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How has it been 3 Months?

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!

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Feliz Día del Niño – Our First Week at the Primary School

As you may have guessed from the title, last week was Día del Niño, a day celebrated in mostly Latin American countries but others around the world too. It recognises the importance of children in society and promoting their well being, which I believe to be a fantastic concept and leaves me wondering why we simply don’t have it in the UK. My parents’ answers to that would be ‘everyday is children’s day Harriet, we buy you things all the time’ fair point. However here it is about children having fun and eating an astronomical amount of sweets. On Día del Niño, it was actually our day working at the local primary school, so we were able to observe and partake in their fun activities and games. The primary school is very small and quaint with only six classrooms for the six grades in a sort of semi-circle and a stage area on the missing side with a courtyard in the middle. The stage was the hub of the day, being decorated with pretty pictures and signs, as well as there being bunting between lots of the trees too. Children from the local high school ran the activities, which included: bringing children up on stage and holding the best dancer contests, egg and spoon races except with limes rather than eggs (honestly it’s less messy so the UK really needs to catch on), piñata games and others too. For anyone who facies a laugh, they coaxed Gemma and I up on stage to join in with the song and dance, although all the high schoolers knew all the words and movements while we were very unaware. I definitely brought enthusiasm but I can’t really say I contributed much else, however, luckily for us the headteacher filmed it, so it’s permanently captured in history now! That day really was fab, as we met all the kids and teachers, played with them, got to experience what a celebration in Honduras is like and we got ice cream, fizzy drink, handfuls of sweets from the kids and this cake which was unbearable sweet but delicious.

The girl in the middle had some brilliant moves and put us to shame!
Pretty Bunting

That was our first day at the primary school, although we weren’t actually teaching anything so the next day (Wednesday) we took our first lessons. As I think I mentioned before I am doing 1st-3rd grade, while Gemma is doing 4th-6th. Before I begin I just want to preface how cute the kids are, I mean so so cute which does make it difficult to I suppose discipline them (well that and the evident language barrier) but I cannot let their puppy dog eyes fool me! Anyways, that week I tried to teach them ‘what is your name’ ‘my name is..’, the only issue is explaining the task, if I was back home, I could simply explain and explain again if the children did not understand but my vocabulary is very limited, although I do try to keep the tasks as simple as possible and sometimes (especially with 1st grade) the teacher may repeat what I say, only this time the children fully understand as she doesn’t have a horrific accent. The behaviour isn’t fantastic too, as with 1st but especially 2nd grade the class is massive with 40-something kids so when I am shouting ‘sientate class and silencio’ (sit down class and silence) my three new favourite words, most of my 2nd graders will be wondering around the class minding their own business while maybe 2 or 3 kids in the front will just look at me like ‘miss it’s okay I will listen’ and then shouts something which just disappears into the noise of the class. To be fair it isn’t always like that and the teacher will sometimes look up from her phone, shout ‘silencio’ and then everyone is quiet. But we just aren’t respected like the other teachers, but hopefully as time goes on, they will become easier to manage. In saying that my 3rd graders are a much smaller class and much better behaved and know slightly more English so they are a godsend and just get everything done. For the most part, the kids in all the grades do actually get their work done, it’s just how much they are learning which I question. Between 2nd and 3rd grade there is a recess for 30 minutes which involves the children eating copious amounts of food, I’m talking proper meals like baleadas, rice and chicken and snacks: crisps, fizzy drinks, chocolate, this all being at 9:30 in the morning as well. In that break we spend time with the children, chatting, playing card games, just having fun and receiving many many hugs and stickers. I get this throughout class too, it is very sweet and endearing but it gets to the point where it’s actually disrupting the lesson – although that’s just pretty funny to say and I’m not complaining! Recess has been the true test of our Spanish though, trying to hold conversations. More often than not I will just announce that I don’t know or don’t understand, but when I actually do, it’s such a fantastic feeling being able to communicate with them. I know I definitely need to practice my Spanish and learn more basic phrases and words as then not only will I be able to chat to the kids and form a stronger bond there, but also in the classroom it will help so greatly with explaining and their general behaviour.

The kids from the High School made some really cool piñatas
The decorations are just so cute

Overall my experience at the primary school has been really good but our days on Tuesday-Thursday are quite long, with us beginning work at the primary school at 8am and finishing work at Miqueas between 6:30-7:30pm but it keeps us busy and truly ensures we appreciate our chilled Monday and Friday mornings. It’s nice to now feel properly integrated into the La Colorada community, as Miqueas has basically become my comfort zone and so stepping out of that was quite daunting but I’m really glad I did. We have already had so many experiences we just couldn’t only working at Miqueas – the most important I feel is the total immersion in the Spanish language and being forced to speak it. We also see the kids around the village a lot so always hear ‘hello meeees (miss, but in their accent it comes out like meees which is so cute) coming from some direction. I’m definitely looking forward to teaching them more, building up a good rapport and hopefully learning all their names as currently I know about 4 which I just pick on all the time. It’s difficult as some are really western and easy to pronounce like Karen or Daniella, while others I hear the kids say but I simply cannot pronounce without them have a laughing fit!

Apologies for the over-exposed picture, but this is some of the kids playing with a plank of wood!
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1 Month Update

Welcome back to my blog! It was has been a very, very long time since I last posted but least I am keeping it consistent with the inconsistency. Besides, I have actually inadvertently deleted this post once already and been ill for a good couple of weeks but here it is finally so I hope you all enjoy 🙂

During our second week in Honduras we sadly said farewell to Karina, a volunteer from Honduras who was working at Miqueas over the summer. As a final farewell, we went out for a meal at a restaurant owned by one of the tías who actually works at Miqueas. Unsurprisingly as everything in Honduras seems to come with meat on, there were no veggie options, however the tía kindly made us soft-shell tacos with cheese rather than meat and then covered them in salady bits. It was very tasty, although arguably a bit too cheesy, although it was only 40 lempira, £1.30 ish – what a bargain, you really can’t go wrong. Throughout the next few weeks we have been going to that restaurant, obviously asking for meals sin carne (without meat), my favourite has been the tajadas (fried plantain) very delicious but probably not as healthy as I am telling myself. The next morning Karina left, it was sad to see her go as in that week and a half we had got to know her, she had become a friend and somewhat of a port of call which definitely helped when settling in. However, she has now begun the next phase of her life, uni, and I am looking forward to hopefully seeing her in the future. As I am on the topic of food I may as well mention my other two food loves of this month: iced coffee and Oreos. We have this coffee filtering machine (sort of like an electronic cafetière, although I could be horrifically wrong in the description so don’t quote me on it) and the coffee this machine makes is so rich and distinctive in taste it is like no other. I have never really been much of a coffee drinker but some mornings as we have not begun the primary school yet and if we have no other jobs needing done, we will sit on the steps outside our apartment and drink our iced coffees in the sun. We have only actually done this once, but it was such a relaxing and enjoyable experience – especially with a good book, I look forward to doing it again. My second food discovery came after our first mini holiday to Tela to visit two other volunteers. I don’t know why I had never liked Oreos before, but when we were in Tela I ate so many. The girls kept them in their fridge which I think had something to do with the enjoyment factor because now I have become fully converted and I preface, addicted to Oreos.

At Miqueas, work has become a lot more structured and regular which makes it easier to form a routine and to understand what we are supposed to be doing. We begin the primary school the week you are reading this (that will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings) so in the mean time we do have those free which I do appreciate although I am very excited to begin the primary school. As I stated in my last post my primary role is tutoring the children who attend the international school, every afternoon and evening I help them with their homework. Most of the time I feel as though I am running around like a headless chicken between the children, however I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them. As out of all the children they are the ones who I spend the most time with, I feel as though I have built up a good rapport with each child, which only makes it more rewarding when they compete something they have worked so hard on, I feel accomplished and proud of them too. Work normally doesn’t finish until 6:30-7pm (although those kids would happily continue working for hours, while I sit there hungry and tired haha). Each day, Gemma and I teach this one boy English, swapping between English classes one week and fun, interesting ones the next. Recently we have been exploring the oceans, continents and have just been getting onto marine animals. With the research we completed for that, I now know a considerable amount of random facts so if you fancy learning about chinstrap penguins or the Indian Ocean then hit me up. Completely unnecessary but did you know a blue whale’s veins are so wide that a child could actually swim through them. That is crazy and now I know that for sure something important has been pushed out of my head. I digress, I also teach one boy English for 30 minutes a day, he is really sweet and for the most part enthusiastic so I have been really enjoying that as well.

Honduras living in general has become a lot easier over the course of the month. The heat is something I have actually acclimatised to and now mid 30 degree heat is nothing that phases me (never thought those words would come out of my mouth). The same too with stares, comments, whistles etc, we get it regardless whenever we go out but it is a fact of life here which does sound rather sad but it’s just the culture and we cannot change that. On a more positive note, our ability to budget has skyrocketed, our first couple shopping trips were pretty much trial and error, hoping that we wouldn’t over spend – invariably doing so, testing out different products and adapting to the prices. Now we have a solid baseline and know what is more of a want than a need. The meals that we subsequently make are not particularly gourmet or impressive but we are still alive so that must count for something. Oh I forgot to mention, we now have a pet lizard who lives behind our fridge called Philip, he pops his head out every so often and then scuttles away when we arrive home. His role as insect destroyer is working pretty well as our only other encounters have been with ants and a couple of mosquitos – that we promptly swotted to death. Moreover, our painting has also been continuing, we have actually only painted twice as our weekends have been quite busy but in those few hours we has added the flowers to the vines (we don’t take credit for the vines the previous vols did them), half finished the butterflies surrounding the flowers which aren’t photographed and finished off odd jobs the other vols hadn’t. I’m really excited to start working on a bigger project like the world map on the other side of the classroom/library area and see what is turns out like. Painting though surprisingly hard and time-comsuming work, is a very cathartic activity which I have really enjoyed doing.

For the travel segment of this blog, the last weekend in August we headed to visit two other volunteers Jen and Allana in Tela. This was the first proper bit of travelling we had actually done since being in Honduras so we were incredibly excited to explore this beautiful country. We hopped on a bus after waiting quite a considerable time for it and headed in the opposite direction than we are used to when going to Progreso. The bus journey took an hour so really not too long and dropped us at the depot where we luckily found the girls around the corner in a smoothie shop. I have failed to mention before that smoothie shops are in abundance in Honduras and something we drank a lot of that weekend thinking we were achieving our Khloe Kardashian health goals but no, after research we discovered they are drowned in sugar which is probably why they taste so so nice. Anyways, we got a little tour of Tela which is essentially the same as El Progreso only much bigger and obviously beside the sea. Honestly when we saw the sea for the first time it was like a dream come true and I couldn’t wait to run straight into it. By lunch time we had decided to get nachos and eat them with the beautiful view, thus we sat down at a plastic table and chairs for about 5 minutes none the wiser, until this middle-aged Honduran lady came over and demanded 240 lempira for the day’s rental. In hindsight we should have just gotten up and left or used our classic Spanish spiel of ‘no entinedo lo siento’ or ‘no hablo español’ but us being the idiots we are simply paid it. Due to sheer pettiness we wanted to get the most out of this table and chairs so dragged them a good distance to be beside the sea where we then stayed for the next couple of hours. My first time walking into the sea, I was pleasantly surprised with how hot it was, I simply did not expect it but it ended up loving it. My next surprise came in the from of clothing, a lot of Hondurans like to holiday to Tela so they weren’t dressed in shorts and t-shirts or swimming costumes or even bikinis, however, for the most part, people wore jeans and long-sleeved tops into the sea. I can only imagine how horrible it must be to take off sodden denim afterwards. Apologies for that image, we stayed in the girls’ house which is so cute and a lot bigger than I was expecting and passed the evening playing card games and chatting. The next day we essentially did the same thing except without the table and chairs and just relaxed on the beach, Sunday is family day however so the beach and sea for that matter was a lot busier. That night Jen and Allana made us a veggie curry which was incredibly flavoursome and spicy, our cooking has diffidently not been that adventurous but maybe they will inspire us. The next day we arrived home exhausted and feeling rather ill but we had a memorable weekend which well and truly infected us with the travel bug which is why I cannot wait until we can do our big holiday next year. That was our first Tela trip, but certainly not our last.

So that was my month. I still cannot get over the fact that I have been here for a month (well over that now but you catch my drift). Everyday has not been perfect but for the most part I have had a fab time and achieved so much in the space of 1 month that I can only imagine what the next 11 will hold! See you soon (whenever that will be).

1 Week Down; 51 to Go

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.

The beginning of a Journey…

Honduras <—– Scotland

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

— Neale Donald Walsch.

Welcome to my blog! With only a few days until I actually leave for Honduras (still can’t get over saying that) I thought I better get round to building my blog. Most likely it will be my friends and family who read this but for anybody new, welcome, my name is Harriet Duffus and I’m an 18-year-old girl from Scotland embarking on a year-long trip teaching with Project Trust in Honduras. Four quick facts about me before I dive in: 1) I’m an obsessive plant-mother who has more cacti, succulents and house plants than foot space in her bedroom 2) My biggest pet-peeve is incorrect spelling and grammar; the irony however is that I’m awful at spelling and you will inevitably encounter many mistakes throughout this blog, so who am I to judge really 3) Being truthful I still love the High School Musical songs (apart from the ones from the third film they are rubbish – no offence – despite how embarrassing that is to say, ‘breaking free’, ‘I don’t dance’ and ‘gotta go my own way’ are my recommendations if you fancy a listen 4) I truly love reading and writing, whether that is fiction novels or topical articles about interesting subject matter, I just really enjoy learning about new topics and then trying it out myself

Anyways, back on topic, I am going to be working with Project Trust who is a charity that for the past 50 years has been sending around 300 17-19 year-olds all over the globe annually, expanding to almost all the continents with the intent of these volunteers having a positive impact – which is through teaching, social care and outward bound projects. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with 6/10 households being subjected to extreme poverty. With that, you have probably heard it in the news recently, among other Central American countries for the horrendous migrant crisis causing these migrant caravans to pop up along the Mexico-US border. However, Honduras is a wonderful country with several important Mesoamerican cultures, its beautiful Bay Islands are part of the second largest coral reef in the world, Honduran food is a fusion of indigenous (Lenca) cuisine, Spanish cuisine, Caribbean cuisine and African cuisine which sounds delicious and it is a football fanatic country to name a few great qualities. In Honduras, I have been placed at a project called Miqueas 6.8, where myself and my partner Gemma – who is fab by the way, I feel we will get on really well – will be working in a family home for children, teaching, tutoring and running activities as well as working in the local primary school – I will go into further detail in future blog posts when this becomes a reality and I can give an accurate representation of my daily life.

Whenever anyone asked me ‘Harriet, how are feeling about Honduras?’ I replied with the same answer ‘excited but quite nervous’ which is quite normal, although as time progressed and my leaving date drew nearer and nearer the nerves and almost sadness did increase marginally as I am dreading saying goodbye to my family but my excitement about the adventure that awaits has increased tenfolds. I know that this point in my life it is necessary I have a change, everyone around me is moving onto the next phase, whether that is university or a job or something else equally exciting – so this may be a massive change but one I want to take, so that I can grow as a person and experience a different way of life. I know I am not saving the world through what I’m doing but if I am able to pass on my knowledge to even one child and influence their life then in my opinion, I have achieved something.

This blog is just going to be my life in Honduras over the next year. I will try to post as often and regularly as possible but life can be busy and hectic sometimes so please bear with me. Even if only one person other than me was ever to read this I would not mind because this is essentially a virtual diary for me to look back on in the future and recount all the amazing experiences I have had – which if there is anyone reading this you can experience them too, through this blog.