Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eating Platanos, Jaywalking, and Not Going to the Beach...or What I am Doing in Miami

My Peace Corps experience has finally begun. I'm in Miami at Staging, the fancy word for sitting in a room for 8 hours and trying to pay attention as the room spins around you because you are a terrible packer and only managed to get one and a half hours of sleep, between 2:30 and 4 am, and that was many, many hours ago. Luckily, that was all yesterday, and I've had a chance to recover, because due to a little political volatility, I'm spending an extra day in Miami, but I'll get to that later.

I arrived in Miami yesterday, and pretty much immediately went into the afore mentioned meeting. The first 2 hours were occupied with an icebreaker game, and then we got down to brass tacks. There are 51 people in my training group. 15 are in Youth Development, 17 are in Municipal Development, and 19 people including me are in Protected Areas Management, which I will hereby refer to as "PAM."

Some of you may be wondering why I'm still in Miami. After all, wasn't I supposed to leave at 4 in the morning for Tegucigalpa? Why yes, I was, but there have been some major changes to my plans due to a certain coup in a certain Honduras. Here's what the new plan is: I learned on Monday afternoon that my training group is going to the Dominican Republic for roughly three weeks while things settle down a bit in Honduras. Yesterday, we received more details. While there was some political drama brewing for a while, the coup was unexpected and it puts everyone in an awkward position. It would send a mixed message if the US sent a crew of Peace Corps trainees to the country at the same time that they're saying the new government is illegal. They do still plan to send us, but they needed to wait a little while to maintain the PC's apolitical image. So within about 48 hours, they had to come up with a plan b. There is a training center in the Dominican Republic that was available, so we're all going there to work on our Spanish and do some general education about Honduras. Various Honduran PC staff will be flying over to join us. The plan is to stay there for about three weeks, but it may change. You'll just have to stay tuned. Because it was all so last minute, it's taking 4 flights to get all of us there. I leave tomorrow morning, and in the meantime, I'm being super lame. I slept in really late today and managed to miss all my fellow trainees. I'm at an airport hotel, so there's not much within walking distance. There is a Cuban restaurant across the street with delicious plantains and cafe con leche, and that's about as far as I've gone.

A few details about the Dominican Republic: we'll be living with host families in a suburb of Santo Domingo. We've been told its a little loud due to all the merengue music and dominoes. PC is actually using a contractor called Entrena Consulting, and I don't really know what that means, but there's some info about them at Guess I'll find out tomorrow!

I've done a poor job of telling people about this blog. If you're reading this and know people who might be interested in what I'm up to, please feel free to let them know the address. Speaking of addresses, I'm not sure what my mailing address is yet, cause I'm not going to be in Honduras for a while. When I figure it out, I'll post it. Until then, you'll just have to email me or post lots of comments.


  1. this is a great blog so far. what does the title mean?


  2. Man, you haven't even gotten there yet and already the country's falling apart! Isn't that a little faster than your normal effect on the nation in which you reside? I just hope we can put the U.S. back together while you're gone.


    Your Favorite Uncle Mike

  3. I spent 2 weeks in Santo Domingo when I was in high school...and yes, the sound of dominoes being played is quite deafening. It IS a really beautiful place though -- enjoy your time!

  4. Miss you friend! I am curious about how your last few days have been. I hope you can update your blog soon! I hope the icebreaker game was really awkward. Are you the oldest volunteer?

  5. crazy stuff, cara.we're keeping you in our prayers as you go through all the adjustments.

  6. Hey, sorry everyone who commented. I didn't see them until today, but thanks for the effort. I'll try to be quicker to acknowledge you in the future.

    Nat, thanks for the appreciation. Cheque leque ,Panqueque is basically the Honduran equivalent of okie dokie, artichokie. Cheque is kind of the Honduran word for okay or cool. Unfortunately, the phrase has yet to be exported to other countries, so nobody gets why my blog is called what it is. Also, if I end up going to another country, I think I'm going to have to rename this thing.

    Mike, I just hope the Dominican Republic doesn't have to suffer my wrath.

    As for the dominoes, yeah, holy cow! People get really into their games and slam the pieces down when they play. We had a lesson on how to play, and I did really well, but it was all luck. I'm hoping to play a bit tonight and we'll see if my luck holds.

    Rebekah, I miss you too. I'm preparing a huge update where you'll get to hear lots and lots. The first icebreaker game was less awkward than expected although it had its moments. We played an impromptu one when we got to the DR, and that was a lot more dysfunctional. I'm not the oldest volunteer, but it seems like most of the people are either just out of college, or if they're my age, they have their master's. Oops.

    And Stephen, thanks! Things aren't actually too crazy, just dramatic, and I've been adjusting suprisingly well.

    Ok, as I said earlier, I'm working on a blog post that will knock your socks off. I hope to put it up later today.