Even though I’ve written four blogs already this month, there’s still a lot I haven’t told you about! Hard to believe but we’ve been busy, busy, busy! Out of the past six weekends, we have spent five of them outside of Candelaria so I’m going to do a little round up of our trips.
Trip 1 – Utila
This was back in April, the weekend after my dad and sister had returned home. It was a pretty spontaneous idea – we were told we had no school on Thursday because of a funeral and exams started on Friday so no English classes. We decided to take advantage, despite having just come back from a holiday. Our original plan was to go and visit Jesse and Lucy in Tomala but they were in the same situation as us and wanted to get away.
So instead we decided to go back to one of our favourite places in Honduras – the glorious island of Utila! It took us a whole day of travel to get to La Ceiba where we caught the ferry the next morning. Unfortunately we had neither the time or the money (but mostly not the money) to dive while on the island but we spent a heavenly two days swimming, reading and relaxing and two nights partying like you only can on Utila.
There was also an ulterior motive to the trip – way back in November my dad sent four packages to Utila that were supposed to arrive in plenty of time for our ten days there over Christmas and New Year. They unfortunately did not arrive for then and were MIA until March when I got an email saying they had arrived in Utila. I picked them up this time around and got to revive the Christmas spirit by sharing a box of christmas crackers around! There was also a couple of books, lots of chocolate and sweets, some jammies, balloons, glow sticks and my personal favourite, plastic glasses adorned with tropical fruit!
On the way back to Candelaria we made several stops, one in San Juan Pueblo to visit Eve, Alice and Peter’s project, another in Tela for a free night of accommodation and in Gracias, because we could.
Trip 2 – Lago de Yojoa
The following weekend we were off again! Monday 1st May was Day of the Worker in Honduras which meant a day off, so of course we had to make use of it. We had the Friday off too because of student elections so stopped in on Beth and Ellie in Siguetapeque, furthering our mission to see everybody’s projects before we go home. Their school is insane! Not only is it bilingual but the classrooms look like they could have been taken straight out of the UK. After school ended we walked around Sigua for a while, trying some delicious ice cream and amazing chorizo before heading back to their cute little house.
It only took us a couple of hours to get from Sigua to the lake the next morning. We were joined by Lucy and Jesse from Tomala, Grace and Hannah from Yamaranguila, and Norome and Eva from San Francisco de Valle. We spent Saturday chilling around our hostel, the tranquil D&D Brewery and walking down to the river that leads to the lake.
Sunday was a much busier day! We started by riding out to Pulhapanzak Falls, where you can take a tour around the back of the waterfall. In reality it’s more like a trip underneath the falls! At some points it was hard to stay upright and I came away with more than a few bruises. On the way back to the hostel we stopped at a kayak shop and rented some to paddle out onto the actual lake, having so far only seen it from the road. It was a good half hour journey to get there but the aching arms were well worth it.
Trip 3 – Tomalá
After a weekend in Candelaria we finally got around to visiting Tomalá, technically our closest neighbouring project. Despite it being a quick four hour journey away, it actually takes two days to get there. To get to Tomalá you have to first go to Mapulaca, the border town with El Salvador about an hour away from here, and then stay the night so you’re ready for the 3am bus to Tomalá. Fortunately for us we managed to bag a lift with someone Lety knows who was heading there anyway.
We actually bumped into Jesse and Lucy on the road outside of Tomalá, so we hopped out and walked back up to the famous Las Piñonas, basically a big rock with a great view. On our way back into town we got to have a tour of the high school and met the director, the director of the primary school and their host Mertza. We had dinner that evening at a restaurant called Bamboo and got stuck there for an hour in torrential rain! Eventually we had to just make a run for it through the rivers that had replaced the roads!
On Saturday we had a tour around the primary school, visited their newly refurbished town park, their mind blowing kids play park, and a viewpoint that overlooks Tomalá. Tomalá is an even smaller town than Candelaria, nestled high into the mountains, making it a much fresher temperature. Norome and Eva got the bus down from their project and we spent the night with them and a few of Jesse and Lucy’s friends.
We had breakfast on Sunday with Miriam, Lety’s sister, and then got the bus to San Marcos with Norome and Eva so we could spend an hour visiting their project in San Francisco. They have a great school and we also got to meet the family that they hope to move in with soon. Our journey back to Candelaria was long but we once again managed to keep it to one day by catching a lift with someone on the final leg from Mapulaca to Candelaria.
Trip 4 – Gracias
Another big meet up like one we had in November – almost everyone came apart from the three boys. We had a very relaxed time, not doing much through the day and then visited a mojito bar in the evening. It was the first time in Gracias for Kitty and Liv and only the second time for a few others so I think they really enjoyed the chance to come back to such a beautiful place. It was also the last time we will have this many of us in one place as those volunteers who have yet to travel leave for that in a few weeks. Possibly the most exciting part of the weekend for me was the three cockroaches I had to kill when spending Friday night in a different hotel from usual!
Trip 5 – La Unión
And finally, last weekend we embarked on a silly amount of travelling to spend roughly 16 hours in Siobhan’s project. To get to La Unión, we first spent Friday night in Yamaranguila with Grace and Hannah and then got the bus to Gracias with them the next day. From Gracias it’s a three hour bus ride to La Unión but it is breathtaking. It feels like you’re nestled in mountains.
In our short time there we managed to fit in a lot. Our first stop was Cafe Zazzo to try the famous ice cream but it was closed so we headed up to visit Siobhan’s friend, Miss Turcios. We had some coffee there during which time the rain started which spoiled our plan to walk up to Kiosco, a big wooden treehouse with brilliant views over the town.
Instead we headed down to Aviva, a restaurant set up by an American called Heather who worked in the Vida Abundante school a few years ago but didn’t take to teaching. And I’m glad she didn’t because the pastelitos, chocolate licuado and coffee that I had there were all delicious! Once again we had to make a break for it through torrential rain but this time we managed to do it in a moto taxi!
In other news, as well as celebrating Mother’s Day and the UNICEF Day for Change, the other day was Día del Arból (Day of the Tree). The whole school went on a school trip (trip, see how it fits in with the rest?!?) up to mini-Victor’s grandad’s house and coffee finca to do some presentations and then got to enjoy some paddling pools! It was a lovely place and I think everybody enjoyed the day.