Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Here's another good animal story. The day before yesterday, I was just sitting around in my kitchen packing up my bag to get going for the day and this animal bounded right in through the door as if it owned the place and ran over to the table area where I was sitting. It was a ferret! I had no idea they lived around here. I stayed as still as possible while he checked around the various corners of the room and ran right up to within a foot or so of my leg, at which point I got a little nervous that he was going to climb up me and made some slight movements. He backed off a little but stayed there watching me, the insolent little bastard. I made as if to get up and he finally bounced back out the door, like he was in no particular hurry. By the time I had walked outside, he'd disappeared completely. I was thinking about putting out some meat or something and see if he comes back, but I'm probably just asking for trouble. I hope I see him again, though. His attitude kind of reminded me of Baron Weasel, an animal described in the book My Side of the Mountain (which I have read at least 3 different times).

It's been awhile since I've posted much decent news, so I better do that. The most relevant thing that has happened lately was my COS conference (the acronym is from Closure of Service), where we start doing all the things necessary to wrap up our service and prepare for life after the Peace Corps. This was last Wednesday-Friday in Tela, a town on the north coast, which was kind of an interesting coincidence because that was the same place we went as trainees on our very first vacation on a 3-day weekend during the first month in Siguatepeque. They put us in a nice beachfront hotel with great catered food, which was a nice way for Uncle Sam to show some appreciation for all the work we have done, I guess. During the conference we spent about a day and a half in various different activities, such as preparing for the job search, hearing about possibilities for Returning PCVs, and going over all the formats and other things we have to turn in before leaving. This includes doing our Description of Service report, kind of a final wrap-up summary of what the hell it is we did exactly, that is going to go and rot in a file somewhere in Washington.

I also met the new Peace Corps director, who is stricter than her predecessor in terms of adhering to the Peace Corps Washington rules and guidelines, as many people trying to end their service a little early or extend have found out. My friend Joe almost had to cancel his wedding plans, and my petition to stay until the end of October was shot down out of hand, because apparently it's bad to have two volunteers in a site at the same time, even if it's just for a month. There is a certain rationale behind this, although I think I can make a stronger argument in favor of my idea (especially since it was essentially suggested by my community partners.... and who are we doing this work for, exactly?). At any rate, I just got an email stating that my extension has been approved until september 28, so I'll just have to make the most of the extra month and a half. And there you have it, everyone who has been asking.... the date when I will officially be coming home.

Besides that, I'm still plugging away at with my 9th graders - we finished Math and are already getting close to the end of Natural Sciences. I have been impressed with their responsiveness lately, which is heartening because since the beginning I have been insisting on running my classroom with some significant stylistic differences from the Honduran teachers, which caused difficulties. Maybe after all this time they're finally adapting to the way I do things, which is what I was hoping would happen.

Work continues with the cooperative as well, still polishing this grant proposal that we're going to submit to FORCUENCAS (although it's actually just about done, I think). I'm going to turn in what may be a final draft today, after I burn it to a CD. We're also plugging along trying to improve the coffee producers' documentation of the work they do, which is essential for organic certification. I'm about halfway done with the maps of fincas, but the other ones should be a little easier because they are all closer to me. They also have to keep registries of all their applications of fertilizer, de-weeding campaigns, all the days worked by the laborers they employ, and all of their incomes and expenses. As you can imagine, this is a significant challenge for those guys, some of whom are barely literate, or not at all.

As some of you may know, that bus ride from Agua Fria to Choluteca or vice versa is a huge bummer. It's long, hot, bumpy, and can be ridiculously crowded, which was the case this morning. I counted at least 70 adults and maybe another 15 babies and small children (this is on a US school bus, mind). It was so bad that I was desperate for something to get my mind elsewhere, and came up with.... anagrams! My name, if you use the full first name and no middle (Gabriel Hensold) is damn-near perfect for making anagrams. The possibilites are endless. In two hours, the best I could come up with was:

I shall b geo nerd

Which takes some liberties with the spelling of the word "be", but is pretty satisfactory otherwise. Nonsensical results that I like nevertheless include "Beheld L.A. groins" and "Greased hill nob".




At 11:22 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

I love it! Did I ever tell you that my boyfriend was named Shale? We met in an intro geology class.

How are you doing those finca maps? I have to help someone out with one.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

my *first* b-friend, I meant. Dang that you canĀ“t edit your own comments with this program. I expect more from Google.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger pineconeboy said...

I'm not doing the finca maps with a correct scale or surveyed lines or anything like that. I just go out and walk around the property with the owner for about an hour and have them point out to me where all the lines run, where the different sections are (cow pastures, milpas, coffee, sugarcane, etc) and then hand-draw them including roads, houses, creeks, and little symbols for the different crops.

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Literary genius!

...both of those words may be mispelled.



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