June 30, 2001 - Personal Web Site: Costa Rica RPCV Scott Lovell will spend this summer working in the Crisis Corps in Honduras
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June 30, 2001 - Personal Web Site: Costa Rica RPCV Scott Lovell will spend this summer working in the Crisis Corps in Honduras
Costa Rica RPCV Scott Lovell will spend this summer working in the Crisis Corps in Honduras
A former Peace Corps volunteer with experience in Central America, Mr. Lovell was contacted by the Crisis Corps and asked to spend this summer helping the people of Honduras recover from Hurricane Mitch and learn how to protect themselves from further hurricanes. Pittsford's Camp Wildcat students will learn about the Peace Corps, the Crisis Corps, Honduras, and Hurricanes as they communicate with Mr. Lovell and follow his activities in Honduras. All Pittsford students and community members are invited to follow Mr. Lovell's adventures this summer. Stayed tuned to this website.
Costa Rica RPCV Scott Lovell will spend this summer working in the Crisis Corps in Honduras
Mr. Lovell's Summer Camp
Correspondence From Mr. Lovell
Mr. Scott Lovell, U.S. and World History teacher at Pittsford High School, in Pittsford, Michigan will spend his summer vacation in an exciting and interesting way this year. A former Peace Corps volunteer with experience in Central America, Mr. Lovell was contacted by the Crisis Corps and asked to spend this summer helping the people of Honduras recover from Hurricane Mitch and learn how to protect themselves from further hurricanes. Pittsford's Camp Wildcat students will learn about the Peace Corps, the Crisis Corps, Honduras, and Hurricanes as they communicate with Mr. Lovell and follow his activities in Honduras. All Pittsford students and community members are invited to follow Mr. Lovell's adventures this summer. Stayed tuned to this website.
In 1979, newly graduated from Michigan State University, Mr. Lovell became a Peace Corps volunteer. He was sent to Costa Rica where he completed an intensive eleven week training program in the Spanish language, cross-cultural orientation and agriculture. During his two year service in Costa Rica, Mr. Lovell's duties and accomplishments included: constructing a school, administering and teaching in an educational system, completing a potable water system for 25 families, establishing and working in such projects as health and nutrition and teaching the people to grow better corn, medicine distribution, appropriate technology, community electrification and road construction.
*(Click the link at the bottom of this page to see photos of Mr. Lovell's early Peace Corps years.)
Camp Wildcatters will learn:
# History of the Peace Corps
# What is it like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer? Where do they go? What work do Peace Corps volunteers do?
This past spring, Mr. Lovell was contacted by the Peace Corps Crisis Corps and asked to participate in an emergency project in Honduras. Two years ago, much of Central America was damaged by Hurricane Mitch. Honduras was especially hard hit. Every region suffered significant damage and many people died. Crisis Corps is still helping the country recover from the hurricane and teaching them how to be better prepared to face future hurricanes and flooding. Beginning June 6, 2000, Mr. Lovell will spend 3 months in Honduras training the people in an "early alert" system to warn the villages and people when a flood is coming.
Camp Wildcatters will learn:
# What is the Crisis Corps?
# Geography and people of Honduras
# Effects of Hurricane Mitch on Central America
Mr. Lovell will communicate with Camp Wildcatters while he is in Honduras. He will send messages by email and phone and tell students what he is seeing and doing. Students will write letters and email to Mr. Lovell. Mr. Lovell's activities will be linked to this website.
The Latest News From Mr. Lovell
Mr. Lovell left Detroit Metro Airport Monday night, June 5, 2000
for his Crisis Corps adventure in Honduras,
and is scheduled to return to Pittsford School September 11. Mr.Lovell's first email to Camp Wildcat arrived on Tuesday, June 6, 2000 from Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras It said:
Subject: I'm here ! Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2000 19:28:44 EDT
Well, I'm a sworn in volunteer again...sworn to defend the Constitution no less! I met my volunteer counterparts....all are very experienced volunteers, working in some pretty volatile places too...El Salvador...Nicaragua...Africa. I will be living in La Ceiba....the other volunteers are envious because it's a semi-resorty place. Everyone says I have one of the best sites in the whole country. I will be living in a house on the river a two or three miles from the mouth (barra). My boss says its very nice location. There will be no problem with internet access while in the city, and will probably kick myself for not bringing the laptop computer. There is also (supposedly) a very nice National Park (barely visited) next to my house. However, the first job we will all have is to start walking up the rivers locating trouble spots and marking them out on a topographic map. My boss says that I should enjoy the city when I can, because I have the most rugged rivers to map. Everybody admits that the north coast is the most dangerous area (but also the prettiest) but if common sense is used it should be ok. Tomorrow we fly to Torellos for a day of training and talking with CCV's who have already been on the job. Then, we will each be dropped of by car at our sites. Had a meeting to warn us about all the disease problems. There is one bug called a chiga. They are microscopic and can drop from ceilings, and infect your eye lids with poop. In 6 weeks your eyes swell shut, and then it gets better....except for your heart. In 20 years it enlarges and explodes....no cure. I won't be looking at any ceilings. Preliminary fishing report is poor. Poison spills in many of the rivers have really hurt the fish populations. Well, it's time to get something to eat. Next dispatch from La Ceiba
Saturday, June 10, 2000
Some things never seem to change in a Peace Corps Volunteers day. Such as, things will NEVER be as they told you they would be. I will be working with the municipality of La Cieba. I was told it was a large municipality with associated bureaucracy problems, but that the guy my Peace Corps boss talked to was very excited about the project and couldn't wait to get started. I was told that at my disposal would be 3 Honduran counterparts through the municipality, who would facilitate this EXTREMELY AMBITIOUS program before a hurricane comes in and blows all our butts away. After a 4 hour long car ride (which was following a very early morning meeting), the head of O.A.S., Todo Natural, my Peace Corp boss, and I finally got to the place where we were to meet the bureaucrat who was so excitedly anticipating our arrival. We walked in, all sweaty & tired to find he was not there, and no where to be found. Then, feeling embarrassed, they scraped up some Honduran who looked like he was sleep walking. He took us into the campo, for what I was told was going to be a look at the damage, and then I was to be taken out to a family that I was pre-arranged to live with. I was told that my living arrangement had soundly been made long ago. Normally this is a fairly decent living arrangement, and the volunteer has a private room which he or she can lock. I'm not always all that picky where I lay my head, but I cant scimp on security. The problem with the living arrangement was that there was no living arrangement. We meet with a patronado (a leader) of a colony, called Armenia Bonito. It was obvious that no one had talked to him about the project, nor any living arrangements for me. But he is a real nice and funny guy, who smacked a pig on its butt in his living room, as he offered me his couch for the three months. However, there is a house right across from his that I can rent, or actually that the municipality will rent for me (as its part of the deal.) I am going to meet with my community of river people tomorrow, Sunday, to discuss it. But it does look like I will be living with a blend of small property owners and squatters, both living back along the river that wiped them out two years ago...both living in the middle of one of the most dangerous flood zones in the country. La Cieba is 10 kilometers from my little colony paradise! Although my house will be fairly nice (by Honduran standards) and seems secure, some of my next door neighbors live basically in wood boxes with an open wall for a door. Well, enough of my new living arrangements in the "resort" area of La Cieba. .
I have forgotten how much energy and stamina it takes to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. I'm really tired. It's not easy to haul 130 lbs. divided between two big back packs and a duffle bag around. You jump into a crowded hot car, drive 4 hours, and jump into a fast moving Spanish meeting for three hours in a closed room without air conditioning. That's what I've been doing since I left. This is no vacation. As a matter of fact, no matter what you see on the internet sites, La Cieba is not a resort town by our standards. Supposedly muggers, robbers, coke heads and prostitutes patrol the avenue along the water front. (I'm told that, as I haven't seen it first hand yet). But back toward "el centro" it's not so bad. But I certainly see nothing pretty or quaint about it...yet.
Thanks for researching and sending me information on Pico Bonito. This National Park (which is a rain forest & cloud forest) is in my backyard ! I'm living right of at the base of the mountain that makes it up. It is the Rio Bonito that runs through it that I will be mapping for danger points and looking for people living along its side. There are no people living along its banks in the park, and that is going to be a problem.. I'm going to have to figure a way to get some stations monitored way up there where there are really no people living. And it is very important. Ive never before laid the ground work for what could save hundreds of lives. It will probably save even more lives on the other river that I will be mapping, because there are actually more people living on it. I'll tell you more about the other river when I learn where it is. I really don't think that in three months time we'll be able to do much more than complete the risk maps that we are now starting to do, and complete the data that we are to collect on each micro watershed and the families that it effects. Especially since they will be pulling us together for three weeks more of workshops that we will be doing with the community leaders of the sites along the rivers that we select.
I'm excited about exploring the Rio Bonito. It is supposed to be very extreme, possibly the most so of any river I've traveled. I will always go in with at least one of my counterparts, if not more, as I'm told, in some places, a slip can cost you a fast ride to the bottom. I will be going in a lot next week. I have three weeks to map both rivers, select which community members that I want Todo Natural to train, and then get them to the week long training session. Nothing to it! The team that came in before us in a different area had 18 months to do it. I guess that's what we get paid the big bucks to do, and all while avoiding the groups of 15 year old barrio punks that will want to rob me......GOD THIS IS EXCITING! It really is, and I can't wait to start hitting the river. There is supposed to be a lot of exotic jungle life there, including scarlet macaws. I'm really not going to photograph my colony for awhile until they get used to me a bit. Tomorrow will be my first big speech in Spanish, and it may be my most important. I think I've got to hit them with a good mix of sincerity and humor all at once.
Speaking of big bucks, as a Crisis Corps Volunteer, I make more money than a regular volunteer. A regular volunteer makes about 3300 limpera per month . (15 limpera equal an American dollar). As a CCV, you make 3900 limpera. Since I officially live close to La Cieba, which is a more expensive site, I will make somewhere near 4800 limps per month (about $10.00 per day. I have been told that a career monthly salary here is about 2000 limpera, but I think that double that would be more accurate. Heck, I'll probably be coming home with extra limpera! (not a chance). Plus, unlike regular volunteers, our housing is paid for. But I guess if you don't have a chance to spend it, I guess you're still living poor. Unlike some of the poor, I can go spend it in the city if I want to. I am finding that things are very cheap here. But unfortunately, there's not much selection of things to bring home.
I'm told AIDS is rampant here. 50% of Central America's AIDS cases come from Honduras. I'll dispatch more on health issues later.
I have to sign off and try to buy a machete and look for some topo maps. I'm staying in Hotel Emperadora until Monday.
I will try to get back on line tomorrow. This is costing 35 limps per hour. There are three or four cyber cafes here. I'm actually sitting on a stool in a mall doing this. No privacy. Hondus are looking over my shoulder, as if they had any kind of a clue as to what I'm doing.
Sunday, June 11, 2000 (11:30 a.m.)
Been trying to get access to a phone, with no luck...will try again after my meeting today in the barrio called Armenia. That is the place I'll be living. I walked over more of La Ceiba yesterday, even to the places that are considered bad. I didn't get mugged, and I didn't see any prostitutes walking around. La Ceiba reminds me a little bit of Limon', in Costa Rica, except that you must keep a higher degree of vigilance here. Remember, when it is referred to as nice, its on a different standard of nice...its all relative. There are some nice places around Ceiba. There is only one lodge in Pico Bonito, and it is owned by a former Peace Corp volunteer. I hope to work with them because they may be my only source for monitoring my flood apparatuses in the high country. With out a system up the mountain, I don't know if this will work well. The lodge is 90 per night and very nice I'm told. They will have a butterfly farm there in a few weeks. In another nearby park, you get into it by getting on one of those little hand pump railroad cars, as a kid takes you through the jungle. Then you get off and go up a river by boat. Both places will be exciting to see.
Another big plus to being here is that the island of Roatan is only about 25 miles off the coast. It is famous as a TRUE resort place and is priced very reasonably. I think I'm going to go out there a lot on weekends, because right now the plane fare to Roaton is only 125 lemps! A hotel going for $100 a night is made up to look just like Fantasy Island. It is supposed to be one of the top diving and snorkeling places in the world. There are many reasonable hotels on Roatan, ranging from 5 dollars a night and up. If PCV´s go there to relax, you know it must be reasonable. There are some very nice sites around here to see. I just haven't had time to index them yet. Food is typical rice and beans, a little meat, and that salty white cheese. There are some good restaurants if you want to spend 10 bucks.
Subject: Things always change in the tropics Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 18:54:39 EDT
I waited for the municipality man to come pick me up and take me back out to my site. He was to pick me up at 1:30. Guess what? He never showed up, and never called. It cost me 80 limps to get out there in a taxi, and afterwards I had to walk in a deluge of rain until I got a ride with some guys leaving the soccer field. I won't be living in my own house. Apparently the mayor of the municipality arranged for me to live with a family, because they owed him a favor, and it won't cost him anything. I'll have my own room (won't have to share a couch with a pig....dang, I was kind of looking forward to that). It is with a lady and her elderly father who's as soft in the head as Mister Irelan. I think I will prefer this arrangement actually. I don't like leaving my gear in a house where nobody is at home. They own a little pulperia (a little covey hole where cokes and snacks are sold.) It's a handy site to live at, as it's right at the base of Pico Bonito, where I'll be spending a lot of time anyway. I really don't know how much time I'll actually be there per week. Could be as little as three days a week. I think it will be a good experience.
The mountains look awesome at this moment. Rain clouds are sploshed on its side and they are VERY rugged looking. Pico Bonito itself is a very steep shark tooth looking peak...going to be challenging if I go for the peak. I'm looking forward to courting her!
I had an interesting lunch today. There is a little covey hole attached to my hotel. I went in and asked for a typical plate of food. Thinking that it would be rice and beans with a little meat, I was surprised when a big bowl of dirty looking goo (soup) came out to me. Plopped in my soup were two large chunks of pig skin, with several hairs still sticking out of the skin. There might have been a thumbnails worth of meat attached to the inside of this poor pigs hide, but without a scalpel I have my doubts that I could ever have removed it. I stared at the wall (won't look at ceilings anymore) and brought the spoon to my lips. As I sucked the brown lumpy liquid through my teeth, I was quite surprised that it tasted good! I finished the bowl and left the pig peelings to be recycled for the next lucky stranger who gets honored by having two chunks in their soup. I found it hard not to think about the pig hairs as I sipped, but I found that if I thought about chagas, it took my mind off it! You can find pretty strange things floating in soup down here...like chicken feet...and like the pig skin. If they give that to you, it is quite an honor. Feet always get left in my bowl too. Well tomorrow I'll deal with the municipality and get out to my new quarters. Roaton sounds real nice. I'm looking forward to checking it out. I had forgotten how long it takes to get so little done in the tropics.
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 18:52:32 EDT
I had forgotten how long it takes to get so little done in the tropics. All I got done today, was to get my things taken out to my house, and have a quick meeting (after three hours of waiting) which really accomplished nothing. Using my past experience, it is quite clear to me that I will receive no help from the municipal government here, like I was promised...and promised....and promised. I plan to circumvent the bureaucrats! There is a local university here, and I'm going to make contact with a professor there in forestation and eco-tourism. I think I can form a team with some of his students. If I can do that, there is a chance that I can get this river mapped...if not, and because the local government is bureaucratic beyond effectiveness, the river probably would not get mapped. The local agencies are always the hardest thing for a Peace Corps Volunteer to deal with. As a regular volunteer, you would just chill out and apply more patience to see if you could eventually motivate them to action. As a CCV you just don't have time for that. I doubt whether I will even walk into that municipal office again, as it will bring no positive impact and just waste the better part of a day.
Very hot and muggy here. I've been sweating in places that I didn't even think could sweat!
One of the CCVs in my group of 4 was a volunteer in Africa. Now there is a rough site! There is a worm there called a guinea worm. (I'm probably spelling it wrong, but its just like those chicken type birds that some people have.) People there get the worm from drinking the water. It settles into your ankle area and then starts to grow inside your leg up towards your crotch (although they don't all get that big). When the worm matures and is ready to lay its eggs, the tail pops through the flesh of your ankle and deposits its eggs in the rivers again as people bathe. The only way to get the worm out with out it busting, rotting inside you and infecting you, is to tie a loop around its tail and start a slow twisting and pulling procedure that may take weeks. If it breaks, you may lose your leg. The eggs and larvae are big enough that people could avoid this terrible parasite simply by straining the water they drink through a bandana. Think about that every time you think YOU are having a bad day!
When I start up the river, I will actually be walking the riverbed. It's very rocky. Glad I brought some new boots. Hoping to see some snakes. Adios
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 12:56:23 EDT (In the first part of his email, Mr. Lovell answers these questions that were sent to him by Camp Wildcatters):
Hi. My name is Dustin. I was just letting you know that at our church we are bringing things in to be brought to Honduras. I'm wondering, since you're there right now, if you are telling them about America because maybe they just think that America is a bad place so they might change their mind and instead of living over there with the bug they could come over to our country.
Hi Mr. Lovell, This is Marc Luerssen, the foreign exchange student from 1st hour. I read most of your emails on the website. I don't have much time though and this keyboard is driving me nuts. I was supposed to leave the country yesterday, but I changed my plans. I am gonna stay in America for a little longer. Just kidding. My flight from Lansing to Chicago got canceled yesterday, because of a storm in Chicago. And since there are no seats free on any plane on any airline free until June 25th they put me on standby. I am gonna go up to Lansing again today and fly to Chicago. And I have no clue what I am gonna do after that. Traveling is fun as you probably noticed. cya
Hi. My name is Jesse. I have one thing to ask. Could you take a picture of the river ?
Hey students! Good to hear from you !
I'll have plenty of pics of the river for you to see Jesse. Just look me up in the fall. I'll start my study on the river today and tomorrow. Looks like about 10 hours of some very rough walking.
Have a good time Marc. Good to hear from you before you left. I enjoyed you in class. Be careful in Chicago.
I prefer not to talk to these people about America to much, Dustin. That is not why I'm here. I think that I can do more to help the image of Americans here through my actions rather than my words. These poor people get so many "words" that they tend not to believe in what they hear, but more in what they see.
I got moved in and spent my first night at "home". The toilet is in the donas (landlady) room, and she locks her room during the day because (I think) her father has a touch of Alzheimer's and she doesn't trust him to keep the door shut. I have NO idea how this is going to play out when I have my first diarrhea attack in the middle of the night....and I know I will. I'll probably end up being one of the 4O% who messes up the ground!
The neighbors right outside my window have a set of speakers that would make AC/DC proud! At five o'clock in the morning they turned them on full blast. Scared me so bad, that I almost wet the foam rubber pad that I sleep on! The head of the committee likes to joke with me, so my first reaction was that he was blowing a bugle through my window.
There is a Foundation of Pico Bonito. I went to them and got a copy of a topo map in 30 seconds. I'll probably start up tomorrow, but will do the risk analysis of my barrio today. There is a small university here called Curla. If I follow some trails from my house, I can get there with out too much walking. I'm going to recruit some students from there.
Crisis Corp status definitely has advantages over Peace Corps. In Peace Corps, once you're put with a host agency you are pretty much stuck. They intentionally keep our status vague. This one allows me to free lance and find support from different agencies. I didn't have that flexibility as a regular volunteer. I told my boss yesterday not to expect anything from this municipality
At the university this morning, some guy had a wasp in a plastic bag with a beetle. The wasp was every bit of three inches long! I've never seen one that big! It looked like the stinger could pierce armor!
And nope, no lie about that African worm. President Carter is highly respected in Africa because he initiated (and continues to work hard) in the irradication of this horrid worm.
I don't mean to paint things negatively here. If I didn't enjoy all these strange things, I wouldn't be here. There is something exciting about waking to strange sounds, smells and sites and thinking to yourself "Oh Lord, what could possibly happen today". Well, I guess I'd better find a bathroom here in the city before I get home and have to find a spot next to the neighbors dog.
Hi Mr. Lovell , I'm glad you answered my questions because it was very interesting! I think everyone down in that area would be scared to death because of that bug that was floating around over there. I'm wondering if you know why they love living down there because if I lived down there I would be scared to death, and I would never ever look at my ceiling. I mean I know it's their country and things, but I don't know anyone that would love to live down there. And I am wondering if you knew about the mines that still existed in the area of Honduras. from DUSTIN TROMBLEY
I want to thank you for the pictures. FROM JESSE
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 18:20:34 EDT
Don't worry Dustin. There are no land mines in my area. But there are a lot of areas that should not be entered, because people get machetted and their money taken. I walked through one yesterday without knowing it. I'm going to get my machete today and carry it with me all the time, just like Wild Bill Hickcock carried his pistols.
To answer a couple more questions, a patronado is a leader of a community. A barrio is the community. My barrio is fairly good sized. There are no businesses here, except for a couple pulperias (pop/snack shops). Not all the people here are squatters. Most own their homes legitimately. The dangerous flood areas are where you will find the squatters. There is one phone in my barrio, but it just makes local calls, and yes there is electricity.... all the modern conveniences a person could want. Dona Hubertina helps me alot with making contacts here. She lined me up with a free guide. Dona is 58 years old and rather pear shaped. But kids, please don't tell my wife that. I want her to think Dona is 22 years old and a beauty queen When I send email to Camp Wildcat, I'm in La Ceiba, which is 10 kilometers from my barrio. It takes about 40 minutes by bus to get back to my barrio. I think gasoline over here is over three bucks a gallon, but I'm not sure. I just have gas, don't buy any.
It didn't take long to find out what I would do about the bathroom situation. I had a few local beverages and some meat tacos with a patronado last night....tasted good. Homemade warm tortillas, chunks of beef, and I put a lot of onions pickled in vinegar, and chili on it. About 1:30 I awoke to that all too familiar feeling of pressure in my belly. I laid there thinking about my options as the pressure swelled. Actually, I had opted to go out and poop on the ground, but the door was locked (key) and I couldn't get out ! I rousted Dona Hubertina out of her bed, and she was kind enough to give me a few moments of privacy. Once back in my room, I scurried through my medicine kit to find my diarrhea medicine, lomitil. There was none! God, was I upset ! Pepto Bismol just doesn't cut it here. At 5:30 I had to roust her out of her room again. I bought some lomitil in the pharmacy today. You can bet the Peace Corps nurses are going to get an ear full from me, for forgetting to put lomitil in the medicine kit they gave me. I think it was a mild touch of food poisoning, not stomach amoebas. I've been very careful about not drinking unfiltered water.
Bad timing to be as tired as I was this morning. This morning I went up the river. I came to a painful (literally) realization today that I am not 20 years old any more. I mapped the upper Rio Bonito early this morning, and hiked well past the last habitation. You have to meander your way through huge boulders, dozens of them bigger than class rooms. Some of them, you have to wedge between just to climb up and over them. It was so hot!. The sweat actually ran off the bill of my hat in a stream. It was hard to breath, because it was like breathing steam. I haven't been able to stay in a dry shirt for over 15 minutes since I've been here. But this was different. The sweat was actually gushing from my body. Twice I took my clothes off and got into the cool water, and immediately started sweating again when I left the water. Still, for some reason...I LOVE IT! I did see a toucan and an otter, but was not able to get a picture of either. I did shoot two rolls of film though. Copper Canyon, in Mexico, was hotter, but the humidity here is as bad as I've seen it any where, which probably makes it worse than Copper Canyon. I can't imagine trying to haul up my big pack. I just had my day pack on. Yesterday, my new hiking boots put blisters (3 or 4) on my feet, which didn't help matters at all. I'm going back up for my own enjoyment later.
I had just got to the point where the canyon was getting very narrow, a place where Pico Bonito squeezes tight against the other mountain...can't remember its name. My guide was emotionally having a problem with this hike. He and his mother, father, brothers and sisters, were trapped up there for 4 days and nights without food, water or sleep. His dad later died as a result of it. He showed me where his house was. All there was left was a 3 foot section of a telephone pole. Another house we hiked by was literally filled with sand and gravel. It was interesting as I tracked the flood back down the mountain. I could see were it broke the border (a dam-like structure of dirt and gravel). You could see the damage where it ran straight toward their community. Then you could see where it cut the community in half like a knife. It cut a 30 or 40 yard slice right through the middle, before it swung back out toward the main river.
My boss says that I won't be doing the Rio Cangrejal, like first planned. It is too big and extensive. I wouldn't have time to even put a dent in it. What that means, is that as soon as I complete the Rio Bonito, I can pretty much do any thing that I want to do between these work shops. I think I'm going to Roaton to relax and snorkel the coral reef next week end. This week end I think I'll go into that one jungle preserve where kids take you in with a hand pump railroad car. I would like to have done the Rio Cangrejal though. It is much more extreme than the Rio Bonito. It is a much more dangerous river. I am told that there are some homes that are 600 meters above the river, and have poles that hold them precariously level on the cliffs edge. One minor earthquake and they will have a quick ride to the bottom. I would have liked to have seen that (the homes, not the sliding down the hill). There are people living higher up from where the road ends, a "burrow zone" so to speak. Probably the CCV who comes in after me will have to do that river. They had better be a stud !
Well, I'm heading out. I really need to get some sleep tonight...I'm beat.
Hi Mr. Lovell, I hope you like my picture. I am going in 6th grade and when I get to your grade that you teach I really would like to be your student. But anyway, I'm glad that you could e-mail back because I really appreciate it. I'm glad you don't worry about the mines, but what I am wondering is, why you are not afraid of anything else that is there ? I have been learning a lot from your e-mails and other websites that I have been able to see. I am also wondering if you are afraid of anything in Honduras? Or why you are so crazy and daring. Well, maybe you can answer my questions. Always interested, Dustin.
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 13:39:41 EDT Fear is a natural warning system Dustin. However, if you let fear take over your life, you end up doing nothing but staying home and staying scared...yuk! What a terrible existence that would be. It's good to have a healthy fear...that way you always keep your eyes open for some problem, but you are able to experience alot of different things. I like to do as many things as I can while I'm still healthy and young. Cool picture. Thanks!
I was thinking about going out to the Salvado Wildlife Reserve this weekend, but figured I would wait a bit. I would have to stay in a tent, and I've got a very big blister on my left heel, and a few others on other parts of my feet. God, those new boots tore my feet up. I spent a fortune for a machete and leather case today. In fact, my money is going very quick here. I think these people enjoy conning gringos more than the Costa Ricans do. Transportation back and forth from "my casa" to La Ceiba is killing me.
Took a lomitil last night, so I slept very well...considering. It's amazing the different kinds of noises that erupt during the night. Until some late hour in the night, people holler and raise heck. Then, it just stops. But next the dogs start in.... all of them dead set on out doing each other howling and barking. Next, it's the roosters turn. First one starts, and that sets off another, which sets off two more, which sets off a half dozen more ect.... I really am going to need a vacation to Roatan by next week. That's going to be my incentive to get things moving. By next weekend I will be going nuts and will definitely need to get out there and relax.
I really need a counter part, (which I won't get). I don't really like walking through these barrios by myself. For the most part they are ok. But every where seems to have small danger choke points, places where you pass through, that because of their proximity to brush cover, are good places to get mugged. People can nail you quick and disappear. Got the ole machete today, so it will be my companion most of the time from here out. I'm going to get some people from my site to go there and look up the right people. ***************************************************************
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 13:52:36 EDT
Running into a few snags in my work, which makes time here pass miserably. When ever work slows up I get very homesick. If I get through this, I will know that I can adjust to just about anything. Just got an email from my boss saying that there will be a diagnostic meeting at my site on June 30. I'm supposed to arrange lunch for 15 people. There are no restaurants here. They want them (my barrio people) to cook for everybody, and bring it over to the little structure that serves as the kindergarten. ****************************************************************
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2000 17:06:32 EDT
Mapped the lower part of the Rio Bonito this morning. Took 4 hours. It's amazing how you can read the river and figure out what happened here. You can see giant trees all over that were washed down. Those are a big danger, because when they hit a house (or shack) it totally destroys it. It was so hot! In 4 hours of this kind of work, I go through 2 liters of water. The river at this time is not flowing much past Amenia where I live. But in just two days of rain it will be. I stopped and talked to some squatters (and got some good pictures). They have located their huts (about four of them) on what will amount to an island as soon as it starts raining. It won't take much of a flow for them to be totally cut off. They will be stranded. In a real flood, unfortunately, they will be a goner. It's very sad to look at those poor little kids, knowing that they probably won't be alive after the next flood. Even an alert system won't help them. Some land should never be used. They are so poor, that they really have no other place to go. Their huts are made of sticks, or pieces of tin that they scraped up from the last flood. Today I saw acres and acres of land that had once been productive. Now, it is covered with tons of rocks and sand. Sometimes you see a dry island of banana trees that show you that productive land was once there. Or you see an electricity pole sticking out of rocks, that tells you a house had been there. Walked all the way down to the ocean. From there, we swung up and around so that I could get to know some of the small barrios that get some of the marginal flooding. Stopped at a small pulperia and drained a coke faster than a human could possibly drink a pop! As we walked down the road we passed a gang. We heard them say as we passed "Aaaaa, here come some dollars". I carry my machete specially attached to my daypack so that if I need it quickly I can just reach behind my head and pull it out of its sheath. Vidal, who is my age, and is well known through this river as a river stud, quietly asked me once we passed, "Can you use a machete ?" I don't think he was talking about weed chopping. I won't fight over my wallet, but if I think my life is threatened, they will find out that Zoro was actually a Gringo!
Anyway, after that kind of work, it never bothers you to know that the shower you're going to get is cold. For some reason, the shower water is cut around 11:00am I bathe by pouring water over myself, lathering, and pouring more. Today it felt soooo good. You can learn to appreciate simple things when you have too.
I like to spend evenings (when I can) at the Ex Patriates bar. I can get a huge mug of beverage for 6 limps, and the food is good. They sell good Honduran cigars, and sometimes it's nice to relax with one. It's full of colorful characters, mostly Americans. The place reminds me of that Jimmy Buffet lyric "some of them are running from lovers, leaving no forward address....some of them are running tons of ganga...some are running from the IRS" Anyway, I seem to fit in well, and get along very well with the Canadian owner and his wife. He had to shoot a man dead in there a couple years ago. As I said, this isn't exactly pleasantville over here. Yesterday the Grand Cayman soccer team was in there. They were a rowdy bunch of "blokes", but interesting. Mark is going to open the place early to cater to them today, so that they can watch an important soccer game. I think that I'm going to head over there, as I still feel dehydrated.
I have a meeting (finally !) set up with the barrios below Armenia. They are actually going to come to me. I won't have to go look up the patronatos.
I finally got a post office box. Don't know why, since I mostly use e-mail. It's a good (out of the way) walk away, so I probably won't even check it often. Scott Lovell apdo. 559 La Ceiba, Honduras Central America
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 12:23:12 EDT
My wife keeps referring to my time here as a vacation, which really ticks me off. It is not a vacation. In fact, as of yet (over all) I have not found it all that enjoyable. It could be, if it was not for the high and constant state of alert that I have to stay in. I can't really travel from site to site by myself, and I haven't received much in the way of support that I was supposed to. Sometimes, I even wonder if this system will work well on this particular river. From the river mouth to the last habitation up the gorge, it is only about 4-6 hours. I don't know if that is going to give them any significant warning time. I hope it does. I think this assignment will cure me from wanting another one. From the time I first landed in Tegucigalpa, it's been quite an experience. (The pilot comes on before landing and says, because it is a fairly short runway, don't be alarmed that we will be applying the brakes. Then, as soon as the plane touched ground, he hits the brakes and everything on the floor slides 20 feet forward! Even that lets you know that you're not in Kansas anymore Toto !)
Dona Hubertina's father has a bit of a problem. He likes to swipe things. That's why she keeps her door locked, and he has to use the bathroom down the street. He may have seen me get the key from the hiding place, because the key disappeared. This morning , I realized that the key to my brand new door knob also disappeared. When I left, I grabbed my extra key and put tape at the base of both of our doors to be able to prove if he is going in or not. Vacation....right!
If all goes as planned, I will most likely go to Roatan this weekend. I'll rent a car when I get there so I can have mobility and get some pictures. (I have only shot 5 rolls of film so far. Taking out a camera in most places is not the best of ideas.) By renting a car on Roaton, I can make a circle of the whole island and drive the car straight to the airport to return it. There are no crime problems to speak of there, and it is supposed to be fantastic. I really want to see Roaton and the Mayan ruins of Copan before I come home. If things work out, I may get my diving certification on the island of Uttilla. It offers the quickest and cheapest way to get certified in the world, and yet still keeps an extremely good reputation for training. I could get certified in diving in 3 days for 150 bucks, and that includes accommodations. I hear you really have to study your butt off though, in between morning and afternoon dives. Getting certified usually costs a fortune, and takes a month.
To answer a few questions, Vidal is a guy who lives in my barrio. Aduana is the name for packages mail. There are plenty of mangos and coconuts here. Sunday, I just sat around and listened to the noise. I made it to Expatriates about 2, and had a couple of drinks with the Grand Cayman soccer team. Man are they crazy.
I talked to my boss today, and I may start looking for other living arrangements. It is just to much of a hassle going back and forth between Rio Bonito and La Ceiba. It's very costly (by CCV standards), and the last bus runs around 7:30. I think I will check around at the Expatriates, and see if some kind gringo will take me in for a couple of months. Then my plan would be to set up weekly meetings with all the barrios. (They would come to one central part) and I could return to civilization. Many taxis don'twant to make the trip to my barrio, and when they do, it eats up my money.
Subject: Dispatch Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 13:11:10 EDT
Found a place in La Ceiba where I can get a chunk of chicken, tortillas and sautéed onions for 17 limps...a little over a buck. It wasn't bad either !
I probed the city of La Ceiba today, trying to figure out where decent areas ended and scummy areas started. Got down by the stadium and found myself among some of the sorriest looking excuses for humanity that I have ever seen. Some people avoid eye contact when they meet up with some of these walking piles of crap. I have developed my own technique over the years. I use my laser look. When I use it, there is usually no doubt that am sending a message equivalent of "If you get off your butt and move toward me, I'll rip out your heart and stomp it before you shut your eyes".....so far it's been very successful.
Honduras does offer a very unique sociological study. Crime has exploded here in the last several years. Why? Those of you who will be my students should know by the time I get back what "cause and effect" is. When an event happens, it causes things to happen (effect). Part of the Honduras crime problem can be linked to the hurricane. It had and effect on all 10 of the human activities that you learn in my class. Transportation halts....communication stops....people are in survival mode, with no time for recreation.....producing ,exchanging and distribution are messed up....no time to think about aesthetics....people begin to lose faith in systems of moral, ethical and religious behavior...and I could do the same for the other activities as well.
Another cause and effect scenario that I had not considered was offered by a guy in our barrio. He suggested that some of the blame could be put on the end of the Cold War. When our battle with the Soviet Union ended, we stopped pumping dollars into their military (that had kept relative safety).
The government here has been forced (economically) to convert to a civil police force. They are still in transition, and it is still not working well. I have seen very few police here.
Honduras is full of missionaries, all believing they're doing something useful. Im not so sure they all are. There is that old saying that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he'll eat for life. The thousands of gringo church people who are pouring into this country seem to have one objective. Convert the people from their own Christian faith to the Christian faith of the missionaries. Since many of the missionaries hand out some money (the fish), the people will smile and pretend that they like them. Most of the missionaries come here without knowing any Spanish, so they have to spread their propaganda through translators. It seems to be important enough for them to send propagandists, but not important enough to give them language and cultural skill before they come down here. That seems very arrogant to me. I always shake my head when I see the white shirt boys walking around in their ties. It seems to be suggesting that these people should adopt "the missionaries home culture". Again, that seems culturally arrogant to me. Although the people will smile and tell the missionaries what they want to hear (because they know there is usually money attached to listening), the people generally do not like many of them and making fun of them behind their back. The missionaries are basically trying to buy the Hondurans religious conversion with money. And the Hondurans know it, and play the game long enough to get their bucks. We are advised by the Peace Corps to avoid religious conversations with Hondus, so that we do not get associated with the missionaries. Whenever a missionary tries to talk to me, I sometimes pretend that I don't speak English, if I'm having a rotten day .
I got the first barrio down the river from us (Rodas, one of the seedier places) organized for the first work shop yesterday . We (Juan , Pedro and I) stopped along the road at this sleezy little shack, because they ( in latin macho fashion) feel that it is important to have a drink. I knew it was strange because the lady inside the place passed the drinks through a boarded opening. We had a few shots of aguadente before some of the locals started to crawl through the wood work like roaches. Juan had sent for some fresh chicharones (big pieces of pork skin toasted, like pork rinds, but much better because they were fresh). When they arrived, he put them away because he knew he couldn't give some to everybody. Some of the roaches took exception to that, and we quickly left. What a place! But we ate fresh chicharones on the way back home, and they were terrific.
Got my plane ticket to Roatan today. 500 limps round trip (about $33 American). What a deal! I think I'm going to rent a car so that I can explore most of the island efficiently. Then I will know right where to go when I return. Besides, with the car, I can get more pictures taken. Boy is my wife going to be pleased when she gets the Visa bill ! I'm way behind in my picture taking. You just don't want to whip out a camera too much around here.
Hi Mr.Lovell, I still want to know a little more about how you feel about Honduras because as far as I know in all your e-mails you haven't made one bad remark yet. So I am wondering if you think that Honduras is a place for people to live. Because usually if someone would hear about how people suffer and loose their homes and all the diseases that pass around in that area, they would probably never want to go to Honduras? Dustin
Hi Mr.Lovell. I read all your e-mail about the worm that gets in your leg and you got to be careful when you take it out. I hope you are having a great time down there, and please keep sending us e-mails. Kyle
Hi Mr. Lovell, I would love to know a lot about Honduras, and it is very interesting to me. I was wondering how you could survive there, when I'm scared of a bug in my pool!! Congratulations on your courage! What are your biggest disappointments about Honduras? My sister was in your class...Emily Bajorek....remember her? Ben Bajorek
Hi Mr. Lovell, My name is Nicole Michelle Salamin. You probably know my sisters Sarah and Paige Salamin. I have some questions I need you to answer. 1. Do we have a chiga in America? 2. And is it true that a bug (chiga) can kill you or not? That's what it kinda sounded like when you wrote here. I will right you later. Have fun in Honduras. Nicole Michelle Salamin
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 17:37:46 EDT
I made it back from the island of Roatan, and it was great. I will write about that and answer the email from my buddies at Camp Wildcat tomorrow. I'm in the mall right now..and some clown is putting on a show and the speakers are breaking my ear drum. I'm spending the night here in La Ceiba tonight. I want to try to find a new place to live. Aside from the heavy concentration of gangs and ladrones in the barrio of Armenia in which I'm living, there is always an ongoing battle with transportation. It actually takes an hour to get to town after the side trips. Tomorrow there will be a bus strike. I'll be stuck in Armenia unless I can hitch a ride to town. Taxi drivers charge 80 to 100 limps, and often don't really care if they take you or not. They don't want the wear and tear on their vehicles, and there is the threat of robbery.
When I returned from Roatan today, I found that the dona had unlocked my room and used it to house a bunch of her visiting nieces and nephews. All my stuff was in there unguarded. This is certainly not acceptable to me. I am also getting very little sleep there, because the madero who lives across from me blasts giant speakers into the road every morning at 4:00. As the toilet is in the open in Dona Hubertinas room, I have to roust her at strange hours to use the bathroom, or drag myself outside to poop in the yard. I've done both. Certainly, this living arrangement is threatening to rob me of any chance I have of a positive cultural experience. So my focus now, is to find a new place to live.
I've got to sign off now. I can't handle this noise anymore.
Links to Related Topics (Tags):
Peace Corps Annual Report: 2001; Peace Corps Costa Rica; Directory of Costa Rica RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Costa Rica RPCVs; Peace Corps Honduras; Directory of Honduras RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Honduras RPCVs; Crisis Corps/Peace Corps Response; The Third Goal
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You are not going to believe this but Phil and I were talking tonight about what ever happen to Scott. Well the google we came up with was this web site. E-mail us-we would love to here from you!
By Anonymous (c-24-60-146-141.hsd1.ma.comcast.net - 188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - 6:04 pm: Edit Post|
The photo attached to my "dispatches" is not me. i have no idea who it is. the real me has much less hair than that, and i would be skinning those criters for lunch, not feeding them.
Dear Mr. Lovell,
Whenever we don't have a photo to go with a specific story we use a generic photo for the country of service.
In this case we have substituted the generic photo for Honduras:
for the generic photo for Costa Rica: