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 

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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!!!

Guatemala

I’m going to attempt to update on my travelling every few days as a mammoth blog at the end of a 40 day trip won’t be fun for anyone… so here is mine and Laura’s story from our first 5 days in Guatemala!! 

 

Day 1

Our day began at 4am when we got a lift to the Hedman Alas bus station. We then had a 16 hour bus trip via San Pedro Sula and Guatemala City to get to a colonial town in Guatemala, called Anitgua. As always we had some interesting travel companions… Laura was sat with a young guy who just STARED at her the entire way and I was sat next to a woman who was very lovely but also very chatty. Which would have been fine but a lot of her chatting was in very fast Spanish so I mostly just nodded my head, smiled and said ‘si’! I also learnt from the trip that changing currency at the border should be avoided as they charge you a silly amount. We eventually arrived in Antigua around 9.30 in the evening… we were in a mini van with just us two in and when the driver asked where we were staying, we promptly, accidentally deleted the email with the name and address of our hostel. Oops. The van driver clearly wanted to get home and so got us out of his van asap and left us standing in the middle of Antigua with no idea what to do. Luckily we found a friendly guy with wifi in his cafe who drew us a little map to where we wanted to go 🙂

 

Day 2

Something quite nice we’ve discovered about Guatemala is that most hostels offer a free breakfast – so that morning we tucked into omelets and fruit salad! We did already have a different hostel booked though so we set off to find it, and after getting a little lost, we found  El Hostal. It was lovely with comfy beds, hot showers and a lovely courtyard. After dumping our things, we went for a look around Antigua – it is very Spanish colonial style with lovely buildings and cobbled streets. This also means lots of tourists – which is fine but it is strange going from being so unique in Tegus to just being another couple of gringos! That evening we found a restaurant with fajitas (Laura was very disappointed to find that despite the menu saying it came with guacamole, it didn’t!) and a very shy waiter who repeatedly reassured us the food was coming… 

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Day 3

We went for another wander through the cobbled streets and were planning on another relaxing day discovering Antigua… but somehow we ended up on a trek up a nearby volcano (Volcano Pacaya… sadly, not active and no lava). We signed up to it not really thinking and didn’t actually anticipate walking up anything until we were in the mini bus, on our sandals, surrounded by people in their walking boots. It was a pretty tough walk up, especially near the top when all the volcanic rubble was getting into our shoes, but we made it!! And the views were AMAZING. We then ended up trekking back down the mountain by ourselves as it was getting dark, running past men with guns and machetes… all good fun! Our guide was a sweet girl who told us she had 9 brothers and sisters and she goes up the volcano twice a day for really bad pay, she was so lovely though we tipped her a few dollars. For food that evening we went back to somewhere we had seen the night before called ‘Potato and Beer’, just to see what it was. And it was sooo good… the potato bit was actually french fries covered in different choices of toppings: I had chili beans, sour cream and cheese and Laura had the same but with spices. Sooo yummy… but neither of us could even half finish it and we both felt ill the rest of the night, oops! That night we met a couple of people from Scotland, so as well as the Irish woman who was there, we nearly had the whole set! It’s so strange hearing British accents! 

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Day 4 

We started off with quite a stressful morning, running around Antigua, trying to activate my bank card to use in Mexico and trying to trace one of Laura’s jackets that had gone missing. It never showed up 😦 We then said goodbye to Antigua and set off for Guatemala City. Luckily, another girl was going to the same hostel as us so the shuttle bus dropped us off there and we were saved trying to get around this big city with our backpacks. The guy who runs the hostel was French, friendly but also slightly crazy. He did help us find the places we wanted to visit though so all good. We didn’t have much time to explore before it got dark so we decided to go straight to a mall we had heard about that had a restaurant with an aquarium inside! We are trying to stick to as tight a budget as possible, and with our Central American travel expertise from Honduras, we decided to jump right in and us the city chicken buses. The walk to the bus stop was through the parque central and it was really pretty, surrounded in huge, historical buildings. There were lots of benchs and trees… we were reminded of Amsterdam, Spain and Paris all in one. The walk was made even nicer by the huge lack of whistling, cat calls and staring from men… people barely looked at us which was a lovely change from Honduras! The bus was fine too and quite an adventure, it was a little different to Tegus in that you were meant to pay as you got on, not once you were sat. So the bus assistant came chasing after us, shouting ‘uno’ in our faces and we were a little confused… so a guy paid for us, so sweet!! We then got off the bus and began about a 30 minute walk to the mall… when it started throwing it down. Yes we decided to travel in rainy season, oops! So after hiding under an office shelter for 10 minutes we eventually got a taxi the rest of the way. We got to Oakland Mall and were impressed by how modern it is, the malls in Tegus are pretty good but this was a lot more swanky and american. It even had a carousel, fancy fountain and the aquarium restaurant.  The restaurant was a lot cheaper than we expected (I had a steak dinner for £8!!) so we had a lovely meal there while watching fish. Each table also had its own mini TV screening football… every man’s dream right?! So I was glad I was there with Laura hehe. We got a taxi home, which got a little lost, so the driver was stopping and asking people directions – another thing that would never happen in Tegus! 

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Day 5

Our room in this hostel was amazing – we managed to get a private room for just $7! It had one double and one single bed (we compromised on me getting the double and Laura having the extra pillow). The beds also had mosquito nets around them which basically make it look like you have a princess bed, I loved it!! We then had a yummy typical breakfast of juevos, frijoles and platano (eewwww!) and set off on our next day exploring Guatemala City. We walked through downtown, where we stopped for a while in a beautiful church. We actually took pictures as well which we would never, ever do in Tegus. We then managed to find the bus we wanted.. to the La Aurora Zoo. We were a bit apprehensive about visiting another Central American zoo, after our experience at the zoo in Tegus where all the animals were either depressed or demented, but after reading reviews and seeing a price of just $3.25, we decided to brave it. And we were sooo glad that we did… it was amazing, even better than any zoo I can remember going to in the UK. We saw every animal you would expect – giraffes, zebras, lions, penguins – and mostly amazingly, a hippo mum with its hippo baby, a Bengal tiger and a Siberian tiger (who almost had sex while we were there) and two brown bears playfighting! AMAZING!! All for £2… we also bought a new travel companion; Pacho the Pinguino. More on him later… 

There was a lot of rain again while we were at the zoo and we ended up having to rush home but still got pretty wet, but such a great day anyway! 

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Day 6

Yesterday was another long travel day, or it was meant to be. We firstly got a coach to Tapachula, via the Mexican border. The bus left at 2pm and was meant to arrive at 7pm… as it gets dark around 6.30, we were worried about the Mexican border but thought it’d be ok before dark. The coach ended up being super slow and we didn’t get to the border until 8ish, so we were quite apprehensive. It ended up being fine, a lovely church group showed us where to go… and when we got to the luggage checks, the guy asked if we had any bananas, we said no… and he told us to go right on through. Great security!! We arrived in Tapachula though and were relieved to see that we were in the same bus terminal as our next, overnight bus. The problem was though that the bus had sold out, damn! So we had no choice but to find the cheapest accommodation we could… which turned out to be $9 for a room with two double beds, fans and a TV. Not too bad! We then went on the hunt for food… I don’t know why or when this happened, but Laura and I have become quite brave in our approach to strange, dark places. We just wandered around this Mexican town at 9pm (which we later discovered it was actually 10pm due to the time difference across the border) and found some random place selling food. We would never do this in Honduras! We did go past a British pub though in our hunt for food which was quite surreal. In the end, we found somewhere selling some really yummy mushroom filled quesadillas for about $3… and ran into our lovely church friends! We then got tucked into bed and watched a very entertaining TV show which appeared to be something like Mexico’s Got Talent. It was, ermm, interesting, to say the least…

 

Day 7

Already a week into travelling… oh, and exactly half way through my year abroad!!

We did have the sense to buy our bus tickets for today, last night when we were a the bus station. Unfortunately the bus only goes at 10.45 at night so we are now waiting the whole day in Tapachula, where there is not much to do… especially with two large and heavy backpacks. Luckily the hotel we stayed in last night has let us sit in their courtyard for the day. So hopefully we will manage to get our bus tonight which will be 12 hours North-West (hey, Kayne’s baby!!) to the beach town of Puerto Escondido…

LOVE FROM MEXICO!!!! ❤ x