Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I've got a new life, you would hardly recognize me

Well, you'd probably recognize me, but the new life part certainly applies. (And while the headline is from The Sign, I am referencing the Mountain Goats' version, not the Ace of Bass hit.
After a stressful, occasionally miserable four or five months, we're in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, as my partner gets set to start a one- or two-year placement with Cuso International. (They're still looking for a placement for me, but my Spanish is pretty poor, so that's a problem.)
I'll write more about Cuso and its process and my big problems reducing all our possessions to the limits of a six-foot by eight-foot storage locker.
This is just a brief update and an effort to keep the blog from becoming totally stale.
Honduras is certainly a place where Paying Attention should be a way of life. The country, as they say, has issues. The politics are unstable and it has become a big drug transit route from South America to the U.S. markets, which brings a whole truckload of problems. The largest city, San Pedro Sula, has bumped Ciudad Juarez from the world's top spot for murders. People are poor.
But we flew in yesterday and did a brief, careful walk in the neighbourhood and recognized that people are still going about their lives. Kids are going to school, people are working. We shopped at the Mas por Menas grocery and noted a music store where Jody might be able to get the music stand that wouldn't fit in our bags. (We were allowed 50 pounds each by the airline. Our big bag weighed 49.7 lbs; the two backpacks a combined 49.4 pounds. The carry-on baggage included an accordion, two laptops and various things that would have pushed the suitcases over the limit.)
Today was spent in briefings - with a doctor at one of the hospitals who went through an amazingly detailed, skillful and helpful presentation on diseases, food risks and insects. And, along the way, with interesting observations on culture and other issues. The hospital was older, but looked cleaner than the old building at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria.
We had lunch with three Cuso staff at the Thai King restaurant - go figure - and the afternoon was devoted to a security briefing. It was a little daunting.OK, pretty daunting. But ultimately, the risks seem manageable and we've travelled enough, I think, to have some skills.
I'm still processing it all, and in-country orientation continues for another three days.
But all-in-all, it feels very good to be in such an interesting place, where I know so little and there is so much to learn.


RossK said...


That WatkinsGlen version will always be Honduras to me now.

Looking forward to reading about the further adventures of the unpacked packs and, of course, the accordian!

Anonymous said...

Best wishes on your new adventure. Will watch this space for more thoughtful writing!

Brian said...

Did you hear about the accordion player who drove downtown to do some errands?

He left his accordion in the front seat and accidentally left the car unlocked.

When he got back, there were three accordions in the car.