Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On 2-2-12, I gave up my pride, and let my brother take the name Walter for his newborn son. Walter's birth is just one more thing I've missed being away from home, but it felt a bit more distant knowing that I could have been home if I would have gone with the rest of Peace Corps Honduras. But in January I wasn’t ready to leave yet, and I wanted a few more months of closure here in Ocotepeque.

January 16th I found myself alone in a luxurious hotel in downtown Tegucigalpa.

I watched out the window as the buses hauled my once fellow Peace Corps volunteers to the airport. I packed my backpack, raided the piles of dejected belongings that had put suitcases over the 50# limit. And with a grocery bag full of Oreos, fruit, chocolate, a few books, and a cheesy gift clock, I took off to Las Cañadas to visit the host family where I lived when I first arrived to Honduras. On the bus ride there, I kid you not, as I reflected on all the great times spent with such great friends who were now on their ways home, the song All By Myself came on the stereo (old classics like that seem to exude from every bus, bar, and restaurant). Few people here understood they lyrics, nor understood that that was exactly how I felt.

But I'm not exaxtly All By Myself. I made it to Las Cañadas and found my way back to the house where I’d lived for a month. It was hardly recognizable because they’d built another house on top of the first house—a second floor.
Luisa, my old host sister took my stuff and we went up to take a tour of the second floor, and she showed me the Internét Gratis that they now offered by stealing Wi-fi from the neighbors. I stayed a night and when I left the next morning they were all begging me to stay longer. But I wanted to visit the second host family where we had our field-based training, so I moved on.
When I arrived in La Cuesta, hanging out with my "host cousins" I realized that I was basically following my Peace Corps timeline all over again. Only this time, after a night with Isaí and Glenda, where I’d lived for two months, I also trekked a few hours up the mountain to visit doña Angela.

Doña Angela is like the old black lady stereotype from any movie that takes place between 1850 to 1950 in the south (only she's hispanic, and skinny). Her constant stories and exclamations have more range than a choir, and it seems like she approves every detail with a long vocal sigh, as if she were saying ‘you don’t say,’or ‘would you look at that.’ She still takes care of one of her past husbands, though he’s a drunk and sold every bit of his land out from under her feet. She has a def, mute daughter from the same man, but she treats her daughter so normally, that you can hardly tell she’s def or mute. She also cuts hair for all the needy in town, after she gets home from picking coffee. She fed me 3 meals and 2 snacks (plantains, coffee, and sweet breads) for each of the 4 days I was there. And in the evening, somewhere between everything else, she sits in an old worn out chair in front of her house, surrounded by her gardens, and watches the boys of the community play soccer and reads the Biblía Latinoamerica.

Doña Angela lives in San Andres. Because the community is an hour and a half rough ride from anywhere, it seem s at least 25 years behind the times. You still get crew cuts with scissors (not a clippers), there’s no cell phone reception so everyone shares the community landline, and bedtime is at 8:30 because by 4:30 everyone is starting to move again. Doña Angela told me that’s because the water (which is frigid), is the warmest just before sunrise. If you can’t imagine it yet, imagine a bowl in the mountains with two creeks that cross either side. In the middle there’s a flat area where they have a large soccer field. The houses, which have lots of amazing 60-to-70-year-old woodwork surround the soccer field and work up the bowl forming a stadium feeling. If you climb the far side of the bowl, you crest a ridge and look to the north where you see sweeping valleys of pine trees. “The farthest ridge you can see back there, the one with the cell phone towers on top, that’s in the department of Las Minas de Yoro.” They told me. I hung out for long enough so that my coffee-picking earnings would pay my food and my bus tickets back home.

Finishing a my trip, my abbreviated Peace Corps experience, I took the long bus ride to Ocotepeque. Only, this time, when I walked up to the hill to my house, everybody knew me and I knew them. We really miss you when you’re not around a few of my friends told me. And then they gasped when I told them of my trip. They’d never been farther than 4 hours north of here, and some of them less than that.

Now I’ve been back for a while. I’m getting used to not having Camila and Aimee to hang out with every time I go down the mountain. I’m also getting used to living without PC rules; I can ride motorcycles now, and I don’t have to send a text message to tell them if I’m not going to be in my site. I also don’t get paid. So I’ll coast for a bit on the money I’ve saved (out of the $315/mo. I was getting paid), and be coming home March 19th. Until then, I’ve got a few weeks of camping and bird surveying to do, a statistics workshop to teach, and several goodbyes.

Meaning, for everyone back home, I’ll see you soon.


  1. Thanks for updating Jesse! It's nice to be able to share a bit in the wonderful experiences you're having. Enjoy the rest of your time there, and do let me know if you'll be making it through Missouri at all when you get back!