This is where I live: La Paz, La Paz, Honduras. From the bottom right photos I’m going to take you on a walk to the grocery store from my new apartment. After 11 months in-country I finally have my own two-bedroom, two-bath unit with a kitchen and 24/7 running water. Not common in the country’s smaller communities where most PCVs live. I live on the second story of the Pharmacy you see on your left. I also have access to the roof where I’m going to plant a garden. We turn left when we exit my building and walk down two blocks where the Fundacion Senor San Jose is located; the children’s home where I spend many hours. Like most Hispanic countries I have visited, like Spain, Portugal and Mexico, the homes here look almost nondescript from the outside. But once you cross their front portal the interior living spaces are built around large flower-filled spaces: like the Hogar San Jose where we are growing a large garden and are raising chickens. Our tour will have us walk in a large square through the center of town making right turns all the way until we arrive back at my place. At the Plaza Central across from the alcaldia and the church there is a coffee kiosk. Nearby I meet a couple of my friends, Carmen and Marla, colleagues from Jovenes Sin Fronteras who had just finished an HIV/AIDS lecture at a school visible in their background on the other side of the park. We walk down Calle de los Pinos and make a right turn towards the Despensa, one of 4 small supermarkets in the city. When we leave the grocery store we make a right turn at the El Soldado traffic circle and enter the Mercado, a crowded place several blocks long where one can find just about anything edible or wearable. Which brings us back on the same street, the Calle de Comercio, to home where unfortunately the raucous market sounds sometimes don’t die down until evening. On this wonderful Sunday the weather is balmy and the cloudless blue sky a picture of perfection, so who cares.
Back home in Seattle I eat organic. Madison Market on Capitol Hill where I live is practically my second home. A local member cooperative, they provide food grown by organic farmers in the Puget Sound area, a welcome outlet from the unhealthy, chemically contaminated foodstuffs sold by national food merchants like Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyers and Krogers, among other US chains. Here in Honduras I have no choice. There are four small supermercados here in La Paz where I live that have most of the required basics I need to survive, however one is never certain of the origin and quality of the available food. Especially in our first weeks of training, dependent on host families for our sustenance, one is at the mercy of what is provided. One is consequently forced to change one’s eating habits. Hence the small can of potted meat I had purchased months ago, Spam, something I would never have thought of consuming back home. I opened the disgusting mess on December 28th to make myself a sandwich and after forcing a few mouthfuls I bit into a small piece of unseen bone that the dentist told me afterward sliced in between my wisdom tooth fracturing a filling and an adjacent three-tooth bridge fracturing the porcelain. It has taken that long to address the damage because approval (over the New Year holiday) for the bridge repair had to come from Washington DC. Yesterday, Saturday morning, the broken filling was finally repaired and an impression made to construct a new bridge. I was fitted with a temporary plastic bridge until my new one can be made in Guatemala. What a painful way to start the new year.