Viaje a Utila y mi cumpleaños!!!

 Wow, so this has taken me a while to get around to… I have been completely useless with keeping up to date lately, I’m sorry! Partly my fault (for being really busy and when not being busy, being lazy) and also Laura’s fault as I have been waiting for a her pictures from Utila to materialise, but no sign of them… so I’m finally getting around to telling you about our trip, just 2 weeks after we got back 🙂

 

The trip started on the 11th of May (which seems like months ago!) and the plan was to get a direct bus to La Ceiba, hop on the ferry to Utila and stay there until Thursday when we would come back for white water rafting adventures and the annual carnival in La Ceiba. It didn’t exactly work out like this. Firstly, we arrived at the bus station in Tegus and discovered our planned bus of 6 hours actually takes 8 hours so we would definitely be missing the ferry that day. At first we just planned to find somewhere cheap to stay in La Ceiba and get the ferry the next day, however my clever brain kicked into gear and realized it would make much more sense to do the white water rafting the next day instead and then get the late ferry to Utila. This turned out to be an amazing plan change – we arrived at the lodge in the middle of Pico Bonito and quickly met a guy from Canada who was in Honduras for a couple of weeks. We quickly persuaded him to join us in white water rafting the next day and then ate a nice yummy, traditional BBQ dinner. However, while we were relaxing with some rum and coke, two Hondurans arrived – Alex and Darwin (quickly nicknamed Charles, obvs), who insisted on playing dominos and buying us a Honduran style shot named Gifiti. Here is a little description I found of it: ‘We have a special shot called “Gifiti” which is a drink from the indigenous people of Honduras called the Garifunas. It consists of 10 to 15 different types of herbs and roots from the jungle including aphrodesiac. They make it differently in different places for example some places they put rum, coca leaves, marijuana’. I cannot describe how disgusting it is; it is incredibly strong and tastes like the ground. But we managed to force some down – and now come to think of it I wouldn’t be surprised if we’d actually had the marijuana version considering what we went on to do next. What started out as a nice evening (and drunken) stroll down the river, quickly turned into a ‘let’s take our clothes off and go for a swim’ escapade! Sorry parents but it was a lot of fun, except for maybe when we tried to cross the strong river flow and Alex decided I needed help so proceeded to carry me across and… well I was a little too close to a naked stranger for my liking. It was good fun though and we also got our first idea of how the Bay Islanders speak. They speak English and Spanish on the islands (as the British were on the Islands for a long time) but it is very Jamaican and very fast.

 

The next day we woke up bright and early for a breakfast to try and cure our hangovers from the night before. We then set off for our rafting adventure – we didn’t realise this included a river hike first. We were climbing all over huge rocks and boulders – really exhilarating but terrifying at some points. I did work myself up to do a huge jump off at one point, after a bit of encouragement and a little push from the others – but I did it! The guys somehow scaled a steep cliff so they could jump off from there. We then floated down the river back to the raft which I could have done all day, so relaxing. So by the time we got to the raft, my body was aching, my head was pounding and we hadn’t even done the actual rafting yet. It was so much fun though, the rapids and dips weren’t too big so it wasn’t too scary but a big thrill to see a drop coming and you have no idea how big the drop is going to be. And just as we got to the end, Laura managed to somehow fall out of the boat, which was quite hilarious. And it was even more hilarious watching Taylor try to pull her back into the boat (I will put pictures of this up as soon as Laura finally gets the pics on facebook). Once we had dried off a bit, we had to say our goodbyes to the lodge and Taylor and make our way to the ferry.

 

 Image    Image

 

The ferry was nowhere near as bad as Laura has been reassuring me it would be and we got there ready for a yummy pizza at Mango Inn. We also met a couple of people at your hostel, a girl from Canada called Zizzi (who we thought was in her mid 20’s but it later turned out she was a really young looking and nearly 40 years old with a 19 year old daughter) and Michael. Michael is from Kent and, as we discovered, a proper city boy. So we proceeded to make fun of him for most of the week (including making him drink a shot of Giffiti).

 

 

 

The next day we found Chepes beach, a minute walk down from our hotel, and it is beautiful. People say there are no beaches on Utila, which granted there aren’t a lot, but the ones they do have are nothing to complain about. Especially as whenever I went to Chepes there was never more than about 10 people there, sometimes no one at all. The water was amazingly blue and clear.

However, it turned out the next day that Laura may have enjoyed the sun just a little too much. She woke up the next day with an unbelievably red face, swollen lips and blisters. Apparently applying factor 20 sun cream once for a whole day in the sun in the Caribbean isn’t enough! So Laura’s first few days were ruined a bit as she had to stay in the room away from the sun and visit a crazy doctor but I was happy to stay on the chilled out balcony and bring her various supplies while she recovered. I had Zizzy and the city boy to eat with and one night we went for a swim as it was getting dark and another night we went to a little lake to watch the sunset which was beautiful.

In the meantime we did hear a rumour that the carnival we had planned to go to, and were really excited for, was the weekend after we thought it was. At first it was stupidly hard to actually get confirmation, even the people who lived on Utila had no idea, but it did turn out it wasn’t until the 25th of May this year. Stupid Honduras!! So we decided to stay on Utila until we returned back to Tegus, which due to Laura being ill, turned out to be a good thing.

 

 As soon as Laura was feeling better we bought her a nice, big sun hat and went on some adventures. We hired a couple of bikes – which seemed like such a great idea, cycling around a mostly flat island and seeing more than most people do? Well we forget about the heat… and the fact that we haven’t been able to walk anywhere for 4 months. So we struggled. However, we did manage to find a deserted beach one day and a pier the next which was great to swim around.

 

One night we snuck onto the deck of one of the dive schools with some beers and chilled out to some music – it couldn’t have been more relaxing. I also had a bit of an emotional moment on the Saturday, the day before my birthday, as I was ridiculously upset that I wouldn’t be getting a hug from my mum and dad on my birthday!! I’m such a girl. Laura managed to cheer me up though and made an amazing effort the next day with a piñata, party hats and a shoe box full of presents! Thank you so much Laura!!! We also went out on the night before my birthday – during which I did what is only right and got seriously, ridiculously drunk off 2 beers, a jagerbomb and a couple of cocktails. I also managed to go for my first ride on a motorbike, woo! Another hangover was inevitable for the next day though…

 

 

So the day after, when we would have been going to Cayos Cochinos (but it cost a stupid $200 to get there from Utila), we went on a trip to one of the Utila Cays instead. The cay is called Water Cay and there is absolutely nothing there but palm trees and white sand beaches. And compared to $200 we only paid 150L each to get there; so about 5 pounds! So I spent my birthday on a perfect beach, with a beer in hand, and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean surrounding us. Perfect.

Well… until all the travellers who were also on the trip began to drink stupid amounts of alcohol and all get naked. I’m sure all the guys enjoyed seeing the topless girls… but really, we did not want to see an overweight drunken boy strip down to nothing and wander around. We then headed to our boat when we saw people starting to get on it… apparently the Captain, who had brought 3 loads of people, was keen to get going due to the rough tide and was not going to come back for more people. We soon saw why. The waves were insane and we were repeatedly thrown right up so are bums came crashing down on the boat. So much water came into the boat as well and so we were all soaked by the time we got back. On our way back we also passed the dive boat that was opposite our hostel – it was dangerously low in the water and full of people – they were lucky to make it back. It took a good half an hour for them to get all of the water out of the boat. I don’t know how all the drunken travellers got back from the Cay… hopefully they got stuck there for a while 🙂

So the next day we sadly said goodbye to Utila and got up early for the 6.20 am ferry to begin our long journey home. When I got back I went for a meal with my host family, and they got me a big birthday balloon and cake, and they sang the traditional birthday song – Hondurans sing the birthday song in English first then Spanish for some reason.

So all in all, a good birthday and a great trip!

 

 But quickly here are a few things I liked and didn’t like about Utila (and travelling there in general):

 

 

 Good:

 

There are amazing beaches, you just have to look for them.

 

There are a lot of restaurants and bars to choose from for such a small island (although it seems to be getting very Americanised)

 

The weather – hot hot hot. I love it!

 

How friendly everyone was – when Laura was ill, our hostel owner drove her straight to the doctor’s and made sure she got seen to quickly.

 

The community feel – with it being such a small island it’s clear that everyone knows pretty much everyone. Even after 7 days I found myself running into people

 

 Bad:

 

‘Typical’ Utila travellers… basically they are just there to dive and drink; and if you’re not there to dive and drink then you feel like you’re the odd one out

 

Getting ripped off… As we’ve been living in Honduras for a few months now myself and Laura have a good enough idea of what prices should be so that we know when we’re being charged too much. But it’s obvious that taxis etc. like to take advantage when they can… we paid 300L (about 10 pounds) to get to the Jungle lodge (which even we thought was too much) but poor Taylor paid 600L.

 

People being so oblivious to Honduras – someone blamed the disorganisation of their dive company on the fact that ‘we are in the 3rd world’. Hmm. And people just don’t seem to even realise Utila is part of Honduras.

 

The night life is actually pretty dead… the three bars we went to on my birthday night out were all empty. I don’t know if it was because of the season or whether it gets busier but it was quite disappointing…

 

We also saw one of the weirdest things I have seen yet in Honduras… we were walking to the Mango Inn on our last night in search of pudding when we saw a big crowd of people ahead of us. It turns out a family were having a domestic on their front porch and all the locals were literally crowding around the house trying to get a good view of the action. They were just standing there like it was a cinema, not even trying to be subtle. So strange!

 

 

 

*Also, I think my Dad would be impressed to know that when we were at the Water Cay we saw a huge pelican swoop down and dive into the sea and come up again with a big fish in its mouth. I wish I’d had my camera at the time but it was still pretty cool to see!

 

 

 

Thanks for reading and thank you everyone who wished me a happy birthday!! I also received my birthday cards from my parents, sister and two grans yesterday – even though they were late thanks to the seriously slow mail, it was so touching to get them and it really made my day. Thank you so much, love you all.

First signs of missing home

Possibly due to my birthday fast approaching now, I have had my first bout of homesickness! I was actually starting to think I wasn’t going to feel any homesickness as I’ve been here for 4 months and not felt any strong pangs for home. However, I am seriously big on birthdays. Obsessed some might say. And it seems as though the idea of not spending it with my family and closest friends is having an affect on me. My parents, sister and best friend, Lozzy pop, have always been so great at making a big fuss of me as I turn into a little kid and I’m slightly dreading not having that attention! I’m clearly still a child despite turning 23 soon… However, along with the apprehension of having my first birthday away from home, I have been missing other little things from home… I miss my bedroom. I miss being able to buy books and magazines (in English). I miss nights out. I miss UK clothes shops. I miss going out for fish and chips with my dad. I miss turning my music on full volume and singing along in my car. I miss cuddling my dogs. I miss waiting for Lauren outside her house and getting excited to see her. I miss steak and ale pie. I miss baths. I miss being crazy with my sister. I miss being able to phone my mum and get her support whenever I need it. I miss watching films with George.

 That is another thing I have had to get used to in Honduras – the first time I have been single in 8 years! I somehow went from long relationship to long relationship since I was 14 and so along with living in a completely different country, I am suddenly getting my head around not being in a relationship. There have been moments when I have really missed certains things about my last relationship but doing something like Honduras and leaving home for a year I think, for me at least, it has been easier not having that extra attachment to home. And luckily I have managed to stay on good terms with all the exes – especially George who is now one of my best friends. I am looking forward to opening my birthday card from him… I have been so patient not to open it!!! 

 Another reminder of home came a few days ago – in the form of a huge thunderstorm during the night. It is amazing how you don’t realise how much you miss something until you see, hear or smell something to remind you. I didn’t realise how much I missed the sound of rain in the night when you know you are tucked up safely in bed. Well at least the storm started off like that anyway… we actually saw the first hints of it as Azariah, my host sister, was driving us home after a night at the cinema. We kept seeing flashes of light in the sky but as there weren’t any signs of thunder we weren’t sure what they were. It quickly started raining when we got home though. I had read in someone else’s blog before I came here that when it rains here, it isn’t just a little, one off downpour like in the UK and they were very right. It rains so hard for hours, it has only happened twice so far since I’ve been here but both times it has been a ridiculous amount of rain. The last time my room was flooded – I lived on a hill and my bedroom was three floors up. And this time a huge storm accompanied the rain; it was so loud I actually jumped a few times. It was as though it was right outside my bedroom and, as the storm cut the power for a while, the lightening literally lit up the whole house. I’m sure in England it always seems far away and it’s fun to count the seconds between the lightening and the thunder but here it seems as though every thunder crack and lightening bolt is right above your head. Below is a picture of the storm in a local newspaper – pretty amazing actually. The signs of the storm were evident the next day though with stories of houses flooding, mud and stones across roads and a lot of traffic. My host brother had reassured me a few days before that it always rains on the 3rd of May in Honduras without fail, well the storm started late in the night of the 2nd, but it definitely carried on into the early hours of the 3rd so the myth carries on… 

Featured Image

While I was writing this another storm began and the rain is falling hard as the thunder shakes the house again. The rainy season starts in May and goes through to November so I guess I’ll be getting used to this! Now for a film with my host parents… 

It is officially May and less than 265 days to go…

So it is officially May…

 I realised that I have been in Honduras for over 100 days now!! Wow where did that time go?! I remember when I arrived and May seemed so long away and it is here already! Here are a few of my favourite pictures so far…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I really can’t tell you all how quickly it feels like this time has gone and as I am staying here more or less for 365 days it means I am almost a third of the way through my time here. A year seems like such a long time but if a third has already gone then it doesn’t seem so long suddenly… All I can say is that I’m so happy to be here.
 
May also means that I get a whole year older this month. Damn. I guess 23 isn’t so bad. And to cheer myself up from the idea of being 23 and not actually working yet (although I guess volunteering is a good replacement to that!), myself and Laura will be going on a little trip. This is where we will be going…
 
 
 So I know I’m in Honduras to volunteer and everything… but getting old is a reason to run away and enjoy myself for a few days right?? Plus I have to experience the culture of Honduras and the paradise of the North Coast and its Bay Islands are just part of that 🙂 We will also get the chance to go to the Carnival in La Ceiba (similar to Brazil’s but smaller). But this means I will be away the week before my birthday and on my actual birthday so no blog posts, skyping or much facebooking! How will I survive?? I will hopefully be able to catch up with everyone the weekend after my birthday though. We are getting the bus and ferry up to Utila on the 11th so if we are quiet from them, you will know why…
 
Today is also a national holiday for Honduras as it is May Day and instead of waiting until the first Monday of the month to have a day off, we have it slap bang in the middle of the week! It has been nice to relax and catch up with everything though and hopefully skype some people tonight. So happy May Day everyone!! 🙂