Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Settling In

Mujeres de Mi Pasado
Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel
According to the Peace Corps, the first three months in site is called the "Community Entry" phase. This is the phase where the volunteer learns the layout of the community, finds housing, and begins forming relationships (both personal and professional) with host country nationals (HCNs). About 2.5 months into my community entry, I am really starting to feel like I have found a place for myself here. The process goes in fits and starts, and some days I still feel frustrated or bored or lonely, but those are much fewer and farther between (and were never that many to begin with).

Little things happen that buoy my confidence and comfort. For one, I am able to hold much longer and more involved conversations in Spanish. And for the first time, I've been able to successfully translate a bit of wit and humor as well. I have honduran friends who I can call to hang out with on weekends. Work-wise, the success of the Men's Health workshops has given me a sense of momentum to take on more ambitious projects. Lastly the fact that I have a place to call my own, where I can be by myself and cook for myself, has also been a great help.

On Thursday we attended a presentation in Tocoa by the UN on the progress in Honduras toward the Millennium Development Goals. The UN presenters arrived over 2 hours late, and they didn't have enough snacks and water to go around, so I was faint with hunger by the time we finally got out. We headed straight to a Chinese restaurant. It took us over an hour to get a platter of fried rice. The service there was so bad that even the Hondurans were complaining.

The Men's Health Workshop on Saturday went wonderfully. We had 30 participants, up from 17 last week. Apparently people told their friends. The attendance and positive feedback we got make me think that there is great potential for doing ongoing work with men here in Trujillo.

The participants were also very enthusiastic. My favorite part of the workshop was when Mary was leading a discussion about intimate activities a couple can do that don't run the risk of transmitting HIV. All the easy ones (kissing, hugging, massages) were shouted out right away, but there was more hemming and hawing as the ideas became more intimate. One guy started to say, "If the guy touches her part....and she touches his part..." and another guy jumped up and shouted, "Mutual masturbation!" The whole group started cheering and applauding and high-fiving him as if he had just kicked a game-winning goal.

After the workshop Mary and I made Jambalaya for a little dinner party with our sitemates and Johnny, who came over from Casa Kiwi to visit. It was a night like so many back home: good company, good food, good music. It's such a seemingly small thing, but those are the things that make it possible to be happy.

This week is a bit slow as a couple of my counterparts are out of town. I'm taking advantage of the downtime to work on my apartment and do laundry. I will be traveling to Santa Rosa de Aguan on Thursday to give a hygiene charla with Agua Pura. Santa Rosa is a fairly isolated community a ways east of here. It used to is only be accessible by boat, but now there is a dirt road.

1 comment:

Honduras Sprout said...

I'm sure that was a very interesting discussion going on there at that workshop - LOL! Glad to here the attendance was up too.