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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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!!!

Let’s hope that the next elections bring something better for Honduras

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I recently had a big chat with my host sister about the political situation in Honduras – it’s bad. Corruption is shockingly rife and there seems to be no signs of it being improved. The next presidential elections are coming up in November (I will still be here then so slightly nervous…) and the country is covered in posters of the different candidates – although Juan Orlando seems to have an overwhelming majority of the posters. So I thought I would do a post about the elections as it is going to be a huge event in Honduras, and anything could happen, and also as I will be here to see it, it will be important part of my experience here.

So as many of you reading probably won’t know but Honduras had a coup d’état in 2009 – this basically means that the military (controlled by the Congress, not the ruling political party) stormed into the then President’s house in the middle of the night and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. The congress (and it seems like most of the President’s party) weren’t happy with Zelaya (the President at the time) refusing to cancel a referendum about presidential term limits – he was trying to gain more time in charge of the country. Zelaya was also trying to move Honduras more towards the left, with the help of Hugo Chavez, and this worried a large proportion of Hondurans. The Congress deemed Zelaya’s referendum illegal but Zelaya pressed on with it – so instead of resolving the issue with a more legal solution, they exiled him from the country. This led to political instability for months and Honduras becoming politically isolated until a new President was elected.

So what is the situation now? The current President – Porfirio Lobo – has been in power since 2009, however his term has been surrounded in accusations of corruption and violence committed by the state (through corrupt police mostly). There were previously just two main parties in the election but there are now three – and get this, the new third party is headed by the wife of the previous President, Zelaya.  As Honduran presidents are only allowed to rule for one term, Zelaya cannot go for Presidency again so basically he wife is running but it will actually be him running the country – their party, newly formed after the coup, is called the Liberty and Refoundation Party, or Libre for short. The currently ruling party, the National Party, has elected Juan Orlando Hernandez as their next leader and the other party, the Liberal Party, will be headed by Mauricio Villeda. The thing with elections in Honduras is you are not choosing between which of them has the best policies – you are choosing which one you think is least corrupt and who will steal money but might still give something good back to the country. Because they are all corrupt – everyone knows it and it is just the way it is. Can you imagine voting for a Prime Minister and KNOWING he (or she) is going to steal your taxes? When my host sister was telling me this, I just couldn’t get my head around it – the fact that every person in Honduras knows that all their candidates for presidency are corrupt but they have no control to change this. Instead they just have to choose the person they think will actually help the country move forward, while they are stealing – but there is a lot of argument over this. Even within my family, my host mum supports a different party to the rest of my family. I asked my host sister who she thought would win and she said no one knows; it could be anyone. I also can’t tell you the amount of times I have seen Juan Orlando’s face plastered on walls and billboards around Honduras – apparently all paid for with stolen money.

So it will be interesting to see what will happen in November and what the reaction will be – it will most likely be quite a dangerous time (well, more dangerous than usual) – ICYE even thought about not accepting volunteers for the summer in case. But they have so it can’t be that bad, right?! Although it could be a more unstable time, I am excited to be here for such an important time for Honduras – although I don’t think the situation here will get much better soon, a step in the right direction can only help. I just have no idea where that step needs to go.

While me and my host sister were talking about all this she got a phone call from her friend – her cousin had been killed the day before. He was a taxi driver and they don’t know if he had been involved with anything bad but it is widely known that maras (drug gangs) initiate new members by telling them they have to murder someone to prove their dedication so he may have just been wrong time, wrong place. It is just so crazy here that you can be sat at home and then have a friend call you up and tell you a member of their family has been murdered – and that be a relatively normal thing to happen. Let’s hope that one day Honduras can find a way to change…

 

Also, one of my very good friends from my year at the University of Leicester emailed me today to say…

So, I’ve been reading your blog and I have to say this to you, I’m so impressed. I think your parents should be really proud of what they’ve produced, seriously. Your compassion, empathy and love is just amazing and I know you’re cringing now but just had to tell you.

 I absolutely love this girl – she has no idea how much I admire her. She has had so much happen in her life already which could have knocked her down but she is one of the strongest people I know and she always talks so much sense and has an amazing outlook on the world! Love you beautiful!!!

Thank you again everyone who has read my blog so far – I know I have been useless lately, I will post about my adventures in La Ceiba and Utila soon!

x

Happy is…

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… knowing people at home care about you. 

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…knowing your best friend will always be there for you no matter how far you are or for how long you’re gone. 

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… getting a parcel full of goodies from home!!! 

 

Thank you everyone who has read this blog, messaged me and wished me luck! All the support is amazing and makes it that little bit easier being away from home so long! 🙂 x