Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reflections on the first week.

I survived the first week!

It’s been quite a long week, too. Truthfully, it feels as though we’ve been here for at least a month. There has been so much to take in, to process, and to reflect on that time seems to pass pretty slowly.

A large part of my time here is focused on simple living. As it turns out, however, simple living isn’t so simple at all. At my home in RI, I have a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, a car, a grocery store to go to, disposable napkins, clean water, electricity and so much more that I have always taken for granted. I’m sure most of you reading this take it for granted too. A couple weeks ago, you could probably find me in my room, on my computer scanning facebook, playing minesweeper, or watching a movie. I loved nighttime because I had at least one TV show to watch every night, and after my parents went to bed, I had our big TV and our huge family room all to myself so I could be a lazy couch potato. But for all those hours I spent focused on television, I can’t even remember what I watched.

From only one week of being here, however, I remember…

… the couple hours I spent with Norlan - our neighbor - his wife, his two daughters, and his two nieces the other night when we had them over for dinner. I remember Nayid, his 5 year old daughter, giggling as she sat on my lap as I played Mancala with Alexandra, Daniella, and Nicole.

… struggling to speak Spanish to the sisters, and I remember how happy I was when I understood them speak Spanish to me over lunch on Friday.

… being baffled over the fact that I have to turn on the water pump every time I want to use the water.

… turning on the gas every time I want to light the oven or stove (with matches),

… spending an hour washing my clothes by hand on the stone basin outside, and hanging them out to dry.

… cutting Alex’s hair (which was my first time cutting anyone’s hair).

… digging up our yard to plant a garden.

… spending a few hours at the farm helping put a roof on the greenhouse. (Though I admittedly did little more than stand there and occasionally pass a tool to the actual workers.)

… filling up our water cooler so we can have clean water for the week.

… playing uno with Matt and Alex.

… throwing my toilet paper in the trash because it can’t be flushed down the toilet.

… Fr Craig making Alex, Matt and I stand up during mass on Sunday so he could introduce us to the community.

… the first time I paid with a lempira.

… thinking about killing the rooster across the street.

… having to go to a few small stores to find the groceries we need.

And truthfully, there are so many more memories that I don’t have enough time to write. It’s been quite an eventful week, and I’ve rarely wished I was sitting down on my computer, or watching TV. Though I must admit, I’m a bit on the edge of my seat right now not having a TV because the Patriots and Ravens are playing for a spot in the Superbowl and the last time I pressed refresh on my computer the Pats were losing 16-17. Speaking of which, here’s a fun fact of the day: I’m living with a Jets fan and a Giants fan. I know, I know, it’s a pretty big sacrifice I’m making for the year.

So no, this simple living isn’t so simple (though I am kidding about the football sacrifice), but it’s the most memorable, and the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s tough work do basic things I can easily do back home, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even learning Spanish – despite my constant struggles and making a fool out of myself – is pretty fun and fulfilling. This week has opened my eyes to so many new realizations, and it’s made me so much more aware of my surroundings. All of these things I’m doing that are tough for me are things that the people of Guaimaca have been doing for their whole lives. This is their life, and for most, it always will be. I’ve heard it said that the United States is such a powerful country, and there are lots of accomplished and successful people, but I doubt half of US citizens could live without internet, washer, dryers, clean water, etc. I doubt they could live the way the people of Guaimaca, and the surrounding aldeas live every day.

Ha! He missed the field goal! Patriots are going to the Superbowl!!! You know, I’m even looking at the Patriots game in a new light from being here for a week. As excited as I am to see all my future husbands head to Indianapolis, I feel really bad for the Ravens kicker. The poor guy won’t ever be the same. Now THAT is something that must be hard to live with.

Ok, I’m getting back on track now. Basically, I’m loving life. I know it’s not always going to be easy, and I know it’s not always going to be fun, but it’s something that will be a part of me for the rest of my life.


  1. Hi Christina,

    I'm one of the two Peace Corps volunteers who recently had to leave Guaimaca. (Did you get the letter I left with Sister Maria?)

    You're so blessed to be living in a community as amazing as Guaimaca. Sitting here in the "posh" American setting you described makes me miss Guaimaca terribly. I was supposed to be there until May, so I still feel the heartbreak of leaving all too soon.

    While our work and missions are different I know you will learn so much from the Honduran culture and way of life. Working with the girls at the center will touch you in ways never before imagined (I worked with students at the Instituto Guaimaca).

    Enjoy some baleadas and say hello to Paty in the Honducor office next time you get some mail - she's a great friend!

    God bless your work in Guaimaca!

    Emily Whitfield

  2. Christina, It's so much fun reliving my first days in Guaimaca by reading your blog! I arrived on Jan 9 too (2006). I've been following Matt's blog since last year. I hope the 'pila' has been repaired since me and Micah Christian were living in 'casa de Dan'. If not, you have the smallest - and backbreakingest - pila in all of Honduras!
    Some advice for what it's worth: #1 Food = wash it, peel it, cook it, or forget it. If someone offers you something and you feel bad not taking it (cuz they REALLY want you to take it) just tell them you have a very weak stomach (which you do). It works every time. #2 If you can't understand what someone is saying, just blame the Honduran accent, lol. It really is terrible. "Mah oh mayo" is Honduran for "mas o menos" so just smile a lot- but not at boys, lol. #3 Don't believe anyone!!! (who tells you how terrible Hondurans are and how dangerous it is there). It's not the safest place and Hondurans are how they are, so until you figure out the system, be extra careful and follow all the safety tips and rules, and do what they tell you. Just don't believe it or you'll find yourself waiting for Norlan to attack you with a machete, lol. I just missed meeting you. I was there Dec 17-Jan 14. I look forward to meeting you sometime around May. Say hi to Matt, Norlan and my 'compadres' Denis and Kenia.