So I'll be down here for 27 months. I have lots of wall space and would love to receive some postcards from you back home. If you send me a postcard:

1) I'll be very happy, 2) I'll show it to everyone that comes to my apartment, 3) I'll send you a postcard, 4) You can be 100% sure that I won't forget who you are during my time here.







Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Si, yo le meti fuego a estas montañas

Acabo de leer un blog sobre algo que sucede en Honduras y lo encontre interesante. Se llama 'Si, yo le metí fuego a estas montañas...'  <---------haga clic="" leerlo="" p="" para="">

Thursday, August 16, 2012

After More Than 3 Years, Back to the 'Real Life'

Last week I started a new job. I guess many people would say I'm finally back to the 'real world' and working a 'real job'.

I'm very excited for my new job. Both the work, the people, and the company seem great. No details now, but my title is Automation Engineer and the company I'm working for is NNE Pharmaplan. Although my first 3 weeks of work are mainly training out of the HQ in North Carolina, I'm based out of Philly.

Between Peace Corps and traveling, the last three years have been amazing. It's a bit crazy thinking in how many places I've been and many of the experiences that almost don't seem real thinking back to them (especially in Olancho...). I'm sure whatever is to follow now will also be amazing, everything is really just what you make out of it. This job will keep me busy as I'll be going through a large learning curve to get caught up with pharma, manufacturing, MES and whatever else I can get involved in. I've been waiting for this for a while, I'm going to enjoy the intensity of everything!

Well, other than that, since this is my 'Peace Corps Blog', I'll say Peace Corps was an amazing and unique experience that you can only really experience by...... being a Peace Corps volunteer! I highly recommend it to anyone that may be thinking about it. It's definitely got both ups and downs, but in the end the positive greatly outweighs the negative in my opinion. If anyone has questions about Peace Corps or Honduran/Olanchano life then feel free to contact me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

England

So I'm still traveling, not working just yet... The other day I flew into Heathrow airport in London. As usual it took forever waiting in line to get through immigration. But finally after getting through I didn't have to wait more than 2 seconds for my bag to show up in baggage claim and then headed out. My friend Patrick was there waiting for me and we drove up to Swindon where he lives. As I believe is typical in England it was overcast and raining. We went to the huge local Walmart to get some food for the week and I really was shocked at the size of the store. I also learned about Dyson, the company he works for. They're known for their high end vacuum cleaners. I never knew that some people paid so much money for vacuums, but they really are high quality.


Huge Walmart

The next day we went to Stonehenge, Salisbury and Bath. Paddy and Laura really talked Stonehenge down before going so Im not sure if thats one of the reasons for not being highly impressed with it. Although considering how old it is, it's impressive that such big rocks were put up to stand like that.

Notice in this picture that we're behind the fence, that's because I think it costs 20 pounds to go in, and still you can only walk around the circle. Good enough view from here though.

Salisbury was a nice little town, but I really liked the city of Bath. It just had this old and grand auora about it. Hard to explain, you just have to go. 

Salisbury

Hot Sausage stand in Bath

Bath

Me in Bath

Nice view of Bristol

Some of the graffiti

Between Swindon, Bath, Bristol and my last half day in London it was a fun and busy, yet relaxing week. Although I dont think I had even one conversation with an English person all week (my friends and their friend are Irish and in London I hung out with Emily and Haley, 2 friends from Drexel). To get out, I took the fast Eurostar train under the English channel over to Paris. It was pretty awesome and much easier than going to an airport. It took just a couple minutes to go through immigration (no arriving 2 hours early to the airport) and in 2 hours I went from the middle of London to the middle of Paris.



Playing mini golf in Swindon

At the bar in Swindon with Paddy and Jonnie

Park in Swindon

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Purim in San Francisco

Chag Sameach everyone! It's Purim (a Jewish holiday) so time to eat some hamentashens.

Two days ago, I arrived in the San Francisco airport and will be spending the next two weeks in California visiting friends and checking out different cities. So many people talk about the West Coast like it's this amazing place and some even claim it's better than the East Coast... time to see what all the hype is all about.

Yesterday was a great start to the trip. I had a phone interview in the morning for a job with Anheuser-Busch in which I actually felt pretty awkward (still waiting to hear if I passed to the next round). I'm just hoping that anyone else interviewing for the same position is more awkward than I am. Everything is relative, isn't it? Then, after some more time hanging around and getting ready, Lauren and I went to the Golden Gate Bridge.


Trying to keep the walkers separated from the bikers, although I swear Lauren was trying to push me in to the bike lane so that I'd get run over


It's a nice bridge and there is a great view of the city and the bay. The only issue I had is that no one, not person or machine, is selling some kind of food or snack on either side of the bridge. I think there would be nothing more rewarding than something delicious after that walk, like a cheese steak or hummus and falafel. We got back in the car and went looking for food via 'the scenic route' (a.k.a. took a wrong turn). It worked out well though as we ended up in some cool little place called 100% Sweet Cafe.

After taking another scenic route (an Iphone would probably have helped out a lot to figure out where we were going), we ended up in the Mission which is a part of the city with lots of Latinos and hipsters. This is where the Purim party was going to be. I won't go into the story of Purim, but I will say it's probably one of the most fun holidays that Jews celebrate. I remember going to Purim carnivals when I was younger and we would always win goldfish. Although, they never lived very long so it worked out that every year we would win new ones. Before going to the fiesta, we met up with Josh and his friend Mike to eat tacos. There are a couple places that sell baleadas in the Mission but that will have to wait for another time. Finally, we got in to the party and put our costumes on. In Israel, Purim is the holiday that everyone dresses up and parties, I don't think they celebrate Halloween, but don't quote me on that.

100% Olanchanos... Viva! 
Lauren and Josh

Sam and Mike
We got in just as they were finishing the reading of the Magillah. Then, the party started out with a Brazilian percussion group and some dancers dancing the punta (at least that's what they call it in Honduras). Once they finished, the entire stage turned into a big dance floor with a DJ, a ton of Jews dressed up in everything from rasta hats to cross dressers, a table with mixed drinks, a couple kegs of some good, dark beer, and then food outside. Everyone danced the night away until they announced that the party was over.

This was way  more than I expected for my first night in San Francisco. I didn't even know it was Purim so it was a nice surprise. To top the night off, we dropped off Mike on the way home and he showed us the boat that he lives on. Yes, he rents a room on a boat, first person I've met that can say he lives on a boat but it seems pretty awesome.

I'm excited to see what the next two weeks have to offer.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Officially Done

As of February 15th, all the Peace Corps Volunteers from Honduras are officially C.O.S.'ed (in short, that means we are no longer volunteers... and officially unemployed). The last 30 days before the 15th we were technically still volunteers but were on administrative hold while PC Honduras evaluated Honduras' security situation. From what they have told us, their decision is that all the volunteers are COS'ed and further analysis will continue to take place. So, of the 158 volunteers that were working in Honduras, none of us will go back; but there is a chance that future training classes could be sent to work again.

This past month has been awesome. Winter in Philly has been pretty mild so biking around has been nice. Although, I didn't realize how much my beard was keeping me warm till I shaved part of it...

My face was freezing after my first bike ride like this. But I was able to warm up afterwards in Miami for a few days. I'm back in Philadelphia now, but in the next couple months I'll be going to Baltimore, DC (RPCV Career Conference), California, NYC, and a few cities in Europe. 
Depending on 1) how much money I have left, and 2) if someone wants to hire me, my travels might continue afterwards or I might start working. Either way, I'm sure whatever follows will be fun and exciting. If I start working, then I'd like to get a job in Philly, but am up to moving anywhere *as long as it's a good job and a nice city/town*.

Well, this is my last post about Peace Corps Honduras, but I might follow-up with some random topics in the future. Thanks to everyone who's followed my blog posts, hope you've enjoyed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back in the 'Yunais'

I've been back in the US for almost a week now. For a while before coming back here everyone was talking about reverse culture shock and how tough it was going to be. I've experienced it before and I guess that the idea of it is a bit weird at first thought: after being abroad for x amount of time, you start to experience culture shock from returning to your home culture.

I haven't done all that much this past week. With all the despedidas (going away parties) the last few weeks in Juticalpa and 4 days in our closing conference in Tegucigalpa I was exhausted once I got back here. However, some of the biggest changes so far are:

  • The cold. It's freezing here and I walk/bike almost anywhere I'm going. I'm more used to it now than the first few days but when people get excited that the temperature is going to reach 45 degrees F today then there's a problem. In Juticalpa, I was complaining if it got down to 65 degrees F at night time. A little bit of snow fell here the other day and the streets and sidewalks are pretty icy.
  • Not being a rock star anymore. Peace Corps staff always joked with us during training that we would be rock stars in our sites. We would be El Gringo that everyone wanted to meet. Well, it was true. I knew people almost everywhere I went in Juticalpa, and if I didn't then some stranger would probably start talking to me. People here don't normally look, let alone talk, to strangers in the street.
  • Language. I'm not sure what I miss more, Spanish or Spanglish. Although, I will keep practicing Spanish (probably not as much Spanglish).
  • Philly. Philly is much different than Juticalpa. Both are really great and I'm always happy to be back in Philly. This past week I've been able to walk and bike around, drink various types of dark beer, eat all sorts of food and all this has been done without seeing people with machine guns driving around. There's also less dust here.

There are a bunch of other things that upon arriving here I realized are so much different, but overall I think the reverse culture shock isn't too strong this time. Maybe once I start getting out a bit more and seeing more friends it will hit me more, who knows. 

When we were accepted to PC, we got tons of packets and papers and information. There was one excerpt that I kept where a RPCV (Returned PCV) described reverse culture shock. I'd say there's no better way to describe it and I think it's the way I felt the first time I experienced it. Check it out...

----------------------------------------------
The problem is this notion of home. The word suggests a place and a life all set up and waiting for us; all we have to do is move in. But home isn't merely a place we inhabit; it's a lifestyle we construct (wherever we go), a pattern of routines, habits, and behaviors associated with certain people, places, and objects all confined to a limited area or neighborhood. We can certainly construct a home back in our own culture, just as we did abroad, but there won't be one waiting for us when we arrive...

In other words, no one goes home; rather, we return to our native country and, in due course, we create a new home. This condition of homelessness is perhaps the central characteristic of the experience of reentry, and the confusion, anxiety, and disappointment it arouses in us are the abiding emotions of this difficult period.

To put it another way, the trouble with reentry is that you suddenly find yourself in transition when what you expected was to simply pick up where you left off (though, of course, neither the place where you left off nor the person who went overseas exists anymore). Even when they're expected, transitions are troublesome; when they're not, they can be genuinely debilitating.

Your self-esteem isn't helped, meanwhile, by the fact that no one seems especially interested in what you've been doing for the last two years. You have just gone through what may be the seminal experience of your life (certainly of your life to-date), and experience that has transformed your view of the world and your own country- and changed you profoundly in the process- and yes your family and intimates somehow aren't bowled over. You have so much to explain, but alas, their capacity to absorb is not nearly matched by your need to recapitulate; they're filled up before you're even half empty. The typical returned Volunteer is a catharsis waiting (not so patiently) to happen.

This dynamic only adds to the returned Volunteer's growing crisis of identity. With no present role, your sense of self- and of self-wroth- is embodied in the sum of all the experiences you've had in the Peace Corps; you are what you have been through in the last two years. But if nobody wants to hear this, then how can they know how you've changed and who you've become? And if they don't know who you are, how can they value or even like you?

Another frustrating dimension of readjustment is the sudden return to anonymity. While Volunteers often complain about living in a fish-bowl overseas, their every move the subject of intense scrutiny and still more intense speculation, they nevertheless enjoy being the center of attention and interest; it makes them feel special, even important. Speaking the local language for example, makes celebrities-even heroes-out of Volunteers, as does being the first American ever to teach at the King Hassan II Elementary School or to ride the local bus from Song Kwah to Phu Banh. Now, no one looks up when we enter a room or squeals with delight when we start speaking Swahili. Our every move has more or less the same novelty value as everyone else's every move. We aren't special anymore-and we miss it.

Something else we miss, acutely, is the intensity of the Peace Corps experience. Even when it was difficult-indeed, especially when it was difficult-the experience of living and working among an alien people had an almost palpable richness about it. We could practically feel ourselves growing and maturing, being stretched beyond what we thought were our limits and forced to come up with more patience or tolerance or persistence than we thought we had in us. We knew we were being transformed. And this was immensely stimulating and sustaining. Back home, life is easy and predictable; our character no longer gets a regular workout.

These losses-of home, self-confidence, and independence-are at the core of readjustment and all but guarantee that most returned Volunteers are not going to pick up where they left off. What's worse, the typical Volunteer suffers these losses alone and largely in silence. For two years, throughout all the excitement and frustration of culture shock, pre-service training, settling-in, and beyond, we were supported by other Volunteers going through the same experience we were. Now, suddenly and precipitously, we're on our own. We have our family and friends about us, and they are sympathetic, but they don't really understand.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Honduras In the News

Since the Peace Corps announced that all the volunteers were leaving Honduras, quite a few articles have came out.


In English about PC Leaving

BBC
Peace Corps Official Statement
NY Times - Peace Corps Cuts Back in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador


En Espanol

La Prensa - Por Inseguridad Voluntarios Se Retiraran de Honduras (Honduran Newspaper)
La Prensa Grafica - EUA Suspende Promocion de Cuerpo de Paz a Guatemala Y Salvador (This one has some intense comments that people left)

Random Articles
Washington Post - Grim Toll As Cocaine Trade Expands in Honduras
Bernama

Definition of Peace Corps on Urban Dictionary
Urban Dictionary

This all comes in good timing as Honduras recently moved to number ONE for highest homicide rate in the world segun a study done by the UN. I guess it's true that Honduras does always win. Way to go.


On another note, there has been chisme of when we are actually leaving Honduras. It seems that our volunteer conference will be held in Teguicalpa from Jan. 12th - 14th (pending official confirmation) and from there volunteers would be flying home either Jan. 15th or 16th.