From the top of El Picacho one has a panoramic view of Honduras’ largest city: the capital. Atop the mountaintop park overlooking the congestion below stands a towering 30-meter statue of christian religious symbolism with arms outstretched at its sides gazing out over its flock below; the country is 90% or so roman catholic. There also exists a sizable and growing protestant evangelical community as well as tiny muslim and jewish populations. I first arrived in town on October 6th because I had developed a sharp burning pain under my right heel a few days after my mountain climbing sojourn above Comayagua. When I called the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) she scheduled me an appt with an orthopedist who subsequently diagnosed Plantar Fascitis. It hurts like hell. After having been measured for made-to-order shoe inserts I returned to see him on the 22nd with no noticable improvement. The doc gave me the inserts, told me to continue my treatment and added that it could take weeks, or months, to return to normal. He made me an appt to see him again in a month. Meanwhile I’m hobbling around La Paz breaking in my new inserts, taking pain medicine, and wishing I hadn’t climbed that damn mountain.
Intibuca, the city in the departamento of the same name, is the principal city at the highest elevation in the country. It is cool there in the mountainous country nestled within the tall peaks, its own little environment far from the lowland heat. From September 30 to October 3rd the Peace Corps hosted a taller there focused on Maternal/Child Health with an emphasis on healthy eating and common childhood illnesses in Honduran children such as malnutrition, dehydration and pneumonia. The two bottom right pics are of the resort, Los Pinos, where we stayed. Each PC Volunteer brought two Honduran contrapartes; all Peace Corps training staff are Honduran. In the middle pics a friendly parrot greets us to an organic farm where we all pitch in to prepare the ground for planting seeds, with a corn treat afterwards. The next day we went to a local hospital for more field training. And, of course, we had a fair amount of classroom training livened up with action dinamicas. Our inservice training is designed to foster cooperation and teamwork, form friendships and create a great learning environment as each culture learns from the other.
From September 14th through the 21st I hung out with my friend Nico, a former PC Volunteer who returned to Honduras with a brigada from Virginia Health Center and his friend Dan, the auditor for the water projects. In company with several Honduran engineers and other central figures we visited 3 different water projects in various stages of development as well as the dedication of a new health center. On one side of the Comayagua Valley we ascended the Cordillera de Montesillo, the highest reaches on foot to 2,092 meters, and on the other side of the valley we ascended the Cordillera Merendon by Range Rover. For a sense of direction, the bottom row, right side pics are of our arrival at the trailhead. We walked up and up to where we pitched our tents. Then we walked higher and higher to the two middle pics in the second row where were located two natural springs that are the origin of the water source, hitting 2,092 meters (over a mile high). By that time I wished fervently for that kid’s mule. The second left pic in the top row is the medical clinic dedication. And the last left pic in the top row is of a chicken coop at an orphanage in the mountains on the other side of the Comayagua Valley where we went to review another water project. The political situation in the country remains unsettled: politicos fighting over power and privilege, the population be damned. Sounds somewhat like the political situation I left back home.