Welcome to Candelaria, Lempira! I’m writing this on my last day in this beautiful town and I thought it was probably about time that you got a look at the place I’ve called home for the last 12 months!
This is the view of Candelaria from what is essentially a viewpoint (not sure if that is the intended purpose, It’s basically just a layby, but doesn’t the town look good?) called the circumbalación. Candelaria has a population of roughly 800 people living in the town centre, pictured, with a further 200 or so in the surrounding aldeas of La Hacienda, Posada de Flor and El Regadillo. The mountain that’s visible is called Cerique but is commonly known only as ‘ el cerro‘ (the mountain).
This is the view of Candelaria from the other side, from just below the summit of Cerrique. While it was very rewarding to climb the hill that looms over us wherever we are, it’s not something I would ever do again. Do not attempt without an experienced hand that also carries a machete! Our ‘experienced’ guides, Alex and Jonni, can be seen in the photo.
First stop on our tour is where our mornings start every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – J ardín de Niños de Profe Marcelino Pineda Lopez a.k.a. Kinder. There are around 50 kids here split between two classes, pre-kinder/kinder for the 3-4 year olds and prepatorio for the 5 year olds. Its more or less a minute’s walk from our house.
From Kinder we walk down this rather steep but thankfully paved road (at least we’re not going up it though, right?). We go past our favourite comedor (a Honduran restaurant that is usually just the front room of someone’s house), Comedor Delmy, or as we call it, Nayely’s because our friend Nayely lives there. You can’t really see it because of the angle of the photo but it’s the bright pink facade below the blue one two thirds of the way up the photo.
The bottom half of the road above. When we swim in the river with our host sisters, we walk straight down past the pink house that is visible which leads to a nice swimming spot that has a natural slide the girls love! On our way from kinder to the escuela we take a right instead.
We continue along this road to the primary school, passing by our friend Erik’s mechanic’s workshop on the left, just out of frame of this photo.
The canchita (playing court) where we used to play football all the time is below the road above on the left hand side.
On the last stretch of the walk from Kinder to the primary school. In reality this walk only takes about five minutes. This road is always nice to walk down because it’s frequented by a variety of very colourful and very beautiful butterflies!
This is the last step (haha, get it?) on our journey to school. After the road in the previous picture we cross a bridge over the river and then the gates to the school are at the top of the steps on the right. (The girls are our host sisters, Jamie and Daniela.)
Welcome to La Escuela Urbana Mixta de Jose Cecilio del Valle!
These are what our classrooms are like. The buildings are over three different levels but I haven’t included many photos of the school here. If you want to see more have a look at my blog post Introducing: La Escuela Jose Cecilio del Valle. In total there are about 230 students.
One of the many gorgeous views from the school.
On the way home now, this is at the top of the butterfly street looking the other way. Many of the houses here in Honduras are painted bright colours, like you can see here. It’s one of the things that you first notice as being different to home when you arrive.
Continuing up the road, this his hill is the bane of my life. It is every bit as steep as it looks and incredibly bumpy. I’m smiling through the pain.
After the steep road we come out onto the square from the gap on the left hand side of the photo. Our house is straight ahead on the left from this angle. On the right is the central park and as always, Cerrique is watching.
Our house! The window on the left looks into our bedroom and the door is into the living room. Part of the main door to the house can be seen on the right.
If you go the end of our block and turn left, this is the road you are faced with. It is steep, slippery and not properly paved, all the things you want from a road and all the things you can expect from many roads in Candelaria.
At the bottom and to the left is the road behind our house, which is the green door behind the flowers on the left.
The street outside our house again from the other end. It forms one of the sides of the parque central.
If you go anti-clockwise from our side, you’ll come to the side that has the Catholic church and is the unofficial mototaxi station. This is also where they set up the stage for the big celebrations like Independence Day or Lempira Day.
The iconic (at least to us) Catholic church that sits on one side of the square. We have attended mass here once, on my birthday after some of my sixth grade girls invited me. We’ve also gone to the Evangelical church a lot with Lety and Victor which is a very different experience from the Catholic services.
If you go down the street at the end of this side of the park you come to our favourite place in the whole of Candelaria – the post office! Even the worst of days could be turned around with a text from the post office saying that we had mail! Unfortunately we could be waiting a long time for our packages, I think the longest was six months! Everything we’ve been sent has arrived though, eventually!
Continuing around, this side of the square houses the municipalidad (the equivalent of council buildings) and the alcaldía (the mayor’s office).
The mayor’s office and the council buildings.
A beautiful mural on the side of the palacio municipal (council building).
This is looking into the park from the third side of the square. The park in the middle is very pretty and a lovely place to sit for a bit in the afternoon, as long as it’s not too hot. Whenever there are celebrations there are usually a lot of things set up here and it’s very full. Apart from that, it’s actually pretty empty, even though there’s free wifi!
This is what the bit of the square outside our house looks like on a Sunday morning when the market comes to Candelaria. The market is a great thing for the town because it brings people fresh meat, fresh vegetables, clothes, shoes, homeware, everything they could need! It’s great, but not when they start setting up at 4am right outside our bedroom window!
Enjoying some (free) fried chicken and tajadas in the comedor area of the market. (It’s all about who you know!)
Moving away from the square, this road continues from the side of the park that we live on, with the church being on the left. Our favourite pulperería (a corner shop) , Irma’s, is just visible further down on the right.
If you keep going straight, you’ll arrive at Ferreteria Genesis, our second host family’s hardware shop.
Going right and then left instead brings you upon this stunning view which you can see from the entrance to the colegio (the high school).
The colegio is much bigger than the escuela because students come in from the other aldeas once they leave primary school.
At one end of the high school there is the cancha (the court). Here there are a lot of people gathered for a dance competition that we judged.
Set up for the dance competition but usually this is where the football, basketball and volleyball teams practice.
This photo was taken down the road from Kinder. It features the public bathrooms I have never seen anyone use and would never dream of using. Seriously, hold your nose as you go past.
Keep going and you get to, in my opinion, the worst road in Candelaria. Luckily we never really have any reason to be on this side of town so we can avoid it pretty easily.
The only thing we’re ever on this side of town for is to go to the campo, the big football pitch. This is where we came with the escuela to practise marching for the Independence Day parade.
The río pichigal runs through Candelaria and there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than going for a swim. It’s not necessarily the cleanest but sometimes you’re just too hot to care! We would often take our host sisters, Daniela and Jamie, to the river to play and to try and teach them how to swim. Unfortunately it’s a skill that many of the children here lack.
There is one ‘main’ road that runs through Candelaria. At one end it goes to Gracias, 100km that takes four hours on the bad roads.
Way back when we first came and Amy and I still ran, we would run along the Gracias road until we reached this bridge where I would die for a few minutes while Amy waited patiently and then we would turn around.
At the other end, the road runs to Mapulaca, a border town with El Salvador.
The road goes uphill steeply but if you time it right, it is absolutely worth it. You get rewarded with a breathtaking sunset over the hills of El Salvador in the distance.
And that’s it! That is basically all there is to Candelaria. I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look around my little Honduran town. Over the past year these streets have become my home and the people that walk them have become my family. It breaks my heart that I have to leave them tomorrow but I know one day I will return to walk them again.