Bak 2 skewl
Well, happy (Honduran) back to school everyone, classes officially start next Monday, although in the Maestro en Casa program that I´m working with we probably won´t get going for real until the following week due to a lack of textbooks and general organization. I was at a meeting today with the people here in Choluteca who run the program regionally, and it was nice to finally get that contact and feel a little more cemented in what we´re doing and not so much showing up randomly to give classes. Nobody ever really let me in on the overall plan last year and I think maybe they didn´t so much know what it was themselves, but this year there is a schedule of ¨modules¨ that run for about a month a piece between february and november. English is the same length as the other modules, only running for about a month (but with 4 hours solid every saturday) so I will be teaching other subjects as well and probably have help with English from a guy from a nearby village called La Cuchilla (¨The Knife¨) who knows a thing or two. The teachers who do this program are unpaid volunteers too, so it is kind of impressive that we have three committed to work on it with me, even though it is only Saturdays. We are going to need them. This year there are 33 students in 7th grade, 39 in 8th, and 7 in 9th. Should be interesting.
We went to Teguigalpa last Tuesday to turn in the proposal rough draft, which I´ll admit I got a little nervous about because of the amount of work it represented for me and everyone else. It was received with compliments by Alejandrina, the señora from the Central American Bank that reviewed it and sent it on to Costa Rica, where it will get reviewed for reals by the group that has to approve it eventually, and returned with everything that lacks. The 28th is what we´re shooting for to turn in the final copy. If it isn´t finished by then, we´ll have to wait til the next year to start because it will already be too late to build nurseries and get the trees planted in time for them to have enough rainy season in their final spot in the field. (They take about 90 days to be ready to plant, and if that doesn´t happen by September they won´t survive the next dry season).
So we´re going around fixing little things and I´m making some maps and working around the house, taking care of all the things I neglected while we were burning the midnight oil for weeks running on the proposal. I had a couple supposedly slow days Thursday and yesterday, but my luck being how it is.... it seems like things fall in my lap when I am least trying. Thursday I went into Agua Fría just to call Juanita and ask about some notes she took from our meeting with Alejandrina, and on the way back to the house I ran into a group of 8 guys from a rotary club from Tennessee, hanging out in Agua Fría, looking comically out of place and resting a bit before going up to fix a water system in Agua Fría Arriba (the part of Agua Fría farther along the road and up the mountain) that they had donated and installed the previous year. Agua Fría Arriba is so high that they can´t get a gravity-fed water system from a decent spring, so they put in a well with a pump up to a tank high on the hill. The pump had burned out and the pipes were leaking so it didn´t get much use, but I tagged along with them and we fixed it right there, new pump, new pipes, everything ready to go. I turned out to be extremely useful as an interpreter because only one of them spoke any spanish and he did know a thing or two, but lacked practice. Was nice to speak english a little though, and I must confess I have always liked southern dialect (educated redneck that I am) so it was doubly fun.
The next day I didn´t even leave the house and more work walked right up to my doorstep, wearing army fatigues and carrying M-16s (10 of them, to be exact). Apparently, the new president of Honduras has taken immediate action in putting the army to good use as guardabosques (¨forest guards¨) to prevent fires and illegal woodcutting. I visited with the guy coordinating their activities and showed them around Cerro Guanacuare, up to the very top and the paths around my place. The guy from COHDEFOR, which is the Honduran equivalent of the forest service, was considerbly less knowledgeable than the lietenant in charge, who seemed to have a specialty in environmentally-related stuff and was relatively friendly, for an army type. I reckon we will be in contact and they might even be able to help us out with our project, especially with respect to transportation of materials. Another nice benefit is the area is now going to be as secure as a swiss bank having the soldiers around. A real shame they got here just a little too late to dampen the enthusiasm of the guys who robbed Tim. Speaking of which, he is installed now close by in the department of Paraíso and apparently doing fine. Haven´t seen him since he left, but I´d like to go up and visit there sometime. It sounds like a nice part of Honduras.
That´s about all for this week, weather is getting really remarkably hot now and when I get some time off I´m going to try to go to San Marcos de Colon (where I spent thanksgiving) and check out the national park there which is a lot higher (thus cooler) and supposedly has a cloud forest.