Before I became a Peace Corps volunteer I worked for a non-profit organization called RSVP of Greater Cleveland n.k.a. Greater Cleveland Volunteers. This name change and the generousity of the Executive Director were the inspiration for a community clean-up day which we recently held. You see, the organization had all of these T-shirts with the old name and logo and where I live there tends to be an overabundance of people lacking good clothes. When the packages arrived with the brightly colored shirts I knew I wanted to give them away, but not just randomly. Honduras, and other developing countries I suspect, have a real problem with garbage. For most there is no magic fairy called the garbage truck that swoops onto the tree lawn at night to wisk away remains or, more importantly, the recycleables. For this reason people get very creative with the disposal of their garbage. The public green space and local river happen to be favorite deposit spots in my town. I pulled together lots of people to help; the local high school, my English classes, the volunteer firefighters, Standard Fruit Company (Dole) and a church group from Canada. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We hauled away about 1,500 pounds of garbage, and that was only the tip of the iceberg. As a reward I handed out the RSVP T-shirts as well as reusable grocery bags donated by folks in Haliburton, Canada to all who participated. The local news interviewed me and asked me why we were doing this because tomorrow people are going to continue throwing garbage where we had just picked it up. With nothing clever to say, I simply said this, "If they see people that don't even live in this country care so much about it, maybe they will feel embarassed the next time they go to do it again, but if not, we will continue caring in the hopes that maybe one day it will resonate."
So who knew that when I signed up for this gig that I would be right off the coast of the Caribbean, which contains a small family of islands called the Bay Islands. Having visited Utila last May, I still had Roatan to check out. Of the these two islands (there is a 3rd one called Guanaja and is more remote) Roatan is a more touristy spot, especially during the time I chose to go, Easter Week. This is the view I saw most of during the week. It really was quite beautiful and hosted less foreigners than I had imagined. The cabin we rented was off the beach just enough to make it super quiet there, while activity was still happening on the main strip. My vacations often consist of the following: laying on the beach, sleeping, eating, dancing and drinking adult beverages. This vacation was no exception to those guidelines.
After all the great stuff going down in my life over the past month, you wouldn't think it could get any better, and then, my best friend comes to visit and trumps every bit of it! My very best friend Nicole and her amazing husband Sanjay told me they wanted to visit and wanted a feel true feel for what it's like to live my life as a Peace Corps volunteer. I try so hard through this blog, through letters and phone calls to accurately describe my life here but it is incredibly hard to bring to life the sights, smells and feelings that go along with that, so you can imagine my delight at the prospect of truly showing my dear friends what my life has become. When they first told me they would only be here 5 days, 1 and half of which were travel I was sure we couldn't accomplish as much as we wanted to between visiting the orphanage (one of their few requests), buying food to distribute and showing them my projects and my everyday activities. Somehow the days grew longer and allowed us to do it all. They had raised quite a bit of money stateside to bring down for the purpose of buying food for those who need it most. You may remember several entries from my blog about Grandma's Kids. To say they need it is a true understatement! With the money contributed we were able to pass out rice, beans, eggs, flour, powdered milk, juice, cereal, plantains, chickens, cans of vegetables, parasite medicine and much more. My favorite memory of the trip was waking up the day after making a food delivery to Grandma's house and thinking about the full breakfast that was filling their tummies and that moment. In addition, they brought suitcases full of stuff to give away. Hats, sidewalk chalk, flashcards, candles, clothes, vitamins, jump ropes, workbooks and so much more. Lots of these items were given away at the 2 orphanages we visited. Thank you so much to all of those who contributed, prayed and had anything to do with Nicole and Sanjay's successfull trip to Honduras.