Tears, Death and Politics

So this might be quite a random post but I have a few things I want to talk about and I thought I might as well pull it all into one, quite random, blog post.

 

Tears.

I have barely cried while I’ve been in Honduras, maybe just a couple of times. Which is odd for me – I used to cry a lot but I guess I’ve had a lot more to be happy about than sad about during the past 10 months. But it seemed to all build up this week and spill out at once. I went to church with my host mum and two sisters on Sunday evening – my host mum had been at a camp for the weekend with the church and all the women who went did a speech to thank God and their families. I’m not religious but seeing so much emotion just brought the tears spilling out and I couldn’t stop crying until we left the church. I felt emotionally drained afterwards and I wasn’t sure why…

I thought that was it for the tears but they reappeared the next day – I was at my project when I got bad news from home. I couldn’t hold my emotions back and right there in the middle of the school in Guanabano I cried. Then I went home and cried some more… a lot more. I just couldn’t stop! My family in Honduras were wonderful though and I managed to skype my Dad and sister the next day (the first time since March!!) for some comforting reassurance from home. So the tears have stopped now, I’m not sure where they came from, but I’m glad I’m feeling a little more emotionally stable at the moment!

 

Death.

As well as dealing with the bad news on Monday, I happened to also see my first dead body in Honduras that day. We were on the bus back to the city from Guanabano when everyone on the bus suddenly jumped up and started clamouring to get a view out of the window. I had no idea what was going on… until I looked out the window myself and saw a boy, he didn’t look to be older than me, lying on the ground, face down. He had been shot and dumped – mostly likely due to being involved in drugs and gangs.

It wasn’t so much the body that shook me up but people’s reaction to it. This is one of the things I find hardest to accept about Honduras – the attitude towards death and how to treat a dead body. It is treated as a form of entertainment, with crowds gathering around the body trying to get the story, and pictures of the body splashed all over the newspaper the next day. And anyone that I mentioned the experience to just shrugged it off by saying that it happens all the time here. But does that make it ok? Surely the more casual something like that is treated, the less likely it will be fixed… if a body was shot and dumped on a busy road in England there would be an uproar to find those responsible. In Honduras, it is quietly swept under the carpet. 

 

Politics.

A couple of days ago I noticed an article on the Guardian newspaper website about Honduras. If you care to read it the link is http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/29/honduras-democracy-presidential-election, but proceed with caution. The piece is about the upcoming elections in Honduras next month and it posted in the ‘Comment’ section of the website; so it is opinionated. The article very clearly sways towards the Libre party, completely ignoring one of the other leading parties which is also left, and makes some quite bold claims with little evidence to back it. The article also over-focuses on the US involvement in the 2009 coup – again it declares that the US were the ones to organise it but doesn’t provide must back up to this accusation. It is difficult to say whether a lot of the information in the article is correct but it is interesting that a British newspaper is reporting on Honduras politics. The only press this country gets is usually to do with the little fact of it having the highest murder rate in the world…

Anyway, the elections are getting close. And they are hard to ignore… you literally can’t move anywhere in the city without seeing the faces of Juan Orlando, Xiomara or Villeda. Or their many ministers, mayors etc. I liked it at first as it was an easy way to brush up a bit on Honduras politics but now I’m really sick of having their faces pushed in front of me ALL the time. I was on the bus to my project yesterday and a pick up truck went past with Xiomara/Libre flags on and two very large speakers signing out a song about Xiomara. Just a little over the top isn’t it? Everyone is talking about the elections and they are still over 3 weeks away. The result will be important for Honduras but from what I’ve seen and heard… they’re going to get a bad deal whichever way it goes. 

 

So perhaps not the most positive blogs I have written about Honduras but I still love this country more than ever. However, tomorrow I will be venturing over the border to Nicaragua. As our VISAs run out soon, myself and a few of the other new volunteers will be heading to Granada (note to self – there is more than one Granada in the World, so next time don’t spend half an hour searching hostels in Granada, Spain). We have to leave at 5am in the morning and take 4 buses… but hopefully it will be an easy journey and we will have fun in Granada! I’m definitely ready for a weekend away after the stress of this week 🙂 

 

So until next week, adios!! 

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Honduras Buses

This, my friends, is a Honduras bus called a ‘rapidito’. The picture is even a bus that goes right by my neighbourhood, which is kind of exciting! But I had to search a little on Google to find an appropriate picture – if you wanna see some gruesome things you can just type ‘rapiditos honduras’ in Google! I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint hearted. 

So, why the name? Well they go fast – like super fast, like they are trying to win the grand prix. And not just on the, relatively, tarmacked roads. When there is a lot of traffic in the mornings (which is every morning), my rapidito goes through a back route which is a rubble road with A LOT of holes and bumps – and the buses insist on racing through. I have lifted off my seat by a few feet sometimes and I’ve actually considered wearing a sports bra for the journey, seriously it’s painful. But I love the rapiditos – they’re an adventure; they make getting to work fun and I see things that I might not see otherwise. They are also just 10 or 11 Lempiras, which is about 40p. I have met lovely people on these buses too – people who have chatted to me, paid for my bus despite me being ‘rich’ in their eyes and I’ve even been offered a puppy in a box. But today was a different story… 

…today the rapiditos were not my friend. Today the rapiditos screwed me over – ok, it was kinda my fault too but right now I’m mad at the rapiditos! Today I was properly Honduran style late – an hour and 20 minutes! So here’s the story… I had met a girl from the US online who is teaching at the American School in Tegus and we had planned to meet today at Cascadas Mall around 4pm. There are two types of rapiditos – the one in the picture above and a smaller one; which is meant to be more dangerous. So I usually avoid these buses but, annoyingly, the only bus I know of that goes from el centro to Cascadas directly is one of the smaller ones. I had gotten it once before, with Laura, so I headed to where I thought it went from and said, quite clearly, ‘Cascadas’. The guy who collects the money said ‘si baby’ so in I jumped. We then started driving through el centro which was packed with traffic and after about 10 minutes the guy starts shouting (as they do to get more passengers) ‘Quezadas, Quezadas’. SHIT. I was on the wrong bus and this bus was going nowhere near where I wanted to be. 

So, feeling quite nervous, I asked the bus driver to stop in the middle of downtown Comayaguela so I could switch buses. I’ve been in Tegus over 9 months now and I’ve become pretty confident about taking buses and walking around – but this area scares me. Luckily there was a bus that said ‘Carrizal’ right behind that I thought would take to me the mall – I was wrong, again. Basically there is a big road going around Tegus, kind of like a ring road, called ‘El Carrizal’ – but it is so big that there are 3 bus routes that all go round it in different areas. I didn’t realise this, I thought there was just one bus that went around the whole thing and there is a bus that goes from my house to Cascadas Mall called ‘Carrizal’. Therefore, I assumed all ‘Carrizal’ buses went this way but no, I was going somewhere completely different. So as we went further and further out of the city, I kept trying to build the confidence to ask to get off somewhere completely random again. Eventually I did and after running across the busy road, I managed to get on another bus back towards the city. I waited until a point where two types of the Carrizal buses overlapped and go onto a Carrizal bus that actually went to Cascadas. Phew! 

So 4 buses and 43 Lempiras (which is a lot for a bus here) later I finally made it to the mall. My poor new friend had been waiting over an hour for me but luckily she had waited and we managed to have a quick chat before I hopped off to get another bus home. It’s funny that she thinks I am brave because I use buses and walk around… but I am amazed that she has bought a car and dares to drive around the crazy roads here! I have promised to take her with me on a chicken bus sometime before I leave 🙂 

*Update – I just read in an article from a Honduran newspaper that just in the first quarter of 2012, 239 people died from road traffic accidents in Honduras. Scary!

I really don’t know how Hondurans can be late all the time though… I felt so awful to have kept someone waiting like that! But at least now I can tick being late ‘Honduras style’ off my to do list before I leave…

 

And one more thing before I say adios… I just saw this picture on facebook: 

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Juan Orlando is running for president of Honduras. This is like having David Cameron shoes. Enough said. 

 

ADIOS!!!!

Life is good!

It’s the smaller moments in life that make you realise you’ve got it good. I was strolling down the road to my house this evening with local school children running home around me shouting and laughing, with the sun slowing setting and the lights of Tegucigalpa coming on over the hills and a yummy McFlurry in my hand to enjoy in the comfortable summer heat. Yeah, it’s moments like that you feel like life is handing you a big spoonful of ‘take a moment and be grateful’ ice cream. 

Life in Honduras is great – when I chose to volunteer here I hoped I would have a good time but I never imagined it would be as good as it has been. I had no idea it would become like such a second home to me. And sometimes it helps to be reminded of that – I’ve been spending a lot of time with Julia over the last month and she’s been here 2 months now so everything is still quite new to her. She also has this amazing, positive attitude which helps to remind me sometimes of everything there is to love in Honduras. We also share a great passion for baleadas and singined (although she sings A LOT better than me)!! Julia has already said she is sad that I will be leaving her in a couple of months – I know I’m going to miss her so much too!

So what have I been up to lately? 

I’ve been teaching more classes at my project recently – on Tuesdays I do two classes with the little children around 2 to 6 years old. We do a different topic each week, like violence is wrong, and they are given a picture to colour in. I have to admit I have a few favourites who are sooo adorable, I think I’ve mentioned before how cute Honduras kids are, and I tend to get a little broody around them! Today we gave out some sort of pill to them (apparently its not medication but just something to make teeth stronger) and to me it seemed a little strange to give such young children a packet of pills and trust them to follow instructions. I was proved right. After less than an hour everyone was crowded around one of my favourites, who is just two years old, because he had eaten all 15 pills. Luckily, the pills wouldn’t do any harm but it just seemed obvious to me that a 2 year old would understand that the pretty pink pills weren’t to be all eaten at once?! 

I also give English classes to children around 9 and 10 years old on Thursdays in La Cuesta and I love it! I have done some tutorials in the office but the children don’t seem to have much enthusiasm and lose concentration pretty quickly. But it is so much better teaching a big group and getting them excited to shout out ‘one, two, three’! I am looking forward to maybe teaching english abroad next year now… 🙂 

This weekend was also a 3 day weekend as yesterday was a national holiday. Julia and I went to a party Friday with Nora as her brother was doing a dj set. Then we went for baleadas and the cinema on Saturday, followed by a random karaoke session in Applebees… then followed by going to a bar for cerbezas and papas fritas with Teddy and Christopher. On Saturday I went with Joel to a friend’s house whose gated community has a pool 🙂 and yesterday Julia and I headed to Valle de Angeles for lunch before meeting Joel and a couple of his friends in Santa Lucia to take in some beautiful views and have some ice cream! Anyone who thinks Honduras isn’t beautiful needs to go to Santa Lucia!! 🙂 

So until next time – love you all 🙂

 

 

Honduras made me love football

This is my latest purchase in Honduras…

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Isn’t it beautiful?? I would never have ever, ever thought of buying a football shirt in England – one, because I don’t follow any specific team and two, I just didn’t have much passion for it. I have pretty much zero interest in national football – I don’t support any particular team, in fact, I used to choose my team of the moment depending on where Michael Owen was playing (now it’s Joe Hart). I did go to a match for the first time a few weeks before I came to Honduras and it was a pretty exhilarating experience but it didn’t make me go away and want to choose a team to watch every week on the TV. International football, specifically the World Cup, is a different story. I was addicted in 2010 – I followed the live commentary of almost every match, it was kinda freaky. I’m still not sure why – I think is was something to do with wanting to avoid revision in my 2nd year of university and, kind of bizarrely, the politics of some countries playing against each other was thrilling for me. 

But anyway, it is impossible to not love football in Honduras. I’m sure a lot of people could visit this country and not find anything to love – some people might just see poverty, violence and insecurity – but I can promise you that it is impossible to live in Honduras during an important football season and not get caught up in it. It’s not just about football; it’s about having something to get everyone together and something to be proud of. Coming from England where we used to be good at football and now not so much… well you just experience a sense of arrogance followed by disappointment. It is usually taken for granted that England will qualify for things such as the Euros and the World Cup. But Honduras have to fight for their place in such competitions – they have only reached the finals of the World Cup twice before, in 1982 and 2010. So last night was a pretty big deal. 

You can always tell when it’s a match day – everyone is suddenly wearing Honduras team shirts and beaming. I can’t walk anywhere usually without people shouting vulgar things at me and leering – but yesterday, in my Honduras shirt, it was different. People just looked proud to see a gringa walking around with their shirt on and everyone was giving me friendly thumbs up! It was amazing – I think I might have to start wearing it every day!! And watching the game is always an event – I’ve watched a game at my project with us all crowded around a tiny TV, in Valle de Angeles last week and lots of times with my family and friends. If you ever happen to not be watching the game, you can easily keep up to date with the progress of the match by standing outside – the cheers and fireworks that fill the air are a good indication of goals being scored. With Tegucigalpa being basically a big bowl surrounding by mountains the sound is just something else. 

So last night me and my wonderful family crowded around the TV to watch Honduras take on Jamaica to secure our place in the World Cup. It started out a bit wobbly with an own goal but we eventually ended up with a 2-2 draw (which is all we needed as long as Mexico lost, thanks Mexico!) and so off we go to Brazil 😀 I have so much passion for this country and it’s football now, I can’t wait to see them play next year! I will be wearing my Honduras t-shirt with pride in England next summer – even if we’re up against each other! It will always be Honduras that inspired my new passion for football! 

Life isn’t about finding yourself…

3 months from today I will already be in Miami waiting for my second flight of the day to take me to London. 3 months can seem like a long time; I know when I used to go back to school after Christmas, 3 or 4 months until our next break off school seemed like an eternity. My feelings of leaving Honduras in 3 months is really indescribable to me at the moment… I really, really love my life in Honduras and the idea of saying goodbye to my family here and my closest friends is so sad but I also feel like I am really desperate to see my family in England now and my best friends there. Just receiving emails from my Mum, Dad and Lozzy have come to be not enough – I’m so ready to see them all properly. But still, I know the next 3 months will go way too fast. 

The Friday just gone was a bank holiday for Honduras and it also happened to be the day of a World Cup qualifier for Honduras against Costa Rica (we won, woohoo!!!). Nora (the new ICYE co-ordinator and one of my good friends in Honduras) invited me and Julia to her cousin’s house in Valle de Angeles. We had a great time dancing and swimming in the pool – it was a really beautiful house too. Before the game we were chatting about the ICYE experience with Nora, her cousin who went to Germany a few years ago and their friend who was the incoming co-ordinator in Austria until recently. They mentioned that volunteering with ICYE definitely changes you which Julia was surprised to hear but, from my experience, I think that it definitely does change you. For me personally, I know that I have definitely become more laid back. I used to hold grudges for a long time and I found it really difficult to forgive people – but I feel like Honduras has taught me to let that stuff go. Why carry negative feelings around with you?? And I can’t pretend that I find it easy to forgive people now (I just suck at it) but I recognise now that stuff like that is better forgotten and the best you can do is move on. This might sound obvious but the people who know me best will know that that was a real problem for me before – but now I am so laid back, even too laid back sometimes! I think it might be difficult for me to adjust to all the pressures of living in England when I return! 

I’ve also realised that I can be a really enthusiastic, loving person – I’m not trying to sound amazing and actually I think I’ve always been this way, but I’ve realised it more in Honduras. I’ve learned that I’m the type of person that if I see someone sat on their own at a party or something I will go up to them and find something I have in common with them and introduce them to everyone. And when I am fond of someone, I don’t just like them, I love them. I was speaking to Hector in my project about my family and friends in Honduras and he said something like ‘you just love everyone don’t you!’ And the same goes for music – too many people In Honduras have noticed that for nearly every song that comes on (English and Spanish!) I always exclaim ‘I love this song!!’. I just get so excited! But realising that I have this affection for people has made me recognise that I want to work with people – the idea of sitting behind a desk for the rest of my life seriously makes me want to run in the opposite direction as fast as I can (which is not very fast but you get what I mean). So my time in Honduras has been amazing for both changing something about myself I used to resent and for encouraging me to recognise one of the good things I have going for me, which I can now use to help decide what to do next with my life. 

But of course, there are also some things about everyone that will never change. This sounds so stupid but I noticed the other day that I still always go for the left hand tap when I wash my hands. But in Honduras, of course, there is no hot water from either tap so it doesn’t make a difference… in fact sometimes, the left one doesn’t work as it’s meant to be for hot water… so often, I waste time by turning the left tap which doesn’t even work and then I have to use the right one instead. It’s such a small thing but it’s something so ingrained in what I do in England that even after 9 months living here, I am conditioned to expect hot running water from the left tap. It’s stupid but it’s like a little daily reminder that I’m English! 

Also, time keeping. Wow, do Hondurans like to be late. Seriously, not 10 or 20 minutes… more like an hour or two. And unlike in England where if you know you are going to be late you give someone advance notice of your tardiness… Hondurans wait until they are already about half an hour late and then message you to say they will be there in another 30 minutes. It drives me crazy and I don’t think that will ever change. I remember countless days when I used to go pick up Lozzy from her house for a day out somewhere, if I was ever going to be even a couple of minutes late, I would feel awful and rush to get there quick as possible just in case Lozzy was stood outside her door waiting for me. Of course, she never was and I always felt silly for panicking so much about a couple of minutes! And I still feel that way now – I worry when I am 5 minutes late but then whoever I am meeting is at least 30 minutes late anyway! And Hondurans walk soooo slow as well – I have tried so hard to slow down and walk like I have no rush in my life, but I just can’t do it. It is something I need to try and learn before I leave though; Hondurans live their lives like everything can wait – and usually it can, so why do we rush everywhere?! 

So one of my more random blog posts but one of the reasons I decided to volunteer was so that I could ‘find myself’. But I recently saw a quote about the idea that you are creating yourself, but finding yourself – and I LOVE it! Through volunteering, I have already worked out what my passions are, realised what is and isn’t important to me and I’ve been able to change things about myself that I felt needed changing. So I guess this post is just a reminder to me that in that respect, it was a great decision to volunteer abroad and to anyone considering volunteering, or travelling – go for it, it’s so worth it! Hope that all wasn’t too soppy for anyone…

 

New friends and lots of dancing…

The great thing about life in Tegus is that you just never know what’s going to happen next – I mentioned in my last blog that you can be having a really bad day and then something random will happen and that bad day will suddenly be amazing. There is always something going on and the chance to be spontaneous. And this weekend was  no different…

It was the birthday of Lurvin at my project last week and on Wednesday our team from my project went for lunch to celebrate – we went for Chinese, which in Honduras means a big plate of rice with veg and different meats, rico! Although I do miss prawn crackers a lot! Anyway the meal came to around 400L which is about $20 – so I thought I would treat everyone as it’s just nothing. In my head I worked it out as around £15, but it actually came out as just £10 on my bank statement – so a meal for 6 people was just £10!! Amazing! It is Kelvin’s birthday tomorrow so looking forward to some more Chinese food for lunch then 😉

 That evening there was a jazz concert which Joel had told me about – he couldn’t go in the end but I went with Julia and another friend, Macarena and a friend of hers. I like jazz music but I would never usually go out to a concert to listen to it – but it’s Honduras and you’ve gotta make the most of it 😀 In the end it was a really great night and the music was amazing – we ended up getting soaked when we left though as the usual Honduran downpours appeared. We hid in a supermarket nearby until a friend of Macarena’s turned up to drive us somewhere for dinner (in Honduras you can randomly call a friend and they most likely will just come and pick you up, it’s so random but lovely!).

http://youtu.be/E6_9U1alMnA

For the weekend Joel and I had a ‘maybe’ plan to go to Yoro (a town in the north) to visit his family but we didn’t end up going. Hopefully we will in a couple of weeks 🙂 I hadn’t made any other plans as I thought I might be away so it could have been a really quiet weekend… but of course not, I live in Tegus!! 😀 Another of the new volunteers, Sophie, who lives in Sabanagrande was in Tegus for the weekend and also our ICYE coordinator was changing so we all met for lunch on Saturday. Me, Julia and Sophie then went to my house to watch a film on my host Dad’s huge TV. Then that evening all my family and Teddy went for an impromptu visit to the cinema to see The Heat (it’s hilarious!). We got home around 9 and me and Sophie had earlier decided to go out… but I was feeling super tired and just wanted to go to bed. But as Sophie doesn’t live in Tegus and really wanted to go out I persuaded myself to get in the party mood… and I thought I could sneak off home early… silly me! We ended up going out with a guy called Maury, a friend of Joel’s, and went to somewhere I hadn’t been in ages, called Angry Beaver, and met some Maury’s friends. Angry Beaver is normally really packed at the weekend but it was super quiet for some reason so we left around 1am to go get some beers and go to someones house. Me and Sophie were desperate to do some dancing and we definitely managed that – seriously, I love it! I learnt some new moves and one of the guys said I was better than him and I’m a true catracha now 😀 (a catracho or catracha is a name Hondurans give themselves 🙂 ) We had a great night and didn’t end up going home until 5.30 in the morning when it was already light outside, whoops!

The next day we dragged ourselves out of bed and headed to the centre with Julia to get some hangover food… we ended up going to Chili’s and a place nearby for some yummy crepes. I will post a picture when Julia puts them on Facebook, they were seriously delicious! We’ve also been planning a weekend away soon – I have been to most of the touristy places in Honduras now (and I’m saving Roatan until I have holiday time at Xmas) so I’m happy to go wherever the girls decide 🙂 I have two days off my project this week too as it’s a bank holiday for Honduras so I’m going to try find somewhere new to go and make the most of it…

I also managed to skype with some of my best friends from university this weekend when they all met up in Leamington, I was quite jealous of them all being together and having some banter but it was great  to skype for a bit 🙂 however sad I am to leave Honduras in January, the excitement to see so many people I miss will help to ease the pain! 😀 and my dogs of course, miss them so much!!!

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Until next time… saludos!!!

Girls in Guanabano

On Monday afternoons I go with Hector (who I affectionately call ‘mi tio’; my uncle) to a community outside of Tegus, called Guanabano. Hector teaches a class of Maths or Spanish for an hour and then we play games for the rest of the time. This is a bit of what we got up to yesterday…

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The girls live in a very poor area and their houses are lucky when they have electricity or a TV. I asked them about their families and even though they are all between 8 and 11, their parents are all under 30 and they all have at least 3 brothers and sisters. They have huge families cramped into tiny houses made of really basic materials and hardly any amenities… I’m hoping to visit one of their houses soon as it will be really interesting, but sad, to see how they live. They are great girls though and I always look forward to seeing them on Mondays 🙂