.

The US and many other countries continue to pull back aid from Honduras. A lot of work is halting and volunteers are even seeing some of their counterparts and projects being downsized and even stripped of funding. The situation is still affecting the whole country.

I still feel safe, and Peace Corps has lifted all travel bans with the exception of needing special permission to go through the capitol of Tegucigalpa. This is where most demonstrations are taking place and are getting a little rowdy. It’s still up in the air how this all will end.

The US said they might not even recognize the Nov 29th election if the interim government is still in power. That would mean funds still being held past the elections. This could have a huge impact on aid to the country but we will see.

Work is going right along. Right now I am still working on getting my organizations website up, creating a new promotional look, and am about to start a new project at a local school called the World Map project. We will help them paint a new large map on the wall of their school to teach them geography. I am looking forward to it.

Things continue to be challenging here. Balancing life here is even harder than back home and I didn’t expect this. Work gets to me and it’s hard to say no to people when I know they really need help and I am their only source for a certain project. It’s hard to balance with so much on my mind. It’s a great lesson in patience, discovery, and finding fluidity to work successfully. It’s hard and definitely not what I expected to face here. But again, its part of the journey and the adventure drives me.

I visit friends and take moments of reflection to calm down and relax like the trip I took out to my friend’s mountain house. It was good times. He has a house that looks over the beautiful countryside. We sat and talked about Peace Corps, life, adventures, and challenges. It was a great time to catch up.

This journey seems to be half finding what is the best way to contribute to others, and half finding what I am all about; making new self-discoveries. Such is the journey, and such is life. So I’m taking the days as they come and not taking life too seriously…its fun, exciting, and all part of it. What times there are here in Honduras.

…until next time

P.S. Check out the video blog!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roller Coasters in Honduras...

Greetings again from Honduras. Well, the coup after math continues and it seems some light may be at the end of the tunnel. But when one solution arises another challenge presents itself. The roller coaster continues and although I don’t know who is at the controls, its one helluva ride. Such is life and such is the trend here in Honduras.

So for the light at the end of the tunnel, it appears now that Honduran leader Michelleti is showing support for a compromise that would return President Zelaya back to power (NYTimes)

Michelleti apparently called Costa Rican President Arias to say he is willing to work on the presented solutions and now needs help to gain support from Honduras officials. Arias presented a plan that would reinstate Zelaya, but with limited power.

Meanwhile Zelaya is posted out at the Honduran/Nicaraguan border. He first returned to the border last weekend where he caused a media frenzy, greeted supporters, then sticking his foot across the border.

The rumor of his return caused a 12PM curfew (yes midday) for all bordering departments (states as we know them back home). Most all stayed peaceful and it was mostly a big hooplah.

Today roadblocks and marches started back up as Zelaya called for Thursdays and Fridays to be national strikes. The blocks usually go on for 3-4 hours then dissipate. All are peaceful.

I only checked out a couple of articles on this as honestly, my interest in the situation begins to dither because life here seems back to normal. Peace Corps lifted all travel bans with the exception of volunteers needing permission to travel through the capitol Tegucigalpa.

Another good bit of news is that the new training class of volunteers, after being shipped to the Dominican Republic for a few weeks then being held up in Miami for a few days, have made it here to Honduras. It’s a clear sign that Peace Corps and the US Government are sure enough about the situation to send more Peace Corps aid to Honduras.

Also worked has picked up a bit. I am in full force trying to make and coordinate a new web page for my organization. This project is one experience let me tell you. Trying to learn how to make a good webpage from scratch, and having people not understand that it doesn’t take 2 weeks to make a good web page is more of a challenge than you think. I guess I could say it’s a great learning experience that is challenging me in many ways. My graphic design skills are quickly improving and I assume my web design skills will have to as well.

A fellow water/sanitation volunteer here in Santa Rosa and I took a trip on Wednesday out to an Aldea (small rural village) to meet a school director. We are going to start a project teaching the kids about geography and painting a giant world map with them. I am really looking forward to this. Getting out of the “city” and working in the rural area will be a nice breath of fresh air. I was always looking forward to these grassroots, “getting out there with the people” projects, as I call them.

Well, guess that’s all for now. Missing everyone out in Cali especially during these summer times. I miss the traditional events of the season. This summer will be the first time missing the horseshoe championship of the world (website). Its a time for horseshoes, good friends, and catching up. The event starts tomorrow. Best of luck to all competitors, I know I would win if I was there (I am a two time champ). Live up the summer times!

…until next time

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peace Corps and Honduras need a Resolution!

Greetings again from Honduras. Oh how this situation continues to spin in circles. It’s taking its toll on a lot of Peace Corps volunteers and frankly, is pissing me off. Many volunteers are losing hope and worse, getting upset at Peace Corps handling or taking it out elsewhere. The Peace Corps administration is doing all it can but how this situation plays out is out of our control.

So, here is the latest and greatest. Mediation between President Zelaya and the current government, who Zelaya calls the “coup regime,” were supposed to take place Wednesday and did not. President Arias of Costa Rica, the mediator, came up with a plan to reinstate Zelaya, have a unity government, and have early elections to get a new President in after that (CNN).

The current interim government said they would submit it through the government, the same government that ousted the president. Meanwhile, before the plan is even considered Zelaya is saying talks are over. Speaking in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, Zelaya said: "The coup leaders are totally refusing my reinstatement."

"By refusing to sign, [the talks] have failed."

President Zelaya has said he may try to return to Honduras as early as Thursday. If the plan is accepted it would be Friday officially(BBC).

The government kicked out the Venezuelan ambassador who then refused to leave saying the current government is not legitimate.

Roadblocks continue in some parts of the country by supporters. These are peaceful protests where people block cars and busses from crossing. Some volunteers have ran into these and simply walked through and around them with no problem.

What is really upsetting me about this whole situation, and not that there is much I can do about it, is the appalling rate of volunteers from my group deciding to go home. The count is now up to 10 total with 5 just in the last week and a half.

I really don’t know what to think of it. We have a travel ban which makes us all feel constricted and anxious when we can’t leave our sites to visit others for support or just get some fresh air. Funds are being pulled from foreign aid left and right, which result in work for a lot of volunteers being non-existent.

But damn it I am mad and don’t know who or what to be mad at. Honduras is a country that needs sustainable help and yet we are in political unrest with governments who, I think, are sincere about their ideas for the people but playing the who is bigger and tougher game. But now in trying to make things better they are only getting worse.

I was beginning to find a sense of calm and tranquility within myself. But all this is happening in a country with unrest and Peace Corps volunteers losing morale. My friends and other volunteers feel other strong feelings, enough to send them packing. It just gets to me. The PC group that has been here the longest (called H11…I am H14) are requesting to go home early or trying to finagle a way to get sent home. What the hell is happening here and what are we doing? Our country director even had to send out an inspirational message to keep people afloat.

I am here for the long run. I’ve made it through some tough times before and feel it will take a mountain of problems to even start thinking about going home. Believe me when I say Peace Corps is hard, mentally and emotionally. But this is what I signed up for. Hope for better times is all we have in difficult situations.

Peace Corps and this country need resolution to get back on track. Someone needs to figure it out.

It’s weird, adventurous, upsetting, and humbling to go through all this. At this point I am less clear about the situation than I have ever been. I don’t have all the answers, but I have what I feel. ..

On another note, I want to send my condolences to the Stancil family and the Burns family. Bev Stancil and Pat LaCoco passed last week and Sue Burns just this week. They were all friends of our family and am keeping them all in my thoughts. I ask you to do the same.

Times are turbulent and challenging. I was told just a few months ago that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. Very quickly I am starting to believe this.

…Until next time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Water Begins to Boil Again...

Greetings again from Honduras. Just when we thought things were settling down here in Honduras the water begins to boil again. There continues to be a sense of calm and peace here but our security and country director, along with news reports, continue to tell us the unrest is building.

President Zelaya and President Micheletti (I don’t know which one to call president, it depends on who you ask) met last Saturday with the president of Costa Rica, as advised by Hillary Clinton, to try to come to an agreement through mediation. The two never met face to face, Micheletti left the country late in the day. There was no resolution…big surprise.

On Tuesday Zelaya vowed to return home and told his people from Guatemala

“This weekend we are planning many internal activities in the country…We are not going to rest, and the public is not going to rest, because the right against oppression is a right that people have" (CNN).

Another mediation with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is scheduled for Saturday. This may or may not happen.

Zelaya also said that if this mediation process doesn’t work he will consider it failed, and resort to “other means.” He did not elaborate (CNN).

Micheletti spoke from the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa yesterday and stated…

“I state that if at any given moment there is a decision for peace and calm in the country, and he does not return, on the condition that ex-President Zelaya does not return, I am willing to step down”. After, Zelaya urged his supporters to continue protests and civil disobedience calling for his return. On Wednesday, Zelaya supporters continued daily marches in the capital Tegucigalpa (Democracy Now).

Who would be president if Micheletti happened to step down? I don’t know. He also said there was a possibility of early elections, that many say would cause all kinds of more unrest and is impractical.

Interestingly, a new poll shows Zelaya remains more popular than his ouster. According to Gallup, 46% of Hondurans hold a favorable opinion of Zelaya compared to 30% for Michelleti (Democracy Now). Often the poor, who are a majority of Zelaya’s support, go unheard. This is possibly their chance to show how strong they can be.

Peace Corps yesterday lifted a travel ban in the country and two hours later reinstalled it. I was particularly upset as I had a work trip planned to go to the eastern part of the country today. Unfortunately, I will have to wait it out. We are allowed to travel only within our region so I might go to Gracias (only an hour away) and visit some friends on Saturday. We will see what turns out.

Last weekend I did something I have been waiting to do for a long time in order to relax and celebrate the time of a German volunteer here in the office, Anna, whose last day is today. On Saturday three of us put on our ridin' clothes and went horse back riding. I know it sounds funny but it was amazing. We rode through some back country, saw beautiful views, and all in all it was a breath of fresh air. This was undoubtedly the peak of my calming point. Pictures are to come in my next video blog.

Otherwise I am back to work, getting the design done for the NGO’s new web page and doing other small design projects. I am hoping to get a map/geography project up at the school soon.

That’s what we got for now. Due to this interesting situation many volunteers are starting to feel suffocated and locked in due to all the restrictions and uncertainty and I completely understand. A lot of funds and work has been halted. However, I am in good spirits and hope for the best. A certain calm has come over me about the situation here.

Day by day life happens for me in Honduras, what comes next is the mystery and part of the great adventure.

…Until next time

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zelaya Tries to Return While Peace Corps and My Mind Are In Limbo

Greetings again from Honduras. Everything continues to be calm here in Santa Rosa. Many of the other volunteers continue to say that things are calm in their sites too. The unrest and protests continue to be in the larger cities of San Pedro Sula and the capitol of Tegucigalpa.

I did get to celebrate the 4th of July with friends here in Santa Rosa. In was fun, had some drinks, but no 4th of July Tahoe style.

The big news here is that on Sunday (former) President Zelaya attempted to return to Honduras. He was aboard a Venezuelan jet with the UN ambassador. A huge crowd of Zelaya supporters gathered at the airport then tried to breach the fences. Army trucks had parked on the runway to prevent Zelayas plane from landing, which it did attempt 3 times. Soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd (BBC Video). Live fire was reported and there were 2 confirmed deaths. Zelaya’s plane eventually landed in El Salvador.

The US Embassy has come out with a travel advisory which states…

“Due to the current unstable political and security situation, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa recommends American citizens defer all non-essential travel to Honduras until further notice…Demonstrations both against and in favor of the new regime are expected to continue in the coming days throughout the country, including in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, El Progreso and Roatan. Demonstrations to date have been generally non-violent and there have been few reports of injuries”

However, I do know of people who have traveled here, problem free, in the past week. The Tegucigalpa airport is closed but others are open. If you or anyone you know is thinking of traveling, the choice is yours.

Zelaya is in Washington DC today to talk to Hillary Clinton. This meeting should be interesting. Especially since yesterday, Hugo Chavez, President of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela spoke over the phone with some press people saying " that he thinks that the US is involved in supporting the Honduras military de facto regime.” (AC). Zelaya and Chaves are known to be good buddies, and Chaves is rumored to be behind Zelaya’s move for a new Honduras.

For PC safety concerns, we are not allowed to travel to the two biggest cities in Honduras, San Pedro Sula and the capitol, Tegucigalpa. This is where most of the demonstrations are taking place. We are also not permitted to take “personal time” which is when volunteers take a two-night stay away from site just to get away. Essentially, we can’t travel anywhere and stay the night until further notice. I wouldn’t be able to do this anyway until July 16th because of Peace Corps rule about not traveling my first two months in site. I hope this is lifted by then.

So there it is, protests continue, president Zelaya failed to return, and a resolution may not happen until the new elections in November. My state of mind is still in a bit of limbo. It is difficult to get behind work that may be cut in the near future. However, I have returned to work to try and get some projects moving. The international community continues to withdraw support and aid to Honduras, a country who desperately needs it. For these reasons, I hope a resolution comes soon.

On another note, I want to give a special “hola amigos” to my boys Huff and Stapes of Two Jacks in the Hole Radio. This is a great podcast that also goes live on Wednesday nights from 8-10PM PST on pokerroad.com. Don’t be fooled it’s not a poker show, but is hilarious and guaranteed to make you laugh. Good for anyone looking to be entertained. “At worst, it’s the best podcast ever.” Check them out at twojacksinthehole.com or huffandstapes.com .

Alright, I will let you know more when I can.

…Until next time

Friday, July 3, 2009

Peace Corps Rides it Out...Resolution Probably Peaceful

Hey folks. Greetings from Honduras. I am trying to have periodic updates on the situation here to keep you updated. There is a lot of info on the web, just not on major pages. Google search Honduras along with the current date and you are sure to get some good info.

There are some reports from news organizations and people here in Honduras. As far as safety goes I continue to feel calm and safe. Here in Santa Rosa people are just waiting out the situation without a big stir. Peace Corps is keeping us up to date as much as they can. We are permitted to travel but with strict provisions. However, with roadblocks and the uncertainty of unrest most of us decide not to.

If you didn’t know from my other blogs we have one of the most powerful and well known security heads in Honduras working as our safety director. He has power, the knowledge, resources and personnel to keep us safe. The US embassy even tried to hire him away from Peace Corps. Essentially, I am rarely worried because we will know if we need to watch out for something.

As far as the political unrest goes, the OAS chief diplomat Jose Miguel Insulza is said to be here today to push for the reinstatement of Zelaya. He said he would not talk to new president Micheleti’s government because that will legitimize it. The OAS has demanded that they reinstate Zelaya by tomorrow (Saturday) when Zelaya is said to come back to Honduras. Zelaya, if put back in power, agrees to continue his final months until the election and not try to modify the constitution again (TBO/AP).

Zelaya stated"I have never been afraid, and I have acted on my principles, for which I am prepared to die.”(yahoo/AP). If Zelaya returns he will be arrested by Honduras military for which they have said they will incarcerate him for at least 20 years on charges of treason, breaking constitutional law, and numerous other charges. Confirmed reports also show bags and bags of millions of Lempiras (Honduran Currency) were found in Zelayas home (yahoo/AP). Some say he was paid by other regimes to move forward with a plan for a different Honduras.

Communication about the situation to the Honduran people still continues to be a problem. Communication has been so limited that an influential pro-Micheletti congresswoman, Marcia Villeda de Facusse, said she learned of the OEA mission on Thursday from news reports (msnbc/AP), not even her own government.

Most of the marches and protests are taking place in the capitol, Tegucigalpa, and San Pedro Sula in the northwest. These cities are off limits for most foreign agencies and Peace Corps.

The international community is now strongly against the current government in Honduras. Central American leaders temporarily cut off aid and borders to Honduras. Today they were re-opened but who knows what will happen in the next coming days. Yesterday (Thursday) the US stated it is suspending most aid to Honduras. The Peace Corps is not part of this plan and evacuation on the part of Peace Corps is nowhere is sight according to our country director.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in all the Americas and is said to be feeling the hit already (cnn/AP). Aid is being suspended from all over the world with $300 million to $450 million in financing from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank currently on hold (yahoo/AP).

So right now it really only appears there is political unrest but no civil unrest. Tomorrow there are marches to take place all over the country with the message of keeping peace during this time. There is a national curfew indefinitely from 10pm to 5am throughout the country. Regarding the return of President Zelaya, Micheletti states, “"For the peace of the country I would prefer that he did not come, because I do not want one drop of blood shed by any Honduran" (yahoo/AP).

There are many unconfirmed reports from sources inside Honduras that state Zelaya supporters are taking up arms and attempting to form a militia, especially in the eastern parts of the country, where arms are evident. Teenagers and young men were said to be hiding in houses to prevent being drafted for the new opposition. The reason for this is to maintain peaceful means in case the current army turns on Zelaya supporters. But again, this is no reason to be worried, it’s a small collection of people.

Other people think differently. Check out (this article).

Similarly, earlier reports stated that two battalions of the army split in support of Zelaya. Unconfirmed reports said these were men only dressed as soldiers to gain more support for Mel.

Large marches and roadblocks are taking place in many parts of the country but violence is minimal if not non-existent. The strong majority if not all of the country is for a peaceful resolution. Please don’t let the few videos and pictures of unrest sway you.

Another good source says that during the coup video was taken by the army to prove it was non-violent and only carried on as just cause from the government. Possibly this video is being sent to the OAS to prove so.

Fear is not in the air but uncertainty is. When Zelaya will return is still uncertain, but will certainly cause the height of the unrest. This weekend will be a key part of the solution process.

Unfortunately this means 4th of July celebrations will be minimal if existent at all for Peace Corps Volunteers. Its unfortunate but I hope everyone has a great celebration back home. Raise a glass for me.

Don’t worry too much about us down here. Peace Corps is taking good care of us and it looks like we are just going to ride out the situation while the country solves thier problem peacefully. I have faith in that.

…until next time

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things still calm...resolution nowhere in sight

Hey everyone. The update here from Honduras is that all is pretty calm. The end to this situation seems far off but we will wait and see. There are a few energized folks but for the most part the same feeling around the country. The other central American Nations have got together and decided they are going to stop shipping resources into Honduras until President Zelaya is back in. I am not sure if this will stick or how long it will last but seems a minor thing for now.

I had an interesting encounter today when I walked into the grocery store. A man in the juice isle encountered me. He told me he was the distributor for potatoes and that there were none in the store because they are not being shipped from Venezuela anymore. He preceded to tell me he was happy about this and that he was a “Chavista” (supporter of Hugo Chaves). He said it as if he really wanted me to know. I nodded only for a gesture of understanding and moved on. I am sure he said it only because I was gringo. It’s an example of the sentiment around the country, and although it is peaceful, there are still strong views out there.

Peace Corps is keeping us very informed. Here is an exerpt from an email from our country director today…

“I have spoken to a fair number of you and the vast majority describes the situation in your communities as calm and quiet. A few of you have described roadblocks in the areas nearby your communities. The best place for you to be is in your communities. At this time, I have no plans to consolidate or evacuate Volunteers.
As you have likely seen on the TV, the area around the Casa Presidencial has seen protesters supporting President Zelaya. On Sunday, (6/28) approximately 1,500 people showed up. On Monday (6/29) in the morning, about 5,000 people in support of President Zelaya protested at the Casa Presidencial. They set up barricades that blocked the Casa Presidencial and the Marriott Hotel. They were disbursed by the military and police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon. By Monday afternoon, the protesters numbered about 800. There are reports are that the military and police fired in the air. One person has been reported killed after being run over by a military vehicle. A second person has been reported to have been killed by a gunshot, though it is not clear who fired the shot. About 15-30 people have been reported to be injured. This Tuesday (6/30) morning, the area around the Casa Presidencial has been cleared of protesters and the military/police has secured the area.

This Tuesday (6/30) morning, there are reports of supporters of President Zelaya at the Congress in downtown Tegucigalpa. There are reports of supporters of President Micheletti in the central park in downtown Tegucigalpa. At this time, neither of the groups is large, nor have they confronted each other”
So that’s the gist of the situation. Zelaya spoke to the UN today and is said to travel back here to Honduras on Thursday. I am not sure what will happen then but it should be a day of Peaceful Dialogue.

Peace Corps has lifted the “standfast” order and we are allowed to leave our sites but with more strict provisions. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

So there we are. I will probably return to work tomorrow and gauge the situation. But as you can imagine the focus will be on this situation for some time. I am not worried or scarred anything drastic will happen. I just hope this will get resolved soon and things will go back to their normal ways. Although, in a situation like this, that is a lot easier said than done.

…Until next time

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Military Coup in Honduras...New President

Greetings from Honduras once again. I am sure most of you know by now about the crisis here in Honduras. The president has been taken out of power by the military and Honduras has brought a new president to power. It’s being called a coup d’etat by the military but a peaceful one. The situation here is calm but many are concerned about how the country will now move forward. What I can tell you is that I am okay. Peace Corps Honduras is now on an alert level of standfast and shelter-in-place. This means that we aren’t aloud to leave our sites and have to stay in our residencies until further notice. These are all precautionary measures. After talking to volunteers all over the country the situation is calm. We are not sure what will happen in the coming days but it will most likely be peaceful and take time for the government to figure out.

This all started when President Mel Zelaya wanted to have a “caurta urna” vote. This vote would permit the government to change the constitution, specifically stretch out term limits for presidents much like Chaves did in Venezuela. However Zelaya stated it was for the people and he would not be president again. Those statements are questionable. Today was supposed to be the day there was an encuesta, or survey, to see if the people wanted to make this cautra urna as part of the elections in November. Why there is a survey to see if a vote can even take place is beyond me. In short, today was the day to vote to see if there should be a vote.

However, the coup happened and the encuesta will not take place. The military, congress, and judicial branch were all against the cuarta urna and the Supreme Court even ruled it illegal. President Zelaya was pushing through it though as he said this is what the people want. Over the past week he gradually pinning himself against his own government but there were people on his side. According to the government, he was going against the constitution but President Zelaya said he was in fact doing what the constitution said he could do.

Now many countries are around the world are denouncing the coup by the military and the US government is stating its against democracy. President Zelaya was motivated a lot by legacy along with his buddies in Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia. We will see what comes in the following week.

To understand how something like this happens you have to understand the culture, the politics, and the way things work down here. It’s complicated and still a bit confusing to me. What I will say is that this situation was not a huge surprise. Hopefully Honduras will figure this out them selves…but we will see what happens. I am glad Obama said no other countries should interfere with the current situation.

Alright, so all in all I am fine, safe, and comfortable. I will update here if there are any huge changes.

…until next time

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day...and yeah, it's wet here

Happy Fathers day. I am no father (I don’t think…just kidding…hopefully) but I want to say Happy Father’s Day to great man, my father, and two other great men, my two grandfathers. Thanks for your continuing support and guidance. Here’s to you.

And sorry for taking a long time for this blog, as usual the weeks have passed quickly under my nose. So here I sit on a Sunday in Honduras. The rain is pouring down hard as it has been every afternoon/night this week. The only problem today is that my washed clothes are hanging outside to dry. Ah well, I guess they will just get a second rinse…a little more freshness. On Friday it was raining harder than I have ever seen in my life…it was like movie rain. The streets turned into rivers. A group of us decided to go out to pizza and I decided that even though I didn’t have an umbrella or rain jacket I would take on the two blocks of down pour. This equals a terrible idea. By the time I made it to the restaurant I might as well have jumped in a pool. Needless to say it was a wet dinner.

All in all I am warming up to Santa Rosa here. It’s been over a month in site and it has flown by. Initially I was a bit overwhelmed. Projects got thrown at me right away and dealing with change was tough. As time goes I begin to figure it out. I am meeting more people and feeling more at home. The work continues to pull at me as I try to figure out what types of projects will be the best for this big community. Since my main counterpart, and well, office, is so big and developed, I haven’t begun to explore any personal work with the people directly. Right now I am developing a new website for this NGO, doing graphic design work for the promotions office, and attempting to develop a weekly TV show. I am not sure when the TV show will take off but the others are up and running. Not exactly what one thinks about when doing Peace Corps right? I didn’t think so either. Funny thing is I didn’t know I was neither a web designer nor a graphic designer. I am teaching myself quickly and it is fun actually. While the work is fun I am going to continue to explore more grass roots and needs based work in the town.

The culture I am beginning to soak up too and making friends is an important part. Soccer brings everyone together in Latin America and it did for our office during the USA vs Honduras soccer game. A lot of us got together and watched it at a co-workers house. It was the Hondurans, the German volunteers here in town, and us Peace Corps Volunteers together in one place for the event. It was the whole gathering against us, the North Americans. In Latin America calling yourself an “American” is no bueno. Here they see themselves as Americans too as they live in Central America and others in South America. They remind me that the word America is a Latin American name after someone in Columbus’ exploration party who claims both continents are indeed one big America. They do have a strong point…but I digress. Anyway, so USA was victorious and we gloated a little, but the Hondurans were gracious in defeat, and we all decided we would continue late into the night celebrating.

The adventures continue here in Honduras and I love them. I have visited many sites on day trips to explore more of Honduras and the west. I had to take another trip to Tegucigalpa and took my first bus ride from my site to the Peace Corps office. The 8 ½ hour bus ride is not so bad and I get to see the beautiful countryside.

I also have my quiet moments where I sit and ponder about my time here thus far and of course my friends and family in the states whom I miss very much. This is a very tough part. Everyday I wish I could see them and have some good times together. But life here is an eye opener and speaks a lot about the country we are from, our quality of life and its role in the global community. Life just isn’t the same in other parts of the world and everyday we need to remember how fortunate we are to be from the country we are…and be proud of that. We need to remember that we are a global community and whatever we can do to get others going with us, to work as if we are all a team and not in competition, will only make us all stronger. This is why I chose to do Peace Corps, and I will do my best to make what small change I can, to give those who have so much less than us, the opportunity to take a step ahead. I try to remember this in my work, and try to put it to action.

Whoo yeehaaa…alright got a little serious there and this blog is getting long and I have got to go. Again Happy Fathers Day to all fathers and miss you all in the states. I have a video here too but just want to note that I might be writing more and doing videos less; every couple of blogs. Maybe I should just take more pictures. We will see how it goes though.

…Until next time

Monday, June 1, 2009

It isn't always easy...

Hello everyone,

How are ya? I am doing okay. Received some not so great news this week. A great friend of the family passed away this week. Nick Isom was a stand up guy who battled cancer for a very long time. His family is very close to ours so much that his brother married my cousin Jenny. Rob, you and your family are in my thoughts. I am very sorry I can’t be there for you man. For those of you who didn’t know Nick you would have liked him…just a great guy. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

And then the earthquake hit too. I am just fine and the next day it was as if not much had happened. People were asking a lot if I was okay and I am. Thanks for your concern.

Honestly the days have been tough here in Santa Rosa. I was overwhelmed by the city and now have some pretty serious work to get done. I work at an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) named ADELSAR that provides services to stimulate development in Santa Rosa and the outlying small villages. My job is to help with the promotion and spreading the word about the organization. The problem is people don’t really understand that my Spanish is less than stellar, that my role as a Peace Corps volunteer is to be a resource for the whole community and not just ADELSAR, and that all this is very new to me. Needless to say it’s been a tough transition. It’s been a rocky week and a half. I have trouble sleeping and my motivation rocks back and forth. I miss my family and friends greatly.

But hey, this is what its all about. I didn’t expect things to be easy here. The hardest part really isn’t the work, its adapting to the culture and way of life which is a big challenge. It will only get better with time and I have some other great volunteers here in town helping me out too.

On to other things…

I also arranged my room here in beautiful Santa Rosa de Copan. Its amazing what 20 bricks and 3 sheets of plywood will do to a room. Add a chair and some other organizational tactics and I have a standard Peace Corps room. Accessories will be added later. My fan is blowing because I am sweating in here like that pilot from Airplane. Haven’t seen the movie Airplane? Do yourself a favor and check it out. Leslie Neilson is at his finest and there are classic others. But I digress…

Santa Rosa doesn’t get too hot (for Honduras, not too hot is 80-85 degrees). However it’s rainy season and that means it gets pretty humid. Everyday around 5:00pm the strong clouds roll in, a thunderstorm hits, and the rain starts coming down. I sweat everyday, which is probably the reason I have lost 12 pounds...and I don’t need to lose weight.

So now I will end this blog with a quintessential Peace Corps story. The night I write this blog I went to hop in the shower. Before I step into my haven of cleanliness, I remember I need to do push ups. Why? I have no clue. So I return to my room and realize there are many what I call ant flies (I think they are termites) near my window. The window is broken (it had been for a while) and they are entering rapidly. I kill them and my host brother runs into tape a plastic bag to the window to close it off. I continue to kill the damn bugs. After a sweaty drawn out process the situation is under control. I walk out of the house to check out the other side of the window and its fine. I walk back in and there is a gecko right where the bugs were. It takes me 10 minutes to catch and another 5 for my host brother to stop laughing at me. I do my push ups and get into the shower. Sometimes its just the little things that get to me.

Its been a weird week. There are obstacles here and there and the standard difficulties that come with being in a new country with a new way of living. But such is the journey and such is life. It’s only making me stronger and more aware of my purpose here.

I want to end by again saying please keep the Isom family in your thoughts. And prayers. Rest In Peace Nick Isom…you will be missed.

Until next time…

Monday, May 18, 2009

Goodbye training....hello service

Hey ya’ll,

Greetings again from Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras. I am here in my new site in the west of Honduras. It’s a big city with a lot going on. There’s a lot of “action” and a lot to be done. More on this later.

A quick note that my last blog has been ready for two weeks but due to technical problems and lack of time I am posting two blogs at once here. Check out the one below as well.

So a lot has happened since my last update. On May 11th all the training groups moved back to Zarabanda for our last week of training. It was again a week full of a lot of information and crammed days. Most days all the trainees spent time after class to hang out with each other. It was a fun week and then on Friday, May 15th, I SWORE IN AS A VOLUNTEER. That’s right, its official, I am a full blown volunteer now. I took the oath from the ambassador and it was final. It was a great feeling.

However, many were frustrated by the day. They combined our swear in day with counterpart day. This is where our counterparts from our sites came out to the training center and we got to know them better and developed plans for our work. In the past this day was a week before swear in and swear in was followed by a celebration and proper time to say goodbye to friends. Our group was the first to combine these days. The day was rushed and it was difficult to soak anything in as we were quickly rushed to the next event.

The worst part is we didn’t get proper time to say goodbye to the great friends we have made over the last three months. I know some of these volunteers will be friends for life. Unfortunately, at the end of the day we had to get home quick. Therefore I said bye to friends quickly and we all went to our respective host families. It was a weird goodbye for some but I got to do proper goodbyes to those who lived close to me. The Las Cañadas crew had a little goodbye gathering at my host family’s house. It was a cool little gathering but tough to say farewell.

The next day I woke up at 3am to take the long trip to Santa Rosa. It was a 6 ½ hour drive in all. However, I got to ride with my compadra Shannon, whose counterparts took me to Gracias, a town about an hour from Santa Rosa in the west. It was cool to ride together and realize how close in distance we are to each other.

From Gracias a counterpart of mine picked me up and we rode out to Santa Rosa. Well, first we picked up some Russian backpackers. They were a couple from Moscow and the husband spoke almost perfect Spanish. Oh Spanish, how I wish you would come to me naturally. Still a problem is my Spanish but I am looking to get a tutor here to improve. I almost didn’t swear in because of my Spanish…but I digress. So there I was driving to my Santa Rosa via the Honduran back country with my Honduran counterpart, and two Spanish-speaking Russians in the back talking about Russian money and Honduran soccer. What experiences I am going through. It’s awesome.


Anyway, I arrived here in Santa Rosa on Sunday and here we go. I will be working with ADELSAR, a development organization here in Santa Rosa. They are well known and make moves around this beautiful town. I will be assisting them in their economic development office with promotions and other related things. This means I get to work with video, media and design. This is not what I expected to be doing but am happy to get the opportunity. The office reminds me of office life back in the states but only with everyone speaking Spanish. They are very modern and very development and business savvy. Oh, and I am working with some German development volunteers too in the office (great Spanish speakers as well…they know an average of 3 languages….and I am struggling with 1…but I digress again ). Nevertheless I will also create side projects and others as I go along. So my work won’t be only with this office. I am ready to be busy I guess.

Changes keep happening, obstacles ever present, my mood and motivation continue on a roller coaster, yet I feel so content to be here. Every moment grows on the other. I can’t say I feel comfortable, but why would I and why would I want to. Staying on my toes, not knowing what’s going to happen next is what keeps me driving forward…I think.

I miss everyone back home tremendously and hope all are well. And also, I have a new address to send stuff to…its below. Send me whatever, even just a card or pictures to say hello is good…here it is.

Bryan Lemos
Apartado Postal 1800
Santa Rosa de Copan, Copan
Honduras

Training…check….Now…Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras for 2 years….here we go.

Until next time…

PS I posted a tour of my new room on my youtube channel that is not here on my blog. Check it out if you want. I may put more little treats on my channel in the future.

Going to Santa Rosa...de Copan

Hola mis amigos de los Estados Unidos,

Hey friends, fam, and interested folk. I sit and write this entry as the rain pours down like you wouldn’t believe here in Santa Ana. It’s May and that means rainy season in Honduras. When I say rain, I mean hard rain. It’s hard to even speak over the downpour that hits the tin roof of my host family’s house. I hear this will continue for the whole month and some time after. It’s wet, humid, and about to get sticky.

I have great news. I found out where my official site is for the next two years. On announcement day our training officers had us build a map, told us about all the sites, and then gave us our site information packets and had us stand on our sites on the map. My site is amazing. The town is called Santa Rosa in the department of Copan in western Honduras. This is an amazing site! I am very fortunate and very lucky to have this be my place of work. I couldn’t ask for anything better for the next two years. Google it and check it out. My good friend Shannon, who some of you may know, got placed only 45 minutes away in the town of Gracias. We are stoked.

The best part of my site is the work I will be doing. Each volunteer here has a counterpart. This is the person who I will work with closely here in Honduras on all my projects. The main p[project I will have is working with an organization called ADELSAR (Agencia de Desarrollo Estratégico Local de Santa Rosa de Copan). In English, more or less, it translates to Local Strategic Development Agency of Santa Rosa de Copan. Part of this work includes working with the Escuela Taller, a business incubation program. (Google business incubation if you haven’t heard it…which you probably haven’t).

Another major part of my work, the part I am most excited about, is helping this program create some good marketing and advertising with brochures and video. I get to be creative and spread the word about the work the organization is doing. This is great because I will get to use my specific creative skills. I will learn a lot more as I go. There is a lot of work, and a lot to get going. After this great news I am ready to get after it.

I sit here with one more week here in Ojojona/Santa Ana. On Saturday we will say our goodbyes to the families and cruise back to Zarabanda for our final week of training. May 15th we swear in and the next day we are all off to our sites for two years…for me, Santa Rosa de Copan…rock and roll! It will be nice to finally get down to business.

On another note, I want to give my best wishes to my buddy David (Daveed) “Beisbol” Bartels. David was part of our Business-training group. Due to some complications, he went home early from PC. He is a great guy and everyone here misses him. There aren’t many David “Beisbol”s around and this guy was great. David, you are the man and come visit soon.

That’s all for now. Check out the video blog too, this one is short but sweet.

Until next time…much love…

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vaya Pues

Hello everyone,

Greetings once again from Ojojona. In case you were wondering my title "Vaya Pues" is a saying here in Honduras. It essentially means "alright then" or “okay”…so I think. I say it all the time then is immediately followed by a laugh...so maybe I don't get it. Moving on... It’s been quite a time here in training and everything continues to go well. Since the last time I posted much has happened. Last week was Semana Santa here in Honduras, which we know as Holy Week. Most people here have the whole week off until Easter. We had Wed-Fri off into the weekend. It was nice to get some time off from the language and technical classes. On that Wednesday we hung out and had a cultural day where all the trainees and our host families went to our training building and had a mix of cultures day. The boys sang “My Girl” acapela while the girls taught line dancing to “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy.” It was a fun event. Most other days during this week we just hung out and enjoyed the time off.

After this week was over we took an amazing trip to the South Pacific beaches of Honduras. We studied the tourism there and interviewed some business owners. This vacation was pretty damn amazing. We first arrived to one beach close to the city of San Lorenzo in the south. We unpacked and then enjoyed the paradise like atmosphere. The water was warm and the sunset was awesome. We had a bonfire that night and played some team-building games. If you don’t know I love the beach and this trip was awesome.

The next day we packed up and headed further south. We hopped on a lancha (big boat with an outboard for transportation) and went to our own private beach. We had an hour to go in the water and enjoy. There are lots of pictures of this in the video so check it out. Then we hopped back on the boat and went to the island of Amapala. There we studied the tourism office and finished up at a restaurant on the beach. We were served some of the best seafood in the south. It was simply amazing. I felt right at home on the beach. After the meal we had to take the lancha again to the cars and we headed home. A great two days it was. My tourism group ended up making a promotional video for the restaurant we went to and it was pretty funny.

Training is going great. Last week I found out I was bumped up a level in my Spanish class and am now an Intermediate Mid. This means I now meat the requirements to be sworn in. It was a good feeling. Learning Spanish in general is getting tougher as there is still a huge amount to learn. I try to use humor to keep it lively but sometimes the humor doesn’t translate and it’s really awkward. One of the toughest things about the culture and language is not being able to express myself in the way I want to.

I guess this is now one of the lessons of Peace Corps. Us trainees talk a lot about how different the culture is. Sometimes we catch ourselves talking about the ways in which the people here are ridiculously behind. It’s a common trend amongst new and veteran volunteers. But when it comes down to it, it’s the way it is. This is the reality. This is whey we are here. One of the toughest jobs we have here will be changing behaviors. We are learning those techniques, but it will certainly be tough.

So I hope you enjoy the video…it’s a lot longer this time but there are some great pictures. Also, I know the blogs have been choppy and blunt but there is a lot going on here. I try to let the videos tell the stories.

And I know I have said this before but feel free to email me anytime with additional questions. I will respond as soon as I can.

My email: balemos@gmail.com

Until next time…much love


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Site change...Here we are in Ojojona

Hola amigos,

Todo cheque aqúi en Honduras. (Everything is great in Honduras). I have been in Honduras for over a month now and the time has flown. Last Sunday the Business Advising crew parted ways with the others and 18 of us are now training in the town of Ojojona in the southeast of Honduras. This part of training is called FBT or field based training. We usually do half a day of language and the other half is for specific business training. We are learning about business co-operatives, business incubation techniques, and ways to effectively assess needs in any given community. It’s very specific and very analytical. As usual I find it fascinating.

My first couple of days here were a little rough. Of the 18 of us in business 7 of us got placed in a small town, Santa Ana, outside of where we are training in Ojojona. What can I say? I got dealt a terrible hand with the placement during this training. To keep it simple I was not pleased with my living situation. Some other minor things piled up and my mood was less than stellar. It took some getting use to but now its all good. Talking to current and past volunteers, and now with my new experience, I learn that lots of things happen that I will not like and not agree with. However, such is life. You gotta play with the hand you are dealt. You take it with a grain of salt and roll with it. That’s what I am doing…Rock and Roll baby.

Two weeks ago I also went on a volunteer visit to get a taste of what current volunteers in the town are doing. I visited two towns and two volunteers. It was definitely a good experience and I learned a lot. It made me excited about the work I can do in the field. There is a lot to be done. The challenges are vast. Things run slow here and I am learning a big part of the change is changing behavior. It seems to be the most difficult but most essential part of what I will do in Honduras.

Before coming to Ojojona it was time to say goodbye to my first host family. I will have had 3 by the time I am living alone in site. My last night, my family took me to the big mall in the capitol city of Tegucigalpa. We had Chinese food. The mall has every regular fast food joint from the states. I thought I´d be losing weight here but am eating less than healthy. What do ya do? This mall in Teguz (as we call it) is something else. The town screams of poverty, bad sanitation, crime and bad development. Then here is this huge mall. It is a carbon copy of the nice malls back in the states. I don’t feel as though I am in Honduras when I walk in there. It’s a crazy feeling.

The next day the business crew then boarded a bus for Ojojona. We took the hour and a half ride to the town. Once we were dropped off we had to haul our luggage. Let me tell you that this was not an easy task. I even left stuff back in Zarabanda and still I was struggling. Three of us had to walk for about 20 minutes to find our new houses. I had my hiking backpack with about fifty pounds of goods in there, my other duffle with a good forty pounds in it, and my regular daypack with about 15 pounds of books and my computer. So I hauled about one hundred pounds of gear down the back country of Honduras. Not only did we all look foolish but by the time I got to my new house I had a full workout and was sweating like a dog.

All in all things are going well. We are in a new town and learning a lot fast. It’s really hard to explain being in a different culture. This is not a vacation or a quick trip through a foreign place. We are immersed here. It’s a different world. I have not even begun to feel in place. The language barrier is still an issue. Just experiencing it is amazing though. I learn something new everyday and feel more alive every day. Check out the video blog below as well.

Until next time…

P.S. I got a new phone so feel free to call or text me anytime. Of course it’s international so check your rates with your phone company. I am also posting the address below of where you can send packages. This will change but it’s what I have for now. Gracias.

Bryan Lemos
Voluntatrio de Cuerpo De Paz
Avda. Republica de Chile
Casa #401
Colonia Palmira
PO Box 3158
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Phone # (dial this exactly…from the US) 011-504-9962-3181

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Here Comes Week 2 in Hondu...

Hellloooo Amigos,


(I posted the video at the bottom I did last week after this blog. Last week the upload took too long. I will make a new one next time)

Another week gone here in Honduras and I already feel like I have set in pretty good. My host family and I are getting along great. The language barrier is still pretty big but the more I chat the better I get at Spanish. I hope my language skills continue to progress quickly. Early this week we were placed in our designated classes for Spanish. There are 3 levels; Novice, medium and high. For each level there is a low, medium, and high. After testing I was placed in the intermediate low class. There are only four people in a class so it is great for personal attention and practice. It is required for each trainee to be at the intermediate mid level in order to be sworn in at the end of training. On average, people jump up two levels in training. A lot of the time people jump 3 levels. It is touch to gauge how fast I am progressing at this point but I think I will be fine in moving up one more level.

I have not been sleeping well this week so I have been a bit tired. My body clock is all screwed up. After long days of training and absorbing information, I come home, study a lot more, eat, and usually hit the hay after a bit of TV or music. It’s a lot but I take it in stride.

The week consisted of a lot of intro information. Also, we got down to technical training where we got into more detail about the possibilities of what we will be doing in the Business Group. Early in the week we received a detailed schedule of training events. This was a great day for us in the business group as we all became very exited with the training schedule and a strong sense of what we will be doing. Along with this came a lot of information about Honduras, their ways of doing business, their politics, their trade agreements, and all the organizations involved with international trade and poverty reduction.

Beginning to learn these facts is an eye opener. Learning about Honduras, Central America, and their relation to the United Stated is stunning. Honduras, along with most countries in Central America, has the US as their top importer and exporter of goods. In our training, we are just getting to the tip of the iceberg dealing with the information about why Honduras is in its current economic situation, how the US is involved, how politics pull the country in two directions, the corruption that comes with such ties, and the rate at which crime grows due to this poverty and socio-economic situation. It’s a lot to learn and a lot to grasp but I find it fascinating.

So now, we continue to train in Zarabonda. After another two weeks of training the big group will split up and go to what is called field based training or FBT. Us 18 in the business group will re-locate to the town of Ojojana. There we will move in with new host families, continue language training, and get into more practical Honduras Business training. It should be exciting.

As I post this I am in the town of El Parisio (Paradise). We left yesterday (Saturday) in the afternoon to go visit my host families brother and mother. We drove about an hour and a half along the country side. This was a great experieince as for the first time I saw come of the great scenery of Honduras. Its a beautiful country that most don´t know is 80% mountains. There are a lot of pine trees and sometimes in reminds me of Lake Tahoe...kinda. Traveling by car is also pretty scary. It is not uncommon to have cars pass another right before a blind corner. Drivers here are a little...bold shal i say. While driving here to El Parisio I saw two semi-trucks pass two small cars simotaneously...on a two lane highway. No joke, I could not believe it. Its all just part of it down here.

All in all things are great. I just take what comes to me day by day and soak it in. Right now it is mostly getting the training in and adapting to the culture. What seemed very different at first is now more comfortable. I really am enjoying it though. I am still very early in, but I await what comes to me next with excitement.

That’s all for now. I am sure I will post before I move cities. Also I should be getting a new phone soon. When I do I will post it or email it out so I can get in contact with everyone.

Until then…much love.

-B

Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Honduras...first Days

Hey Everyone,

Well we landed safely in Honduras. The flight in was great. The landing however into Tegucigalpa is pretty crazy. In front of the runway are mountains so the plane takes a steep left turn right before the runway. Basically we did a 180 degree turn and right after we straightened out we had landed on the runway. We got our bags, went through customs, and were in Honduras.

We will be in the town of Zarabonda training for 3 weeks. Then the big group we are in now will split in to 3 groups depending on our projects. I am in the business group. After the 3 weeks, the business group will go to a different town for field-based training. This process will be for 5-6 weeks…I am not sure. I will stay with a different host family over there.

Day one we went straight to our training center. We had a quick orientation and then were introduced to our host families. My host mom, Marcela, is great and very “amable” (kind). She, her husband Jose, and their children, Danny and Marcela, live in the town of Las Cañadas. It’s a mile or two away from Zarabanda where the Peace Corps training center is. I take a bus everyday to the center. At first it was a bit awkward because of the newness and the language barrier. As the day went on we became more comfortable. They cook 3 meals a day for me. The food is different but am filling up pretty good. Being with the family is great for my Spanish. My Spanish is doing all right and gets better with time.

My host family is very welcoming. Of course the culture and people here are a lot different, but I find the differences fascinating. There is a lot for me to learn but as the days go by I am becoming more comfortable with the new culture. My host father, Jose, is great too. One quick story about him…

So we were eating dinner and enjoying "platanos." This means bananas but really they are big bananas. He told me he has trees outside. We walked down and he picked up a machete. He told me to watch out then cut down a huge thing of bananas. He told me to hold the bananas and then whacked the crap out of the tree and it fell to the ground. i thought he had gone nutts but then he told me a banana tre only has one life so after the bananas are down the tree has to go down. He just rumbled through the yard doing this to a bunch of trees.

So training is from 7:30-4:30 M-F and 8:30-11:30 on Saturdays. Right now we are getting a lot of information sessions on top of language classes. We had the general introductions as well as culture introductions, administrative introductions, security information, health information, the whole nine yards. There is a lot going on.

For the core training (the basic job training) the trainers are great. They are sure to make everything fun so we have a good environment to learn in. All in all things are good. Again it is very different but experiencing this part of the world is facinating.

Thats all for now. I made another video but unfortunately I can´t get it to load. I will put it up the next time I get a chance. Adios.

Much Love
-B