Survival Guide: Candelaria

Here we are already, 3 months in. It seems like a long time ago that we arrived in San Pedro in the middle of a hurricane. We have pretty much settled into our project now, we have friends, our classes are going well, we might even know what we’re doing a little bit (but don’t tell anyone!)… just in time to go travelling for two and and a half months!

Anyway, I thought this milestone should be marked with a special blog post so here I present to you ‘Survival Guide: Candelaria’! This is basically a summary of all the things that I have learned are necessary, or at least advisable, for surviving in Candelaria. To my family, take note for when you visit, these are invaluable to make you blend in, no one will be able to tell you’re not actually Honduran!

Survival Guide: Candelaria

  • At least a mediocre level of Spanish or Edwin the English speaking barber will be your only friend. As funny as using charades to communicate for a year would be, it becomes slightly more impractical when you try and take it into the classroom.
  • A taste for tortillas. And refried beans. And scrambled eggs. And plantain. And rice. And chicken. A Honduran diet right there.
  •  A strong stomach for the bus rides. Ypu should also hope everyone else has a good stomach or hasn’t eaten breakfast so they don’t throw up on you (speaking from experience here).
  • Strong sweat glands to deal with the temperature and the humidity. Unfortunately this means that twice daily outfit changes are not uncommon.
  • Full body mosquito suit (or is that just me?). A different blood type to me might work too, mine is just too sweet.
  • Strong calves to get you up and down the vertical roads. If the heat, mosquitoes or crazy bus drivers don’t kill you the physical exertion needed just to walk home from school might.
  • Football skills or another coping strategy for boredom because that’s all there is to do here.
  • A rucksack filled with assorted home comforts, among them as much chocolate as is humanly possible and tea bags, because we are British after all.
  • An acceptance of Crocs as they are the chosen footwear of a large portion of the population. For some people this may be a deal breaker, but please, I implore you, look past the Crocs. 
  • Jeans, as overwhelmingly ridiculous as that sounds. They are very à la mode here and shorts are off limits for women for modesty reasons so there are few other options.
  • Tolerance toward some of the more noticeable differences between Honduras and home. For example, religion is a very important part of life here so people will assume you are religious and proceed to ask you whether you are Catholic or Evangelical, the two main branches of Christianity in Candelaria. They can be shocked if you tell them you aren’t and it can lead to some interesting, if slightly uncomfortable, conversations/discussions/arguments (we have experienced all three).
  • Thick skin because as the resident white people you will attract some stares and possibly comments. If you are a girl, learn to ignore it when men catcall you, make kissing sounds louder than you thought possible and especially when they use the same noise they use with dogs to try and get your attention so you can still enjoy it here. The machismo culture is difficult but something that has to be dealt with.
  • Patience, from having every child you see on the streets call out your name and being repeatedly asked the same questions to having to go over the difference between dog and duck what feels like a thousand times with first grade.
  • An open heart because these kids will worm their way in there whether you like it or not. Cheeky grins, their boundless energy and a non-stop stream of hugs are sure to win you over in seconds.

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