Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mi Casa

It's been a while since I've posted anything.  I really thought that I'd be posting at least once a week.  I've been keeping so busy with studying Spanish and applying for jobs and working that I just haven't put time into this.  But I'm going to make more of an effort to post regularly.  I'll start with some pictures of where I live.  I have a 2 room apartment.  It's not too bad for the most part.  The refrigerator motor gets really loud at night.  It's never loud when I'm watching TV.  Just at night when I'm trying to sleep. I don't have AC but I have a fan that has been good enough. I have a woman that does my laundry and cleans the apartment once a week.  Also there is a woman that comes a few times a week to do some cooking.  That took nearly 6 weeks to set up.  Mostly because there were a few hitches in the process.  Rather than doing anything to negotiate those "hitches" they just let it drop.  I guess in the hope that I would just forget about it.  But finally she's started to come.  It's been good having her come.  I live in a gated community with one of the administrators of the hospital.  He lives in the house in the foreground in the first picture.  It's kind of far from the Center where I work but it's a relatively safe place.  It's been fine for a short stopping place for a nomad.

I live on the top apartment in the building in the back.  I also relax on the roof a good bit.

My bedroom/living room/kitchen.  Obviously, I took these pictures right after the cleaning lady was there.

I got a good shock from the shower head one day.  Luckily it's only 110 v here.

Took a while but I was finally able to get a couch delivered. It's much better than sitting on the bed all the time or at the tall table next to the kitchen counter.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Before I left, I was talking to someone about my impending trip to Honduras.  They told me that I had a very laissez-fair attitude about my trip.  It might have been Carrie Hanbury but I’m not sure.  Whoever it was, that’s a pretty accurate description.  I wasn’t always a laissez-faire traveler and I’m not sure when that changed.  But it’s totally the best way to travel. 

I never know what’s going to happen next.  To a certain extent, I do it to myself.  Like when I go with the girl that doesn’t speak English to the Cafeteria, where they don’t speak English, to get my lunch.  I know a few words and just kind of guess at what the rest means.  The food couldn't possibly be worse than what I was eating in The Gambia so I’m not that worried about it.  Plus, if I don’t like it, I can just go to Ruby Tuesdays or Little Caesars just up the street.  Of course, just getting every couple words and guessing at the rest doesn’t always work.  Like last week when the people in the lab were talking about hamburgers.  I thought they were just saying that American’s eat a lot of hamburgers.  Somewhere in the conversation they tried to tell me that they were going to get me a hamburger from Burger King.  I didn't understand that so I ended up with 2 lunches that day.  But now, I won’t forget the grammatical structure they were using. 

Sometimes, I don’t know what’s happening because I’m given the wrong information.  Like a few weekends ago, I was told I was going to get a tour of Picacho (like Christo Redentor in Rio) with one of the girls (Karina) in the office where I work and the CEO of the Center (Dra. Duarte).  We were supposed to go after work on Saturday.  As noon approached, Karina (she doesn't speak English) left.  I was told that I was going to go somewhere with the CEO then meet up with Karina downtown.  I would later learn that was not the real plan.  I went looking for Dra.Duarte and asked where we were going.  She wanted to take me to the birthday party of an 80 year old friend of hers.  OK.  I’m game.  So we jump in a leather seated SUV with another friend of the Dra. and head to Valle De Angeles.  The house is on approximately an acre of land; the grounds and house were very beautifully kept.  There were some doctors from the hospital at the party and one of the woman’s sons who is running for the office of Deputy Mayor.  After eating a ridiculous amount of food, we left; I thought to meet the girl from the Cancer Center where I work.  I was wrong.  We went with one of the people from the party to what is probably the nicest house I’ve ever been seen.  There were 6 or 7 bedroom suites, a separate guest house, a separate building for a theater, and well over an acre of land all very well kept.  The house also had the biggest TV I’ve ever seen outside of a professional sports stadium.  After that, we returned to the city where, I still didn’t meet up with Karina.  On Monday it was explained to me that our trip to Picacho was postponed so I could go to Valle de Angeles. 

My friend Pam asked me once why I like to travel.  Of course I answered with the usual response of “helping those in need”.  There is a little bit of that.  But really, it’s more about the crazy.  It’s really fun to not know what’s coming next.  You just have to be able to roll with the punches.  Once you learn how to do that, you can have a lot of fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pictures from Roatan

This is the plane to took us to the Island.  The windows don't actually open but I had Mariam going for a min there.

This is our room at Las Rocas:

The beach was so beautiful:

We went snorkeling a couple of times.  First off of a boat then later we just swam off the beach to some good coral.  The guide book said that the coral here was the 2nd or 3rd best in the world.  There was a lot of fish to see.  Next time, we're totally doing SNUBA.

We also spent time doing other things:

Ro at the swim-up bar:

This is a fruit called "noni".  Apparently it is good for your health.  I touched one.  It smelled TERRIBLE.

What a great time!  Thanks, Mariam and Ro.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Starting a new job with a week-long vacation on a Caribbean Island with two awesome, beautiful women might have to be a new tradition for me.

A few months ago I told my friend Ro that I would be working in Honduras for my.  She excitedly told me that her grandparents are there and that she would be visiting them during Christmas break.  As we made plans she told me she wanted to go to the Island of Roatan, just off the coast of the main land.  She also had a friend that wanted to join us that was going to join us. 

The resort we stayed in was sufficient.  The room was small but we made due.  Though, I was forced to stay in the bathroom for interminable amounts of time while they got dressed.  Seriously, how many “outfits” do you have to try on for dinner on at the beach?  /sigh… traveling with girls. The food wasn't so great but the drinks were adequately cheap.  The beach was only a few minutes walk away and was gorgeous.  The water was an awesome clear bright blue. 

Our days progressed similarly from one to the next.  Early morning walks on the beach with a stop at the coffee shop, breakfast at the resort and then lounging on the beach.  We spent 2 mornings snorkeling.  The reef was very beautiful with tons of fish, a snake, and Ro even saw a turtle.  I saw a couple of small jelly fish but it was nothing like the scene from Finding Nemo.  Late mornings and afternoons were largely dedicated to the search for the best Piña Colada.  Over which we had a lot of deep conversations about: health care and health care systems (yes, Ro and I are nerds), books, movies, dating and how both girls and guys are “crazy”, throbbing uteruses, and our experiences traveling.  I think our favorite waiter and our favorite Piña Colada was at the Infinity Bay resort (good place to stay but probably expensive).  We also got ourselves free wrist bands for use of the pool and beach towels.  We were able to try a couple of different rums as well.  I think the best was called Plata.  I would probably remember better if I hadn’t had so many Piña Coladas.  We usually ate dinner on the beach and then watched a movie on my laptop.  I was really glad to be able to educate Mariam on some old classics like: Big Trouble in Little China, Short Circuit, and Sneakers.  I would have taught Ro but she usually was asleep about 10-15 mins into the movie.  I will admit I was HUGELY impressed when I made a reference to Ghostbusters that Ro got.  So her education isn’t so bad.

Sadly, Ro had to leave on Tuesday, while Mariam and I got to stay a couple more days.  We moved to another part of the island (from West Bay to West End) because the first hotel didn't have room for us to stay.  The new place was bigger but the beach was small and more crowded.  We also took up a new activity, cards.  We played gin rummy using the rules as I remembered them.  I’m sure I got some of them wrong but in general we probably got the rules right.  We didn't keep score because I couldn't remember how points work.  We should have just made it up and kept a marathon score for the couple days.  We also did some souvenir shopping and continued the epic search for Piña Coladas.  The last day we spent lounging on West Bay beach, drinking our favorite Piña Colada and wading in the water. 

That brings me to now.  We just hugged and kissed good bye.  She’s walking to her departure door as I sit with my eyes tearing up, waiting for my plane to start boarding.  I miss her already...   On to Tegucigalpa now; time to get on with my work.  I’m nervous.  I don’t know what I’ll find there, what I’ll do or what they really expect.  I guess that’s never stopped me before.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I’m off to Honduras today.  Actually my posting this means I’ve arrived.  I’m writing this in the airport and won’t get to finish/post it till I’ve arrived.

I’m heading to Tegucigalpa, Honduras (still not sure I’m pronouncing that correctly).  I’ll be working in a cancer hospital with the hospital administrators.  They asked me to work to improve the lab and the pharmacy.  I’m not sure what I’m getting into.  That hasn’t stopped me before.

Before I start there I’m heading to Roatan.  It’s an Island north of Honduras.  I’m meeting up with my friend Ro and her friend Miriam for a few days on the beach and whatever fun/trouble we can find.  I’m looking forward to it.  I hope we all get along well.  Hopefully we have complementary travel styles; no one too hyper, no one too relaxed.  I’m really looking forward to it. 

My friend Amy asked me if I’d be keeping a blog of my trip.  I had thought about doing so before she asked but hadn’t really decided.  I wasn’t successful in keeping one about my adventures in The Gambia.  You can see that my last entry was 3 months into my Peace Corps experience.  I never even tried after that.  I couldn’t do it.  Part of the problem was that I just couldn’t sit and type a story knowing how incomplete a picture it would give.  Also sitting in the computer lab at PC headquarters wasn’t really all that fun.  Plus, the Larium (because we always blamed the Larium).  I did enjoy writing one when I returned from India.  I was inspired by Dave and Lori to start one and I found it was pretty fun.  Maybe I can do a better job this time around.

So… Yes, Amy, I will try to keep a blog.  It won’t be a complete picture.  But hopefully you’ll get the general idea. 


Friday, July 06, 2007

Look Who The Cat Dragged In!

So I guess I should start with an apology. I was slightly mistaken about when my next computer access would be. I had no internet access during my time in training. It was mostly spent in a small village where the only electricity was from personal generators. I of course did not have one. It wasn’t on the packing list from the peace corp so I didn’t bring one. After 9 weeks of language and technical training we were back in the capital for a few more training sessions, our swearing in as official volunteers and then shipped out to site. That week was a crazy whirlwind and I had so much trouble writing a blog entry. I didn’t know how to sum up those 10 weeks of training. How could I tell you about it all: the frustrations, the fun, and all the cross cultural mistakes I was making? It was all just too much too write. It was so daunting that I ended up writing nothing. I thought it would be alright that I wasn’t able to write as I thought that my site mates had said that internet was accessible at my site. It pretty much isn’t.

So now I have the same dilemma as last time I was in Kombo. I just finished my 3 month challenge. That’s what they call the first 3 months at site. (What do they call the rest of our time, the 21 month challenge?) They tell you to not leave site for 3 months and observe the village and get to know the people and language. So I have mostly done that, I only left site for 2 days to visit someone. So now I’m back and have 3 months to write about. I want to tell you about everything that I’ve been going through and know that I can’t write it all here. So I guess I’ll just write a little about my site and what I hope to do while I’m here.

My town is called Bwiam. You can find it on Google Earth. It is pretty large with about 10,000 people. There is a small hospital, elementary, Jr High, and Sr High schools as well as a few nursery schools. There are a number of small shops (batiks) where I can buy most things that I want and a small vegetable market were I can buy some fruits and veggies, what ever happens to be in season. There are no restaurants only a canteen at the hospital. That’s one thing I miss a lot from home. I miss being able to run out and get something to eat whenever I’m hungry. I have to plan ahead for that now. I am a Health and Community Development volunteer. I’ve been spending time at the hospital in the lab and also at child vaccination clinics. I spend a few days at the Family Planning Center, where I hope to get involved in education about HIV/AIDS other STDs and reproductive health. I am also going to be involved with the village chief and Village Development Committee. I want to help with getting clean water for the community and there were a few other smaller things they spoke to me about. It will take some time before it’s clear what I’ll be doing with them.

Over all I’m pretty happy with my site. My host family is good though there have been many frustrating nights of miscommunication. I am learning to like it here. Well that’s all I have for now. I am keeping an off-line blog. I guess the less technically savvy would call it journal. I hope that I’ll keep up with it and be able to publish it when I return to the US. For now though, I’ll make more effort to post when I make it back to civilization. At least you’ll all know I’m not dead yet.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Africa Ill!!

As many of you may have guessed I’m in THE GAMBIA now. I have to be honest it was really anticlimactic. It was a really tearful good bye to all my friends at church, work and my family. So I get on the plane to DC and things went well there. We bonded well as a group. There are 21 of us that all came over together. So we get all our shots together, get to the airport, get on the plane and about 20million hours later we are in Africa. No trumpets, no dropping of confetti or letting loose 1000 doves. Just walk off the plane and get on the bus to the terminal. We were met at the airport by lots of Peace Corps people who helped with our bags and got us all loaded into the van and off to our training site. It’s at a catholic retreat center that’s on the edge of town. The beach is 20 min. walk away. Coke is plentiful, though not nearly as good as it was in India. It’s like I’m on vacation still. Except for the 3 hours of language class a day. Then the rest of the day is filled with discussions about how to treat and prevent diarrhea and malaria. And then at meals we talk about our mefloquine induced dreams. That’s right, as a US government employee I get to take the malaria drug that makes you go crazy. So it’s actually been a bit of a let down so far.

Tomorrow, though, should change all that. The reason that we have been getting pounded with language is that we go to our training villages tomorrow. (I think they all have little wheels on them.) We travel into the bush to start living with our host families. This is where we will learn our language. I’m learning Pular, spoken by the Fula people. There are 2 other trainees going to this village so there will be 4 people total that speak English in our village, us and our language trainer. I’m actually rather excited about that. The part I’m not so excited about is the pit latrine. I’m not sure I’m down with the whole no running water thing. I guess I should have thought about that before I signed up. I’m sure that I’ll have some great pit latrine stories for you all though. I guess I’ll start to come up when people search for S#@$ smearing on google too, Tiffany! How exciting!! Anyhow, it will be 2 weeks without internet/electricity. So I will miss you all for 2 weeks. But when I get back, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of things that are making me bitter that I can rant about.