Welcome back everyonneeee! I Cannot believe how fast time is going; I’ve been here for just under 3 months and that seems crazy. I have so much to update you on; some pointless, some interesting but I guess that’s up for you to decide.
Let’s begin with travel! The first weekend in October we ventured to Lake Yojoa which has honestly become one of my favourite places now. Getting there was actually surprisingly easy, we took a coach to San Pedro Sula Terminal from the restaurant/coach stop right beside La Colorada. Then after eventually getting our bearings we managed to get a bus and 3 hours later we arrived. We stayed in the D&D Brewery, after receiving multiple recommendations and let me tell you, it surpassed my expectations by tenfolds. The hostel is made up of dormitories scattered around the main restaurant, bar and fireplace – all in this breathtaking rainforest. All the buildings were wooden and fitted in well with the overall vibe that create this magical atmosphere. We arrived later on the first day, so got an early dinner of vegetarian burritos and chips, let me repeat again vegetarian burritos. Despite how they tasted the fact that a restaurant in Honduras even had a veggie option was insane; but they has multiple and I kid you not when I say it was one of the best meals ever!!!!!! We then spent the rest of the evening laying on the hammocks (omg our first hammock experience in Honduras after lusting after them for so long, it was worth the wait), playing giant Jenga and drinking lots of rum punches, so all in all a pretty good day. That night, it was actually really really cold (well probably nothing compared to Scotland) therefore we had to take the blankets off all the beds to keep us warm – that was actually a bizarre feeling to be cold for the first time in a long time. Our only full day was started off fantastically with the D&D’s famous blueberry pancakes (I am aware this has suddenly become a food diary but I’m not mad at that). We walked down to the canal area, it was some special Sunday thus the banks were packed with families and there we hired pink kayaks for the day, for only 100L each, which is such a bargain. To anyone ever planning on going to Lake Yojoa I have one piece of advice: kayak down the canal until you reach the Lake because it’s honestly a crime not to. I do not have the ability to express how stunning Lake Yojoa truly is. The canal opens up onto this great expanse of serene water, encompassed by trees and mountains all around – it looked very Italian/French to me. Four hours were spent kayaking on the Lake, we challenged ourselves to Kayak to an island which took far longer than expected but we managed it, we then spent a large proportion of our time floating in this inlet of water which was unbelievably tranquil. On the banks was a wooden house situated right beside the inlet, it has become my dream house and where I plan on retiring to; so if you need me that’s where I’ll be. I know I am beginning to sound like a broken recored, but the sheer happiness I felt on that lake is something that will stay with me or the rest of my life and a memory I never want to forget. We had a lovely summery picnic afterwards of: bread, cheese, crisps, chokis and fizzy drinks, where we watched other families kayaking and in that moment realised just how burnt we were (don’t worry mum and dad it wasn’t actually that bad). We returned to the Brewery, chilled in our hammocks, drank lots of sangria (it was VERY good), played more games and passed some time chatting to this German girl who was solo travelling Central America. It was so interesting speaking to her, as she filled us with her wisdom and ignited an excited for us to meet other travellers when we go on our big adventures next year. Instalment 568 of Harriet’s food diary: my final breakfast of super greasy but utterly delicious hash browns and fruit was fantastic even if I did feel uncomfortably full for hours afterwards. We sadly headed for home afterwards and despite some issues and having to wait around for quite a long time, we finally arrived home just in time for work. In saying that, I am so glad that Miqueas does feel like home, it is a place I feel safe and comfortable and that is such a nice but important opinion to have – especially as travelling is quite tiring.
Our other mini hols have been to Tela. We spent one of the days by ourselves and the other with the two volunteers from Tela. To spice things up a little bit, we went on a banana boat ride for fairly cheaply – honestly it was quite underwhelming as instead of it being a ‘banana boat ride’ it was a boat ride that they had attached a banana boat to. Thus, for the most part we were moving quite slowly through the water, nevertheless they flung us around for a while at the end and now it’s funny to look back on. For dinner, as everywhere was pretty much shut we ended up going to this rough looking cafe opposite the bus station. My preconceived conceptions however, could not have been anymore wrong, because we had one the best baleadas yet, for only 25L (less than 1 pound)!!!!! So yes travel books are great and can take you to some fantastic restaurants, but sometimes the best places are the most unlikely ones – I cannot wait to find similar places when we travel Central America. Our most recent trip to Tela which was only Gem and I was a completely different, but equally as lovely trip. We spent the day on the beach playing cards and eating the most delicious sandwiches. That day it was rather overcast, however, it made a welcomed change from the unbearably hot sun and the beach had this really chilled and relaxed vibe; unlike the normal crazy Sunday-family days.
Still in Tela, we discovered the king of drinks: Granizados (cue dramatic music), they are essentially different flavoured slushies but it feels indecent to say that, as they are so much more. Our favourite is the coffee flavour which every single coffee shop in Honduras (that we have been to anyway) sells and it tastes delightful. It is offensively sweet and I normally prefer more bitter coffee but I have grown to love it and now I can’t pass up an opportunity to get one. Thus, the granizado de café is a classic but the cafe beside our local supermarket sells these abominations of coffee and chocolate and Oreos. We have only gotten them once but let me tell you it was an experience. Truly unbearably sweet but such a delicious treat and that was only one of their favours. It may seem silly to write an entire paragraph about coffee but truly, granizados have changed my life (not necessarily for the benefit of my health nor my bank balance), but I feel more Honduran after each one I have and I have never seen them in the UK before, so Honduras has you bet there!
This leads me on to why we even went to that cafe in the first place and it was all thanks to Vegas. He is our county rep and lives on the island of Roatan. Twice a year he travels around to visit all the projects and check-up on all the volunteers. May I also just preface, that he is a truly lovely man, who was so sweet and kind to us, that I am very happy to have him. He took us to that cafe where I ate the most delicious Belgian waffles with Nutella (okay this food obsession needs to stop) and we just chatted for a long while (also he was paying, therefore I couldn’t not get waffles). We then just presumed that he would drop us home, but instead he drove us to San Pedro Sula to have a look around the markets. I’m honestly so glad he did as we would never have gone on our own for a trip, but now we know we need to go back. The markets put El Progreso to shame, they were decorated with these beautiful Honduran pieces of memorabilia that I will be filling my bags with next time. Instead, the only thing we bought was a hammock, I’m so excited – the only missing puzzle piece to Miqueas was a hammock, I am over the moon we have one now. However, we cannot figure out how to hang it up, so that is the current problem we are dealing with, but once it’s up I know I will be in it 24/7. It was such a good use of money and hopefully will be here for years to come and therefore for volunteers to use in the future. After that, Vegas took us for ice cream and then dropped us back home. We had such a fun morning with him (not just because of the free food), that I cannot wait until he comes to visit again and I can get more free food!
Speaking of Miqueas, work is going really well. The lessons we do with the boy who is homeschooled are so much fun. Most recently, we have been teaching him more English, namely different randoms rules: examples of homonyms, homophones and so much more that I lose track of, as well as on the alternate weeks we have been investigating whales, corals and volcanoes. That’s a lot of fun, but requires a considerable amount of planning, thus our Friday mornings are often spent doing that. With the inters, I have definitely got the hang of it and I am really enjoy the time I get to spend with them. It’s arguably my most hectic time of the day (depending on how the primary school went) but when the older kids are working quietly and independently, I really relish in those moments. They had an exam week a few weeks back, to test them on the knowledge they has learnt since summer and one of my favourite things was when they would run into the classroom and proclaim how well they had done in their tests – it really warmed my heart!
As you can guess my name is not the easiest to pronounce, let alone for foreigners, so one of my daily giggles is how the kids in both Miqueas and the primary school say my name. In Miqueas, there are a coupe of the younger inters who call my ‘Cariet/Carrot’ as the ‘h’ isn’t really pronounced in Spanish. Some of the other kids can say the ‘h’ but really go over the top with the r’s – rolling them, to make my name last for a solid 5 seconds. Then there is this one, sweet girl, who calls me Harry which I just love and pretty much the rest can say Harriet. Gem has the same issues as people either pronounce it like ‘Yemma’ or ‘Hemma’ – therefore, I suppose those are our Honduran names. In the primary school they just call me ‘Miss’ but whenever they ask for my name and I respond, it’s the cutest thing watching them attempt to say Ha-weeee-et, they can do it but it sounds a but like they have a lisp – in the loveliest way. In regards to work in the primary school I love it. I have been doing all sorts with them: animals, colours, numbers etc. It’s embarrassing to admit but I didn’t actually know that vocab in Spanish, but now I obviously do. Knowing that octopus in Spanish is pulpo probably won’t benefit my life too much, unless I get attacked by one, but it’s fun to widen my vocabulary. Second grade are still very much a handful but playing interactive games definitely engages them and is something all the grades always ask me – ¿Podemos jugar niños vs niñas? It’s just ‘slap the board’ but the competitive aspect is something they all love. Along with ‘what’s missing’ where I get them to all cover their eyes and take away a word. I have another couple of games, but I’m really hoping to build up a bank so once we come back after their long Christmas break I am ready and rearing to go. Something I thought I would just note that I found very interesting, was the fact that if a teacher does not show up then class just goes home. Therefore, at minimum every other week I have had one class not there, which I’m not complaining about as I got the go home early. One day, I arrived and realised none of my classes were there, all of Gem’s were however and I went home – haha. It’s just so relaxed in Honduras compared to the UK. One more thing to mention about the primary school is that I still only know the same few names in each class but I know know all their faces (I think) so that’s progress.
My penultimate paragraph – you have done very well to get this far! Just a few miscellaneous things I wanted to mention. 1) We discovered Tio Dolmo, which is this truck stop come restaurant that you can hop on a coach to San Pedro from. It also sells really, really good food. I don’t know how we lived the first 1.5 months without it. They have a fab bakery section, a mini super market and the buffet where we got one of my favourite meals: refried beans, yuka and tortillas. I had never had yuka before coming here but had heard about it from all the Bear Gryll’s survival shows. It’s a root vegetable but tastes very carby so that is obviously why I love it. We tried making it ourselves and to spare how disgusting it was, I think we will just be ordering it at restaurants from now on. 2) For a long while now Gem and I have been admiring all the primary kids’ earrings, as they are all similar around the premise of gold and silver hoops but super pretty and just Honduran. Therefore, one weekend in Progreso, we treated ourselves to a couple of pairs and now I feel officially Honduran. After this year I am going to have a very extensive collection I just know it. 3) Gem has really been enlightening me to the world of classic 90’s movies. I don’t know why I hadn’t seen so many (and I am embarrassed to admit that) but on Fridays we love sitting with our 10 L bags of popcorn and watching one. So far I can now say that I have seen: Clueless, Pulp Fiction, 10 Things I Hate about You, Dirty Dancing and there are still so many more I need to see! 4) Since it is Halloween today but nobody here celebrates it I thought I would leave you with a rather disgusting story. Thus, we came home one night from work and discovered thousands and thousands of big, black ants in our apartment, weaving their way through our kitchen. We were in shock and didn’t know what to do. Luckily Jacob came to our rescue and sprayed some toxic chemical so when the ants walked through the toxins entered their body and they died. However, that also meant we woke up to a kitchen full of deceased ants. After an hour and a lot of cleaning supplies later they were all gone. We later learnt that we should have just left them, because unlike the little ones we occasionally see, these ants are here as the have found some food but will leave after it’s gone, therefore will not stay for very long. To be honest if it does happen agin I just don’t think I could be bothered tidying them up.
I know I finish very post with some expression that time moves incomprehensibly quickly; but that is because it does! Yes, life isn’t perfect all the time and I do finish every day exhausted but I am loving being here and feel that I am truly achieving something – which is a great and fulfilling feeling. I may have been here for 3 months but I am still as pale as ever if anyone is wondering! I hope you enjoyed this blog post, I know you are terribly upset it’s over, but I’ve got another 9 months so (hopefully) there will be lots more to come!