Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I need Gringos(?)

Well, it´s been a very long time since my last blog update, and for that I apologize. I have been to town, but with only a spare hour or half-hour here and there which isn´t enough time to write a full entry, and I like to sit down and get everything out at once.

I´ve been kind of lonely again lately (I´m like a yo-yo! Any more changes of mood and you can call me Maya! hehe. Love you sis!) and I feel like maybe it can be attributed to having so little contact with my paisanos (countrymen), or maybe it´s just a yearning for North American culture. I ate at Wendy´s twice yesterday and it didn´t help.... then again, fast food was never really a part of my culture. What I really miss is things like music, and discussing it with my friends, finer foods and wine/beer (don´t get me wrong, I love the plato típico here but but it´s pretty much the same 10 ingredients in absolutely everything). I also miss outdoor and indoor sports/pastimes other than soccer and pool, and probably most of all, connectedness. The lack of options for communication is definitely frustrating - we have radio, two very expensive public telephones that work 50% of the time, and of course good ol´ physical delivery.

These feelings of lacking certain things from home don´t necessarily mean that I have had trouble adapting to the local culture. On the contrary, in terms of relating to the Hondurans I at least feel fairly comfortable. One thing is that, despite all the training we received about adapting to the differences in a strange land, things are not THAT much different here than in the U.S., culturally. No doubt this has a lot to do with the way we´ve been exporting our culture for several decades already through American companies, products, and media. The other reason I think cultural adaptation hasn´t been extremely difficult for me is related to me personally. For one, I have a very respectbable amount of Spanish training under my belt and a certain facility with language (If I have a personal strength, it would probably be communication). The other personal characteristic that has helped me adapt is something that I have sort of known for a long time and recently had more evidence to back up; that I´m a bit of a social chameleon. I tend to change my own behavior and habits more easily to fit my surroundings than other people, I think.

This facet of myself has bothered me in the past, because I´ve always admired the type of principled person who knows what they believe in and sticks to their guns and their ideas despite criticism or the disapproval of others. However, I have found that I don´t have to compromise on too many things that are really important to me to fit in here. What´s happened is that the role I play here is quite different than in the states.... I keep being myself, stationary in my own position, but the space I occupy relative to other people is different because the background has changed.... if that makes any sense?

Relating to all the business that I hinted at, I might have had time to update my blog last week if an unexpected event hadn´t occurred. First, I need to mention that Elsy, the wife of Isaí (my counterpart) found out she was pregnant about a month ago. She still wasn´t really showing or anything, but she was supposed to stay home and rest instead of going out and working like usual, advice which she disregarded.

Last Thursday, I had gone to Agua Fría to work for awhile and wait for Isaí to get back from Siguatepeque on the afternoon bus (he went to sell the last lot of coffee), and he never came so I headed home, did some cooking and reading, and hit the sack at like 9 pm. At 10, Isaí woke me up talking to me through my window. Semi-conscious, the first thing that occurred to me was ¨oh, he got a ride back after all....wonder how the coffee sale went? What´s so important I need to be woken up?¨ Then he told me there was an emergency with Elsy and that we needed to get her into Choluteca right then.... that nigth. Well that got me up in a hurry. Isaí´s not the the kind of dude to exaggerate a serious situation or panic. He told me we needed a car up to the house because Elsy couldn´t make it down to Agua Fría, so I threw some clothes on and took off running for the house of Josélino, the treasurer of the coffee cooperative and great guy (and most importantly, owner of a car). I made the 2 km in about 10 minutes and woke up Joselino, discharging my story in between disculpeme´s and asking if his car was there. It wasn´t; he´d loaned it to some guy a long ways away. I ran down to the next house with a car and molested them for a few minutes, before somebody got up and I again hurriedly explained the situation to the best of my ability, and with the limited knowledge I had. They agreed, took about 10 minutes to get their rears in gear, and we headed up the hill. When we got their Isaí had heard the sound of the vehicle and was walking Elsy down the hill, who was complaining with every step ¨I can´t endure this Isa! careful! No, not there! This way!¨ I took charge of keeping the dog out of their way (very important duty there) and we loaded her into the car. I had been sort of vaguely imagining the worst of what could have happened but I really didn´t have a clue what was up, so I asked Isaí ¨so, uh, is this one of those...?¨

¨Es aborto¨ he said matter-of-factly. ¨She´ll be all right.¨

We got down to the Choluteca hospital by about... I think it was 12:30, and they took Elsy in right away. We ended up having to wait all night there, since we arrived too late and all the safe hotels were closed (and the two girls were with us). I snoozed on a cement sidewalk inside the hospital grounds, Honduran drunk-style, for a couple hours and the next day we all went back up to Agua Fría, minus Elsy. She had to stay a little longer so Isaí came and got her the next day.

Not too many other super interesting things have happened; the friggin´ bank still hasn´t responded with respect to our project but it looks like we are going to present it in Choluteca on Friday in front of all the other projects to be done with the Central American Bank funds and the mayors of 7 municipios present. Woo. Going to do up a nice power point presentation tomorrow. Hopefully this means something is happening.

Today, I am in El Corpus for a meeting with a mining company that is in a bit of a fight with the mayor. Supposedly they discovered a new and very large deposit of gold on their land (Corpus used to be a big gold-mining town, but most of the veins have been exhausted or are no longer profitable), and started taking it out with no permit to start an open-face mining operation. The mayor, (again, supposedly), knowing he couldn´t really stop them, turned the public loose on the mine. Now there are all kinds of people running around in there and Corpus is caught up in old west style gold fever. Kind of wierd since this is such a sleepy little town where nothing much happens. I left early from the meeting because I just couldn´t take it anymore. The thinly veiled greed emanating from both sides of the argument to the rights of that area was just too much for my stomach; the miners with their injured air, sporting huge number of facts and figures about everything they had done for El Corpus and their demonstrating their clear legal right to strip-mine that site, and the people representing the public saying that those scrambling to take what they could get from the mine were doing it solely out of necessity. I think someone even used the word ¨starving.¨ What a load of crap. The people here are poor, but they´re not the ones organizing the public entry into that mine, and they are not starving. You can´t find anyone in Corpus these days who doesn´t have a cell phone.

In the soccer world, I got involved with trying to organize the Agua Fría team, which I played with a few times at the beginning of the year but have neglected because of poor organization.... when the team from El Zapotal had a game already set up and asked me to play for them, that´s what I did. But there are really a fair number of good players in Agua Fría, so we´re going to dedicate some time to getting them playing together regularly. Last Sunday we had our first game (and lost) but it was very, very close. We played a double-header and tied the first 3-3, lost the second 4-3 with the winning goal being scored in the final minute (according to the ref, according to us it was 12 minutes over time).

I´m wondering if I´ll be able to go anywhere for Semana Santa, a big holiday coming up the second week of April, since it appears we will have to absolutely work our tails off to get this project running on time. Maybe a couple days off anyways.



At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know Gabriel mood swings aren't so bad once you get used to them...haha! I've forgotten if I've told you lately how proud I am of you and how much I love and miss you! I hope you find out soon from the bank...
~Your favorite Yo-Yo!

At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mood swings? I wouldn't know anything about them!
Big mama yo-yo


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