A Travellerspoint blog

Hello Hello!

sunny

Hello happy campers!

I have the day off today so thought I'd send you an update. Iv just finished shaving all of Lewys hair off and so he is now running around the house excitedly and hairless cooking beans! Today has pretty much been a day of hand washing all our clothes. That's the one thing I will one day appreciate again... a washing machine of any type! We also made pancakes woop!

I should probably tell you all that Lewy and I went to Church for FOUR HOURS last Saturday night. Some local students had asked our American friend Armide if she could bring some Gringos to Church as they were doing a presentation about the USA. Due to a low number of American volunteers Lewy and I stepped in and pretended to be American.

Everyone greeted us and practiced their English on us. Out side the Church were five huge big stands representing different countries (Brazil with a musical band, a big pyramid for Egypt, Honduras and a Japanese restaurant with girls in Kimonos). They were all very impressive. The Team who put together the USA stand had an Emprire State building 5 foot tall, they were selling burgers and pepsi... and the funniest thing of all was that they had paper mached a model of the twin towers the same size as me! We were then told we would all be doing a presentation in front of the church and that they were going to blow up the Twin Towers!!! As Lewy and I creased at the mouths Armide explained about the Iraq War and that perhaps it wasn’t a suitable thing to do. Pah ha ha! Each Country did its own presentation and the USA was last. We were asked to walk down the middle of the church with our big rucksacks and big books to show how the USA are well traveled and educated as they can read big books. What an experience it was!!!!!

Last Sunday we had a 'Sunday Funday' on the beach organised by Jim one of the American volunteers. He made a barrel full of skippies (beer, vodka and lemonade... make up your own mind on how that tasted); we played volleyball, played wrestling matches in the sea.... Lewy and I were an almighty team and then danced on the beach as the sun went down. We were all then in bed and sound alseep by 10pm for work on Monday.

The new project is going well and is so different from the last. Lewy and I cycle to work on our retro bicycles in the morning to teach grades 2 and 3. Everyone shouts 'BYE' at us as we cycle past which cracks us up. Here they say 'adios' instead of hello when you pass by and so they persume its the same in English. There are between 3-5 kids in the class, sometimes 6 if were lucky! And they make enough noise to represent 30! The children are a lot poorer than the children in my last project. A lot of them wear the same clothes everyday and I can see nit eggs in their hair. And they all have grubby but gorgeous little faces and scars all over them. The grade twos are the poorest of them all but they all turn up to class proudly with their little handbags and a pencil! Then they scream and shout whilst we try to teach them a word like POTATO.

We then cycle home for lunch for two hours and then go back up in the afternoon for grades 4, 5 and 6. During this time I also tutor a little boy in forth grade called Kaynor for his reading in Spanish. I asked him if he wanted me to give him a day off tutoring so he could play with his friends and he told me he wants to be tutored everyday because he wants to be brilliant at reading and read big books... how can I possibly refuse that :) the afternoon classes generally have between 5-7 children. They have learnt a lot with their English so far I was very impressed! The six grade girls all have crushes on Lewy and were a bit standoffishy with me to begin with... god forbid they find out im his girlfriend!

Last thursday I was sat waiting for a class to turn up and Lewy called me to come outside. Sat under the big tree on the tyres were two tiny little first graders. They had asked lewy 'where is Austin'. Austin the volunteer had been teaching the first graders English under the tree everyday at 1pm but left a few weeks ago and cancelled classes. I was overcome by how cute it was that they were waiting for him and wanted to learn English. The little girl came up to my belly button and had a tiny little handbag with only a pencil in it and her brother was pushing her on his little bike. They were ADORABLE! So I gave them some color pencils and we played games for a while. Then she stood up and said “Iv had enough now thanks bye!” I'm going to try and restart up the class this week.

Yesterday cycling home down the road I got stuck behind a horse and heard of cows walking down the main road of the town. Behind them was a bus tooting its horn, 3 scooters and a few bicyclists and I cycled behind the cows for ten minutes! I was giggling the whole way and the cow hearder man was laughing at me because I was scared of the cows! These things would never happen at home I thought haha! Its these things that make me smile that I love about Central America.

We have found out about three family's living nearby who have no toilet and bathroom and so we are going to start a construction project tomorrow led by Jim the volunteer to build them a set of showers and toilets. This will be good for Lewy as he's going a little crazy from spending too much time with children!! In a good way I think, perhaps he's found his inner child haha!

Will update you again soon hope I have not waffled on too much. love you all tonnes x

Posted by lewyandkerri 16:22 Archived in Honduras Comments (1)

Belize, Utila...not bad...

Why are we still volunteering??

Hey Treacles!

Since Lewy's last blog we have been galavanting around the Carribbean spending too much money and having a fabulous time! We are however feeling a little guilty about this... but figured we wont be in Central America again (we are in agreement that we prefer South America) so we have to make the most of our experience. As a result life will be very boring and quiet for the month or so... but its been worth it.

First we visited Lewy's 6 foot 4 'friend of a friend' called Bobby who lives on the North Coast of Honduras in a place called Peurto Cortez. The town was revving up for the beginning of Semana Santa (Easter) which the Central Americans go crazy for. Bobby had a lovely house (his parents are doctors) and we were treated like royalty for a few days with hot water and air con. During the day the town was crazy, you couldn't see the sand at the beach as there were so many people. And its strange because people don't wear bikinis or swim shorts in Honduras, everyone is in the sea in their clothes! Bobby then took us out on the razzle dazzle to a few bars it was a great night! Peurto Cortez turned into a ghost town at night. Bobby explained that its a very dangerous town and getting more and more un-safe (like Honduras on the whole). He is hoping to move to Europe to continue his engineering career and hates feeling that his life's at risk in his own country everyday. This is the same feeling for a lot of the younger generation here- those who can get educated leave the country as soon as they can. So its hard to see things changing here any time soon. Nonetheless Bobby kept us very safe!

We then said goodbye to Bobby and caught a rather swish boat over to Belize to renew our Visa (and for a two week holiday over Easter). Belize was not in the original plan so I was happy to find out it was the only place we could go to renew our visa, plus id heard so many great things from Dad! Two weeks was not enough time and I feel we only just touched on what the country has to offer.... I'd highly recommend it as a place to visit.

We spent the first 5 days in Placencia, a beautiful coastal town. Highlights included an epic burger with blue cheese and mushrooms and chilling on the beach doing NOTHING. We then visited a town called Hopkins, this place was so chilled out that absolutely nothing happened. People didn't even leave the hostel! From there we took a boat out to one of the cayes and went snorkeling, it really was paradise. We are very lucky! We took the tent with us but got attacked by sand flies.... so we left Hopkins pretty swiftly. Due to bad planning and leaving Hopkins on Easter weekend there were no buses and so we went back to Placencia. The town had completely transformed from tranquility into a mental Carribbean fiesta for Easter weekend. It was awesome! The beach bars were full to the brim with big bottomed Garifuna women (Afro Caribbeans) shaking it in ways we didn't know was possible! Even the children have more rythm than the whole English population put together. Was a fabulous fiesta! The last place we visited in Belize was a National Wildlife Reserve which was stunning. We hiked up to some beautiful waterfalls (in flip flops may I add!); the water was freezing but well worth the hike. We saw a huntsman spider and Lewy took lots of artistic photos. That was Belize!

After arriving back at the volunteer project refreshed it only took one day for me to decide I was fed up with 5.30 am starting nine hour LONG days. This is my year off after all. And although I absolutely adore the children and feel that I've made a lot of progress with their English it didn't take much umming and ahhing before I decided to change projects. The children made me lots of thankyou/goodbye cards and made me cry a little bit as they bundled on me to the floor. But I have lots of happy memories to take from the project and I hope I've made learning English fun for them. So as of Monday I will start at the same project as Lewy as his wonderful and hopefully helpful assistant working 5 hours a day starting at 9am!

After 4 days back in El Porvenir the girls successfully persuaded us to visit the party Island of Utila to go Scuba Diving. Utila is actually part of Honduras but like a million worlds away. There are no cars on the island, the first language is English and it had a very much western travelers culture. We went scuba diving on the second day. It was the scariest thing I've done since being away (apart from that bloody horse). I have such a small pea head that none of the masks fit me and kept flooding as soon as I went under water which really scared me. The wet suits were also all very large on me (except for in the bottom area!) which the instructor and Lewy seemed to find funny! We saw lots of beautiful fish, big jelly fish and lots of colorful coral; its like a whole 'nother world. Lewy absolutely loved it. I have to say the best moment for me was when we went back to the surface! Glad Iv done it though to know that snorkeling is sufficient!

So we are now back in the lovely El Porvenir feeling very healthy, well fed and funned up. My task for the next few weeks is to study lots of Spanish, Lewy's is to focus on finding a TEFL job. Will update you again in a couple of weeks! Lots of love from us both xxxx p.s miss you all rather a lot! xxxx

Posted by lewyandkerri 16:40 Archived in Honduras Comments (2)

Volunteering, Honduras, Life.

Sorry its long...

sunny -30 °C

Life in Honduras

So...its been a while since we last wrote a blog entry. I hope this finds you guys all well and not wasting too much money on petrol. On the plus side, I heard a rumor it was sunny in England? And if it makes it any better it rained here last night for the first time in a couple of weeks. The weather has really improved since we arrived and now is consistently 30 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze that makes it perfectly acceptable to sit around and do nothing at all. However that’s not the case to often. Kerri and I have been keeping ourselves busy for the past two months (which have flown bye!).
The English project I am working on is going well, on the whole. The kids who turn up regularly can now make sentences in English, ask how you are and name fruits and days of the week etc. This may not sound like a great deal but its difficult, as many children do not consistently show up and so we have to reteach the same stuff over and over again. Also the concentration levels of the kids are fairly poor, and although we play games and have competitions when it comes to learning new vocab it takes a long time and some are often lacking in confidence and their ability to produce language correctly. We recently gave a test to see how far they had come in six weeks. The test was really easy but still only about 25% managed a pass, although not too many got 0% either. The older kids are doing quite well but the younger ones often really struggle and only seem to really enjoy drawing pictures. It is difficult to ensure they keep coming because of course this is an optional class and when all the others are playing in the field next door its obviously difficult to maintain their interest. That said, this project is not about getting all the kids fluent in English, it is enough if it encourages them to study more, and go to high school. It also provides an activity, which is good because one of the main problems poverty seems to bring in Honduras is the lack of stimulation for children, which leads to a lack of drive and a seeming willingness to accept that they cannot meaningfully change their situation. The main goal of most kids here seems to be to leave for the states as soon as possible. It is true that there are not many opportunities here further than working in the pineapple fields but Honduras clearly has potential, it is a lush country with fantastic beaches, climate and friendly people, but international tourism is virtually undeveloped here.
The country, especially round here, is in thrall to US fruit companies, mainly Dole. This company employs the majority of men in the area but only two days a week at $7 a day. This means that they do not have to provide holidays or health cover. Most families are large and this money cannot support them. Women are often full time mothers but take jobs as part time cleaners, shop assistants or set up food stalls outside their houses. This extra income still does not provide enough money to live, hence the exodus for the states. Most children have fathers or uncles or brothers in the states, and occasionally mothers and sisters. These family members send home money monthly, but often never return themselves for years at a time. Their stay usually ends when they are deported for being illegal immigrants. The US will then confiscate any savings in American banks and the person will be arrested on attempting to reenter and spend time in jail. Most men who have been deported have also done jail time. It would be easy to blame the country's problems on the US, but that is not the whole picture. The US also gives a vast amount of aid for development to Honduras, as thanks to historic ties the two countries are closely allied. This money often never reaches the places its needed most thanks to widespread corruption at the highest levels.
As well as corruption, violence is also widespread here. Since arriving here several people have been murdered in the town over, including the brother of the woman who set up our organization. One girl has been kidnapped and another two people murdered in our village of 5,000 people. A quick glance at the paper shows this is the case all over the country. The vast majority of violence is linked to the marras, armed gangs that are linked to the drug trade. These gangs will kill family members to get to each other, but the drug trafficking here is in no way as bad as in Mexico although it seems the police are fairly powerless to stop it. There are known 'narcos' who live in a big house on the beach in our village but nothing is done...
However, we, as volunteers are not directly at risk. Everyone in the village knows who we are, why we are here and where we live. In this respect we have protection and support from the community. I don't feel threatened walking around at night, and as we are not involved with the drug trade there is no reason why we should be! The main problem we face is theft, the same as while traveling in any foreign country. We take precautions and so far so good.
Anyway enough on all that depressing stuff! We have still been having fun anyway! After work there is not a lot to do in the evenings in town so we normally just hang out at the house and watch a DVD or read, make big dinners. I'm so glad I managed to pick up a guitar on the way up as well. We also study Spanish, do lesson plans or just chat to the other volunteers. There a 8 people in this house so its never that quiet. On the weekends we go to the beach, which is two minutes walk and fairly nice. There is a river where we have built a rope swing and you can swim. Also we play football and basketball with the locals, which is always fun and a chance to learn some slang. They love to talk trash here! We also live really close to Pico Bonito national park, where there are loads of rivers to go to and walking places. Its really stunning here, so green. There is loads of wildlife and we have seen macaws and parrots. There are always horses and cows wandering around town too!
One evening a week Kerri and I also teach an adult class, which is really good fun. It makes a nice change from teaching the kids because they are much more motivated to learn and much more driven. They pick things up quickly and are now able to tell us about where they live, their family, the weather and much more. Another volunteer and I are trying to set up a class for the teachers at the local school as well. The adult class has made me realize that this is what I want to do after volunteering here. I don't think I want teach little kids again (between 6 and 11) if I can help it! I love hanging out and messing around with kids on the field or at the river but in the classroom it can be stressful and they are difficult to control, made even more difficult when sometimes they are hard to understand. On the other hand when they do eventually get it, it is very rewarding.
So far I have really enjoyed my time here, despite the teaching not always being easy! Its made up for by the fact that I live in the Caribbean. Cycling to work every morning while the sun rises over the mountains without a cloud in the sky always ensures I go to work with a smile on my face. So far there has not been a single occasion where I really resented getting out of bed, which happened in England a lot. Watching the sunset on the beach and then being able to go home and have a cup of tea is fantastic. I really don' t know why people live in England. That said, I miss everyone.
We are of to Belize for two weeks now for the Easter Holiday. It will be nice to get away for a while and get back in the tent! Hopefully I will motivate to do a blog entry when I get back so I won't have to do one this long again... Love xx

Posted by lewyandkerri 15:04 Archived in Honduras Comments (3)

Our new Work :)

sunny

I'm volunteering at a local school called Los Ninos de la Luz (Children of the light); its a big school and shares the grounds with a boys orphanage. I leave at 6am in the morning driving past the pineapple plantations (owned by standard fruit company) and see the sun coming up over the epic mountains which surround our town. From 7am until 11am I teach English to 'Grades 1-4' with another volunteer called Julia from Germany. Its pretty hard core and we have to do a lot of planning. The classes are directly one after the other and to begin with this was quite stressful and we worried too much about if we were doing a good enough job. Now we are chilling out more and being a bit more relaxed with planning which has had a positive effect on our classes as they are more chilled and fun.

The kids are AMAZING and all run up and hug us every morning, they really enjoy learning English and they love the colours of the rainbow song. For 'Grade 3' we taught them a topic on pizza toppings and baked them a pizza as a surprise. They were so cute and all bundled and jumped on us, they were so happy. The kids really do make every minute of it worthwhile and i look forward to getting to know them all more. So all is well here and we will try to start updating you all more often. Im also very excited as Jess and Paul will be coming to visit us in July which is extremely exciting! Ill grab Lewy and get him to fill you in. Speak soon! x

Lewys:

Im teaching in the village where we are living. Four days a week we do english for kids between 7 and 12, its fun and crazy. The kids like to mess around a lot and are most definitely not natural linguists to say the least. There are three of us running the English program and a reading club for kids from the school who can't read well. (In Spanish) On fridays we have activities, mainly sports. The kids love it and go crazy over any stuff we have like bubbles and stickers and temporary tattoos. The work is tiring and we have to plan it all ourselves and sometimes it seems completely pointless because the kids just seem to forget anything you tell them. But if it encourages them to stay at school or learn English its a positive, and when they do get it its a good feeling. Its clear they do enjoy themselves and I am too!

Posted by lewyandkerri 16:06 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

I hate horses

sunny

The first weekend all of us volunteers went camping on the beach. It was a different beach from where we are living and so half of the people went by horseback on the way including Lewy (two hours); whilst the other half including me took a car and boat. The camping was awesome and we woke up at 7 and jumped straight in the warm clear sea. I had been making a fuss about how i really DID NOT WANT to get on the horse. I really hate horses. I don't know why people like them they are really ugly, smelly and have big teethy mouths. However Lewy and i have had this motto since traveling. I am not allowed to be scared as anything Lewy can do will be safe I am capable of doing also.

So I got on the fucking horse. Excuse my swearing but I feel very strongly against this horse. Please note Lewy went in the car. So I got on the horse Lewy had, he said it was really lazy and slow on the way and was always at the back. Perfect. It had been scoffing grass all morning I noticed. A little greedy horse.

I got on it and one of the farmers started leading whilst everyone else was still getting ready. Id had no instructions on what to do and my horse started following him despite me asking him to wait. Stupid horse. It was just the guy in front and my excitable horse, we had to cross through the river which had quite a current and i was a bit disturbed at the enthusiasm the horse had for this. The guy in front was 15 yard in front or so and my stupid horse started trotting to catch up. I was shouting shit shit and trying to get it to stop and walk by pulling the reigns. Instead the stupid horse started speeding up and we galloped past the guy with me shouting and screaming, he was shouting at me in Spanish. Didnt have a clue what he was going on about. Before i knew what was happening we were full speed galloping, my saddle was slipping around and i had no clue hat to do, i tried everything. This went on for atleast 4/5 minutes. I dropped the reigns and all I could do was hold one hand on the back of the saddle and one at the front.

I know I am a drama queen but I seriously thought I was going to either get thrown off, fall off and it would kick me in the face or id just pass out. For only 3 seconds did I think cowboys are cool. For the rest of the time it felt like I was on my own for ages. I decided to grab the reigns and steer the horse left of the beach into the waves and then I slid off the side of the horse whilst it was galloping. It must of looked hilarious. I was not laughing. It took a minute or so until the guy caught up and he went past me after the horse that was now in the distance. It took ten minutes until the rest of the group found. Pretty winded as I landed on my back and my knees all cut up :( The farmer made me get on another horse as we were so far away. After about ten minutes of completely freaking out every time it moved i decided to walk back. So yea I hate horses even more and we have changed the moto slightly!

A weekend in Paradise

Last weekend we went to some island called Cayos Cochinos. It was AMAZING. We stayed in little Cabanas, the only people on the tiny island. Drank rum and the natives home grown alcohol, snorkled (we saw a barakuda!) and generally lazed in the sun. I wont talk about this too much as i dont want to rub it in... But it was crystal clear water and white sand!

Posted by lewyandkerri 16:04 Comments (0)

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