Gracias, Gracias

Our first days in Gracias have treated us well, we are training with the Vida Abudante volunteers – 4 from Project Trust and then around 20 Americans- however the 6 of us in Lempira don’t see them much as we do lots of separate training and are staying in Fronie’s (Anna and Rosie’s hosts) hotel instead. The hotel is beautiful, with breath taking views of this incredible, quaint town and very different from what we have seen of our project so me and Lauryn are relishing the double beds and warm showers. 

Being with the Tomola and Santa Cruz girls has really helped our transition into Honduras, as the difference in Cultures really is inexplicable. I suppose what everyone here has said firstly is that the men are the biggest shock, yes on training we were told about the cat calling but there really is nothing quite like it. After two days we have been whistled at 100s of times, hissed at constantly, honked at by the majority of taxi drivers and lots of our greetings have been returned with a cackle of “hola gringa”. A personal highlight was when a man approached Kirsten and subtly whispered “nice pants mami” *pukes*. But we just laugh it off because, really, you have to, theres no shouting back because that’s not what women do here. A very striking character of the women is how quiet they are too, pretty subdued compared to the women at home but always smiling which puts your nerves at rest and reminds you they’ve got this. All in all its pretty crazy here, they drive like lunatics, they drink banana lemonade (is there honestly anything worse!?!) and for breakfast, lunch and dinner  we have refried beans, hard salty cheese and tortillas (I think the novelty of the food could wear off pretty soon). But I honestly cannot explain how amazing it is, everywhere you look there is mountain s and forests for as far as the eye can see; the houses are painted in the brightest colours so that on every street there are butterflys and the hustle and bustle of the people even into the night makes for great people watching. I think we are going to love it here.

We are also very great full to Vida Abudante, Rachel, one of the teachers in Yam is giving us specific training as our schools are public and therefore we have very little resources and our children are very different (don’t be fooled just because they live in very underdeveloped places does not mean they are well behaved and want to learn). They also have made us copies of books with we can use progress with topics as we don’t really have a curriculum to follow, whatever we teach them goes, so that is going to be very useful! Rachel, and her husband Jake who helps run Vida Abudante have also taken us to the hot springs, which Gracias are renound here for. The pools are naturally hot and full of minerals so it was the best way to relax after two very intense days, but also very kind of them.

So now it’s time to get up for more training and but some bite spray on my legs which have been eaten alive.

Chloe x

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Travel sickness, Texas and Turbulence

Yesterday didn’t quite seem real, from the 3am start to the check in I felt as though I was wondering round in a dream like trance. Goodbyes were the hardest part but the reality of not seeing the people who have shaped me over the last 18 years just didn’t seem real. Part of me felt like any minute I’d get back into my mom’s car and travel back to the small town I call home. But I didn’t. And, after 10 hours we landed in Texas. With heavy turbulence; a pretty harsh air hostess who took an instant dislike to me and Fi after we tried to order a glass of wine or twelve (forgot the whole 21 thing in the USA) ;and poor Lauryn bringing up the entire contents of her stomach; it finally hit me… No turning back now. 

But, after what will most likely be my last hot shower for a year and a sleep in the world’s comfiest bed, I am pretty excited. Today’s airport run has been much smoother than yesterdays and was lightened up by the Scots getting their results, shout out to Lauryn and Kirsten!Now as we are 5000 ft somewhere above Mexico listening to a pretty heated conversation in Spanish between the couple behind me, I can’t wait to spend a week in Gracia’s with the girls in Lempira before we travel to Candelaria to meet our family.

Training

So, after a relentlessly long car journey from suburban Birmingham to the highlands of Oban, Scotland my feelings about leaving home and embarking on this forthcoming year were, dare I admit it, not at all positive. I was stranded in a remote Scottish port, far away from what I knew and I was only going to get further. The chatter of the other volunteers in the hostel dented my confidence further, where were the nerves, the homesickness, the apprehensions? Everyone seemed just so prepared. And me? I was overwhelmed, I wanted my friends, my family and my home, but, I was in at the deep end and it was too late to back out now.

After the 3 hour ferry ride to the Isle of Coll my spirts began to lift. This was my new life. The ever unknowing of what I was going to experience next had returned. And, despite this thought once scaring me to tears, I now looked at it as beautiful. This path might not be ordinary; not a 9 to 5 job or taking on a degree and living off baked beans for a year, but it is my way of making a faint mark on the world. As I dragged my over-packed sack into my dorm it dawned on me that although I may suffer from homesickness, catch Vika Virus and very possibly get mugged, this year was going to be one hell of a journey and it was most definitely going to be worth it.

4 days of teacher training, class room management, culture induction and the always increasing shrill of laughter as us Lempira girls began to let loose and I felt indestructible. My town is coffee country, strictly catholic and very very poor. Usually the idea of not being able to show my knees, drink or stay out late would trigger one of my  spiralling feminist rants ,but, in this case I felt empowered. I may be a member of the second sex in Honduras but I was giving a life line to these children. Children who are looked after by extended family while their parents worked in America, who relied on the World Health Organisation for food and who had very little chances . Yet, me and my partner Lauryn weren’t fazed, we weren’t idyllic of course either, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we understood it was important and it was up to us to be role models and to offer all we could.

We have both followed Sara and Amy’s blogs (who are teaching in Candelaria now) and are filled with excitement to meet our host family and our classes. Training has most of all been useful as reflection, on how we feel, our hopes and fears and this has made me stop and breath ,despite the hum of excitement around me. Project Trust are a great support and I know that whether its just a bad day or a real problem I can always call; Lauryn is everything I hoped to have in a partner, she’s kind, caring, clever and always makes me laugh in her defined Scottish accent; and I know that my family and best friend are always at the end of the phone. And these are big comforts when everything is alien. I know I am going to face tough times but the other Honduran volunteers share my mind-set and I cant wait to spend this year getting to know their quirky personalities (even if I am convinced Rosie and Anna are going to catch HIV) as we support each other on this ride.

Chloe x