I’ve been in Juticalpa, Olancho now for over 3 weeks. The first 3 weeks in my home for the next 2 years. I’ll tell you about the city, some of the people, and what’s been going on with work. But to start off, it’s nice here and I think I’m going to enjoy the next 2 years.
So Juticalpa is a pretty big city for Peace Corps standards. Here I have multiple supermarkets, a movie theatre, a small mall, some nice hotels, all sorts of stores, a market, central park and there are even a couple of universities here. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be spending any time in the mall, movie theatre or hotels but it’s nice that anything I need I can get here. Some volunteers have to travel to nearby cities just to buy vegetables. The city has a few paved streets and the rest are just dirt roads so it’s very dusty walking everywhere. It’s also really hot. There was a lot of rain when I arrived here. For the first 2 weeks it rained almost every day and a lot of the streets turned into small rivers. The rain was nice because it would cool down for a bit (but then just get really humid afterwards). And the people in this city, like most of what I’ve seen in Honduras, are pretty friendly. A lot of men do have pistols on them but I think it’s more tradition than actually using them.
There are also a lot of foreigners here. The city has a few different NGOs. There are some Japanese volunteers, although I don’t really know any of them yet, and there are around 15 people from the US teaching English in a few schools here. I think they’re all on 1-year contracts and leaving within a few weeks, but a new group of teachers will be coming around August. Another thing this city has is a bunch of discotecas, so if I ever feel like going out to dance then I have that option also, just been out there once so far.
For the next 5 weeks I have to stay with my host family here, then I can get my own apartment which I’m really excited for. My host family here is nice and they have a nice house (I’m once again pretty spoiled with my housing situation, but not as much as in El Paraiso) but I’m ready to have my own place. I think it’s just more comfortable like that. The only thing I don’t like about here is that I don’t have the option of paying my host family extra so that they make me food and I eat with them (most volunteers have that option of paying extra to eat with their families). I have a small spot in the fridge so I can store a couple of things and I can cook but I don’t feel too comfortable doing so here. So I’ve been eating out at little comedors a lot and cooking with the 2 other Peace Corps Volunteers that are here.
So work. My counterpart is an engineer in SANAA, the government office that deals with designing and constructing water systems and maybe a couple of other things. It seems like I won’t be working much with my counterpart but rather with most of the technicos there. For the most part they’re pretty laid back and always joking around. The first couple weeks there wasn’t really any work so I sat around talking to them a lot. That actually worked out nicely but I’m glad that some work has already started because I don’t know how long I could go just sitting around. My first job was to do a survey out in one of the towns. It was nice out there but just along the street, so not as interesting as being up in the mountains. But I did the survey in a few days and designed the water system for it. Tomorrow, I’m actually going out to start another survey in a place called Dulce Nombre de Culmi. I’ll be doing the survey in the Biosphere. I’m not 100% sure what that is but it’s supposed to be some beautiful outdoors untouched forest maybe… This one’s going to be pretty big, there’s 16 km I have to survey for the conduction line and then between 6 communities there are about 400 houses. So it could take 3 weeks to do it. But while I’m working I’ll be staying out there in the campo in someone’s house, they’ll be giving me food and taking care of my transportation, and I’ll have 5 workers helping me to carry stuff, chop down brush with their machetes and kill any snakes. Supposedly this area has some pretty deadly snakes and if somebody was to get bit by one of them… well… better not to think about it. But no volunteers have ever had problems with that, probably will just keep an extra helper with a machete closeby.
I also met with another NGO here and later I’ll be getting involved in some small irrigation projects with them. There’s a ton of different opportunities here for work to get involved in also. I want to get involved with some sort of education, probably teaching math at one or a couple of the high schools in the future. I’ve been playing soccer since the first week here with all the guys that I work with. We actually play on a field compared to the little cement field we were on before so it’s a lot more running and way too much sweating with the heat. But definitely worth it cuz soccer is awesome.
Speaking of soccer, world cup is starting up pretty soon. The first game with Honduras will be on the 16th at 5:30am (Honduran time). I imagine some people won’t be going to work that day. It should be pretty wild if they win their first game. They’re also building a soccer stadium in this city although I couldn’t tell you why, Juticalpa doesn’t have a team… But who knows, maybe we’ll get a team.
So that’s part of life here. I’ve been having a great time and surprisingly minimal frustrations (birds pooping in my room, dog peeing in my room, not having my own place and kitchen). The other 2 volunteers here have helped me out a lot as in showing me around the city and introduced me to some people. Between hanging out with them, going to work and playing soccer I’ve stayed pretty busy. I read a book my first week here, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, which was really good. Was going to keep on reading but slowed down because this book I’m reading now hasn’t been too interesting. Lots of small interesting things that go on here in daily life.
Ooh also I put pictures up on facebook so check them out. They’re from the first 11 weeks of training that we had here.