*Warning this post is loooong… I wanted to give a nice, long and detailed account of my weekend so when I forget everything in about 2 days I can read it and remember! I also want to start including more pictures as my parents don’t have Facebook and can’t see the pictures I put on there… Enjoy!
This weekend we (Me, Laura, Brynja, Maya and Loui) took our first long weekend trip away! We went to Lago de Yajoa, which is the largest manmade lake in Honduras.
To make the most of the trip we decided to take the Friday off from our projects – for me, Laura and Brynja it was the first time we were taking a day off since we started volunteering (apart from the various illnesses we have had!) so we were feeling a little bit guilty. However, at the same time it is amazing how quickly the time is going here and how little we will see if we carry on how we are just staying in Tegus every weekend. Everywhere takes so long to get to in Honduras so to reach most places and make the trip worth it you need more than two days but hopefully we won’t need to take too much time off.
So, Thursday night (the night before we left) we still had no plan and no buses or hotels booked. Oops. When I told my host family this they immediately sprang into action phoning various bus companies and friends trying to find the best bus for us to get, it was so sweet! In the end, the next day a close family friend (who is more like a second host brother) drove us all to Comayaguela (the dangerous sister city of Tegus where all the bus stations happen to be) and helped us to buy tickets to get to the lake. The bus was just 105L – this is about £4 for a 3 hour bus journey, as anyone who get buses in the UK will know, this will get you about 10 minutes at home. Anyway, in this time Loui also realised she had lost her credit card so Darlyng (the family friend) drove her all the way back to Metro Mall to check if it was there and I realised I had forgotten my passport copy but he sorted it for me! We were very under prepared…
So eventually we arrived at a town called ‘La Guama’ with no plan of what to do next. We knew we needed to get to a town called Pena Blanca as this is where all the hotels and hostels are. So after giving some of my spanish a go with the locals, I found out that two women were waiting for a bus to the same place so we just needed to wait for them to get on the bus there. While waiting for the bus, I phoned one of the hostels recommended by Lonely Planet and checked they had space for us and they did… sorted! So once we got to Pena Blanca we just had to find a way to the hostel. We asked one of the mototaxis how much it would be to the hostel and he said 70L (about £2) and we assumed he must mean we needed two taxis as they can take 3 people squished together, as you can see from the picture.
But no, our lovely taxi meant all five of us and our bags in this little vehicle. And we managed it somehow… with Loui on my knees, Maya sitting with the taxi driver and all our bags squished in around us. A pretty good deal really… although the journey seemed a lot quicker when we took a normal taxi back two days later…
The hostel we stayed in is called D&D Brewery (http://www.ddbrewery.com/) as the owner is from America and makes his own Ales. It was a really nice place and I would recommend it! We didn’t end up getting there until 4ish in the end which was a little later than planned and meant we couldn’t do much which was a shame. It gets dark early (at 6ish) and very quickly in Honduras so with the crime rates it is best not to be out and about after dark. But we had a nice relax around the pool and then a walk along the nearby canal which was quite eventful anyway. Laura managed to have a creature poo on her and step in a large mound of poo within ten minutes of each other – sorry Laura but it was pretty funny! Despite the area being more touristy than other places, when we ran into a couple of military they were clearly amazed at 5 white girls in shorts and literally stared at us the entire time as we walked on… which was a little worrying. But we got back safe and sound anyway. It was very strange seeing lots of white people at the hostel (even 4 people from England woohoo!) and being able to speak English with almost everyone, I can’t imagine how it’s going to feel when I fly into Heathrow in 9 months and be surrounded by white people again!! I wonder if I will miss the men staring… hmm…
Anyway, that evening we had some yummy food, some homemade ale and an embarrassingly early bedtime (it had been a long day!). But we did manage to strike a deal with the owner of the hostel and his American friends (who of course me and Laura debated with over their ruining of our lovely accent) that if we managed to buy marshmallows for the next night they would give us some free beers.
The next day (after a delicious breakfast – the hostel is popular for it’s Blueberry pancakes) we split up into two groups – me, Laura and Brynja went to the famous Pulpahanzak Falls and Maya and Loui went to a nearby nature reserve (where they managed to break a tree). To get to the falls we took an El Mochito bus from just outside the hostel – everything was going normal until we heard a loud squawk behind us and realised there was a boy sat, holding a very large and very alive chicken! As always we justified this kind of thing by saying ‘Only in Honduras’. When we got to our stop (to anyone planning to travel in Honduras just tell the guy shouting directions where you are going and he will tell you where to get off) we had a flat, 20 minute walk to the falls – sounds easy right? No, it was a nightmare… it was so hot and humid we were so excited to get to the falls at last and jump in the nice, cold water!
The falls were amazing – you definitely should not miss out on them if you’re in Honduras, especially if you’re an adrenaline junkie. There are canopy tours across the falls, river tubing and a tour behind the waterfall. We picked the last option as everywhere we went people said we should do it. Someone at the hostel the night before had said that you walk behind the waterfall, not under it – this was a lie. It was the most intense, scary and amazing experience ever all rolled into one. Even more exhilarating than the bungy jump in NZ – at least that only lasted a few seconds (once I’d built up the nerve to actually jump!). Straight away, once we’d stripped down to our bikinis in front of a group of tourists, we had to jump about 10 feet into a pool, before climbing over rocks to the back of the waterfall. Then our guide led us to different ways around the falls where we literally could not see where we were going or even breathe because of the force of the water falling down on our heads. We had to hold hands in order to get around safely and not get lost – at one point me and Brynja lost each others hands and were just screaming each others names until we found each other again! It is funny to talk about it now but at the time I was petrified! At some points our guide took us just in front of the falls so we could look up at it – but the spray was so heavy we still couldn’t open our eyes! My favourite bit was just before the end when the guide led us to a hidden pool with it’s own little waterfall and we could just swim around and relax a little after what our minds and bodies had just endured. It was like something you see in movies, proper paradise! I quickly realised though that my thighs and arms were hurting a lot from all of the activity after such little exercise for the last 3 months! Not good for our rowing plans the next morning… Here are some pics of the falls adventure!
On the way home we managed to find marshmallows, yay! So that night we sat around the bonfire and toasted our marshmallows while chatting to our new friends… 3 from England and a guy from Holland. More paradise! However we did have some trouble getting our promised free beers… although I did get one but the others don’t know, sshhh 🙂
The next day Maya and Loui went kayaking while the three of us again went out in a rowing boat… I’m sure you can guess who managed to get down to the lake from the canal fastest! It took us half an hour just to half way down the canal and we were constantly veering off to one side or the other (I wasn’t much help either as my arms were still in pain from yesterday so I had to scream in paid everytime I moved!). To our rescue though came a young guy who offered to take us the rest of the way… he rowed about 5 times as fast as us and didn’t break a sweat. So we made it to the lake but as it was very foggy there wasn’t much to see and we had a bus home to catch so we had to turn around pretty much straight away. The journey back down the canal was much easier but still really difficult and stressful. We saw a lot of herons (I think that is what they were anyway) which I’m sure my dad would have liked.
One thing that was definitely noticeable about the area we were staying was how friendly everyone was… everyone walking past would say ‘hola!’, which at first we were quite wary of as we’re now so used to all of the men in Tegus being abusive. But it turned out to be a redeeming feature of the town we were in. After eventually getting back on dry land we had lunch and checked out of the hostel (for the accommodation, 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, one lunch and several beers my bill was just 800L… just over £30! One reason to love Honduras!). We then got a taxi back to La Guama to wait for the bus – buses run on very random schedules, especially Sundays, so we were a bit nervous when no buses went past for half an hour. But eventually one turned up and we were on our way home! My lovely family met us from the bus (it was Comayaguela again and dark by this point so not a good combination) and drove everyone home.. seriously, they are so lovely! I was really looking forward to curling up into bed and sorting out my emails (this is one of the bad things about being abroad and not having access to the internet, your pile of emails rises quickly!), but my family had other plans! We all went to the cinema and me and my host siblings saw the weirdest Zombie film ever (Warm Bodies) which was acutally quite sweet in the end but still very weird. There was also lots and lots of posters for Despicable Me 2, I can’t wait to see it! Although it is sad I won’t be able to see it with George, my Despicable Me buddy!!
When we got home my host sister pointed out a new addition to my room – apparently my host dad was out shopping and saw these two dolls and thought of me and Azariah (‘his two daughters’ he said – at least until the daughter doing ICYE in Germany comes back!) as one had dark hair and one had blonde (my hair has lightened so much, people keep asking me if I have coloured it, woo!). So here is a couple of pics from my new home…
I also took my camera into my project today as one of the other volunteers, Sarah, was leaving today and as she was learning English we managed to communicate quite well. It was so sad to see her go, so here are some pics of mis amigos de mi proyecto:
One of the offices in my project
I should also mention that today at least 2 bombs exploded at the final of the Boston Marathon, there isn’t much information about why it happened yet. I look at the news a lot more than anyone else at my project so I was the first to see what had happened. And I knew before I told anyone what their reaction would be. When I said 2 people had died, they responded by saying ‘5 people die here every day’. And although this may seem like a disregard for the pain of others, having lived here for 3 months I can see why they have this attitude. They see death and horror every day so they have no choice but to numb themselves to it. I was walking with two women from my project last week when we saw a front cover of one of the newspapers – it was one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen. I literally couldn’t speak for 10 minutes after I felt so ill and sorry for the person who had died (in a really awful way which the photographer obviously wanted a good picture of). But the women from the project said ‘oh’ and carried on their conversation. They’re not being cold, they just have to not think about it.
However I am in no way saying that what happened in Boston today was not awful. It is sad that a lot of people have been injured, and at least two dead… but at least those who have been injured will get good medical care and help to pay for it. And although it is of course awful that two lives have been lost (for what seems like no reason) at least those people will get the funerals that they deserve. Many in Honduras don’t get this. I am not saying that all of this is my view, but it is how the situation is here in Honduras and I just wanted to express that, I hope I haven’t offended or upset anyone. When I read the news I was so angry… those people were running the marathon to help others and now have been hurt because of that. George Smart ran a half marathon for me to help my fundraising to come here and I can’t imagine if he would have been hurt because of that amazing gesture, the world is cruel. I hope those who were hurt today and those who have lost someone are looked after.