11 August 2007

I´ve seen both sides now….

No, I'm not referring to love like the Joni Mitchell song, but both sides of the hemisphere. I just got back from my week long visit to my future site/home in the southern hemisphere. And that is it, a different world (referring to Sierran life).

A Stereotypical overview of Costal life:
Weather: HOT!! And humid.

Environment: Flat land with miles of rice fields (Balzar area) and Plantain crops. And did I mention the MOSQUITOES!!
People: Chatty, honest

Music: Salsa and Meringue

Language: wow!! They talk really fast.
My new home, Balzar!!

With a population of 40-some thousand it's pretty big which means two things I have some nice attractions intown such as: 2 swimming pools, 2 discotecas, a karaoke bar, a food market, a clothes market, and a grocery store. Wow!! But on the other hand, most of the surround communities lack basic amenities such as water. The family in which I will live with for my first few month doesn´t even have a bathroom or shower (most people bathe in the local river) yet their son who lives next door has a toilet a space where I have have a bucket bath. good times. You think water would have priority over a dance club, but then dance clubs are way more fun! ha ha. Work wise I will be working in at least 16 surrounding communities. I'm gonna be busy!!

Speaking of work, what exactly will I be doing?

I will be working with an organization called PLAN International and their theory is to get into communities listen to the needs of the people and show them how to better their situation. This way it's sustainable (the community is doing the work). Those 16 communities really have nothing. I was able to visit about 6 this week and most don't even have a clinic or health volunteers (promoters) so my first job will be to go to the communities find people interested in becoming health volunteers and start training them how to weight babies, take blood pressure, info about common health problems, and most importantly, how to prevent illnesses. And with the group of youth I will be teaching a self-esteem/self-awareness/sex-ed course. And so much more...
Bottom line I will be working to organize the people, educate them, empower them in hopes of them better understanding their situation.
Highlights of the week:

My host family´s daughter-in-law is going to beauty school at night and thought it would be a good idea to take me along to meet some women. Good idea, I thought. But, when I got there of course all the women wanted to fix up the gringita. oh no. They washed my hair, straightened it, then blew dry it, and then gave me the biggest flip out you would of that I was straight for the 50´s. Terrible. And no I dídn´t take a picture because I didn´t want to remember the painful memory. haha.

We actually have two swimming pool and the one even have a slide. wow. It was very fun and refreshing in the hot humid-ness.
Saturday night we went Salsa dancing. Good times. I never thought I would be salsa dancing in the Peace Corps. That is why I love Latin America.

Also, on an odd note my family is Mormon. What happened to all the Catholics_ So within the first 2 hours of arriving at my site two missionaries came over and we watched an hour long DVD about the life of Joseph Smith and then they started witnessing to me and asking if I would like a Book of Mormon to practice my Spanish. haha. I politely said thanks, but I have my own beliefs. haha.

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