After a few weeks off, I´ve been playing soccer again.... and rather than against the same nearby aldeas we always play, I went up to the military post in Agua Fría Arriba last Saturday and challenged them. This is the group of like 17 soldiers that are ostensibly protecting the forest, thanks to that initiative by Mel Zelaya (the new president of Honduras). They said sure, and so we scheduled the game for Sunday, the following day. Per the soldier´s suggestion, we agreed to start at 10 am, which for us is 9 am because the country decided this year to use daylight savings time for 3 months, something it has never done before. However, since life in the campo revolves around the sun and not a clock, everyone here is using ¨la hora vieja¨, the old hour. Honestly, I should have known better than to agree to this, but the team was all like ¨sure, we´ll be there at 9!¨ This of course was a lie, but the kind of unintentional lie so totally commonplace here where somebody tells you they´ll do something that they´d sure like to do, but if they actually stopped and thought about it realistically would realize that they´re not going to do.
In the case of soccer games, there´s a rule around here: the game starts at 11. I personally have tried to get them to start earlier, have told everybody 3 times the week before that we were going to start at 9 because of the midday heat and because 4 games needed to get played those days; I´ve gone around dragging people out of their houses at 8 am and then by the time everybody is ready it´s 9:30, and it´s 10:30 by the time we get to the field and then of course they have to goof around and warm up for half an hour or 45 minutes before starting. I´ve finally gotten used to it because it´s not worth the headache trying to start a game earlier. It´s like nailing jello to a tree; impossible. It was just interesting playing the soldiers because they got to the field right on time and their lieutenant, the guy I talked to, was getting on my case constantly from that point on about what time we were going to start the game. That was me a few months ago, but I guess I´m starting to lose my gringo obsession with punctuality. The fact of the matter is, out here it just doesn´t matter that much. It´s a bad habit I´ll have to break when I get back in the states, but it isn´t something I´m ever going to change in my Honduran friends, so I have to either adapt or go crazy. It was just kind of funny seeing our total lack of organization again through the eyes of the soldiers.
But hey, we started by 10:30 (that would be 11:30 by the official time), the earliest I´ve ever seen a soccer game begin. And incidentally, we won, and we won the second game against them on Thursday too. They got punished after losing on Thursday by the new lieutenant and had to run behind the hummer 5 kilometers back to their post. He made a speech trying to recruit some of the locals before we started the game, but after seeing that and the way he yelled at his players the entire time I don´t think anybody on the team was really psyched to join the army.
One interesing bit of news of late is that Nicole came to visit, one of the previous volunteers in the area. She served from 2000-2003 (if memory serves) and lived in a house only a couple hundred yards from where I am at. She is 34 years old and currently finishing up her PhD in Boston; she came back for a follow-up to the study she did here as a volunteer. Her main projects in the area had to do with environmental education. It was really nice talking to someone with her completely unique perspective, I would venture to say the only person I would trust to give me a real evaluation of what I´ve been doing. Interestingly, perhaps for this reason, I suddenly felt really self-concious talking to her about my work. I know I sound like a depressed teenager saying this, but nobody really understands exactly what I´m doing here, not even totally the peace corps volunteers in other parts of the country because their sites are so different. Nicole on the other hand knows exactly what´s up, and talking to her I began to doubt myself all over the place...... shouldn´t I be working more concentrated and with fewer people, instead of running all over the place? Shouldn´t I be working more directly with the poorest, most needy sector? Shouldn´t I be doing more for women´s development?
Regardless of these doubts, I have to remain aware of the fact that in a certain way, I haven´t failed in my mandate as a peace corps volunteer. From the beginning I´ve mostly responded to interests voiced by community members, and I honestly feel like these are well-intentioned, not concocted for personal gain. The only thing I need to be wary of is my tendency to be a Polyanna and view really bad situations from a too-optimistic standpoint, which could possibly lead to barking up the wrong tree with projects.
Other than that, I´ve been involved in a variety pack of little things.... extra classes in the Maestro en Casa program since the house of one of the teachers burned down and he hasn´t been around, fixing the roof of my house, and going to some classes of beekeeping in Choluteca since a small project is going to be starting up in the area funded by AHPROCAFE (Asociación Hondureña de Productores de Cafe) and I might be able to give people tecnical assistance. In that regard, it was nice to learn about bees, their life cycle, how they work, how to produce honey, and all that.... but I think I am going to avoid working with them if I can. It´s not like I don´t have anything else to do, and dammit, they scare me. These are africanized bees. They´s
I love you guys! I will try to be in town on Monday or thereabouts to call some family members since it is my birthday and stuff. I already discussed this with mom; dad and Sam, do you have a specific time I should try to call? Remember it has to be a land line. Cell phones in the states from here cost about $2 a minute heh.