Being ill abroad is no fun…

Runny nose. Blocked nose. Itchy throat. Fever. And nausea. All the things you don’t want to deal with when you are living in a strange house in a strange country. There is no time when your cravings for things from home are stronger… what I would do for a box of Kleenex, a packet of strawberry soothers and a bowl of rice pudding with strawberry jam! And a cheeky dose of yummy Calpol of course (I just checked and they only sell it in the UK, Ireland, India, Cyprus, Hong Kong and the Philippines so definitely no chance of me getting any). 

If anything,, being ill abroad, for me anyway, makes me miss my family a whole lot more. Since my Dad worked from home from when I was around 11, I have really strong memories of being sick at home when I was a teenager. They were the best days. I remember laying in bed, catching up on Jeremy Kyle, with the satisfying knowledge all my friends were in Maths or Science wishing that they could be at home. And having two daughters who went through various illnesses over their teenage years, my Dad really perfected his role as carer of a sick person – he always becomes the sweetest person when me or Holly was sick. My diet when I was ill always consisted of only carrot and coriander soup and rice pudding – my Dad never let the kitchen run out of these things when I was ill and he would always make sure I had enough water and pills and tissues. Then, after getting bored of Jeremy Kyle, it would always cheer my day up when my sister would get home from school and my Mum would get home from work and I would have even more people fussing over me and asking if I was OK. My mum was always more generous about granting another day home from school – probably as she didn’t usually have to make endless bowls of rice pudding with the perfect amount of jam in – so I always made sure I seemed a little bit more ill when she poked her head in in the evenings! Sorry Dad! Despite not enjoying all the symptoms that come with being ill, those few days every now and then would be almost the only time a teen like me would be stuck at home and forced to rely on the care of someone else – so it may seem weird, but I am really nostalgic about those memories. 

But I’m not at home for my Dad to look after me and make me feel better – I’m in Honduras! With an amazing family – but a family who all have busy days and half of them with the same cold as me. So tomorrow, I will be sorting myself out with whatever food I can find – and it definitely won’t be rice pudding. And, unlike school, I actually enjoying going to my project and I was ill last week too so I’m really not happy about most likely having to call in sick for a day or two again! At least the miracle that is the internet will still provide me with some good, old British trash tv…

So to sum up, I am suffering with some really bad cold symptoms and to rub it in a little more, I am missing my family more than ever. I would give anything for a big hug from my Mum or Dad right now and knowing I have to wait more than 3 months until I get one seems like an eternity. I will feel back to normal in a couple of days and having less than 4 months left will be terrifying again and I will put everyone at home to the back of my mind again (it seems cold but it would be too painful to miss everyone so much, all of the time). But for the time being I am going to wallow in my self pity and crave a couple of packets of strawberry soothers… 

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The last two weekends…

…have been great! And I have been so distracted in between that I haven’t had a moment to post yet so here is what I’ve been up to…

 

Last weekend

The Day of the Child was yesterday and with my project being very child focused, we of course had lots of celebrations! As we help around 10 markets and communities, we had to spread out where we went each day so the parties actually started on this day when a few of us went to one of the communities outside of Tegus, called Guanabano. This community is really close to the dump that sits outside of Tegus, dealing with all of its rubbish, and many people live in the rubbish as their job is to sort it all. The shacks in the community are tiny and held up with bits of steel, wood, plastic… anything they can find. It’s really sad to see. (I was there again today and we were caught in a huge downpour so one of the women who live there invited us into her home for a drink and it was just two rooms; the kitchen and a bedroom for the mum and her teenage son. Being a teenager and sharing a room with a parent is pretty unimaginable in England…). The kids at Guanabano are full of energy though, if a little too much at times, and the school we went to was full of children running around at 8 in the morning on a Saturday. We all went into a classroom and dressed up in masks and clown outfits… then ran out and danced around with the kids. We then had different things going on, like sack races, lime in spoon race (Honduras’ version of egg in spoon race), face painting… and my new area of expertise, balloon animals! Although I can’t manage to make a dog so it’s more like heart and swords balloons with me 🙂 I’ve never worked with young children in England but I would guess that they are not as crazy as the ones in Honduras… you can’t just say ‘no’ and ‘get in a line’ to them, you literally have to drag them back and shout at them; and they still don’t get the message! They were super cute though and it was a really, really fun day… 

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There is also a family in the community who, for some reason, have really light ginger hair so everyone insisted that I was obviously meant to be the children’s English mum… I’m not sure I’m ready to be a mum to 4 kids but they’re all super cute: 

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I also had one of my most interesting journeys home… on a motorbike! I’ve just realised that I haven’t warned my parents about this yet but I got home safe so nothing to worry about 😀 I was terrified at first but it was actually soooo much fun… especially when I saw the shock on men’s face to not only see a gringa, but a gringa on a motorbike! And we were going too fast for them to shout anything offensive… my new favourite way to travel! 

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On Tuesday I joined the celebrations again in one of the markets in Comayaguela… Honduras’ Independence Day was last week too so one of the new volunteer’s project was closed so she joined us at the party and she loved it! We did a lot of the same with games and balloons but it was a little less active as we were inside with a concrete floor, rather than outside. The rain got in the way again on our way home and we had to wait in the market for half an hour in the hope it would calm down… it eventually did so me and Julia ran to get our bus but it seemed that the rain cloud just followed us. So I ended up walking the 10 minute walk home in a torrential down pour and I literally can’t exaggerate how soaking wet I was by the time I got home! 

The last couple of days of the week I ended up being at home because I went into my project and was sent home… this might sound silly, but my allergies have gone crazy! I could barely open my eyes or breathe through my nose… so, for once, I’m actually making the effort to take pills for it! Hopefully it will calm down soon… and I still have no idea what causes it! At least I was home though to help with the wedding preparations! 

We also had a new addition to the family last week… as a wedding present, the bride’s sister gave my host brother and his wife to be a puppy! He is the cutest little thing and he has taken a liking to chewing things, including my hair… 

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This weekend 

So the wedding of my host brother and his fiancé finally arrived 😀 the wedding wasn’t until 7 in the evening so we were waiting around most of the day, then there was a little stress as we got ready… but as soon as we got to the venue everyone calmed down. The venue was really beautiful – the ceremony was outdoors and there were candles everywhere, so pretty! There were 6 bridesmaids altogether and four of us had grooms men – as we walked down the aisle we had two professional cameras taking photos with huge flashes which was quite surreal. The ceremony was really lovely and it was really sweet to see my host sister’s get so emotional. The reception after was a lot of fun too – lots of dancing and meeting new people! I really wish we could do it all again – hopefully someone else will get married while I’m here! 

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Today it was back to my project and Guanabano in the afternoon – it was a great day, except for more rain again! Everyone insists that I should be ok with it, or even enjoy it, because I’m from England. But I definitely don’t, especially when we are about to leave for home! 

That’s all from me for now! Hugs and kisses from Honduras – miss you all so much at home! x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First week back at my project

For a few weeks I had been worrying that this week was going to be really lonely with not having most of my host family around but actually it has been a great week and I’ve managed to jump straight back into Honduras life 😀 Now that I only have less than 5 months left I am determined to get more involved in my project, improve my Spanish a lot and spend as much time with friends as I can. So here’s a quick sum of up of my first 5 days back… 

Monday

I went back in on Monday and saw everyone from my project for the first time in weeks, I missed them so much and it was amazing to see them all! Everyone seemed so happy to have me back and they all agreed that I’m so tanned now I can count as a Honduran too 😉 I also had some presents to give out to a few people and they all seemed to like them; I gave the director a Yorkshire Tea tea towel which she is going to put up on the wall! And I had a mega bag of Milka chocolate to share out with everyone but, of course, it disappeared within 10 minutes… I’m going to have to bring enough for an army when I visit from England in the future! I spent the morning making a lesson plan for Hector’s Spanish class and then joined him to a community school where he was teaching. Just outside of Tegus there is an area that is basically the dump for the entire city and people live within it as they work there sorting the rubbish. The school we went to was next to the dump and it was really sad for me to see the clothes the children were wearing; they all had holes in their clothes and seemed to be wearing things for ages way above their own. But, of course, they are children so they didn’t let anything like that phase them and after their Spanish lesson it was a lot of fun to watch them play ‘Cat and Rat’; a Honduras favourite. 

That afternoon, after my project, I went straight to meet a friend and we planned to watch a film, but we ended up just talking all evening which was super nice 🙂 

Tuesday 

Tuesday morning I planned a lesson for Hector again, this time Maths, so a little easier as it was just numbers and not too much translation! Turns out though that my adding up isn’t so great any more so I may need to look at that once my Spanish is sorted! Then one of the co-ordinators asked me to create a leaflet on the topic of what it means to be a man in Honduras and that the ‘machismo’ culture can have a negative effect on women. It’s been really good having my own little project to get on with and asking people in the project questions to help put together the leaflet 🙂 I also got back in with the domino tradition that a few of us have, as soon as we’ve finished eating we play dominoes until we go back to work… it’s a lot of fun because the guys that play are super silly about it and it’s hilarious to watch them! 

That day after work I went with a few people from my project to Espresso Americano, Honduras’ version of Starbucks, to have a coffee and help one of them apply for their visa to the US. I thought doing the VISA wouldn’t take too long… it did; obviously the US is quite nervous about letting Hondurans into their country as they literally asked about EVERYTHING. We spent 3 hours filling in the application, which is only the beginning of the process, as they then have to go for an interview, pay money etc. Having gotten my ESTA recently, it was amazing to see the difference in visa applications… I also then got a ride home from the guy who’s application it was, and when I describe his car, I think only ‘deathcab’ justifies it. It’s terrifying. 

Wednesday

I continued with the leaflet most of Wednesday – the only thing is that they wanted it to be handwritten, so when it is finished I will post a picture on here, but try not to laugh at the awful hand writing too much! Hector said that my grammar etc. was good though and everyone has been saying that my Spanish is a lot better too which is really great. And people also keep telling me I have lost weight, when I am sure I have put some on since I left for Mexico (damn portions in North America), but oh well, I’m not going to complain if it looks that way! 

That evening I met up with my lovely Joel for dinner – one of the banks in Honduras is doing a 50% discount in some restaurants at the moment, so obviously we had to make the most of that. So I set off to meet Joel in a colectivo taxi which was all fine, until it suddenly began to pour it down… and I mean it took literally 2 seconds to go from fine, to the kind of rain we don’t even see in England. By the time I got to where we were meeting I had to jump over the rivers that had appeared on all the roads! And then Joel’s car wouldn’t start so we had a detour to a garage – but eventually we got to our cafe. We had some lovely panini’s while getting excited about his going to Ireland in January, woohoo! 

Thursday

Usually we have a big meeting with everyone on Friday mornings but the meeting this week was on Thursday… as we were going on a trip the next day, yay! One of the people who work there, Diana, is moving to Spain in a couple of weeks so it was her last day on the Friday. So in good AYO style, we were taking a day trip to say goodbye to her – I just love my project! So Thursday was just more leaflet making and getting excited for another project day trip 🙂 

Last night I went for dinner with a couple of guys I met recently through ICYE, one is going to England and one to France in the next few months. The guy going to England, David, lives near me so he came to pick me up. We agreed to speak only in Spanish the whole night, which we pretty much managed – but I think I impressed him so much with my language skills that we ended up having a little car crash; my first one in Honduras! Don’t worry parents; it was just a bit of a bump but David’s car was quite bashed up at the front 😦 it was the other guy’s fault, and although he gave his details to David, it’s probably likely that he won’t pay up. Things like that, we don’t realise how lucky we are in England that we know someone will have to pay if it’s their fault! Anyway, we made it to dinner and it was a really fun night and I’m feeling so good about my Spanish now… my brain seems to be a bit of a sponge right now so I’m making the most of it and taking in as much as I can! Even when I’m emailing Brynja from Iceland, we talk in Spanish 🙂 (extraño mucho mi cariño!!) 

Friday 

I got up super early today (5.30, ouch!) to get to the project on time – as usual, they were really strict about getting there by 6.30 and then no one turned up until 7! But oh well, we got on our way to Comayagua, about 2 hours north of Tegus – I managed to make the mistake of sitting in front of Edgardo etc. on the bus so my ears are hurting now. But a bus journey with my project is always hilarious; there are always people shouting across the bus too each other, singing and passing whole meals around. 

We got to the golf club we were going to and had a delicious typical Honduras breakfast, before a presentation to thank Diana for all her work and lots of people made really sweet speeches. We then had a couple of hours to explore the grounds and I went with a few of the girls for a walk around and we ended up watching the guys play football and then all going to have lunch. It was so much hotter than Tegus though!

After lunch, we had some pool time and we were all happily enjoying swimming (actually, most of the people in my project can’t swim so I was leading people across the pool from the shallow end to the steps at the deep end), when a duck flew into the pool. It seemed to think it was in some kind of pond as it kept diving like it was looking for food. Some people got nervous about it, and as I felt like I could handle it as I was one of the best swimmers, I went up to it to try and scare it off. Edgardo then shouted that I should swim under it – for some reason I did even though I hate swimming under water, and the duck freaked out, dived and bit me! I was terrified so I was screaming until I realised that it didn’t hurt at all; by this time everyone was laughing at me, oops! 

Eventually, after all the duck drama, it was time to go home to Tegus! Here are some pictures from today…

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So it had been an amazing first week back in Tegus – this weekend I have a catch up with a lovely friend and we’re going for some yummy nachos and then my host family get back on sunday… yay!!!! I’m sooo excited to see them and have lots of sister time with Azariah and Raeli 😀 so until next time… saludos!! x 

 

Quick update

The last few weeks have been quite crazy… moving around Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and then the US! It’s been a while since I slept in the bed for more than a few nights, so now that I’m back in Honduras until January, it feels nice to settle down into a routine again from tomorrow when I return to my project! I can’t wait to go back, I have missed everyone there so much and I can’t wait to catch up on everything I have missed… 

It is straight back into my life in Honduras too; going to an ICYE meal the same day I got back and catching up with everyone and then last night going for some beers for a friend’s birthday and afterwards going with some people to a gay bar (it was amazing)! My host parents and sisters are away at the moment and get back next weekend; I finally meet one of my host sisters for the first time (who has been in Germany with ICYE) and the other I haven’t seen for 3 months so I’m really excited to be reunited with the whole family! 

It was amazing seeing my other family too – my mum and sister – in Boston; we had a great time together exploring such a lovely city. We almost died on a nightmare whale watch trip when the engine broke down and we had mild heart attacks when my mum ordered a salad at the Cheesecake Factory and was given a bowl of lettuce that could have fed 10 people – how do Americans eat all that?? I also got a chance to phone my Dad and hear his voice for the first time in about 5 months which was lovely 🙂 and the presents from home from everyone were so amazing – Mum, Dad, Holly, Grandma and Lauren, thank you!!! I love you all so much and not long until I am home now! 

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Two other bits of news: I’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid for my host brother’s wedding – how exciting!! I can’t wait – my host dad said the sweetest things about me being part of the family and I can’t wait to celebrate the day with them! 

And one of my best friends in Honduras has just signed up to do an English course in Dublin from January!! Obviously he knows he won’t be able to live without me when I leave so he’s following me over to Europe 😀 I can’t wait to visit him and party Dublin style!!! 

That’s all for now… I’m sure lots will happen over the next few weeks for me to update you all on! Lots of love from Honduras x