Monday, May 2, 2011

Thanks for the Memories...

Greetings from Honduras. Well my friends…this is it. The papers are signed, the goodbyes have occurred and my time as a Peace Corp Volunteer is over. I am now what we call an RPCV (Returned Peace Corp Volunteer). I landed here in Honduras 27 months ago. This weekend I will return to the states. The ride was up and down, but no doubt, it was the ride of my life.

When I look back on it all, I ponder what brought me to this point. I decided one day that I am going to start living life differently; the way I want to. I wanted to do work that meant something. I found out that when you just say screw it, "I am gonna make this move because everything inside of me is telling me to," the turn out is pretty good. "Its too long. 2 years? What about my career? I'll be so behind." I always said this to myself. It seems so silly to me now. Too many times I didn't listen to my true voice. This time I did. It was the best decision of my life, and now I am changed forever. I am happy to have served my country in some way. Now I truly believe change is possible

What change do I see possible? My opinions were summed up well the other day. I was watching a TED lecture by a prominent "well-being" researcher from England named Nic Marks. That's right, someone who studies the happiness of people and societies. He conducted a survey of nations across the globe asking them what they want in life. Number one…happiness. Number 2 and 3…love and health. Wealth was lower yet the world seems to base a country's success on this single aspect. He also does a study where he gives two people one hundred dollars. He tells one to spend it on himself, and the other to spend it on others. At the end of the day, the one who spent it on others is always happier.

He honored the late Robert F. Kennedy for numerous reasons but notes one great quote. RFK said, talking about a countries wealth, was that "The Gross National Product measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile." The dominant measure of country’s success is measuring everything, except that which people care about the most. Isn’t that fascinating?

Wealth is not bad. I don't think making money nor wanting to make money is. What I am saying, is we should all make sure we are putting what makes our life worthwhile at the top…and sharing that with all who we can. That's what I have learned in my two years here. Experiencing that, with a different people, has given me a new sense of purpose.

Deep down I always felt I was here in Honduras for a reason. There was something that was going to happen and at that moment it would all make sense. I kept waiting for this moment. I was looking so hard for it and waiting patiently. It took me 2 years to find out that that moment has happened and is happening every single day. Nothing completely profound was going to happen at one specific moment. It was a gradual occurrence of events. Now when I look back, I see it all much more clearly. Sometimes when you are looking for what you think is a defining moment in your life, you miss the daily occurrences that will get you where you need to go.

When we look at what we have and just be grateful for that, with content, life gets much better…there is no doubt about that.

I came here and taught people how they could maybe create a better quality of life for themselves. I’m not sure if I made any huge difference. I think it is too early to tell. Time will answer that. I think about how much others, if any, learned from me just by being a foreign person in a foreign land... But what had I learned?

I learned about the importance of the sharing of ideas and understanding. Its an amazing feeling to really take the time to share with someone else the life I have lived, and the skills I have that can be transferred to those who haven't had the opportunities I have had. It creates a win win for both parties. Good times, abilities, and good fortune are nothing if not shared with other people. Then there is understanding, then there is friendship, and then happiness for all involved. In my opinion, this is the true formula for creating the peace we all seek in the world.

When my mind settles the truth of my whole experience hits me. Who really changed the most here? I realize that I could never give as much to these people and to Peace Corps as they have given to me. For that I am forever grateful.

So this is my last blog in Honduras. And to all who read it I say thank you. Thank you for your support and love. Thank you for being interested in how others around the world live. I will never forget my time here and the people I shared it with, whether Hondurans in country or fellow Americans back home in the states.

It’s very difficult to leave, but it’s time to return home.

Honduras…thanks for the memories.

…until next time

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beginning of the End...

Greetings from Honduras. First off, I want to say congratulations to my sister who gave birth to a beautiful little girl, Colby Anne, earlier this week. Congrats sis. Another niece.

Well, what would Peace Corps be without another stay in a hospital for me? That’s right. About 2 weeks ago I went to some hot springs and there I made the intelligent decision to eat very suspect food. I knew it was suspect at the time but went for it anyway. Bad decision.

The next night I found myself in the hospital once again. I was very dehydrated, feverish, and leaking fluids constantly if you know what I mean. I do not like Honduran hospitals. I think my body doesn’t either and it told me when I puked right there in the hospital room. Me and body were tired of being sick and we said it when after a couple hours in a hospital bed I couldn’t make it even out of bed when BLAH!...right there on the hospital floor. I could do nothing but laugh. The situation is so amusing. You just got to laugh sometimes. I did feel guilty about the lady who had to come and clean it up though.

Transitioning smoothly…Also, I recently made a video for the business project explaining what we do here. Its for new volunteers but I hope you can learn from it too. Click and play if you are interested.

Transitioning smoothly…I will be sending an email shortly (the 1st of April) to all family and friends asking if they can help with donations to a great cause. The organization I work with here is trying to add to their scholarship program. They send kids to school and teach them leadership and business skills for there future. These kids normally wouldn’t have an education or any good chance at a better life. Please donate if you can.

As I started to think about this blog, I had a bit of writer’s block. I sat and thoughts started rolling through my head and they were all about the amazing experiences I’ve had, the places I have been, and the people I have met. I’ve thought many times about how many boobs I have seen in the street with babies locked in on them. I remember how many times I didn’t understand what people were telling me only to come to realize I just made a ridiculous agreement for the next day that I know nothing about. I then realized, now is the beginning of the end.

The other day I booked my flight home. May 6th I touch back down in the states. My final appointments are set, and now its just more good times until the end. It’s a weird feeling. This seemed so far away when I started here in Honduras, and now its right in front of me.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to do Peace Corps. No doubt, best decision I have ever made in my life. I had my worries (normal), had expectations (useless), and my aspirations (all which usually change along the way), and now I have my understanding. I understand how other people live, how they work, what makes them tick.

I think out of it all, I have learned much more about how I tick.

The end is near, but I am smiling.

…until next time.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chalky Milk, La Madre, and Sentimental Memories...

Greetings again from Honduras. Its late on a Monday night and I’m feeling goofy, pondering my 2 months left, and eating Oreo cookies and milk…but I can’t get this taste out of my mouth.

Let me tell you about Honduran Milk made by Sula. Its great for shakes, its pretty good with cereal, but straight out of the bag (yeah its made in a bag) it tastes like chalk. I can’t figure out why. Things always taste different here, but this one sticks out to me tonight.

So what’s been happening.? Here we go…

Last month during my group’s Close of Service Conference, I was reminded that my days here are numbered. However, some of my most fun and meaningful memories are taking place.

At the COS conference, as we call it, the Honduras 14 training group(meaning those of us in country who arrived in Feb of ’09) reunited to talk about our service and prepare for the next part of our lives. It was truly an awesome time. There we caught up with friends, prepared ourselves for the job search to come, and discussed the importance of development in the world.

It was also a bit sad. It was the last time I would see many of the volunteers from our group, and a reminder that the end of this is near. But more importantly, the feeling of appreciation and respect at the conference was obvious. Many of us had not seen each other in a while, but we were all reminded how much our work and experience means to us, and how close we are because we shared this rare experience with each other.

Taking a complete 180, I just want to share with you about a certain spot booming in my town of Santa Rosa. The place is called the Canti Madre. It’s a cantina, or bar, but not like we know them. A cantina in Honduras would be like a dive bar, but when I say dive bar, I mean think of the worst dive bar you know, now multiply that by about 5 and you’ve got a cantina.

La Madre was really Cantina-y when I first arrived here. But its becoming somewhat of a popular spot. Its getting nicer, but again, in relative terms. At this Canti Madre they sell the famous “Limonadas,” and now even have a “Maracoulla” (Passion Fruit). These drinks consist of 1 part of the natural juice (lemonade or passion fruit), 1 part guaro (local alcohol that could be related to a mix of rubbing alcohol and tequila), and 2 parts sugar. These things will put you out no joke. I have two and I am feeling good. I went there once in my first year and a half of service. I’ve been there 3 times in the last month. Cool little place.

If you ever come to Honduras, make your way to Santa Rosa and visit “La Madre.” You won’t be disappointed.

So to be honest, with only 2 months left thinking about the end is inevitable, and it chokes me up a bit thinking about it. I actually try not to think about it sometimes.

Living with other gringos in Honduras awesome. To have such an understanding with other Americans about working here is awesome. It’s an understanding we will have of each other that no other outside of Peace Corps Honduras will ever really have. It’s a pretty cool thing. If only everyone all around the planet of different cultures, countries, and governments could just get more of an understanding of each other, I think the world would be a better place.

The other day I worked a medical brigade with some awesome fellow volunteers along with an American group who came in from Texas. Yes, I saw some boobs again, a kid get parasites pulled out of his head, and many kids with lice. It was great. Although, I am so worried I am going to get Lice I’ve been washing with Lice shampoo. But I digress…

So we were talking to one guy from the visiting group who was asking the typical questions about living here. He was real interested and its cool to share the experiences. We told him about the good times, the bad, and the in between. Then he said, “that sounds awesome. You guys are probably gonna look back on this as the best time of your life.”

You know what? He’s probably right.

2 months left. What times!

…until next time

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A little Hondy Hospital for the Holiday Season...

Greetings again from Honduras. Again it’s been a while since my last post. The end of the year was quite a time and things are picking up pretty good work wise here for my last months of service.

This is usually the part where I tell you how cool my Christmas and New Years was. Unfortunately I can’t say so. A couple days before Christmas I came down with a high fever and swollen tonsils. Next came a breakout of sores in my mouth and tongue (yeah yeah, insert your joke here, I’ve heard them all). This was not fun at all and I wish this sickness on nobody. I went to the doctor who said I have a bacterial infection in my throat, the second in a month, along with a mouth virus. He gave me some antibiotics and said I should be good in 3 days.

Along comes Christmas and the throat is worse and I am miserable. I go to the doctor the next day and the specialist tells me I have to stay in the Hospital for at least 3 days. They had to keep me there because the infection was so strong they had to inject heavy anti-biotics straight into my system; pills wouldn’t do the job.

On top of that they were giving me anit-inflamatory/pain medicine. The ironic part about this is that every 6 hours when they injected me, it hurt, and I mean it hurt bad. It just didn’t make sense to me. I was being injected with a pain medication that caused me pain.

Well, after 3 days, I wasn’t fully healed but the doctor said I could go home. New Years came and I had to cancel a trip to the bay islands. Instead I sat in my apartment, watching movies, and when midnight struck, my neighbor invited me over for a quick moment, where I toasted in the new year with Martinelli’s sparkling cider. A mellow NYE to say the least.

A week later I was 100%. It was not the greatest of holiday experiences, but what would this Peace Corps experience be without a good old serious illness with a couple nights in a Honduras hospital. I kinda look back on it and laugh thinking, how did I turn up in a hospital in the middle of Central America for the holiday season of 2010?

A couple days later our close group of friends met up in the capitol for the unfortunate departure of our great friends Mo and Rachel. It was very difficult as it was the first time I said goodbye to close Peace Corps friends in Honduras. We have shared so many great moments together and we helped each other through the good and the bad. I don’t look forward to the rest of the goodbyes that will come in the upcoming months. Miss you Mo and Rach.

Tomorrow I leave for the capital for out Close of Service conference. Peace Corps sets this up to prepare for our transition back to life in the states. Its crazy to think this is all happening now. In 3 short months I will be finished with my time in Peace Corps Honduras. The emotion is hard to explain but amongst all the reflecting, it’s a pretty good feeling just to think about all the times…peaceful.

In these closing 3 months I will be focusing on making a Peace Corps Honduras business video, developing a website for the organization I work with here in town, getting a proposal together for a water system, and trying to raise funds for an elementary scholarship program that is going well with the agro producer groups here. I also still help out at the girl’s orphanage and with day-to-day advising at the office. Amongst all that I will get out and about around Honduras, traveling and visiting friends.

What a ride I have been on here. 3 months left but still many good times to be had. Time to soak it all up.

…until next time