Friday, June 30, 2006

Hola from Honduras

One week and two days in Hondu. Made it through the official “first week” of training, since last week was “zero week” according to the powers that be. Where do I begin.

Well for one, I am glad to have made it this far. When I thought of training back then, I didn´t really expect to feel like I will be back in school, which is pretty much what the next three months will be. First day of orientation was exactly like the first day of school, with then 53 trainees walking around like lost souls with name tags introducing ourselves and finishing paper work.

Hours of security, medical and cultural sessions, with twice as many language hours later…and down to 51 trainees. We are not quite legit volunteers yet until we are sworn in September 8, that is assuming we all make it that far. But I am quite an optimist.

Isn´t it all so exciting and great and all that good stuff? Yes, it is all of the above, but I am at a point where it all just sinking in and my mood is more subdued than euphoric. The past couple of days I have come to terms with the what, why and how of what I am doing. Not that I ever thought I was off to an exotic vacation and will be staying at the Ritz Carlton in the first place, but in order to deal with the simultaneous emotional roller coaster, physical and psychological adjustments and information overload, I seriously needed to sit myself down and remind myself that I just got myself a new job- at a drastically different scale. Well, okay- so I just got myself a new life.

A familiarly strange world. Our training site is in Santa Lucia situated in the mountains and very much reminds me of Baguio in the Philippines. Seriously- everything just looks like it, including the plants and even a lot of the fruits. It has been a while since I´ve been in tropical fruit heaven. Sometimes I wonder if I´m back in the Philippines, but when I hear ¨Cheque Leque” and see the beans and tortilla for dinner, then I remember that no, not quite.

As for the weather, I didn´t quite expect it to be this cold. Uh, cold enough that I wish I had brought my heavy, fleece blanket ndensum. I have mastered the art of taking 5-minute ice-cold showers at 6 a.m, baby. There are creative ways around this, I know, but I am just the type that needs to take a shower everyday when I wake up, so it´s one of the items on the long list of small things to get used to. I seriously miss my hair dryer, though.

But notice I said shower, por eso, I have running water! Yey! I have my own bathroom in my bedroom too which is more of like a storage area turned into a room but I have all that I need in my new minimalist life. And so far I am good in my supplies of toiletries. Whew!

New family members and a new lifestyle. Funny thing is, I had the feeling that my host family, the Figueroas, will be living more comfortably than one would expect. Sure enough, mom, dad and older brother all have cell phones and well, they have a pretty slammin´ washing machine…to which I don´t have any access, of course. Part of our training is to know how to wash clothes by hand, because once we are assigned our sites, we won´t be having this gadget. Not that I don´t already know how to wash by hand…growing up in Manila trained me well. But, it is pretty ironic for me to be scrubbing away with my clothes on the pila (where all the laundry is done) while the washing machine hums away not very far from where I am.

My host family (anfitriona) is pretty great. A set of parents and two brothers, one is 16, the other 10 years old. Carmen, the mom works at the Peace Corps training center´s cafeteria as the resident cook so yessss….I definitely have a sweet deal. The dad, Francis, is very father-like and seemingly serious and strict, but I know he has a fun side and has been really nice to me.

Oh, did I mention their house is on a mountain, but…we live in barrio abajo. Which means town at the bottom. Serious uphill climb everyday for me and whenever I´d want to go anywhere. Uh, yeah. But I guess that balances the beans-tortilla-rice-avocado everyday diet. But this whole place is breathtakingly gorgeous, it´s surreal being in it on a daily basis. Well, at least for the next three months.

Counting my blessings. If there is a lesson I learned or reinternalized in the past week or so, it is this- nothing worth it in life every comes for free.

This is my first ever post on a blog and I´ve just been rambling about stuff and I can go on and on about sites and turn this into a cool travelogue piece and disguise the fact that I´m also going through a serious life change and adjustment period. I know I´m a pretty tough gal and had a rough idea what I was getting into…the cold water, new food and all that can all be manageable, but ultimately, there´s just no going around the missing people you love part, ya know? And honestly, that is where I am right now…but when I´m at the brink of questioning what it is exactly I´m doing and why, I suddenly remember that…I AM IN HONDURAS TRAINING FOR THE PEACE CORPS.

To all those who´ve known how bad I´ve wanted this for the longest time, then I don´t have to explain further how pretty damn cool it is to be almost quite there, man. And the humbling thing about being on the brink of a dream coming true and making the definitive step of shaping my future is that it is so, so, not easy. I am yet to begin the hard work. I´m used to hard work, but this time it is work that I chose for myself. I wanted meaning, depth, and challenges so bad for so long and here I go.

This blog is for me to remind me one day where I came from and the journey I made and for all those who care to share the journey with me one way or another.