Saying goodbye to Honduras

Well I’ve been pretty useless updating this since I got back to the UK a couple of weeks ago… I’ve been quite busy but I also just couldn’t bring myself around to writing something, I’m not sure why! So anyway here is my gooodbye story…

 

My last few days in Honduras were really amazing; my friends and family in Honduras went out of their way to show me how much they love me and they managed to make me fall in love with their country even more. I had really bad homesickness for the last few months of my time in Honduras  but when it came to actually saying goodbye it felt too soon and I would had loved to stay a few weeks or even a couple of months longer. But I guess it would have never felt enough…

I was really upset when it came to saying goodbye to everyone at the airport… especially when I hugged my host mum and dad, they have looked after me so well the past 9 months and I just ended up sobbing onto their shoulders. I really love them so much. My goodbye was incredible though – some people showed up to say goodbye as a surprise from my project (thank you so much Emma and Norma) and I felt so loved. Thank you everyone who came to see me off – Elizabeth, Raul, Raeli, Azariah, Julia, Joel, Teddy, Christopher, Nora, Leonardo and David. And the people who called me – my host brother and his wife, Sophie (sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak to you!) and Juan Carlos. It meant sooo much to say goodbye to you all. I love you all millions!! Especially a huge thank you to Azariah who gave me the most amazing gift – my two favourite countries together:

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It’s beautiful, thank you 🙂 

 

My last weekend

My goodbyes started on the Friday before I left when I visited my project to say goodbye for the last time. I got emotional about leaving for the first time when we had a meeting and I just thought it was my last one with them 😦 what I love the most about the people at my project is that they are a little crazy and just so positive and happy all the time. They are one big family and I just being around them; they make me laugh so much. I will really, really miss that every day. I especially want to thank my team: Emma, Lurvin, Hector, Kelvin and Estefany for everything. They are all beautiful people and I owe them so much. 

I then met a friend from the states to get the bus back to my house – for the last time, sob!! A couple of hours later 6 of us piled into the car and headed to Skybar for my leaving party with my friends – I love Skybar for its views, the nachos and the wine. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people who came, it was amazing. Thank you everyone who came and said goodbye, it really meant so much and I had a great night. I got to see everyone I love, have a last dance with Miguel and drank my last salva vidas. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone 🙂 

The next day I headed to Valle de Angeles with Julia, Noel and a couple of others and we had a really lovely day. I bought all the souvenirs I could have wanted and we had my most favourite food in all of Honduras (except maybe baleadas…); anafre. No one should ever go to Honduras without trying Anafre, it’s delish! It was really nice to see Noel who I definitely didn’t spend enough time with this year and also Julia, who was away over Christmas and New Year. Thank you both for a really fun day.

That evening I also had my farewell meal with my host family – I had already been upset before we got to the restaurant and I was trying to hold it all back because I knew I would cry a lot otherwise. They surprised me by going to the same restaurant I had my first meal with them at – a really typical restaurant with amazing steaks. My host mum did a beautiful prayer before we ate saying lots of lovely things about my time with them and asking for good things for me in the future. I managed to keep the emotions in until my host dad asked me my favourite thing about Honduras (the people) and my favourite place (Copan)… and then I just broke down. I just love Honduras and my host family so ridiculously much. I tell everyone how much I love them, but I don’t think anyone realises just how much! They really have become my second family and I’m just crazy about them. Their home is so welcoming and always full of people and it’s been amazing to be a part of that. They have made me feel really cared for and loved, thank you family 😀 they also gave me some AWESOME gifts – some Honduras style coasters, a cd of punta songs (amazing), a beauuuutiful ring (thank you Rae for choosing it) and a Honduras flag with their signatures on. They are really perfect gifts and I will treasure them. 

My last day in Honduras was amazingly simple – I went to church with my family in the morning and then we just stayed home for the rest of the day. I had a perfect last breakfast of baleadas and a beer, what more could I want?? 

I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my last weekend in Honduras – everything was perfect and I managed to say goodbye to everyone who made my time in their country so amazing. I miss Honduras so much every day and I am already planning my return as soon as possible. But I am so lucky to have so many ways to stay connected – thank you facebook, whatsapp and skype!! In the end my year in Honduras was the best thing I have ever done and I don’t regret any of it. I’m so, sooo glad I went there and I know that the country and its people will always be in my heart. Soppy I know, but true. Thank you Honduras 

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December Update 2: Christmas

This year was definitely a different kind of Christmas. There are so many similarities between Christmas at home and Christmas in Honduras, like Christmas trees, lights on houses and presents. But there are also big differences – like the celebration here really start at midnight on the 24th and people stay up into the early hours of the 25th to celebrate. And there is no Boxing day (most people are back at work by the 26th!). And of course, it is more religious for most families. So here is what I got up to…

For the last few years my host sister, Azariah, has organised an event called ‘plato de Jesus’, in which she collects plates of food from people all over Tegus which her and others deliver to people in hospital over the Christmas period. We began preparing the plates at 6pm and left the house around 7.30pm… we then spent the next few hours going around the city collecting plates and then visiting 2 hospitals to give out the food. Due to the divide between the poor and rich in Honduras, people with money use private hospitals so the public hospitals are mainly used by people who have little money. One of the wards we visited was a maternity ward; in one room there must have been about 30 women and they all had to share their bed with their newborn baby as there were no cots for the babies. One of the saddest things I’ve heard about this year was when Laura told me she’d seen a new mother leaving Hospital Escuela (one of the largest public hospitals in Honduras) with her new baby and getting an amarillo, which is the cheapest but most dangerous bus to use in Honduras. It was so sad to think that she didn’t even have enough money to get a taxi home with her newborn baby. A lot of the people we saw in the hospital were very old and weak as well. It was really sad to see people so ill and alone over Christmas but at least we could help them even a little by giving them some food. 

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The next day I headed to the south of Honduras with my host mum, sisters and friends Teddy and Christopher. My host mum’s mum lives in Nacaome and it is also her birthday on the 25th. It is a lot hotter in the south of Honduras than in Tegucigalpa but it has been chillier lately so the heat was actually bearable more of the time! Two of my host mum’s brothers were there and a lot of great grandchildren so it was a lot of fun to see everyone. We had some yummy food, including a traditional Honduras Christmas pudding which I can’t remember the name of but is very different to anything else! And also a piñata which one of the cousins put $100 dollars into, woohoo! It was a really fun day but a very different kind of Christmas day for me.

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I did miss my usual Christmas Day in England with watching the dogs opening their presents, taking them for a walk in the cold and then a big Christmas dinner after. But I managed to skype with my Dad and Grandma and call my mum which was lovely 🙂 And I also received an amazing parcel from my family the day before Christmas with some cards and goodies, thank youu !! 🙂 

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I went to Nicaragua and all I got was this lousy Dengue fever…

It has been almost 3 weeks since I last posted – whoops! But as you might have guessed from the title I did go to Nicaragua and I did manage to catch dengue while I was there (at least, I’m guessing it was there). The day after we arrived back I had a fever and cold sweats and in the week that followed I suffered from just about every symptom dengue can throw at you: muscle and joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash… yeah, not a fun time! Luckily though it was just classic dengue, and quite mild, so I was up and about after a week.

But, back to Nicaragua… we took 4 buses and passed through the capital, Managua, to get to an old colonial town called Granada for the weekend. It was super pretty and reminded me a lot of Antigua in Guatemala – the cobbled streets, old colonial style houses and every street having about 5 cafes each. During the weekend we had a lot of yummy food, a boat tour of the lake and a night of dancing with both foreigners and some locals. And I even got to see Julia perform in a John Lennon bar we found. 

 

So that was Granada – the journey home was a little longer (leaving the hostel at 6.30am, 5 buses and a rude immigration man later, we got to Tegus around 7.30pm, ouch!) but we eventually got home safely. Unfortunately for me, the rest of the week was spent in bed. But the next week I was back on my feet and enjoying crepe sessions with Julia, receiving a lovely parcel full of chocolate and magazines from Laura and decorating the Christmas tree with my host sisters…

This weekend we also had the baby shower for my sister in law, Maresa, as she is giving birth to her first child next month, so exciting! It was a really fun party and, thanks to a game of pass the nappy, I even got to sing some raggaeton in front of everyone! 

My host sisters and mum:

 

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Me and my host mum:

So it’s straight back into life in Honduras and trying to make the most of my last couple of months here – it is really scary to think I have so little time left in my life here in this beautiful country but I am also extremely homesick at the moment (although Laura’s parcel did help a lot, thank you so much!!!). But hopefully I can hold off the pangs for home a little longer so I can enjoy the run up to Xmas! 😀 

Thanks for reading, all my love to everyone at home! x 

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…

 

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 

Changes

Since last week quite a big change has happened for me here in Honduras… I have moved to a different host family. I decided to move for various reasons that I won’t go into here but I decided I wanted something else from my host family experience and so I took the plunge to change after 3 months here.

I moved in with my new family on Monday and I love them! They are so friendly and welcoming, I have a host mum, dad, sister and brother… their other daughter is currently volunteering in Germany with ICYE. The family owns a food chain in Honduras (delicious!) so on Monday they took me to see their factory which was really cool and we went for a lovely meal at a proper Honduran restaurant. We had my favourite thing which is called ‘alagre’, which is cheese and frijjoles over heat so they melt with nachos. Mmm!! My new host parents don’t speak English which I think will be really good for me… I feel like my learning is slowing down a lot at the moment! My host dad said my Spanish is good though which was lovely to hear. My host sister is amazing as well, she’s hyper and talks a lot and loves films and chocolate…so I think we’re going to get on really well! Although we’ve already realised we need to stop talking so much in the night and go to bed earlier as we tend to lose track of time…

The family live in a very different area to where I was before… I lived just a 10 minute walk from my project but when I told people where I was moving to, everyone responded by telling me how far it is! It isn’t too bad though and there is a bus that goes straight to el centro where I work. I have to be on it at 7 in the morning though due to all the traffic to get to my project by 8 but it’s been ok so far… yesterday my family brought me and came in to see my project and meet everyone which was so lovely! My family have also given me a nice, new phone… it’s kinda swanky haha and I love it! Basically there are only two phone companies in Honduras and to drive up the competition, it is cheap to phone someone on the same network but expensive to talk to someone on the other one. And as my family all have Tigo and I have Claro, they have given me a Tigo phone to contact them on! My experience living with them has been amazing already and I’m doing lots of new things… like peeling melons at 6 in the morning yesterday! I love it though 🙂

So apart from that, a group of us had a bit of a dinner party at a house (thank you for hosting us Daniel if you’re reading this) in honour of a different Daniel who is leaving next Tuesday… very sad! Daniel is from Sweden and has been here for about 8 months (his Spanish is amazing) and he says he is ready to leave and get home now. It’s feeling quite strange to say goodbye as he is the first volunteer to leave since I’ve been here and I can’t imagine how he is feeling as it is such a long time until I go home. We are having another meal tomorrow to properly say goodbye, it will be quite sad I think!

Other news, the guys at work have calmed down now… they did something not very nice the other day and I got very angry so I think they finally have the message now!! And I’ve started talking about my ‘novio’, which I don’t think they believe, but it seems to be working!!

I was in my project the other day and the director asked me to help her 4 year old daughter practise her English pronunciation which I was more than happy to do… she was soooo cute!!! And we were making our way down the list of sentences, which were really basic, saying things like ‘the dog went to bed’ and ‘the sky is blue’… when we got to the last sentence I read out for her ‘God was right to punish Adam and Eve’ which took me back a bit! I then noticed from the school name at the top that the school was Catholic… but it still seemed strange to have all of these simple sentences and then suddenly such a strong statement about God. I guess it’s normal here but it surpised me a little and shows how central the belief in God is to a lot of the children’s school learning.

I also have a lot of people asking me if I miss England… and I have to say no. Of course I miss my family, friends… and dogs!! But I don’t miss England and when they ask me why (and I have to respond in limited Spanish), I say that people in England have a lot… they have money, cars, their own house etc. but they’re not happy and they don’t appreciate it. Whereas people here don’t have much, some don’t have anything, but they are happy. So I prefer it here. And all of the hoopla over Margaret Thatcher’s death has just reinforced that… I was so embarrased to see pictures of people having parties and writing disgusting phrases on banners because someone has died. Yes, a lot of people don’t agree with the things she did so fine don’t be sad that she has passed away, but have some respect. Unlike many developing countries, we have the privilage to have democracy and vote in the leader we choose… and we chose her 3 times. Political rant over 🙂

I have been trying to update the blog for the last few days but everything has been crazy lately… and with the meal tomorrow night and trips the next two weekends I’m not sure when I will write again but I will try to soon!

I hear it is finally getting warmer in the UK… don’t go getting burnt guys 😉 Here, it is 30 degrees as usual…