|Honduras capital Tegucigalpa, where we'll first land.|
I admit, I thought I was pretty culturally aware, but it turns out I still had a ton to learn. It's going to be quite a challenge to be working in a new culture, a different language, different issues, much warmer climate (OK, I'm really looking forward to that part), and in a society where I'm definitely going to have to curb my tendencies to just shoot my mouth off about this or that.
Fortunately, my not-yet-terrific Spanish language skills should help keep that in check, at least initially. And I'm viewing it as a learning opportunity to feel out communications in a country where speaking up about government, politics, etc has to be done much more cautiously.
Part of the Cuso training was a three-hour meeting with a "country resource person," which in our case was a young entrepreneur by the name of Ricardo Juarez, who moved to Canada from Honduras in September. I'll be ever grateful to him for the straight-up information he had for us on life in Honduras, which I now recognize will involve a lot more sightings of guns than I'm used to.
He also filled me in on "Honduran time," in which I will be expected to be punctual but everybody else will arrive maybe 30-45 minutes later than planned. Some of the more seasoned volunteers we met on training suggest I just carry a book everywhere to be able to read while I wait.
We're not down there on a holiday, but Ricardo did give us a great tip about an amazing place to visit during our travels, Cayos Cochinos. Such an opportunity to get to know a part of the world that I have yet to visit! I appreciate connecting with anyone who has travelled in Central America, particularly Honduras, so please send me a note at email@example.com if you've got tips to share.
If you've ever wondered about folding up the tent and doing some long-term volunteering, I can tell you that our experience with Cuso International so far has been great.
But one point they emphasize regularly is the need to stay flexible and adaptable. So if you're one of those people who likes all the i's dotted and the t's crossed well in advance, you'll need to let that go. We found out at the training session that our visas likely won't be completed until a few days before we leave, and I've been cautioned repeatedly that my job description is likely to change - and possibly change again - once I'm in Honduras. We won't know where we'll be living until a week or two, possibly longer, after our arrival.
Hope you'll stay tuned for what promises to be an amazing adventure. Click on the link just above this post to get to our fundraising page. And I'll be setting up a Shutterfly Web site once we're there so I can share photos with you as well.