Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Melancholy Winter Days

Been feeling kind of blue lately, stuck halfway between seeing Dad and seeing other people from my family, fighting off yet ANOTHER cold, not really in the middle of any significant projects and wondering if I ever will be. I suppose the title of the blog might conjure up images of me sitting around in my house and watching it piss rain, although actually I can’t even claim that excuse. The weather has been bizarrely dry and sunny for over a week now, which is not only very weird for this area in October, it’s really bad for the farmers who all need another month of rain for their crops or they will lose the harvest. Funnily enough, it just started raining right now as I’m typing this, so let’s hope the trend lasts.

Me, I’m just sick of being too hot all the time. I stared longingly at a picture of Dad and Daya in front of a snowy Tum Tum house for quite awhile the other day. I kind of thought I was supposed to have gotten over this kind of homesickness by this point, but I guess not…. A lot of things, actually, that I assumed I was ¨over¨ from my past life continue to dwell in my mind. I miss hot showers a lot. I miss my computer and the wonderful magical things it does still. I miss my bike. I miss Washington weather. Most of all, of course, I miss my old family and friends. We hang out a couple-three times a week while I’m sleeping, but unfortunately it’s not a good substitute for the real thing. I know I should be making friends here, and to some extent I have been, but my two best young friends that I had in this area both moved to Choluteca to get jobs and I see very little of them. In the rest of the community, I haven’t really found anyone to replace them who’s very close to me at all, distance-wise and age-wise. A lot of the people I work with or even interact with on a daily basis are simply old. This community has a serious deficit of smart young people, because, being smart, they have all left for the cities looking for work.

The times I do get for visiting have been sort of slow lately too. I normally spend a lot of time BSing with Isaí, but he’s been really occupied in his finca for over a month, trying to get some little coffee plants that he’s got in his nursery planted out in the finca, and he’s thrown himself headfirst into tomato and sweet pepper production too. I also had kind of an upsetting conversation with him the other day, in which he spent about an hour telling me how, besides himself and Juanita, nobody else in the area is capable of stepping up and running the coffee cooperative and he fully expects it to become inactive the instant they step down from president and vice-president (which is this month). He doesn’t seem to think anyone has the skills for the job, or the least interest in working for the good of the group, which may be true, but if so, then what the hell am I doing?

Saying that working with the producers around here is a big fat waste of time because they’re not interested in changing the way they work their fincas (not very many are, it’s true) and that they have even less interest in helping each other out has kind of depressing implications on what I am doing and continue to do. I got a little bit pissed at Isaí and I don’t think he really caught onto this or why I might be; didn’t make the connection between what he was saying and what it meant for me. Either way, if he wants to sit around and work his own finca and not worry about the other producers, that’s fine with me, but I’ll have to find others people to do projects with. This bums me out because I really like working with Isaí, but I need to do something and I need to believe in what I’m doing.

This not having a solid ¨main¨ project defined for myself is starting to really bother me too. More than half of my Peace Corps service has now passed, and I’m dangling at the end of a string with these funds from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (BCIE), with which we planned to do the tree nursery project. We have been working on this proposal for very close to a year now, and the higher-ups really don’t seem to give a shit, nor have they in any moment since we started, that these projects actually get done. Two weeks ago I thought that I would know what the deal was by last week, according to what they told me. Last week, I called and they said we’d know this week. Still no word has come. When do I know when to give up on this? They keep saying we’re getting closer and closer to completion; that in any moment things might happen. Yet we still have not heard anything remotely like a definite date from the bank itself. I continue to keep myself busy with the Maestro en Casa classes and other little projects, but I want something more definite and solid to be working on, my OWN project, something substantial that afterwards, I can say ¨I accomplished this in the Peace Corps.¨ The truth is, the project we have planned to do with the BCIE money would be perfect, and I could even do a lot of that work on my own without much in the way of funds. But I keep wasting time with this proposal, for some reason.

I reckon it’s time to start thinking about what I should do if the BCIE project fails, and I can already think of several things that would be enjoyable. One is, I would like to work more with the young people of the community. I’ve neglected this sector in the past because, by and large, the young people here in Agua Fría are mainly looking to get out of Agua Fría, not stay in the community and contribute to its development. But the truth is, I pretty much consider any time spent working with the formation of young people time well spent. I could do some limited computer classes here in the COCAGUAL office with our one computer, I could do a lot with environmental and natural sciences education in the 1-6 grade school, and I could simply hang out more with the young people and share ideas with them. I recently acquired a chess set and have been wanting to put it to good use… maybe we could start a club of some kind.

Speaking of those small projects that I’m keeping myself busy with, there have been several lately since my last blog posting. One was resuscitating the soccer team. I stopped playing and participating much in the organizational aspect for awhile hoping they would get their act together, but they didn’t and myself and another guy named Amilcar who’s the real leader of the team got sick of not playing. :) So we organized a game for last Sunday, which was a disaster in most aspects. First of all, 3/4 of the good players that used to play with us have moved to Tegucigalpa and are working there. Not only are the best players gone, but nobody else seems to have any interest any more. We sent a challenge to another local team a couple days before Sunday with full confidence that we were going to have enough players because EVERYBODY said they wanted to play, and then of course ¨a la hora de la hora¨ only six showed up, counting me. We had to go door to door scraping together people and bring on three extras from other communities and we STILL had to play 10 vs 10. Then we got frickin’ shellacked like 11-0, and one of our players who’s always a pain in the ass started a fight and got himself expelled from the game. When I tried to explain to him that it’s better to deal with a few elbows and bad calls than lose a player, he said ¨But that ref is so horrible Gabriel, he doesn’t even know his own name.¨ Ok, whatever dude, I’m sorry that you’re 30 years old and you still haven’t learned to keep your mouth shut or behave yourself. The main thing that keeps me loyal to this bunch of jerks is Amilcar, who is an excellent guy and puts a lot of effort into the team even though they mostly don’t deserve it. I’d feel bad to leave him hanging, I guess.

Last week I also spent three days walking all over the place collecting signatures from the presidents of the local Patronatos (these are like the village councils who work on community projects). We’re putting together a letter to SOPTRAVI, the Honduras highway institution, soliciting them to come this year with the caterpillars and everything to turn that dirt thing that winds through the mountains to Agua Fría into something that most people would recognize as a road. I mean heck, it’s only twelve communities and like 6,000 people that depend on it. No big deal, right? Well, I got nearly all the signatures for that letter and it should be turned in by the end of the week.

I also did some follow-up stuff to a little extensionist work that I’d started a couple months ago, doing finca management plans, identifying problems and solutions and what kinds of activities people want to implement in their fincas this year. The project never really got anywhere, I guess because these guys all know exactly what they want to do in their fincas, but the main reason they don’t invest in improving them is because they don’t know how to manage money. I feel kind of lost in how to proceed with THAT theme, but at any rate I managed to get a couple producers interested in grafting a few mango and avocado trees, which went quite well. First I talked to my good friend Guillermo Martínez (president of the Patronato of a local community) who is a whiz at grafting, and followed him around a couple days that he went out to graft to see how the pros do it. Then I arranged a day to work with Don Foncho and Lucas Galindo, the interested parties, and went and got some stems from Guillermo that morning. After a few screw-ups, I think I was getting the hang of it and I’m pretty sure more than a few of those grafts are going to pegar, as they say here (stick). Ahem, si Dios quiere.

Check yall later.



At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see you, Gabe!Sorry your projects haven't materialized yet. Who knows, maybe your gift to the Honduran people will not be as tangible as a big project. Maybe you'll just be able to get it started, and then the next person can take off from there. You know that your dad's project was a little unusual in that he was able to see it from beginning to end, don't you? See you soon. Mom


Post a Comment

<< Home