Where Do We Go From Here?
So yeah, it’s been a while. A lot has happened, and a lot is going through my mind, but we’ll get to that. I want to finish what I started, and though it seems out of place to talk about some of these things after so much time, I want to do it justice.
Here we go…
Getting Ready For Christmas Day
Here's something to listen to while reading. Don't worry, it's not really a Christmas song (so it's OK to listen to it in February). And besides, who doesn't love Paul Simon?
My original plan for Christmas was to travel back to Las Cañadas to visit Gloria and the rest of my old host family. However, with the news that we were being put on administrative hold came the news that all volunteers had to adhere to ‘Standfast’ policies. This meant that we were not allowed to leave our towns, whether it be overnight, or even simply a day trip. This lasted for my last three weeks in my site. I thrived on traveling, which made the ensuing countdown especially tedious.
Gloria’s family had become a home away from home, and a safe haven in a foreign land. Traveling to visit them was a bit of an escape, as they had become as close as I could get to having an actual family in Honduras. Knowing I would not be with my family back in the USA for Christmas for the first time ever, I was looking forward to spending the time with them. However, being in Standfast meant that I would not be able to see them. I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to them in person, but that’s another story for later.
Thankfully I had also recently started getting close to another family in my actual site. Since about two weeks before the news of leaving the country, I had been spending a lot of time with my best friend Kerin Rodriguez and her family. Kerin lives with her mother and younger sisters, and is also often joined by her boyfriend/father of her twins (still in utero, and due some time in May). Their lodgings are more humble than where my official host family was, and I would have tried to move in with them if there was enough space/if their house was safe enough (they didn’t really have locks on their doors).
The Rodriguez family became my ‘adopted’ host family. In my last few weeks I would spend most of my day hanging out with them, and having all of the lovely ladies of the household wait on me hand and foot. Here is a photo of the family (including some extended members):
And here are Kerin and I:
As for the actual Christmas celebration is a bit different from what we do in the states. First of all, Christmas Eve is the big day, and not much happens on the 25th. Also, not surprisingly, gift-giving is not the emphasis of the holiday. Despite the endless commercials showing rich people giving gifts, the focus for us humble folks was definitely on simply getting together with family. I bought a cake for everyone to share, and Kerin’s mother, Rosa, made a delicious meal of chicken and rice. At the end of the night there was a big dance party at the town ‘discoteca’, but I decided not to go since no one from Kerin’s family wanted to go. I probably should have gone anyway with some other people in town, but oh well.
El Año Nuevo
The days dragged a bit after Christmas, as I spent my time venting and gossiping over the phone with some of my Peace Corps friends. With no work to keep me busy (remember, the schools that I worked in were on their summer vacation until February), I continued my routine of spending the day at the Rodriguez household. One day we went to swim in the river for a couple hours, but other than that I didn’t do a whole lot besides chit-chat and watch soccer games at the local field. Originally my plan was to be visiting a nice beach on a trip with some of my other volunteer friends from training, but (as was the case for my Christmas plans) I was stuck in town due to the Standfast policy.
Again, I celebrated the holiday with the Rodriguez family. It wasn’t too different from Christmas, in that the focus was on food, drink, and family. One cool tradition they had was that in the middle of the street, about one for each block, sat pair of scarecrow dolls called the ‘viejos’. They were stuffed with firecrackers, doused in gasoline, and then lit on fire at the stroke of midnight. The scarecrows were meant to symbolize the old year, with their demise allowing the New Year to start off with a bang. Hondurans are definitely pyromaniacs at heart, which always makes everything more fun.
More to come…
I have a lot left to write about, and I’m thinking I’ll just spread it out over a few posts. Hopefully I’ll have the motivation to do them soon, while the experience is still relatively fresh in my mind.
Here is a preview of coming topics:
- A long-expected party: My birthday celebration
- Gringo invasion! In which: former volunteers visited me
- Livin’ it up in the Hotel Maya
- Did I ever get a chance to say goodbye to Gloria and her family???
- Being back in the USA
- Closing thoughts, and planning the rest of my life…