That´s two weeks since our last post, and also two more weeks planned here in Cantarranas. The Peace Corps is rife with acronyms, like "FBT" for "field-based training." So are other foreign-service organizations, judging by the visits we´ve had from USAID and other agencies.
Part of FBT is TDA, or "trainee-directed activities." In small groups we are supposed to find ways to help the local municipality or other organizations. It is not easy given our time constraints (and those language barriers still). We think we have made some small progress helping city hall with a computer question. Honduran municipalities use a specialized software program to track various financial matters. We have been able to provide some additional flexibility to staff here by determining how they could export data from that program to an Excel spreadsheet.
Last night we attended a "cabildo abierto," or town hall meeting. Not a bad turnout -- perhaps 50 people. Many of the issues were very familiar -- roads, garbage, sewers, schools, dangerous drivers. No noise complaints, though there is noise here all hours of the day and night -- dogs, roosters, car horns, music, loudspeakers, machinery.
We had been warned repeatedly that it would be unheard of if we were ever to schedule a meeting here without providing food. Sure enough, about ninety minutes into the meeting staff came around with trays of Pepsi and sandwiches. Something to consider back at home.
Our routine of Spanish classes and training sessions has been varied by a few excursions, most recently to a cigar factory. If our town is noisier than what we are accustomed to, the factory was far quieter -- thanks to the fact that it really is all done by hand. There were hundreds of people sorting and drying tobacco leaves at one end of the factory, aging and packing cigars at the other -- and, at the center of it all, rolling the "puros." Eighty percent will be exported to the States and virtually all the rest to Europe. Except in that factory I have seen very little smoking here.
In a couple more weeks we expect to return to the Peace Corps´ central Honduran training facility for our final two weeks of training. From there we will travel to the sites where we will be spending the next two years. The locations are still kept top secret (from us, that is). We´ll try to blog once more before we leave here.