FAQs about Peace Corps in Honduras
|FAQs about Peace Corps|
For information see Welcomebooks
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Honduras?
- 2 What is the electric current in Honduras?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Honduran friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Honduras?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Honduras?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Honduras?
Both 110 volts, 60 cycles (the U.S. standard), and 220 volts can be found in houses in Honduras. The outlets often are close to each other and easily confused, so you need to know which outlet to use. Some Volunteers do not have electricity in their houses or have it only for a few hours a day.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase such insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers are cautioned not to ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in Honduras do not need to get an international driver’s license. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a host country agency vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.
What should I bring as gifts for Honduran friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are assigned to individual sites in the eighth week of training but do not move to the sites until after they have completed training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s project and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their Honduran counterparts. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour bus ride from the capital.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580, extension 2521 or 2512.
Can I call home from Honduras?
International phone service to and from Honduras is relatively good but can be expensive. Hondutel, the local telephone agency, has offices in many cities and towns, and some of these offices offer direct lines to U.S. long-distance carriers. Rates as of mid-2008 are 2 Lempiras (USD 0.11) per minute to the U.S. Calling cards and other phone discount programs' rates from the U.S. to Honduras are usually about $0.35 per minute.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Officially, Peace Corps recommends that you not bring a phone. A U.S.-based phone will probably not work in Honduras. Some American cell phone companies, including AT&T, can enable international roaming for their customers but it is prohibitively expensive to make calls, though text messages can and do go through from these phones at reasonable rates.
As of mid-2008, nearly all Volunteers in Honduras had cell phones, and coverage from one or the other of the main telecom companies, Tigo and Claro. Service is generally very reliable, though the sound quality of international calls can vary considerably.
While prices vary, it is not uncommon to find serviceable but no-frills phones for sale for Lps 500 or less (about USD 25). Most phones operate on a pre-paid system, where subscribers periodically recharge their "minutes" in increments from Lps 10 to Lps 250 (USD 0.50 to 12). Domestic rates on Tigo are around Lps 3-4 per minute, but purchasing saldo (minutes) on days advertised as "double saldo" give you extended talk time to other Tigo and Hondutel land lines. Calls to the U.S. and Canada from Tigo phones are about Lps 2.25 per minute. Calls are usually charged by the second only, not rounded up to the next minute.
Volunteers commonly use text messages for much communication and cost around Lps 1 (USD 0.05) per message. Phone plans with a fixed monthly allotment of minutes and fee per month are available but the rates are not much better than the pre-paid plans and require a lot of paperwork.
In urban areas, some Volunteers live in houses with Hondutel land lines installed, but in most outlying areas, cell phones are the only phones available.
As of mid-2008, Volunteers' living allowance is calculated without including expenses for maintaining a cell phone, but very nearly all Volunteers in Honduras find money for it in their budgets.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Volunteers nearly always have regular access to the Internet, either in their sites or in nearby towns and cities. Volunteers receive a monthly allowance for Internet use and are encouraged to utilize businesses in or near their communities. Internet connections are, with few exceptions, not very fast and slowed further if being shared with other clients at the Internet café.
During training and at the Peace Corps office during their services, Volunteers do not have access to the equipment used by Peace Corps staff, though as of mid-2008 there are four computers dedicated for Volunteer use at the Peace Corps in Tegucigalpa.
Many Volunteers do choose to bring a laptop with them at the start of training and find it useful throughout their time in country; some who did not initially take computers with them either have their laptops sent to them subsequently or bring their laptops back after returning to the U.S. after a vacation. The Peace Corps office in Tegucigalpa has installed secure wireless Internet access points which can be accessed by computers of Volunteers once configured by Peace Corps information technology staff. Other Internet cafés and other businesses around the country have wireless Internet or allow clients with laptops to plug into their wired networks.
Tigo and Claro both offer Internet service through their cell phone networks. These services, with decent but not fast connection speeds, can be expensive and usually involve a good deal of paperwork. The trouble and expense may not be worth it for Volunteers nearing completion of their service but could be a good investment, in the long run, for a Volunteer near the start of his or her time in Honduras. Plans are usually priced in U.S. dollars and run from $15 to $50 per month.
Volunteers, regardless of whether they have or bring a laptop, will find USB flash drives (also known as thumb drives or memory sticks) useful for exchanging documents with Peace Corps staff, other Volunteers and community partners.
If you choose to bring a laptop computer to Honduras, please take extra precautions as they are subject to theft and damage. If you choose to bring a laptop or other valuable equipment, you should insure it against theft and water damage. Also advisable is a good surge protector to guard electronics against sometimes-temperamental electric current.