As I sat on the train sobbing into my manky tissue and waving goodbye to my friends and family who had come to see me off, two thoughts crossed my mind: this is *being dramatic* one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and two, why does this feel like a scene from a sitcom? Namely Miranda, where she emotionally leaves for a train to Wick only to discover it’s the wrong train and frantically exits in her famous Miranda manner. I digress, so I took the train to Edinburgh where I met up with some of the other volunteers, who joined me in our travels to London. After a couple sweaty tube and bus rides we made it to the hotel – which was far nicer than anticipated and had a dominos two minutes away so would definitely recommend. The next morning, we flew to Houston – officially saying farewell to the UK for a year – arriving to torrential rain which made me feel right at home. Then for our final day of travel we flew to San Pedro Sula, landing in a vast green expanse which would soon become our home. At the Airport we were welcomed by our hosts Melody and Jacob and the intense, I repeat, intense heat. On route to our project we completed our first shopping trip at La Colonia – from that we learnt: milk comes in a pouches, topical fruit is in abundance so I am a very happy girl and I am quite bad at budgeting. Nearby there is also a restaurant well-known for selling delicious baleadas (a traditional Honduran dish composed of a flour tortilla, folded in half and filled with mashed fried red beans) and fresh fruit juices too, honestly baleadas are utterly delectable *I can’t preface this enough, and will definitely become a staple in my diet.
We then drove thirty minutes to our apartment, which is literally a one minute walk to our project so I am not going to be burning off all these baleadas anytime soon. Despite that, it a lovely apartment, very spacious with multiple rooms, although Gemma and I are sharing as other volunteers are likely to visit throughout the year. It felt great to decorate our room, with pictures of family and friends, unpacking too has really made it feel like home – which is sort of essentially as we will be living here for the next year. Unfortunately we don’t have air-conditioning but two massive fans placed strategically at the end of our beds which do help somewhat, a washing machine and pretty fast wifi so I really can’t complain too much! There have been a few issues with the water recently, thus it isn’t the most consistent so proper showers have been few and far between but would it really be a #gapyah if I hadn’t had multiple bucket showers? Exactly.
Onto the reason why I am actually in Honduras, here Gemma and I are working at a project called Miqueas 6.8, a family home run by our hosts Melody and Jacob. Our primary roles are acting as teachers/tutors to the children (Gemma will be doing English classes with some of the younger children while I will be tutoring the bilingual children). Also at Miqueas we will be painting the library/classrooms with a plethora of images continuing on and trying to upkeep with the standard of the the previous volunteers – which with my A in Nat 5 Art definitely guarantees I can draw a stick man but I’m not sure about anything else, as well as sorting out the bodega (their big storeroom) and doing exercises with some of the children with disabilities. Three mornings a week we will be working at the local primary school in our village, where I will be teaching Grades 1-3 and Gemma 4-6, which I am really excited for as their knowledge of English is pretty much non-existent, that including the staff too, so it will be a fun but daunting challenge. Sounds a bit silly but the organisational part of my brain just loves planning so preparing for lessons should be a real treat, in saying that I am not always the most organised person so the two may not go hand-in-hand. Now that we know what we’re doing for the next year I am just trilled to get properly stuck into our routine and start seeing what we can achieve.
Back to the events of this past week, on the weekend after a tiring week of working, cleaning and not really sleeping, we took a bus into El Progreso – which wasn’t the easiest task, I know I am not one to judge as I’m not a fantastic driver myself but blimey everyone drives very fast with cars overtaking so manically and frequently I’m surprised there never seem to be any crashes, but we did manage to get there in the end. It is the nearest city to where we live being about thirty minutes away, and it’s beautiful, full of bright, flamboyant colours, street venders after street venders and a quaint little park in the centre with benches dotted around. What surprised me the most however, was the variety of items people sold, varying from fruits and veggies to pirated films to underwear to anything pretty much. It was definitely not what I was expecting but at the same time I don’t really know what I was expecting – a New York skyline? Of course not, but it was certainly as busy and manic as New York (again not like I’ve been but I presume), however I am very much looking forward to future weekend trips. After a pleasant wander, we got on a bus to head to the Megaplaza Mall, what I then did not expect was to be bombarded with vendors after vendors whose sole job was to get on buses and try to sell whatever it is they were selling (also bearing in mind these buses were often moving while they made their rounds). The two funniest examples I can give from this short bus journey was the man who had bought a Pizza Hut pizza and then was simply selling the individual slices for a massive mark-up. Then a woman dressed as a clown with rather impressive faceprint which she somehow didn’t sweat off? Hopped on the bus, in my opinion shouted straight at us for seven straight minutes (believe me I counted) and then stomped around demanding money and when I gave her a dismissive and confused look she stormed off *I later learnt she was apparently telling jokes I.e being a comedian, although you wouldn’t know it from the passengers’ faces. Anyways, when we finally arrived at the aircon palace or the mall as others call it which mimicked for me, the Starcourt mall from Stranger Things if anyone has seen it. Our first port of call was the cash machine in which I took out 1000 Lempira, doing that felt utterly absurd, although that is only £30 so not that impressive but it will definitely take me a while to adapt my brain into thinking that way. We had a lovely time, unsurprising found our way to the food court and thus to a massive Pizza Hut pizza (the man on the bus may have had a bit of an influence). Interesting, meat is a staple in Honduras so every pizza came with masses of meat piled to the skies, therefore when we said ‘suelamente queso’ the staff looked horrified like I had revealed I was a serial killer or much worse. Then to accompany our food we got some frozen yogurts which were delicious and I can’t wait to eat again. On the last day of the week, Sunday, we joined the family to their local Church, which was a really lovely experience and a fantastic way to improve our Spanish and translation skills with the entire service obviously being in Spanish.
Well, what a week I have had. Saying goodbye to my loved ones, travelling to the other side of the world (well kind of), settling in to our independent lives, meeting all the children, jumping into work, slowly adapting to the heat (don’t worry I am not some kind of wizard, I am still sweating profusely but I have made peace with it). I know I cannot complain too much as many people all over the word have it far worse than I have, but it really has been a rollercoaster of emotions, at points wondering why I was even here but I am happy here and excited, excited about the next fifty-one weeks and everything they will encompass. I finish off this blog post, looking out into the most beautiful sunrise I have probably ever seen – I am still waking up at 5am every morning due to jet lag but this is one of the perks. I know this blog post is a week later than I would have liked, but let’s just pretend that was a deliberate decision on my part as I am a maverick who cannot be contained by society’s rules (no that is truly the opposite of me) and not because any free time I have had, I have either a) been too exhausted to do anything with it often being accompanied by a headache and b) I began watching the IT Crowd for the eighth time and I physically cannot prise myself away from it. Thus, my hope if to post weekly blog posts but if my week is utterly boring then I may combine two weeks or there may be a special event that merits its own post, so let’s just see what happens.