Maybe it´s just because I haven´t seen you guys in forever, but I have started noticing Hondurans every once in awhile that bear an eerie resemblance to somebody I know from the states.... except, you know, darker-skinned, wearing cowboy hats, and sometimes missing a few teeth. Just in case you´re interested, here are the people who I know for sure have dopplegangers here:
Kevin Ritzer: I see this guy often, he lives in a community near mine.
Joe Hundley: The ayudante (¨helper¨, i.e. guy who collects fares) on a bus near the El Salvador border.
Pauly Shore: This dude is my neighbor, and he not only looks just like pauly shore, he even has the same goofy way of talking! It´s scary.
Bruce Campbell: It must be the Latin chin. I´ve seen at least 3 Bruce Campbell look-alikes.
More to be posted as they are discovered!
This last week I have made two separate trips to Tegucigalpa, because our tree nursery project proposal finally got passed on by the Costa Rican agency that was reviewing it to the actual Central American Bank itself, and they sent it back with a bunch more corrections (these mostly regarding money-related stuff, like having to show all values for everything in dollars as well as Lempiras). I think we got it back a week ago (last Thursday) and they said they wanted it by Monday. This turned out to be impossible, but we did turn in what I fervently hope will be the final draft of this thing, weighing in at well over 200 pages with all the annexes (the project profile, which is what I spent the most time on, is 45 pages). I went to Tegucigalpa on Friday to work on it with Juanita at her place there, then back to Agua Fría on Saturday, and we failed to get anything done on Sunday because the computer was locked up in the house of somebody who had gone to Choluteca. Monday was a very full day fixing things up in Agua Fría, on Tuesday I went to Tegucigalpa and we put the whole package together in the afternoon/evening, and yesterday morning (wednesday) we turned it in. Then I came back down south, which is where I´m at right now.
While I was in Tegucigalpa, I turned in some information to the peace corps office about two different communities near mine where I think it would be possible to send another volunteer. The next group of PAM (Protected Areas Management, my project) is going to arrive for training next month and start working in September, and my project manager asked me to suggest some information about other communities in my area where I thought they could send somebody. The two I have been most impressed with are La Palma and San Judas, which are both reasonably close to my site but you pretty much have to make a day out of it to visit, so I went and visited them and talked with people from their Patronatos (this is like a town council) about the opportunity and what they would have to do to take advantage of it. I brought my own observations to my project manager so we´ll see what they think. The people in La Palma at least are super excited about the possibility because they´ve had very good experiences with visiting peace corps volunteers in the past, and people from San Judas also have told me that they´ve always wanted their own volunteer. From my point of view, having a companion in either place would be a big help so the peace corps will have to decide which is better. Dare I hope that two more people come?
The weather has definitely taken a turn for the better since my last posting..... the rainy season officially arrived the monday of last week and it has been raining almost every day since then, with much more livable temperatures. The forest exploded in leaves and small flowers after the first 2-3 storms, and now everything has greened up beautifully as well. Isaí's coffee finca, which looked ready to kick the bucket at the beginning of this month, is vibrant and green once again, and also flowering liked crazy. Coffee puts out a ton of small, white flowers that smell really good but wilt after only a couple days.
We´re also just about at the best time of year for all different kinds of fruit to be ripe (except bananas). There are mangos everywhere as big as your freakin head, and softball-sized avocadoes with rich buttery-yellow meat. My favorite fruit that I have found here, called Mamey, is also in season (these are totally unknown in the states, and even in most of Honduras).
To be honest there isn´t all that much more to tell this time, except that we finished up science class (I think all of my students passed) and I will be moving on to teach english next. I have to teach english 3 times (to my own class of 9th graders and also to both classes of 8th graders) because the other teachers really can´t do it, but they are going to cover for my class while I am teaching theirs.
Next up also is getting a road-repair project rolling that we planned as a component of the tree nursery project, to assure that the communities we´ll be working in are accessible. Soliciting help from the the World Food Programme was unbelievably easy to do by comparison to the Central American Bank (fill out three one-page forms) and I believe it was already approved, so we just need to go to the communities and get them to organize some workers and a couple people to oversee the distribution of the food rations that people will be getting in compensation for their work. The idea is not for it to be like a payment, but simply a motivator. Ideally the government SHOULD take care of local infrastructure, but it never seems to have money for it so usually the communities end up having to maintain their own roads, which they aren´t always able to do. Getting some food rations and organizing the work will assure that it gets done this year in the communities we will be working in.