Sunday, 2 September 2012

Coming Home!


Well here I am, sitting at home, my home, my home in Norwich where this whole adventure started. This is where the idea to even attempt a year overseas was born and I have to say what a bloody good decision that was eh? (Well you guys know you have been here with me all the way ... hopefully!)

Anyway, coming home was hard, harder than I thought actually. I think the whole hype of coming home and seeing friends and family was clouding my mind a bit. Ally and I were so prepared for coming home, we had printed our eTickets weeks ago, tried packing so we knew how much space we had, left notes and things for the new volunteers that I think we didn’t really sit down and think about what we were leaving behind. All the amazing people we met, out fantastic students, the helpful teachers, our best friends. Over a year you really do form some incredible bonds with people and in that kind of situation where you are so out of your comfort zone you turn to those around you to help you through which makes that bond even stronger, and harder to break. It was all a little bit surreal to be honest, yes we were saying goodbye, yes we were packed but it didn’t feel like we would be leaving everything in Honduras. It felt like we were moving house rather than moving half way round the world, it felt like it was the kind of goodbye you say to people when you leave on holiday, which was a fantastic thing to realise as it meant that I would definitely be  coming back to visit one day, which I will! I need to go and see if my kindergarten students still remember Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.

One of the weirdest feelings about coming home was knowing that my affiliation with Project Trust, the other volunteers in Honduras (The Hondies) and Ally would soon be coming to an end. I would no longer be living with the person who I have spent practically every moment with for a year. I will miss Ally, I will miss all of the Hondies, but Ally was the best partner anyone could have had and I have to thank Project Trust for that. They paired us up perfectly and to this day I have no idea how.

In all seriousness, I have to thank every member of staff at Project Trust for making the year what it was, for first of all selecting me (all those months ago!) and then caring for us and making everything about the whole process run with (relative) ease.

I am happy to be home, I love being home in England, and I love seeing my friends and family but I do miss Honduras and I will never, ever forget what this year has entailed.

Thank you to everyone who had a part in it!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Saying goodbye to Marble Hill Farms


With our flights coming up very fast, pretty much most things we do now will be the last time that we get to do them so today, we had organised to head up to Marble Hill Farms to do a couple of last dives with Jan and Mel and to have some lunch at the restaurant, The Crows Nest. So we headed up to MHF at about 7.45 as Jan had told us to be there at about half 8, after walking half way, it started to rain a little bit but luckily a truck passed by and we managed to hitch it the rest of the way. So once we arrived at the farm we headed down to the dive shop with Jan (Mel was still in bed and was going to join us for the next dive) and headed out to Diamond Rock dive site. This dive was great, having not dove since April, I was really happy to find that it all came ‘swimming’ back to me (see what I did there ... good, wasn’t it!). It was really good, seeing all of the amazing fish and coral structures. Overall we were down for about an hour which was great as both Ally and I came up with 1000 (out of 3000) psi left in our tanks, so that meant that out air intake has gone down a hell of a lot since we started.

After heading back to the dive shop, we met Mel and Dynamite (the dog) and had a cup of coffee and some cookies, while we waited the hour or so before we were allowed to dive once again. We soon got back onto the boat and headed out to Edward’s Place, another great dive site with loads of deep channels and trench’s that you can swim through. Jan and I even managed to spot the tail of a Moray Eel, however that was all that we saw, just the tail, we couldn’t find the head. It was really nice to dive with Jan, Mel and the boat captain Edward as we had never dove with them before, well to be honest it was just nice to dive again, full stop. I really cannot wait until I get the chance to travel again and explore other reefs around the world.

Anyway, when we surfaced and headed back to the dive shop once again, Mel said that they had planned to have a BBQ that evening with Edward and she asked if we would like to come back later or just hang around the farm and then have something to eat later. Not one to turn down a free BBQ we both agreed and then headed up to the house to chill out a bit and use the internet for a while and also get the pictures that Jan had taken on the dives. Soon after, still wanting to eat at the crows nest, Ally and I headed up the hill and had a gorgeous pulled pork pizza and a few beers, which was a lovely last meal to have at the restaurant that we had been to so many times before.

For the rest of the day we just chilled out for a while and then we headed to Oak Ridge to go and get some supplies for the BBQ later this evening, such as some veggies, some cake mix and some rum.

After Oak Ridge, we got back and we all got to work on preparing different things, Jan started preparing the lion fish parcels, Mel worked on the Chocolate cake and baked potatoes, Ally was on shrimp duty and I was making the rum bananas to go with the cake for dessert. It was just so easy to chill out with them and talk and chat and find out about their past, how they met whilst traveling in Thailand, and their lives back home. By the time we were ready to go home we were all stuffed to the brim with amazing food and drink and it by now 9 or 10 at night. Both Ally and I were really surprised that over 12 hours had passed with Mel and Jan and it was just so easy, so nice to chill out with e.t.c. It was really sad when Jan dropped us off at our house and we had to say our goodbyes to the farm and everyone there. It has been an amazing time this year and I will really treasure all of the moments that I have stored up in that box of mine. 

Anyway, I may get round to doing another blog but probably wont post this until I am back in the Uk as I only have about 10 days left now!!

Till Next Time,

Ciao!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

I met the love of my life ... Gracie!!


As it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago, my parents had sent over some money so that I could do something special to celebrate it. I had previously seen a sign at this resort called Anthony’s Key, which advertised 3 different types of interactions with their own trained pod of dolphins!!!  So it panned out that Ally and I both really wanted to swim with dolphins and so we booked in to do their Dolphin Snorkel which included a half hour interaction session where you had an instructor introduce you to the dolphin, our’s was called Gracie, who was a 22 year old mother and she was massive! The cutest thing I have ever seen ... ever!! Anyway, this session included the trainer getting her to do a few tricks for us and then having her come up to us so we could touch and pet her. OMG!! This was like a dream come true!! I could not believe that I was actually doing this. It was just so amazing, seeing the dolphins enjoying playing with us as much as we were enjoying her company. They feel pretty much exactly as you would imagine them to, really dense, smooth and kind of warm-ish. So our instructor was telling us all about the dolphins and and we were learning loads about them and about all of the other dolphins they have here and the resort, all the while he was leading Gracie up and down the line of people in our group, whilst everyone was stroking and petting her, living their life’s dream. Omg I would actually kill someone (well maybe not, but you get my drift) for their job. To spend all day everyday with a pod of 40 or more dolphins would be amazing, and maybe even possible! Our instructor did a degree in business, then tried this job on a whim and the owners let him stay on because he got on well with the dolphins! Umm ... screw Magazine publishine, Hello Dolphin Training!!
Moving on, in total there was about 30 people doing the interaction session, and we were all divided up into groups of 6 or 8 and had our own instructor, however most of those people left after the initial interaction session as that is all that they had paid for. That left about 8 of us to do the next section which was a free snorkel in the dolphin’s pen, all the while being surrounded by a pod of about 20 dolphins. To begin with we were just swimming around and couldn’t see many as the water was quite murky and we were told that the dolphins were their but that they were judging us first. So I was swimming around for a while and then decided to go over and join Ally in one of the corners, as soon as I got there we saw about 3 dolphins come out of the gloom towards us and they just played around with us, swimming next to us and bumping into our hands as we held them out to play with them. At one point about 7 dolphins were just swimming around Ally and I, it was scary at times, but also an absolute adrenaline rush. At one point, this mother and calf came swimming up to us and slowed down around us, if I thought Gracie was cute, my word the baby one was so much cuter! We had been warned that the dolphins are very perceptive, so that if they see you flinch when they come at you, they will keep doing it as it makes them ‘laugh’, so it was quite hard not to flinch as they open their mouths to try and bite you playfully (like a puppy does) but it was reassuring to find out that their teeth didn’t hurt at all, as Ally tells me. Anyway, that half hour of snorkeling with the dolphins was one of the greatest half hours of my life (I know I haven’t lived my whole life yet, but I am pretty certain it will remain near the top, if not at the top!) If anyone, ever gets the chance to swim with these majestic creatures, please do! You will love it, even if you are not a swimmer! You will have such a great time, that I can guarantee.
Well, now you know how much I loved it, and that I had probably the best birthday present I have ever been given (Thanks Mum and Dad!). We also got some pictures taken by the on-site professional photographer (she takes pics of everyone) and I will include these below, hope you enjoy them! The one of us two and Gracie is now my background on my laptop and I smile every time I see it, no jokes!
Till Next Time,


Ciao!

I'm All By Myself!!


This friday Ally’s Mum, Debbie, decided to pop over for a visit. She had planned to stay until the monday after next, so she had two full weekends and a whole week. Ally had spoken to Prof Lee and had organised a great fishing trip for the saturday in West End. We arrived in the early morning, and set of soon after, however, due to it not being like 5 in the morning, we were a tad late to catch anything of decent size, but we did manage to catch a tuna, which we then used as live bait so that the bigger fish could get something. We were going up and down for a while and all of a sudden felt a big jolt on the rod and then nothing. We soon realised that a great big Wahoo had come and nabbed out tuna and got away with it! So we were now left with nothing and decided to head back to land when we heard a splash to our left and Aquaman was swimming along side of us ... no I joke, it wasn’t Aquaman but it was a live turtle. Absolutely amazing to see another one, and even greater for debbie as she hadn’t seen one yet! The rest of the day was spent chilling on West Bay before we headed back up to Marble Hill Farms for a great dinner and some sleep.
The next day (sunday if anyone is counting) Profa Ligia (the new Headmistress, Profa Elena had left about 1 month ago and Ligia has been working here ever since) had organised a special island tour type thing with us and her husband. First stop we went to the poshest resort on the island, Parrot Tree Plantation. Honestly, it was so plush, we saw they had a special offer on at the moment, $250 for 3 nights!! I KNOW!! A special offer?? that is still pretty expensive!! haha Anyway, this place is amazing, there is this great man-made style beach pool thing, basically this beach goes in a great big circle and then there is the sea in the middle which comes in through a little river that goes under a bridge. Profa Ligia then treated us to some lunch and showed us around the resort’s pool, where they had these amazing sun lounger style things which were like little huts with mattresses on them and curtains so you could block out the sun if you wanted! AMAZING! After Parrot Tree we then headed further into French Harbour and visited the Iguana Farm where there are hundreds of Iguana’s just lying around all over the place. They are so used to human interaction by now that they don’t really move for you, you have to dodge them, or go up to them and stroke if you really want, to be honest I was a little scared as I had heard that their bite is like 250 pounds of pressure ... I’ll pass thanks! We then headed to the mall for some coffee from Expresso Americano, which Debbie actually paid for as she wanted to treat Ligia and her husband as they had done so much for us that day. It was such a nice day and we really can’t thank Ligia enough.
That night I stayed in our house and Ally and his mom headed back up to Marble Hill Farms as they were heading to the mainland in the morning. Ally wanted to show his mum all the great sights such as Copan and Lago de Yajoa and since she had the time, she was well up for it as well. I decided to stay behind on the island as I still really needed to test some of my classes and also thought it would be nice for Ally and his mum to have some time together.
So that week was spent by myself, but I have to say it was one of the weirdest weeks ever! After living with Ally for about 10 months, to suddenly not be without him, well in fact, not living with anyone was really quite strange. I may sound really soppy here but honestly, it was the weirdest thing. I would go and sit and eat at Mary Lou’s and not have anyone to talk to, as usually, Mary Lou goes and sits outside. That week was pretty normal really, just chilled at home, went and taught some classes and managed to give my classes some tests and even gave some of Ally’s classes a test as he asked me to. This was really nice as I got to teach my 8th grade classes that I had last year (which Ally now has as they moved up into 9th grade)
Anyway, I am sure you don’t want to hear about my boring week, or actually do you?? No really?? you sure? okay ...
Well I woke up, ate some breakfast, sat down for a while, got up again, went and had a shower, washed my hair, washed my face, went to the loo, got dressed, put my phones in my pocket, took 3 sips of water, breathed ... you get the picture! haha
Anyway, on the Saturday Ally and Debbie returned and we spent the afternoon just chilling around really and then headed up to Marble Hill Farms for some dinner and to stay the night. That night we had some of the best pizza I have ever had! It was amazing!! so tasty and so filling. It was just such a nice evening, hearing all about Ally and Debbie’s travel stories, them listening to my boring week ...  jokes!! No it was a really good night and after dinner we just sat up and played cards for a while before crashing.
The next morning we had asked Mel (one of the new dive instructors) if we could use the kayaks in the morning to go out and explore the bay. Well when we arrived at the dock, we were overjoyed to find out that one of the Kayaks (a two person one) had a glass bottom to it! It was amazing, and slightly off putting as you were gliding along on top of the water on what (when you looked down) seemed to be nothing! Was really cool, but quite odd at the same time!
Due to there being no busses on a sunday we couldn’t really explore more of the island, but we didn’t really feel we had to anyway, as Ally and Debbie had had such a busy week, they kind of wanted just a day to relax and take in a bit of the sun. So we walked to Punta Gorda, had some lunch with Mary Lou and spent the afternoon at Flamingo’s (where Ally and I usually spend every single sunday afternoon!). Again, it was really lovely, and we even managed to get some amazing sweet rolls to take back to Marble Hill Farms for our ‘dinner’ as the restaurant is shut on sundays.
The next morning, we woke early-ish and walked down to bus stop so that Debbie could catch a bus/taxi in order to take her to the Airport so she could get back to britain. Despite her protests that she didn’t want to go home, we did manage to get her a cab so that she could get to her meeting on the wednesday in time!
It was a great couple of days spent with Debbie either side of my week alone and I am glad to hear that she got home okay and hopefully she enjoyed her meeting as much as she enjoyed Roatan!
Till Next Time,
Ciao!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My Birfday!


Well when we got back from La Ceiba, we finally arrived in Punta Gorda by about half seven and headed over to Mary Lou’s for some dinner. We had a fantastic meal with a few of my favourite things, avocado, beans, fried chicken e.t.c and then once we had finished she asked us if we could wait a little while after dinner as she wanted to do something. So while we were wondering what was going on a few of Mary Lou’s friends had arrived and were just chilling outside.
All of a sudden Mary Lou pulled a cloth off something that was lying on the table and underneath was an almighty cake! She had baked a huge, what tasted like banana and toffee, cake and had organised that a few of her friends should come over and celebrate. So Ally and I went to sit outside whilst Mary Lou dished up the cake (after she insisted that I made the first cut of course) and everyone started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in spanish and english. After that we headed back home as we were both really tired after a long weekend.
The next morning, we woke up as usual on a monday morning (at 7.15) and got ready to head downstairs to give my sixth grade class. This morning Ally came down with me as the week before I had said to my class that we would play games and have a fun lesson as it is my birthday, and he wanted to come and enjoy the games. Well, when I walked in to the room everyone of my students started singing and cheering and there was a great big message written on the board and then the teacher, Profa Elly, one of my favourite teachers came up to me and told me that they had made a cake, cooked some chop suey and brought in some fizzy drinks to share with everyone as it was my birthday. I was so overwhelmed, it was amazing to know that my class would go to such lengths to do all of this for me. I really felt touched (not like that!! ...) and was so happy just playing loads of games with them and Ally and just having a little party. Anyway, they soon had to go back to lessons and I had to go and give some other classes. The rest of the morning was spent just chilling around the house really, enjoying the happiness of it all, I think I even went to sit in the hammock and actually fell asleep, not meaning to of course, but it is just so god damn comfy! 
So after lunch came afternoon classes. Now on a Monday I have 1st grade at 1.50, 3rd Grade and 2.50 and 8th grade at 4.50. I walked into my 1st grade class and they all started to sing and chant happy birthday which was really amazing, seeing loads of my favourite, cute little first grade students singing to me was really cool, and of course the same thing happened in 3rd grade, and we also played some really cool games and just had fun in general really. And then at break Ally and I were sitting outside and then Profa Doris (one of our really good friends) called us over and took us into the kitchen and I walked in to see all of the teachers gathered around and singing, and then Profa Salma presented me with a ‘trĂ©s leches’ cake which I discovered out here. It is just a really great gooey, sticky, cake which is covered in condensed milk. I was so touched and then Ally leaned over to me and wished me happy birthday, and presented me with a hand made card which had been signed by pretty much everyone in that I knew in the village. It was amazing and I will treasure it for ever.
Later that evening, we headed over to Profa Elena’s house as she wanted to cook us dinner, we had been invited before, but unfortunately we were busy and so couldn’t make it, but this evening we got a lift up to their house with Profa Doris (Profa Elena’s neice, who lives with her) and we sat down to a great big meal, prepared lovingly by Elena. There was so much food, but it was all so good that we didn’t really want to stop, but unfortunately we would have burst if not. After dinner we just relaxed and chatted for a while to Elena and Doris and just had a nice evening. Doris then dropped us back down in Punta Gorda (they live on the very edge of the village) and we walked to Yandra’s house to pick her up and make our way up to Flamingo’s to have a bit of a drink and a dance. That night was hilarious, many drinks, a lot of dancing (some of it dirty honduran dancing) and just generally a lot of laughs with Audrey, Nora and Michael.
All in all it really was a great birthday and I couldn’t of wished for anything different. It was lovely, even if we were pretty much force fed the whole day. I really would like to thank everyone of Punta Gorda for all of their hospitality and kindness to us both over these past 10 and a half months. It has been great and I am dreading the day that I have to pack my bags and leave.
Till Next Time,
Ciao!

A Carnival, A theft, and a tattoo!


It was coming up to the end of May and Ally had planned to head to the thriving city of La Ceiba to experience the colourful Carnival that was planned to take place. I sadly didn’t have the money to afford the ferry across (which is actually quite expensive) and so speaking about it one evening, Ally said that he would buy me a ticket for my birthday so that I would be able to go to this annual great big carnival.
So over the next week I got really excited as we planned that we would head to La Ceiba on the friday morning and then get back on Sunday evening in time to celebrate my 19th birthday on the monday. So after an early rise on Friday morning and a fairly calm ferry ride we arrived in Ceiba and headed to our hostel called Banana Republic (where we have stayed previously, a really nice comfortable hostel in a really good central location, just one block away from the main Carnival Street).
So after settling in, Ally and I headed out to get some much needed coffee and also get some supplies at the local supermarket. That day was spent just chilling around really (well I say chilling around, we were both quite excited to be in a city and even indulged ourselves with a Burger King :D ... OH YEAH!!) as the Carnival didn’t actually start until the next day and Sarah (one of the other Hondies who lives in the nearby Tela) had to work on the saturday morning so wouldn’t arrive until later. So Ally and I just pottered around looking at all of the different places that the carnival would take place e.t.c until we the sun set and we began chatting to some people who were staying at our hostel, 2 american guys and 3 Suisse people (1 gal and 2 guys), who were heading out for something to drink and a little party. This was like a pre-carnival party nearer to all of the clubs and night life zone. This night was so interesting and hilarious, just seeing loads of stages put up everywhere and people singing and dancing in the streets. I remember one moment when we passed a particular lively stage and I had been walking and chatting with the girl from Switzerland (Nevin) and all of a sudden she grabbed my hand and we started to boogey on down to the salso beats in the middle of the street. Soon enough many of the Hondurans (who are always a little bit shy about dancing in public) formed a circle and soon we were putting on a little show with all of the other guys we had met that night.
The night followed like that, sampling some Honduran street food and getting our groove on e.t.c and soon we decided to head back as me and Ally had been up since about 4.40 in order to catch the ferry. The next day, well I say day, I mean morning as the parade didn’t actually start until about 3 or 4ish, we set out and just decided to go for a wonder, pop into a few shops and see what was happening e.t.c, anyway, we were on our way back and we walked past this clothes shop which looked quite funky and then we actually looked at the name of it and it was called ‘Urban Clothing and Tattoo’ ... tattoo ... ?!?!?!?! ... I pretty much just looked at Ally and said the words “Should I?” to which he quite rightly gave a very good response of “I am not making this decision for you.”
Let me explain, I have wanted a tattoo for ages now, even from since before my flight out to Honduras, I dunno just always wanted one really and from about february out here I have had one designed which was just a basic meaningful message in a nice font, I could remember the message but couldn’t remember the name of the font, and didn’t have access to it as I left my laptop back in Punta Gorda which had the design of the tattoo on it. So after debating it for a while, we headed back to the hostel to see if I could find the font online and re-create my design so I could take it to the shop and ask the man a mountain load of questions! Luckily I did find it and soon enough Ally and I were back outside the front of the tattoo shop debating whether I should go in and mark my skin for life, well literally about 30 minutes later I was out of the shop with a few words scrawled onto my side. I was pretty scared if I have to admit but it really did only feel like a very hot, deep, scratch. Much less painful than what I thought it would be, but then I really don’t know if that is because it was on quite a fleshy part or not, who knows? ... well maybe tattoo artists know ... hmm.
Anyway, moving on, soon enough Sarah showed up (with her friend Genesis (pronounced with an H) from Tela) and we took no time in heading back out onto the main street as some of the action was starting to get going, loads of horses and cars pulled past, and loads of great big busses throwing different things down to the waiting crowd. We were just watching the different things go by, enjoying the colourful costumes and the happy vibe about the place when all of a sudden this one bus in-front of us was throwing down some bead necklaces and I was standing there with both hands in my pockets (knowing that these kind of environments are pick-pocket heaven) when I got jostled quite strongly, meaning I had to use my hand to balance myself, so that came out of my pocket for literally about 3 seconds while I got my feet in place and then when I had put it back into my pocket to my horror my wallet had been stolen, which contained the equivalent of about £20 in it, my provisional drivers license and the key to out locker back at the hostel. Luckily I had taken my bank card out of my wallet and left it back at the hostel so you can imagine how glad I was that that wasn’t nicked, but any way, that put a real downer on my mood and I was from then on really over cautious about everyone and soon decided to head back to see if everything was still where it was in the hostel (my cautious mind working over time thinking that this was some kind of planned robbery and the thief had been watching me all day, saw me take out some money and knew that the locker key was in my wallet, had followed me all over La Ceiba and was now planning to head to the hostel and steal everything in that locker!)
Soon enough the others made their way back, with Ally raving about how he had been given some free frozen chicken off one of the busses that had passed by in the parade. To be fair we were all raving about it as it meant some free dinner, so we left Ally (already pretty drunk by now, I mean we were all tipsy, but he was something else, it was know about 6 ish in the afternoon, his first beer was at 10.30 ... AM!) upstairs to see if he could work his magic and get this chicken cooked for us before we headed out and enjoyed the rest of the night. Anyway, after eating the chicken we all decided to wait a little while as no-one else was going out just yet and soon enough after drinking lots Genesis sadly threw up as she was not used to the sheer volumes of alcohol that us brits consume!
So you can imagine the rest, after her long recovery we all went out for a bit of a dance on the street and even managed to drunkenly buy La Ceiba Carnival T-Shirts each, among other bits and pieces! The night was great and I really can’t remember much else as it was (now) quite a while ago and I was pretty drunk as you can imagine! So I shall end it there this time (sorry that it has been quite a long one) and next time you get to hear all about my amazing 19th birthday.
Till next time,
Ciao!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Mother's Day


In Honduras, among other such celebration days as ‘Day of the Teachers’, and ‘Day of the Tree’ of course there is also Mother’s Day, and for some strange reason, out here it is celebrated in May, on the 2nd sunday in May to be exact. So the time came at school where preparations for a big celebration where under way. Ally and I woke up one morning, on the friday before Mother’s Sunday and went downstairs to see if we could help set up any decorations or things in order get the stage ready for later in day. We spent a good part of the day cutting out flowers and blowing up red and white baloons to hang from the stage and by the time 3 o’clock came around, everything was ready. Mothers of the pupils in school started to arrive and soon enough the celebrations began. Each class had elected a ‘Mother of our Class’ and had presented a hamper to each of them, including things like flour, beans, juice and other such food stuffs that would be useful to them, as well as this, each class had prepared a little presentation of some kind. Some had prepared songs, other plays and we had also got asked to prepare a poem or something in english, which our students would then read out in front of the school. Both Ally and I had prepared a poem and both of us had volunteers to go up and read it, however, being school children the volunteers that I had from my 8th grade class decided that they didn’t want to do it in the end, and so I was left looking like a wally as I had nothing else prepared, not to matter though as some of the teachers were quite pleased as the ceremony had gone on for quite a while already. Ally had also prepared a lovely poem that his 6th Grade students were going to read out. However, like I said, the program was quite packed, and one of the teachers didn’t want to put Ally’s poem in, which of course annoyed him a little and so he rounded up the help of the 6th Grade teacher, Profa Adelia and together they had words and got the poem squeezed into the ceremony. Overall it was a great day and very colourful and was made even better by the fact that when the celebrations for the mothers had finished, the teachers had a meeting of their own, for which Profa Salma had prepared some chop-suey and garlic bread, which was delicious, especially when followed by a great piece of ‘tres leches’ cake, a really nice gooey cake flavoured with condensed milk, very sweet, but OMG so good!
Also in aid of Mother’s Day, me and Ally decided to give our Honduran Mother a present and card to say thank you for everything that she had done for us in the past 9/10 months. So we bought Mary Lou a nice clock (as we noticed she didn’t have one in her house that was working) and a nice card from the supermarket. There was also a great big party on the beach (much like what happened for fathers day) where we chilled out for a bit before being hit by a wave of tiredness and a sudden great desire to get to bed ... party rockers we are (n’t)!
till next time,
Ciao!
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY EVERYONE!! xxx ... (well the mother’s who are reading this ...)

The Hondies come to Roatan (sadly not all of them though!)


During the last week of april Ally and I were sitting at home minding our own business when all of a sudden we received a text from one of the Volunteers in Tela called Sarah saying the following ‘Omg so excited to come and see you guys, you better be ready to come to west end this weekend!’
...
Umm ... WHAT?? Apparently they had told us they both the Tela Girls, and 3 other (Kate, Ruby and Annie) where all coming to Roatan to celebrate Sarah’s birthday on the 29th, but somehow Ally and I had forgotten or just not been told in the first place. So we therefore quickly made some plans to head down the island to meet the girls in a few days time. Well we made plans for them to come up to Punta Gorda first, because they all wanted to see our project as we had seen all of their projects (bar Kate and Ruby’s in Santa Barbara) so when they arrived on the saturday they managed to catch a bus up to Punta Gorda and we spent a few hours walking around, showing them our house, our school and other such places like our local watering hole, Flamingoes, where we all had a bit of lunch before catching another bus all the way back down the island to Coxen Hole where we needed to change busses and we also wanted to do a bit of shopping. When we finally reached West End (arms full of bags of snacks and booze) we walked along the road and decided to see if we could get a cabin for all of us to share. So I saw a sign for Georphie’s Cabins and decided to go and have a look with Cat. Luckily the mother was sick that night so we got served by her daughter who let 7 people use a cabin that was meant for only 4 (we heard the next morning that her mother was not best pleased, but she decided to let it fly ... everyone is so nice over here) so we dumped out bags and got dressed and headed out for something to eat at Splash Inn restaurant where we indulged in some lovely Pizza’s and even managed to get Sarah a bit of cake to celebrate. After dinner and ‘lining our stomachs’ as some of you would say, we headed back to the cabin to play a few rounds of Cat’s amazing drinking game called ‘Circle of Death’ (bit of an odd name) which envolves you taking a card and every card has it’s own special meaning (for example, any number 4 means everyone has to touch the floor (Four = Floor ... duh!) and the last one to do so has to take a drink an so on and so forth). This game can get very fun with cards like chin master and question master and we were all soon pretty slozzled. Soon after that we headed out to Nova bar for a bit of a boogie and to pass the midnight mark (as Sarah’s birthday was actually on the Sunday) so we celebrated the early hours of the Sarah’s Bday in style, getting on down to some Honduran beats and then going for a late night swim in the sea ... I really have no idea how I remember all of this ... well actually I don’t cos that is where my memory fails me, but I think we went back to the cabin to chill out for a while as all of the bars were closing up.
The next day was spent recovering on the gorgeous beach and just chilling around with each other really. Sadly Ally and I had to head back to PG because we had classes in the morning on Monday so we stayed with the girls until about 3 ish before we hopped on a bus back to the quiet old town of PG, however not before we discovered a great little bakery in West End that sells some great, and very cheap bagels. Will defo be going there again if we ever head to West End another time. Every time the Hondies get together, even if it is just a few of them, it is always such a laugh and we have so much fun. Having such a close bond by all coming away together definitely forms some true friendships and I really cannot wait until we all have some Hondie Reunions back in England/scotland in the years to come.
Till next time,
Ciao!
P.s Sorry I have been a bit bad in keeping up with these ... will try harder.
P.P.s I know I have said the before but this time I really mean it ... I do!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

El Doce de Abril.


The 12th of April, out here is a very important date for all Garifunas because it marks the anniversary of the date that the Garifunas first arrived in Honduras and this year was their 215th anniversary. This day calls for a parade through the village and a great big festival and party all day long until the very early hours of the morning! It is even more special for the people of Punta Gorda because it was here where they first arrived. Punta Gorda was the first place that the Garifunas saw of honduras.
So Ally and I got up fairly early and headed down to see what was happening in the village already. We had heard that the parade was starting at 8, so that meant in Honduras it was going to start at 9.30 ish. However being british we still turned up at 8. There were still a load of people about, people from all over the island and many schools from other towns had come to learn about the Garifuna (or Garinagu in their native language) people. Of course all of our students were also there for the day so we sat and talked to them for a while and then we suddenly heard the beat of drums coming from afar and we raced to go and see what was happening with the parade so that we could go and get some good pictures of this annual event. The rest of the day transpired with us just enjoying the festivities, sampling some of the many different types of gorgeous food which had been prepared by some local women in the village, which varied from fried chicken, plantain chips or ‘tajadas’, ‘pastelitos’ and even some lovely ‘tapado’ which is basically a coconut based stew loaded with plantains, onion, garlic and in this particular case, fish. All of the village had come out to celebrate today so we met up with some of our friends, like Yandra (who had come back from the mainland for the celebration) Ziggy, Dioxy, Audrey, Nora and Michael. Prof Lee also turned up and had brought with him a huge volleyball net and a bag of balls so Ally went to go and help set up a little tournament for the kids to get involved in, whilst I watched the procession of ‘Little Miss Garifuna 2012’ with Yandra in which many of the girls involved had to partake in a dance competition. One of the crowd favourites was a girl who probably was no older than 5-ish, who had been taught to dance at a very young age and who was working her stuff doing a very ‘hip popping’ version of the Punta dance, was very good indeed.
Halfway through the day, our dive instructors Pol and Ingrid showed up to see what was going on and we all went out for a beer at a local restaurant so that we could have a bit of a catch up and also say a goodbye as they were moving on to another country in about 4 days so the likelihood would be that we would not see them again. So after saying farewell to Pol and Ingrid we all headed to church for their special service that they had planned for today, with plenty of music and dancing and shouting praise. Sadly Ally was feeling a little under the weather and so went outside to go and get a drink and this in when all hell broke loose ....
I lost him ...
I know what your thinking, lost?? but Tom you never lose anything ... how could you lose a person? ... I know, I know. Well to be honest it was both of our faults as we both went looking for each other but in completely different directions and both kept on moving when we should have been staying in one place. I went back to the house thinking that Ally had maybe gone back there for a nap as he was feeling unwell, but I had given my key to Ally earlier that day so that he could go and get some swimming shorts so I couldn’t get into the house and so I soon headed back down to the beach (after sitting in the hammock for a while thinking that he would return) to enjoy the rest of the party. So I sat on the beach and watched the concert for a little while and listened to the great music whilst pondering what to do and where to go and look for Ally. Thinking that some time had passed and that Ally must have thought to go back home, I went to go and check again but sadly no, still no Ally. We had been looking for each other for a good 2 hours by now and I was absolutely dumbfounded that we hadn’t crossed paths in this tiny village in that time. So I was walking back down the road, down by Mary Lou’s house and lo and behold there was Ally at the local ‘pulperia’ (like a little hole in the wall shop type thing) buying some Hair dye with one of his students because Derrian wanted to paint his hair black so that he would look more like a local!
Anyway, we then went to go and chill on the beach a little more before heading to Mary Lou’s for dinner, which was lovely as always, and then I headed home, as Ally went to Derrian’s house to go and get his hair dyed, and sat down to watch Toy Story 3, nursing my sun burn from a whole day standing in the sun ... my poor little nose. 
Overall it was a fantastic day, even though it was very long and very draining, but it was amazing to see the whole village come together for something so important for them. It was so good to be a part of something which has been happening for 214 years!
Hope you enjoyed this post, sorry I have been a bit slack lately, I do promise to try and keep up!
Till next time,
Ciao!

Oh that's a nice breeze ...


So there I was waiting in the airport on Roatan, standing right next to the arrivals door, legs jittering, not being able to stand still, finished coffee cup on the table behind me when out walks Megan. We lock eyes, her bags drop to the floor as she runs into my waiting arms. Whilst hugging my sister who I haven’t seen for 9 months, over her shoulder I see my parents walk through the door, hear my mums gasp as she sees her son for the first time in nearly a year and see her eyes glisten over with a beautiful mixture happiness and tears, just like mine are doing as I see both my mum and my dad hustle towards me to greet me and me greet them.
That moment when I saw my family for the first time on Roatan was so special and I knew that it would signify an absolutely great week ahead as both Ally and I spent the easter week with them in their villa that they had rented for the week as they came to see where I had been living for a week. This week was absolutely amazing, it was also really weird just to spend some quality time with the family again, calling out ‘Mum ... Dad?’ in a house and hearing them reply was one of the oddest experiences of the week. It was really great to show them the island where I had been living and I even managed to bring them up to Punta Gorda for a day and show them the school, our house, and our village. I think I can say that they enjoyed it as well, and loved to actually see the house rather than just pictures and stories of it so that they could really get a feel for how small it is. Although we did come up to Punta Gorda a couple of times (once to show them the village, and once when they dropped me off due to me having to work the next morning!) we spend most of our time in West End, the really touristy section of the island in a really lovely villa which was so much fun for Ally and I, because we were able to live in luxury for a week or so, drinking, chilling by the pool or on the beach, nibbling and eating a lot of great food in some of the fantastic restaurants in west end. Of course whilst in West End we went over to West Bay a few times and showed them the nicest, most pristine beach on the island, with some of the best snorkeling I have ever seen, for example, literally about 30 metres out from the beach me and Ally saw a pretty size-able sting ray ... on one of the most populated beaches ever! 
The first trip we took to West Bay however, the weather wasn’t perfect, it was quite windy so the waves had picked up a little so there were kayaks out to stop people swimming too far out, however, Mum and Dad managed to get a little bit of snorkeling in and this pretty much convinced them to go and try a Discover Scuba Diving Course, which they decided to do the next day at a great dive shop called West End Divers, where all of the staff were really friendly and really helpful. The Discover Scuba Diving Course is basically the first of five chapters of the Open Water PADI Course and is just a starter course where the students get to do a few vital skills and then later go out for a full complete dive, which is where Ally and I joined Mum and Dad, after having breakfast with Megs (becasue she didn’t want to do the Scuba Course) as we had never dived in West End before. We went to a site called Turtle Crossing which is a place where you are guaranteed to see some turtles .... not one bloody turtle at TURTLE Crossing, although I wasn’t too disappointed as it was also a beautiful dive and I was so proud to see Mum and Dad diving along side of me. As well as that dive Ally and I joined them on one more the next day at a dive site called Seaquest where we did see a turtle, a really big hawksbill which was just so beautiful to see in the wild, even though it did have two bloody great remoras sucking on its shell. It was honestly one of the greatest moments in my life (so far!) and was made even better by the fact that I was diving with my parents and showing them this amazing activity!
So the rest of the week was spent just chilling out really, at either west end, the pool or west bay. We even spent a few evening at the beginning of the week with Eleanor’s family, her parents, Alastair and Leslie, and one of her younger brother Innes. They were all so lovely and I was so pleased to meet them and again show all of them, including Eleanor the island where we had been living for 9 months and it was also great to be able to show our project to the first hondie to visit. Sadly we were too busy to take Cat and Sarah (who arrived on the wednesday) up to Punta Gorda as we only had a limited time with my family. We had such a good time with everyone and I really cant thank them enough for making that week what it was. It was absolutely magical to see my family and be able to speak and laugh an joke with Mum, Dad and Megs. However it was also really sad as I knew that as much as they wanted to come, Josh (my brother) and his girlfriend Chloe (practically a sister) they couldn’t, so my love goes out to them and I hope that they have a great time in Barcelona, not quite a caribbean island but hey ....
To Mum and Dad especially, thank you ever so much for making that holiday of yours possible and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to show you the life I have been living for nigh on 9 months now! I really hope you enjoyed it (even though you were stuck in the Roatan Airport for about 2 days, and so missed out on your trip to New York) and again it was great to see you and cannot wait to see you again at Heathrow Airport in august, which is now only about 3 months away! :O
Till next time,
Ciao!
The fridge where we stayed in West End ... filled with goodies from england!


Eleanor and her brother Innes.
Me and my lovely sister Megan.

Ally and Megan in the sea at West end, was a very nice and calm day .... as you can see!

The Family at our school!