Sunday, February 19, 2012

And it begins, for real

The whole volunteer group at the "despedida" in Tegucigalpa
All’s well and becoming routine here at Rancho Santa Fe. Last week marked the end of a long transition period and the beginning of the rest of the year. The old volunteers, whom had been here for a 13 months, left in style this past weekend. To see them off, every single volunteer (all 20-some of us!) went into Tegucigalpa on Saturday for their “despedida” - going away party. It was a rollercoaster. On the one hand, it was exciting to stay in a quite luxurious hotel, eat delicious food, and go out dancing until the wee hours. On the other, it was sad to watch the old guys go. Seeing how upset the old volunteers were to leave the kids, the Ranch, and each other gave us newbies a sneak-peak into the emotions of our future selves. Heck, it was hard enough for me to watch them leave and I only knew them for a month! Nevertheless, it is nice to be more settled now. I have since moved into an actual room with a roommate, (shout out to my boy John!), have been assigned an hogar, and have begun my job as Home Correspondent. Things are finally becoming normal.

The new volunteers.

A bit about my hogar...

Not quite all of San Lucas, but almost
Me with some of the boys on my birthday
Last Thursday I was assigned my hogar for the next year: the boys of San Lucas. When I first thought about working at an orphanage I had pictured myself being surrounded by tiny humans that climb all over you and laugh, yell and cry a lot. While this is certainly a reality if you spend time with some of the younger hogars, it is not the case with mine. My boys are older - (15-17 years old) - and have since calmed down a bit, (well, most of them anyway).  There are 18 of them and they are smart and articulate, while still young enough to need supervision and nourishment. While my responsibilities might be more as a guardian or disciplinarian in a younger hogar, here in San Lucas, I try more to serve as a peer who doubles as a positive role model. But will see how that goes, it’s only been one week…

… a good week, however.  Spending time with them in the hogar  so far has mostly included playing card games and watching them roughhouse. Soon they will start school and the homework will begin. For now it’s more fun and games. I was wise enough to sneak that my birthday was coming up into a conversation with the tío (caretaker) of the hogar. This prompted an awesome b-day party. My boys prepared the best and most food I’ve had since being in Honduras (main course: fried chicken!) while I baked two cakes to try to satisfy their intense sugar addiction. We finished the night off with a movie (some ridiculous James Cameron flick about cave exploring when everything goes wrong and the characters die off one by one). San Lucas is fun.  I’m excited to get to know the boys better through work and play. Once I told the boys I like to make movies they immediately asked if we could make one, starring them of course. I said “yes”, as long as they write the script.

San Lucas working in the fields

Other Things

On the work end of things, everything is good. It’s a little tough adjusting to office life, especially when I have my own office, actually my own entire building to myself. It can get a little lonely in there by myself. I try to limit the time at my desk and be as mobile as possible by walking around the Ranch – taking my work elsewhere when I don’t need the internet. My work so far has mostly consisted of taking photos at Ranch events and corresponding with the folks at NPH International. They often request information about the Ranch or specific photos from our database for their publications. It’s a slower part of the year in terms of my work. Looking at the yearly schedule I can see how my responsibilities will significantly pick up in the next few months.

Life at the volunteer house is good - much more “tranquilo” now that we have less people living here. We play a lot of volleyball in our courtyard which ranges from pathetically lazy to surprising competitive depending on our mood and energy level. I got some sick “Top Gun” sunglasses that an old volunteer left behind that really help improve my game through pure intimidation.

Photo time

Hangin' with Alan - the youngest child at the Ranch along with his twin brother.

Smiling faces at the Ranch graduation ceremony.

Día de Suyapa procession to church

Some pequeños play while on a field trip to the children's museum