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 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 🙂

 

 

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!!!

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 

Should I be scared?

As some of you may have noticed, I go through stages where I write quite a few blogs within a few days and then I will go quiet for a couple of weeks… I feel that at times I just have so much to say and not wanting to bore anyone specifically, it is better to vent my thoughts on here (and then hopefully someone might find it interesting and maybe even learn something!). From my last post on the men here, I had some great replies from friends on facebook and I hope they won’t mind if I share them here… 

A fellow ICYE volunteer from the UK who was here last year said: 

“Oh dear, it really is a relentless daily trial! It’s like they don’t have a choice, a weird compulsion. I did meet some brilliant Honduran male friends though, they arent all the same, keep going 🙂 xxx” 

Another friend who is Honduran but has a lot of foreign girl friends: 

“It’s not going to change linda!… I talked to you about this the first day we met… men here literally hunt down foreigners… they even hunt me beacause I dont look honduran… and its difficult to tell who hangs out with you because of WHO YOU ARE or because of WHERE you come from (how blond your hair is, or how white your skin is)… I can tell the difference… because Im honduran, but more because Ive been A LOT around foreign girls… and I know how honduran men act around them… but the saddest part is that it works like that between hondurans as well (they will always ask for your last-name.. and you are worth what your family name is worth…) and the bad news is that you are caught in both situations… (physically) because you are CHELA (white and blond) and (socially) because your last name here in honduras is Jess ENGLAND……it’s so TRUE! I’m not joking… being appreciated for WHO you are and for HOW you think is the thing i miss the MOST about europe!! I’m sorry for my horrible honesty and my horrible english as well… hehehehe” (you’re English is amazing chica!!!)

I also had a good friend (a boy!!) text me and say that it is part of the culture and they are not all like that which I do totally agree with. I have met some guys who are lovely – they just seem to be in the minority. But for example, I have a taxi guy who I always use called Angel. He is an angel. He is always so polite on the phone and (almost) always comes to pick me up when I need a taxi somewhere – even in the storm that happened last week. And he always gets out of the car and opens the door for me! He also likes to laugh at my poor Spanish but I let him off for that. So there are some nice ones I promise! 

So, why should I be scared? Well become I am in Honduras obviously!! I mentioned the Daily Mail article recently about how murderous Honduran cities and to be honest when I read it, I thought nothing of it. You quickly get used to the horror stories here – you can’t listen too much or you would never leave your house. But I guess some people never do leave their house, car or work. I have also, personally, not seen anything to make me feel uneasy. I walk past the newspaper photos every day but they are somewhere else so it’s not real right?? But I feel like I’ve had a bit of a wake up call today. 

Firstly, I have been reading a fellow Brit’s blog who is in Honduras (yes, a brummy in Honduras!! We’re hoping to meet up next week, whoop!) and he worked in Caza Alianza which is probably one of the biggest children’s charities here. Some of the stories from his blog (children from the charity being murdered and him getting robbed) are scary and very sad – you can read it here http://elcatracho1.wordpress.com/ . 

Secondly, I had a few texts from Laura on her way home saying she thinks she drove past the scene of a murder. As well, she saw a young girl who had clearly very recently given birth getting on a yellow bus (the horrible scary ones) with just her baby, mum and a black binliner with her things in. No Dad, no husband to help her. Maybe not so scary, but very sad and a horrible reminder of the extreme poverty here. 

Lastly, a Honduran has just posted a status on Facebook about the fact that there has been 13 murders in San Pedro and Tegucigalpa in the last 24 hours. It is hard not to see that about the place you are living and not feel at least a little uneasy. You can try to read the story in a Honduran newspaper here – http://www.elheraldo.hn/Secciones-Principales/Sucesos/Al-menos-13-muertos-deja-jueves-violento-en-Honduras

I am not saying all of this to scare and worry anyone at home – it does actually sound worse than it is. The UN and the World’s media like to discuss the fact that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world regularly. But they often fail to mention that the majority of these murders are connected to the gangs and drug issues here. It isn’t usually your average person walking down the street who is in danger. I get taxis home at 9 or 10 o’clock at night and there are still a lot of people walking around the centro, so they can’t be too scared. It often seems unfair that Honduras is often broadcast as the most murderous country in the world but you have to question the statistics of these claims and how reliable they are. One of the first internet searches I did when I arrived here was ‘how many murders does Afghanistan/Iraq have a year?’; it doesn’t make sense that these countries that are war torn and constantly in the news for suicide bombs claiming dozens of lives are supposedly safer than here. As of 2011, Honduras has the most murders at a rate of 82.1 per 100,000 people and El Salvador was second with 66.0 (huge difference but why??). Afghanistan (according to the UNODC) has a murder rate of 2.4 and Iraq 2. But yet, if people were given a choice of Honduras and Afghanistan to visit I know where most would choose. At least for me, these statistics don’t make sense. 

Despite all this, I have fallen hard for this country and I am really enjoying it here. Despite all the scary statistics and horror stories, I have a normal life here and it feels like home now. I go to work, I meet friends and I go on trips at the weekend. Somehow it is easy (too easy) to ignore the problems here and forget where you are. So for many reasons I love it here, but hearing what Laura saw today it makes me want to help so much – more than I am now so hopefully either while I am here or after I can do something to make more of a difference.