Honduras made me love football

This is my latest purchase in Honduras…

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Isn’t it beautiful?? I would never have ever, ever thought of buying a football shirt in England – one, because I don’t follow any specific team and two, I just didn’t have much passion for it. I have pretty much zero interest in national football – I don’t support any particular team, in fact, I used to choose my team of the moment depending on where Michael Owen was playing (now it’s Joe Hart). I did go to a match for the first time a few weeks before I came to Honduras and it was a pretty exhilarating experience but it didn’t make me go away and want to choose a team to watch every week on the TV. International football, specifically the World Cup, is a different story. I was addicted in 2010 – I followed the live commentary of almost every match, it was kinda freaky. I’m still not sure why – I think is was something to do with wanting to avoid revision in my 2nd year of university and, kind of bizarrely, the politics of some countries playing against each other was thrilling for me. 

But anyway, it is impossible to not love football in Honduras. I’m sure a lot of people could visit this country and not find anything to love – some people might just see poverty, violence and insecurity – but I can promise you that it is impossible to live in Honduras during an important football season and not get caught up in it. It’s not just about football; it’s about having something to get everyone together and something to be proud of. Coming from England where we used to be good at football and now not so much… well you just experience a sense of arrogance followed by disappointment. It is usually taken for granted that England will qualify for things such as the Euros and the World Cup. But Honduras have to fight for their place in such competitions – they have only reached the finals of the World Cup twice before, in 1982 and 2010. So last night was a pretty big deal. 

You can always tell when it’s a match day – everyone is suddenly wearing Honduras team shirts and beaming. I can’t walk anywhere usually without people shouting vulgar things at me and leering – but yesterday, in my Honduras shirt, it was different. People just looked proud to see a gringa walking around with their shirt on and everyone was giving me friendly thumbs up! It was amazing – I think I might have to start wearing it every day!! And watching the game is always an event – I’ve watched a game at my project with us all crowded around a tiny TV, in Valle de Angeles last week and lots of times with my family and friends. If you ever happen to not be watching the game, you can easily keep up to date with the progress of the match by standing outside – the cheers and fireworks that fill the air are a good indication of goals being scored. With Tegucigalpa being basically a big bowl surrounding by mountains the sound is just something else. 

So last night me and my wonderful family crowded around the TV to watch Honduras take on Jamaica to secure our place in the World Cup. It started out a bit wobbly with an own goal but we eventually ended up with a 2-2 draw (which is all we needed as long as Mexico lost, thanks Mexico!) and so off we go to Brazil 😀 I have so much passion for this country and it’s football now, I can’t wait to see them play next year! I will be wearing my Honduras t-shirt with pride in England next summer – even if we’re up against each other! It will always be Honduras that inspired my new passion for football! 

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…