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.