Mexico – Puerto Escondido & Oaxaca

So I think I am quickly falling madly in love. With travelling, of course. It’s a really exhilirating feeling to not know who you’re going to meet that day or what you’re going to end up doing. When you’re having a pretty normal, or even bad day, something is bound to happen to turn your day around. Which has definitely happened over the last week…

 

Day 7

Last time I left off with me and Laura sitting in a hotel courtyard keeping ourselves busy until our overnight bus… 11 pm eventually came and we settled down in our comfy, 12 hour bus for a bit of sleep. However, it wasn’t meant to be. As we were travelling from the most Southern point of Mexico we had to pass through lots of border checks (despite already being past the border). First a man walked on the bus just looking at everyone, but not doing anything, until he saw the two gringas at the back of the bus and quickly asked for our passports. Then at about 12.30am and 2.30am we had to get off the bus, find our backpacks and put them through backage scanners. We were tired… but for some reason, most likely our lack of sleep, we found the whole experience hilarious and took bets on when we would next stop. Oh, and to top it off the guy in front of me leaned his chair back as far as he could so I was practically smelling his hair, and then proceeded to crack his fingers in my face. Lovely.

Image

Eventually we made our way to the hostel which was great with a pool, lots of hammocks and a bar. The only downside was it wasn’t the cleanest of hostels; particularly the flea ridden dog that lived there. Puerto Escondido was unbearably hot, and mixed with our exhaustion, we decided it was best just to chill in the hammocks for the day. We did venture our later on to find a place to get some proper mexican food… but as we quickly discovered, in downtown Puerto, you can go clothes shopping or get a haircut at 8 o’clock at night, you just can’t find anything to eat. Grr.

 

Day 8

The next day we decided, after not having been to a beach since my birthday, it was definitely time to hit the sand and sea again. After getting slightly lost, we eventually found ourselves at a gorgeous beach you could only reach by walking down 170 steps. It was an amazing beach… the only problem was the heat. As my friends and family know, I love a hot beach holiday, but it was just ridiculous and we ended up spending most of the day hiding in the shade. Despite our avoidance of being directly under the sun, Laura took a funny turn and ran to the toilets to cool off a bit. Little did I know, she never made it to the toilets and laid down in the shade outside of them. Of course, a few Mexican men were quick to crowd around her and help out… even bringing her a glass of water and putting her feet up on a chair (apparently it helps oxygen get to your brain??). We waited long enough for the sun to go down a bit and then (very slowly) made our way back to the hostel… which led us to go out with some other travellers to a local bar for salsa night.

Image

Image

Day 9

We bravely ventured back to the beach again… although this time we made sure we were more sensible. For Laura, this was sitting in the shade… for me, it was floating around in the sea for the majority of the day. Apparently this is a great place to meet guys! One of them was determined in trying to get me to take a surf lesson with him (something I have never done before) and I was very tempted… but for now, I think I might leave it until another time.

That evening was… well it was an interesting one. I was in serious need of a cash machine before we went to eat so we had a taxi take us to the main beach where all of the restaurants are… but there were no banks. So we aimlessly wandered around trying to find a way for me to get money when we found a gas station. We hurried in hoping to find something useful, but nothing… although there did happen to be a couple of military guys in there so I figured I would ask them where the nearest ATM was. After some difficultly translating what I needed, the military guys decided that no, there was no ATM nearby. But they could show us where there were some… so I shouted over to Laura, ‘let’s go!’, and somehow, before we knew it were were climbing into the front of this huge military guns. Careful not to kick the guns lying on the floor of course. So somehow we ended up in a truck with about 15 military guys in the back and in the front a (very cute) guy driving, me, Laura and then the guy in charge. Now, this might sound quite convinient to get a free ride with some nice, friendly military guys… but actually we were pretty stupid to even consider getting in their truck. We know the military aren’t usually to be trusted in Honduras, and so would never ask them for help, but apparently now we are on ‘holiday’ we are throwing caution to the wind more oftern! Once we set off, in typical Mexican fashion, the first question military man asked us was if we had boyfriends, did we want them and if not, were we lesbians? All the while, he was stroking Laura’s arm and smelling her hair. Me and the guy driving found this hilarious at the time, but looking back it’s actually pretty disturbing! Anyway, in the end they dropped us at HSBC (yes, there is HSBC! Although they charge a bomb to take money out) and waved us off… to celebrate the fact we were still alive, we decided to go for a meal at a nice, relatively cheap restaurant. We were high on adreniline for quite a while after… When we finally made it back to the hostel, we played a big game of ring of fire with a mix of aussies, south africans, swiss and german travellers. All good fun!

 

Day 10

We were up at 6.30 this morning to get picked up for our dolphin and turtle tour… everyone we had met at the town reassured us that there was no way we were going to see dolphins at the time of year so we weren’t feeling too optimistic, but we thought it would be fun anyway. The guy in charge of the tour was actually one of the man that had helped Laura on the beach, he was a lovely guy but seemed to be convinced Laura was some deleicate flower and proceeded to look after her the entire boat ride, much to my amusement 🙂 every 5 minutes I would hear, “Laura, careful”, Laura, sit here”, “Laura, go swimming”, “Laura, Laura, Laura”; he was a sweetie though! And in the end we saw lots of dolphins… dozens of them. Swimming next to the boat, under the boat, in front of the boat and doing flips… it was amazing!! We even got in at one point to hear them singing underwater. And as we were heading home, we interrupted some turtles having fun time. Which is apparently very rare to see in the wild… so a trip worth every Peso!! Image

ImageImageWhen we got back to the hostel a couple of aussies and our friend Stacy, from London, were in the pool so we quickly joined them and all enjoyed some beers in the pool. It started raining though and instead of sensibly getting out and drying off, we stayed in the pool and carried on drinking while talking about travelling, partying and politics. At one point one fo the aussies, who seemed a bit of a player, asked us what our volunteering was in Honduras. Laura told him he wouldn’t like what her project was (a feminist organiation) but for some reason, he guessed she worked with vegetarians…?? Apparently, they are something to be offended about?! For some reason, while in the pool I wasn’t feeling the effects of my 4 beers… but as soon as I got out, in true me fashion, I was drunk. Seriously drunk, as anyone who has seen me on a night out will be able to mention. I ended up having to go to bed at 6pm. Oops.

Image

Day 11

Luckily the next day, possibly as I’d had such a stupidly early night, I wasn’t hungover and me and Laura went to get a collectivo bus to our next destination… Oaxaca. There are two ways from Puerto to Oaxaca – either a $40, 12 hour bus around the mountains or a $10, 6 hour spin through the mountains. We had heard a lot of bad things about the bus through the mountains and people being sick etc… but actually it was fine! The driver was a bit of a boy racer… but I saw a huge monkey sitting in a tree at one point, so I was happy 🙂

We happened to be in Oaxaca the same weekend as a big festival which was great as there was lots of things going on, and pretty costumes, and performances in the street. So that evening we happily wandered around getting our bearings. We got a bit confused going home and a lovely guy walked us to our hostel, those lovely Mexicans!!

Image

Image

Day 12

Our first morning in Oaxaca was, unfortunately, not a good one. Because of the festival, the town thought it was a great idea to started celebrating at 6am with fireworks!! Not great… and Laura was ill from her pasta the night before 😦 As I’m a bit of a talker, especially when I’m bored, Laura sent me out to explore while she got some more rest. It was great, Oaxaca is beautiful, with so many colonial buildings and little squares. There was a gorgeous church around every corner too. And I quickly found a lovely little cafe to read a book in… where I also had the biggest, most delicious piece of chocolate cake.

ImageImageThe rest of the day was spent keeping Laura company in the hostel and then playing card games with a very lovely, and very drunk, couple from Sheffield. Eventually we retired to bed and our 8 bed dorm room was suddenly full… at some point in the night, one of the german guys in there, either awake or asleep, I’m not sure, shouted ‘motherfucker!’ which was quite entertaining at 3 in the morning.

Day 13

This morning started out a little better when me and a girl from the hostel wandered across to the little market opposite the hostel and found some delicious, freshly made orange juice, mmm! Me and Laura then retraced my steps from the day before so I could show her the cute cafe and the blinged up church I had found the day before. We also found an English bookshop, hooray!! On our way back to the hostel we were approached by a guy from the US who spent literally 15 minutes telling us this story about how his fiance was arriving the next day…but he had lost his bank card…and his hotel was going to kick him out…but he had 8 bags with him… it was a very long story, with lots of bits that didn’t make sense and he ended in asking us for money, of course. We tried to say no as nicely as possible… we still have no idea if he was genuine or not.

We went out again later on and found a nice restaurant next to the Zocalo, the main square, where we had some drinks and enjoyed some people watching. We were pestered constantly to buy souvineirs (I did give in to some very cute bookmarks for my new books) but it was lovely sitting back and watching all the locals and tourists. We have also concluded that maybe Laura and I spend too much time together… some salad looking food went past us on a tray and at the exact same time, we said “nah, too healthy”. At least we’re on the same wavelength… over some things at least. On our way home, we were happily strolling along when we heard a noise like a cat being kicked. And sure enough, in front of us there was a man kicking a black bin bag that was making noises like a cat in a lot of pain. We both had heart attacks for a second… until we realised there was a group of tourists standing around him looking delighted. It was a trick thing… hmm.

Overall, I really really enjoyed Oaxaca… there was no beach, but it is a really beautiful please. Walking through the main town, you could have been in Rome, Barcelona or any other pretty European town. You could walk everywhere and it was all just so pretty… the culture was so good too: the women wore traditional dress and everything you could buy was so colourful. It was actually somewhere I could see myself living one day…

Image

ImageImage

Day 14

Today… we are in Mexico City!!! Woohoooo at last; we have both been very excited to get here and we have so much to see. As usual, we’re being geeks and are very excited about a genocide museum (while the other travellers plan their trip to a tequilla museum) and pyramids and canals… for now though, it’s time for me to enjoy some Mexican beer and chill out. Saludos!!!

 

Ps. We have just discovered a vending machine in the hostel that includes all of the following:

  • chocolate
  • soft drinks
  • condoms
  • mini tequila bottle
  • gum
  • cigarettes
  • a padlock
  • and an adaptor

…you would definitely be having an interesting night if you managed to use all of them in one!!

 

Advertisements

Honduras vs. Guatemala

After spending almost 6 months in Honduras I feel I have gotten to know it pretty well… and after just 4 days in Guatemala I have already noticed there are a lot of differences between the two neighbouring countries… 

 

  • In Anitgua, you can actually walk into a corner shop (pulperia), rather than talk through bars to order what you want. It was so nice to walk into the shop and choose things, rather than guess as what they have. 
  • The police; they obviously looked different in their uniforms and they were also a lot more approachable. First lesson in Tegus is to not always trust the police… 
  • In Antigua there were families on holiday, rather than just backpackers 
  • The chicken buses are red in Guatemala City, rather than yellow… they also seat a lot less people and feel much safer 
  • Guatemala doesn’t have rapiditos (sob!) but it does have proper buses you would find in Europe, all modern and nice! 
  • The infrastructure of Guatemala is sooo much better, the roads were smooth and the pavements weren’t covered in rubbish. It is really easy to see that Guatemala has a lot more money than Honduras (or at least, less is stolen by it’s government)
  • The buildings in Guat City were generally just a lot better well kept and the new buildings, a lot more modern 
  • Guat City had a lot more statues also 
  • Guatemala was colder!! 
  • Obviously, Guatemala had different brands of beer so while it was scary going from my favourite Salva Vida, it was fun to try the Guatemalan brands, Gallo was niceee! 
  • It was also confusing getting used to the new currency, as 1 Guatemalan Quetzal is about 2.5 Honduran Lempiras… so when it came to paying, we kept forgetting to make calculations and everything seemed like a bargain! 
  • Guatemala has a lot more street lighting 
  • There also seemed to be more small towns in Guatemala, if you drive from Tegus to a smaller place, you won’t really go past towns or villages, whereas Guatemala seemed to have more villages inbetween
  • Moving around Guatemala City was a lot nicer – the roads were organised, without people cutting across suddenly and there was NO CAR HORNS PEEPING!! WOW! 
  • A lot less rubbish in Guat City… there were even people cleaning the pavement when we walked through downtown 
  • People were a lot more friendly generally in Guatemala 
  • The men stared and said things to us a lot less 
  • The taxis – sooo different, every taxi ride in Tegus, you think the car is about to fall apart. The Guatemalan taxis were new and clean! 
  • There was also a lot less guns to be seen which was a nice change
  • And no stray dogs! 
  • The guys who collect money on the chicken buses, weren’t shouting constantly the destination of their bus which can get really annoying in Tegus 

So… it kind of sounds like Guatemala is a lot nicer than Honduras from those few days! And while there are a lot of things that I preferred about Guatemala (particularly no stray dogs and the men being a lot less annoying), Tegus is Tegus and I love it as it is. It is just very clear that Guatemala has a lot more money to invest in its roads, buildings, transports systems etc. Hopefully Honduras will follow eventually… 

Guatemala

I’m going to attempt to update on my travelling every few days as a mammoth blog at the end of a 40 day trip won’t be fun for anyone… so here is mine and Laura’s story from our first 5 days in Guatemala!! 

 

Day 1

Our day began at 4am when we got a lift to the Hedman Alas bus station. We then had a 16 hour bus trip via San Pedro Sula and Guatemala City to get to a colonial town in Guatemala, called Anitgua. As always we had some interesting travel companions… Laura was sat with a young guy who just STARED at her the entire way and I was sat next to a woman who was very lovely but also very chatty. Which would have been fine but a lot of her chatting was in very fast Spanish so I mostly just nodded my head, smiled and said ‘si’! I also learnt from the trip that changing currency at the border should be avoided as they charge you a silly amount. We eventually arrived in Antigua around 9.30 in the evening… we were in a mini van with just us two in and when the driver asked where we were staying, we promptly, accidentally deleted the email with the name and address of our hostel. Oops. The van driver clearly wanted to get home and so got us out of his van asap and left us standing in the middle of Antigua with no idea what to do. Luckily we found a friendly guy with wifi in his cafe who drew us a little map to where we wanted to go 🙂

 

Day 2

Something quite nice we’ve discovered about Guatemala is that most hostels offer a free breakfast – so that morning we tucked into omelets and fruit salad! We did already have a different hostel booked though so we set off to find it, and after getting a little lost, we found  El Hostal. It was lovely with comfy beds, hot showers and a lovely courtyard. After dumping our things, we went for a look around Antigua – it is very Spanish colonial style with lovely buildings and cobbled streets. This also means lots of tourists – which is fine but it is strange going from being so unique in Tegus to just being another couple of gringos! That evening we found a restaurant with fajitas (Laura was very disappointed to find that despite the menu saying it came with guacamole, it didn’t!) and a very shy waiter who repeatedly reassured us the food was coming… 

Image

Image

 

Image

Day 3

We went for another wander through the cobbled streets and were planning on another relaxing day discovering Antigua… but somehow we ended up on a trek up a nearby volcano (Volcano Pacaya… sadly, not active and no lava). We signed up to it not really thinking and didn’t actually anticipate walking up anything until we were in the mini bus, on our sandals, surrounded by people in their walking boots. It was a pretty tough walk up, especially near the top when all the volcanic rubble was getting into our shoes, but we made it!! And the views were AMAZING. We then ended up trekking back down the mountain by ourselves as it was getting dark, running past men with guns and machetes… all good fun! Our guide was a sweet girl who told us she had 9 brothers and sisters and she goes up the volcano twice a day for really bad pay, she was so lovely though we tipped her a few dollars. For food that evening we went back to somewhere we had seen the night before called ‘Potato and Beer’, just to see what it was. And it was sooo good… the potato bit was actually french fries covered in different choices of toppings: I had chili beans, sour cream and cheese and Laura had the same but with spices. Sooo yummy… but neither of us could even half finish it and we both felt ill the rest of the night, oops! That night we met a couple of people from Scotland, so as well as the Irish woman who was there, we nearly had the whole set! It’s so strange hearing British accents! 

Image

Image

Day 4 

We started off with quite a stressful morning, running around Antigua, trying to activate my bank card to use in Mexico and trying to trace one of Laura’s jackets that had gone missing. It never showed up 😦 We then said goodbye to Antigua and set off for Guatemala City. Luckily, another girl was going to the same hostel as us so the shuttle bus dropped us off there and we were saved trying to get around this big city with our backpacks. The guy who runs the hostel was French, friendly but also slightly crazy. He did help us find the places we wanted to visit though so all good. We didn’t have much time to explore before it got dark so we decided to go straight to a mall we had heard about that had a restaurant with an aquarium inside! We are trying to stick to as tight a budget as possible, and with our Central American travel expertise from Honduras, we decided to jump right in and us the city chicken buses. The walk to the bus stop was through the parque central and it was really pretty, surrounded in huge, historical buildings. There were lots of benchs and trees… we were reminded of Amsterdam, Spain and Paris all in one. The walk was made even nicer by the huge lack of whistling, cat calls and staring from men… people barely looked at us which was a lovely change from Honduras! The bus was fine too and quite an adventure, it was a little different to Tegus in that you were meant to pay as you got on, not once you were sat. So the bus assistant came chasing after us, shouting ‘uno’ in our faces and we were a little confused… so a guy paid for us, so sweet!! We then got off the bus and began about a 30 minute walk to the mall… when it started throwing it down. Yes we decided to travel in rainy season, oops! So after hiding under an office shelter for 10 minutes we eventually got a taxi the rest of the way. We got to Oakland Mall and were impressed by how modern it is, the malls in Tegus are pretty good but this was a lot more swanky and american. It even had a carousel, fancy fountain and the aquarium restaurant.  The restaurant was a lot cheaper than we expected (I had a steak dinner for £8!!) so we had a lovely meal there while watching fish. Each table also had its own mini TV screening football… every man’s dream right?! So I was glad I was there with Laura hehe. We got a taxi home, which got a little lost, so the driver was stopping and asking people directions – another thing that would never happen in Tegus! 

Image

Image

 

Image

Day 5

Our room in this hostel was amazing – we managed to get a private room for just $7! It had one double and one single bed (we compromised on me getting the double and Laura having the extra pillow). The beds also had mosquito nets around them which basically make it look like you have a princess bed, I loved it!! We then had a yummy typical breakfast of juevos, frijoles and platano (eewwww!) and set off on our next day exploring Guatemala City. We walked through downtown, where we stopped for a while in a beautiful church. We actually took pictures as well which we would never, ever do in Tegus. We then managed to find the bus we wanted.. to the La Aurora Zoo. We were a bit apprehensive about visiting another Central American zoo, after our experience at the zoo in Tegus where all the animals were either depressed or demented, but after reading reviews and seeing a price of just $3.25, we decided to brave it. And we were sooo glad that we did… it was amazing, even better than any zoo I can remember going to in the UK. We saw every animal you would expect – giraffes, zebras, lions, penguins – and mostly amazingly, a hippo mum with its hippo baby, a Bengal tiger and a Siberian tiger (who almost had sex while we were there) and two brown bears playfighting! AMAZING!! All for £2… we also bought a new travel companion; Pacho the Pinguino. More on him later… 

There was a lot of rain again while we were at the zoo and we ended up having to rush home but still got pretty wet, but such a great day anyway! 

Image

Image

Image

 

Image

Image

 

Image

Day 6

Yesterday was another long travel day, or it was meant to be. We firstly got a coach to Tapachula, via the Mexican border. The bus left at 2pm and was meant to arrive at 7pm… as it gets dark around 6.30, we were worried about the Mexican border but thought it’d be ok before dark. The coach ended up being super slow and we didn’t get to the border until 8ish, so we were quite apprehensive. It ended up being fine, a lovely church group showed us where to go… and when we got to the luggage checks, the guy asked if we had any bananas, we said no… and he told us to go right on through. Great security!! We arrived in Tapachula though and were relieved to see that we were in the same bus terminal as our next, overnight bus. The problem was though that the bus had sold out, damn! So we had no choice but to find the cheapest accommodation we could… which turned out to be $9 for a room with two double beds, fans and a TV. Not too bad! We then went on the hunt for food… I don’t know why or when this happened, but Laura and I have become quite brave in our approach to strange, dark places. We just wandered around this Mexican town at 9pm (which we later discovered it was actually 10pm due to the time difference across the border) and found some random place selling food. We would never do this in Honduras! We did go past a British pub though in our hunt for food which was quite surreal. In the end, we found somewhere selling some really yummy mushroom filled quesadillas for about $3… and ran into our lovely church friends! We then got tucked into bed and watched a very entertaining TV show which appeared to be something like Mexico’s Got Talent. It was, ermm, interesting, to say the least…

 

Day 7

Already a week into travelling… oh, and exactly half way through my year abroad!!

We did have the sense to buy our bus tickets for today, last night when we were a the bus station. Unfortunately the bus only goes at 10.45 at night so we are now waiting the whole day in Tapachula, where there is not much to do… especially with two large and heavy backpacks. Luckily the hotel we stayed in last night has let us sit in their courtyard for the day. So hopefully we will manage to get our bus tonight which will be 12 hours North-West (hey, Kayne’s baby!!) to the beach town of Puerto Escondido…

LOVE FROM MEXICO!!!! ❤ x

ICYE mid-term camp

Just a quick post to say the weekend was amazing in Lago de Yajoa for the ICYE camp… it was my mid-term camp, the final camp for the other international volunteers and the pre-departure camp for the nationals going to Europe this year. There was about 25 of us in all… in just two rooms, one for boys and one for girls… but it was a lot of fun. 

The weekend made me realise how extremely happy I am to be staying for another 6 months, the other volunteers are all excited to be going home which is really good, but for me I know I would definitely not be ready to go yet… so I’m really glad I decided to stay here longer. After the next two months or so travelling, I know I’m going to be really excited to get back and get a lot more stuck in with my project and Spanish, and spend lots of time with my amazing host family!! The weekend also meant lots of evaluating our experience so far and there is nothing I have regretted or wish I’d done differently, everything has just been amazing and I’m sooo glad I’m here. 

I also met some great new people at the camp from Honduras; two of them are going to the UK to volunteer next year so it was a lot of fun telling them all about home and getting them excited. Of course, me, Laura, Michelle and Loui gave an amazing performance of a Spice Girls classic to show what the UK is all about!!  I’m super sad that Laura and everyone are leaving me, it’s so good to meet new people who I can hopefully meet up with in September when I’m back.

Tomorrow Laura and me are finally heading off for some travelling… Laura has been freaking out all day that I hadn’t started packing yet, but it’s all done now. Hopefully I will get a little sleep before we set off for the coach at 4 in the morning… ! 

Also, go Murray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 

The next two months…

2 months, 5 countries, 4 flights, countless buses, lots of food, lots of sunbathing, lots of sightseeing, some emotional goodbyes, and some very emotional reunions. This is just some of what I have to look forward to over the next couple of months…

I won’t be near a computer much until September, although I will try and do a quick update now and then, when I can find an internet cafe of something. But for now, for those you who don’t know what I’m going to be up to (my parents included of course) I’m going to give a quick idea of what I’ll be doing (although it will definitely change).

Firstly, from tomorrow to Sunday all the volunteers who came to Honduras in January will be going to an ICYE camp at Lago de Yajoa. For everyone but me it will be their final, pre-departure camp – for me, my mid-term evaluation. Everyone will be leaving Honduras within the two weeks after the camp; I just can’t believe the time has gone so fast! It seems like two minutes ago I was writing about the orientation camp and my first thoughts on Honduras. It will be really sad to say goodbye to everyone, especially Loui, Michelle and Max, but I am looking forward to our planned reunions in Denmark, Switzerland and Austria!! We are planning to take two bottles of wine each (one for me, for obvious reasons) to the camp and do a Spice Girls performance… it should be a lot of fun! Althought it is weird to hear them all talking about going home, I know that I am not ready to leave at all and I am so glad that I am staying for 6 more months 🙂

Then, on Tuesday, Laura and I are finally doing our big trip! We had originally planned to go to South America but that plan was thrown away when we realised that, actually, we have no money. So instead we are planning on a 5 week run around Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. As seems to be the norm with us, we haven’t really planned at all… in fact, were not even sure which bus we are getting on Tuesday. But we will figure it out. When I tell people I am going to Mexico, they are like ‘ooo but it’s so dangerous!’, people seem to forget I live in Honduras… So I would love to give a detailed plan of our trip but we just don’t have one, although hopefully it will include lots of old, colonial towns, ancient ruins and, most importantly, beaches. Hopefully…

When we get back to Honduras mid-August, I will have just a few short days left with Laura before she also flies back to Europe and abandons me. Sad face. I am trying to make her feel as guilty as possible… I don’t think its working, she is too excited to see her dog and eat English food. I won’t go into how emotional this is going to be now as I’m really trying not to think about it! But hopefully we will have a great time in Mexico to send her off 🙂

A few days after Laura leaves I am flying to MIAMI BITCH!! I started off my Honduras adventure in Miami with Laura (and managed to break my brand new laptop) so it will be weird to go back, without Laura and not being on my way home. Instead I will be on my way to Boston to see my mum and sister! But before that, I will get to Miami a few days early and see my amaaazing SISTA Azariah 😀 she will be in Miami on her way back from studying in Arizona and I am so excited to see her. We will be staying with her uncle and hopefully doing some sightseeing and, yet more, sunbathing 🙂

So after a few days in Miami, I will be flying up to Boston to meet my mum and sister at the airport from their flight from Manchester. It will have been over 7 months since I have seen them by the time we are in Boston and the idea of seeing my mum after that long is really overwhelming. I remember when I went to New Zealand and then just 6 weeks away seemed like a lifetime! I miss her so much all of the time. Due to all of my family’s inability to use the internet, emails or skype that effectively I havent spoken to any of them as much as I would like to sometimes. So 7 days with my mum and sister is going to be amazing and I am definitely going whale watching!! I wish my Dad could come too but, as is always his excuse, he has our lovely dogs to look after… I cant wait to see him in January though and get a huge daddy hug!!

So for now, hope you all have an amazing (and probably wet) summer! I will do quick updates while I can over the next couple of months 🙂 Saludos!! x

 

Differences between Honduras and Home

Image

Coming from England to Honduras, there has obviously been a lot of things I’ve needed to get used to – seeing extreme poverty, not being able to speak the language and, of course, driving on the other side of the road. But there are lots more things that make my home country and my current country so vastly different, but in much more subtle ways. I haven’t mentioned much of it before because they are just such ordinary things here now, that even I sometimes forget that it is weird to me. Here is a few of them…

1. I was telling a story to someone from home at the weekend and mentioned that my friend was drunk. And driving. And my friend from home immediately questioned why somebody would be drink driving, and why would I go in a car with them?? I mentioned it without remembering how unacceptable and odd it is at home… but it is sooo normal here. There is no such thing as a designated driver. I’ve been in cars when the drunk driver is swerving all over the road, or even driving on the wrong side of the road up a highway. But it’s just so standard here that I don’t think twice about it now! I know, not good! Seatbelts are also something Hondurans don’t believe in… unless there is police ahead, at which point everyone suddenly gets strapped in.

2. It is also normal to go to Burger King, or Wendy’s, or anywhere really and see none of the kitchen staff wearing gloves. Sometimes you might see a couple of hairnets, but never gloves. When you eat at someone’s house they will happily plate up your food using their hands. I was in a butcher type place yesterday and watched as two guys prepared some sort of meat with their bare, unwashed hands. Nice.

3. Similarly, there is no concern for mopping up spills, moving things out of the way of exits etc., you’ve just got to keep your wits about you and try not to hurt yourself. I actually prefer this to the ridiculous health and safety culture of the UK where people can sue for anything.

4. There is a lot less sensitivity over certain topics, such as a person’s weight. In England, we try our hardest not to make jokes about people being either fat or skinny if there is someone in the room who could be offended. But in Honduras, someone will happily bring up how fat you are and how much weight you’ve put on lately… usually while you’re eating your delicious, unhealthy lunch. This definitely takes some getting used to and you just have to remember that in Honduras ‘gordita’ is an affectionate term 😉

5. Dating is a nightmare… a boy and a girl, whether they are just friends or not, are definitely not allowed to be alone in a house together, let alone a bedroom! A definite no-go in Honduras, no matter what age you are… if you’re not married, you’re not to be trusted alone with the opposite sex.

6. I may be wrong about this due to the obvious language barrier… but from what I’ve experienced, I would say that people in Honduras are quite a bit less interested in foreign affairs than people in the UK. Maybe we just have too little going on at home, but we are pretty obsessed with what is going on in Europe, the US etc. Whereas here, I’ve never heard anyone mention much about anything going on abroad. When the Boston bombing happened, I mentioned it to someone at my project and it just wasn’t much interest for them. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all, Honduras has enough of its own problems to care who the new president of France is or China’s new panda breeding programme.

 

7. Paying for bills and stuff… I just don’t know how it works. In the UK we get all our house bills, phone bills, car documents etc. by post… but they don’t really have a postal system here at all. So how do they do it?? I have no idea… I went with Hector once to pay his electricity bill and he had a tiny, little paper receipt which he gave to the bank, with his money. I have no idea where he got the receipt from though.

 

As well as the differences, there are some similarities that you maybe wouldn’t expect…

1. Before I came to Honduras, I was slightly nervous at the idea of being in a new family. Having been at university and, you know, being a teenager a few years ago… I loved coming home, but spent most of my time in my room, talking to my friends and watching TV. I expected to be in a family who went to church together, ate every meal together and were never alone in their rooms. Well family life is a whole lot more similar to the UK than I expected… nothing better than coming home and getting into bed to watch some Inbetweeners 🙂

2. Going to church was another thing I definitely expected from my family life here, and something I was actually excited for! But I have lived with two families here and neither went to church, at least not regularly… aside from my lovely Azariah of course who spends all sunday, every sunday at her church. So that is definitely something I wasn’t expecting. Overall, Hondurans do go to church much, much more than we do in England… but from what I have seen it is less common than I expected.

3. Also from my expectation of the family life here and the Church going culture, I expected sex before marriage to be a very rare, taboo thing. In some ways it is… Hondurans won’t admit it happens, but it definitely does. My Honduran friends here talk about sex just as much as my friends at home… and yet Europeans still have a reputation for being easy.

4. On from this also is the drinking and going out culture. I mentioned to someone from home about going out and she couldn’t believe it and asked how when it is so dangerous. But, due to the culture of drink driving, you literally drive from bar to bar. And in many bars, the majority of the music is English so it’s just like being at home… especially when you get absolutely out of it guys stumbling around trying to dance.

5. Western culture is also a part of the life here, especially in the big towns and cities. The first thing Laura and I saw as we flew into Tegus was a big line of fast food places and a big mall. I honestly at first thought it must just be because it was next to the airport and they were trying to attract the gringos flying in… but even in more rural areas you can’t go far without seeing a Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Denny’s etc.

So what have I learnt? In some ways, Honduras is completely different from the UK. But in other ways, I can find ways to feel like I’m at home. I’m not sure if I would prefer for it to be more different, or similar to home but either way I find myself loving it here more and more. I go up and down a lot over how I would feel to live here more permanently, at the moment it is tempting me…