11 Months in the Making

Once again I’ve been quiet over the past few weeks but prepare yourself for the new wave of blogs as I get all my remaining ideas out of my system in the two weeks that I have left!

The start of this month has been very busy because I’ve had a few more visitors – guess who? No, sadly the queen couldn’t make it out but Amy and my mum did manage to make the day long trip over the ocean just to see their favourite sister/daughter (delete as appropriate). It was a very tearful reunion at the airport after 11 months of messages and FaceTimes having to make up for actually seeing each other. 

This was a long time coming

Amy (Lynch) and I (the two Amys thing gets very confusing) had just finished a week of exams meaning that we had a week of holidays. Seeing as (twin) Amy is slightly obsessed with fish and coral we took her to Utila to do some diving. We met Jesse and Lucy there who also had a week off and (twin) Amy, Lucy and I embarked on our PADI Advanced diver course. 

Jesse, me, Amy (Lynch), Lucy, (twin) Amy and Lauren from our Advanced course on our fun dive

I had a a great week – we dived at a wreck, did what was basically an underwater assault course and got to do another night dive. My mum also got to celebrate her graduation from uni with the largest smoothie known to man on a tropical island while everyone else was stuck in cold and gray Edinburgh. (Twin) Amy had a slightly harder time of it. After four out of seven dives were done she became quite ill, probably from a mixture of jet lag and severe dehydration so missed out on doing one of her remaining dives. 

We left Utila on the Friday after Amy and my mum had arrived to head to Gracias, an 8 hour bus ride away. Once we arrived we just about had enough energy left to eat some food, shower and collapse into bed! 

Number one on the list of things to do while in Gracias was head out to do the zipline at La Campa. Amy (Lynch) wasn’t feeling great and decided to skip it so it was just the Morrison gals that traveled for an hour along a 16km stretch of road to confront the highest zipline in Central America. 

I’m an old pro at it by now, with this being my third time, but I must say there weren’t many nerves from the other two either. Lots of other people had had the same idea as us so it was very busy meaning we missed our bus back but that just gave the two newest ‘gringas‘ the chance to hitch home in the back of a truck! 

K, gracias, bye
Basically Honduran

The other activities of Gracias, namely the hot springs and Fuerte San Cristobal, were all ticked off before hopping onto the dreaded chicken bus back to Candelaria. Seeing our project was highly anticipated so it had a lot to live up too. 

Over the course of two full days in Candelaria, my mum and (twin) Amy got to meet all of my classes in the primary school as well as Kinder and my 7th grade class in the high school. 5th grade were a favourite for Amy because they latched on to the fact she’s studying marine biology and asked a ton of questions about sea animals. My mum liked seeing 2nd grade because they are roughly the age her P3 class will be next year.

‘Wait, you’re not Sara!’

Outside of school they met our two families. Jamie and Daniela, the girls we live with, worked their charms as did little Samuel over at Lety and Victor’s. I think everyone in Candelaria enjoyed there being two Saras (and two Amys!) in town and the phrase of the week was ‘¡Sí, se parecen mucho!’ (You look so alike!). The best way to tell us apart was because (twin) Amy is ‘tan blanquita’ (so pale)! That didn’t stop Walter from 6th grade from asking me how I managed to find a clone of my body!

Mi familia Hondureña
Mi otra familia Hondureña

The last stop on the two week tour of Honduras was Copán Ruinas. We looked around the main archeological site, which was incredibly interesting even the second time round and popped out to Macaw Mountain for the mandatory guacamaya (scarlet macaw) photo and even went back to the ruins to have a look around the museum there the morning we left. 

Our guide Virgilio next to the part of the ruins that he discovered

We said goodbye in San Pedro Sula on Saturday morning but to be honest, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s only two weeks until it’ll be Amy (Lynch) and me at the airport!


FIVE. WEEKS. LEFT. Excuse me while I subdue the multitude of mixed emotions flying around my head right now… Ok that’s better.

Two big updates from the last few weeks or so, starting with Amy celebrating World Health Day. The focus this year was mental health but Amy decided to tackle the much more pressing issue we face here of dental health. Back towards the start of the year Amy emailed out to a number of dental health charities, asking for a donation so that we could buy enough toothbrushes and toothpaste to give one to every pupil in kindergarten and the primary school. Luckily enough Dentaid emailed back and have given us enough to do this for six months, so two lots of toothbrushes. 

To celebrate the day itself we gave each class a lesson explaining how to brush your teeth properly, what is good and bad for your teeth and how we can look after them better. We also set up an interesting experiment using three eggs and three cups, two of Coca Cola and one of water. You leave the egg in water alone and one of the ones in the coke alone but brush the other egg in the coke. The shell of an egg is very like the enamel on your teeth making it a great way to demonstrate the damage that sugary drinks can do. 

The plan now is for the kids to keep their toothbrushes in school and use them every day after merienda, their lunchtime. We’re aware that this one extra brushing session will not change everything but hopefully we’ve made more of a change to their attitude towards sugar and their teeth.

Next up was our last visa run to Belize that we just got back from. There was supposed to be 10 of us travelling together but after an incident involving (or rather lacking) a passport and another one where a bus stop was missed by five hours, our number dropped to 8 as Norome and Eva ended up doing their own thing. 

We were staying in a beautiful Air B&B house just outside of Spanish Lookout, a Mennonite town 45 minutes away from the more touristy San Ignacio. We spent one day just lounging around the house and ventured into San Ignacio for another, coming back with a few spontaneous tattoos (not me this time!). We were also invited to spend one evening with some of the owners of the house at a church youth group which was an interesting experience. 

Murals on the streets of San Ignacio

On leaving Spanish Lookout, the plan was to get down to Livingston in Guatemala in one day of travelling but a missed bus and a slow start to hitchhiking meant we had to stop halfway, in Hopkins, where we went for our last visa run. We stayed a night there and eventually made it to Livingston. 

Back at the Funky Dodo
Hitchhiking 150km does great things for your hair

We’re now back in Candelaria, dealing with our last ever set of exams (one thing I’m not going to miss!) while I count down the agonisingly slow seconds until Saturday morning when twin Amy and my mum arrive! I’ve decided to focus on that at the minute rather than the fact we’ve only got FIVE WEEKS LEFT!

Trips Here, Trips There, Trips Everywhere

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.

Nice to see you again too 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!

Nothing’s better than Christmas in April, right?

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.

The only way to travel!
Very intimidating
This took a loooooong time to get right!

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!

Finally made it!
The view from Las Peñonas

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.

That’s pretty much it. Not kidding.

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.

Norome clearly has an admirer!

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!

The whole crew, plus teacher Sarah in the front and Heather next to me

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. 

This is how we travel in Honduras!

Introducing: La Escuela Jose Cecilio del Valle

Almost ten months in and just as I’m about to say goodbye, I thought it was time for you all to get to know my school and my students! I imagine everyone says this but the kids really are the best part of the year, they make all the hard days worth it (even when they’re the reason why it’s a hard day in the first place) and never fail to put a smile on my face.

Kinder (Prepa) 

Prepa is the year of Kinder before they start primary school. Sometimes they can be tough. There are some very strong spirits in this class and often come in very restless and as I see them first thing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays I have the challenge of settling them. I use games, channeling their energy into running from flashcard to flashcard, we sing songs all day long and occasionally we just sit on the floor and practice our numbers. I have sung If You’re Happy and You Know It so many times this year that I never want to hear it again. We also Wind the Bobbin up a lot and put our right arm in, our right arm out, our right arm in and shake it all about.

First grade – Profe Norma

These little guys used to be Amy’s prepa class in Kinder but are now all grown up and have joined us in the big school. While their attention span isn’t brilliant (but then whose was at age 5?), we have some very bright kids in this class, very keen and quick to pick things up. They are big fans of drawing and singing, with their favourite songs being our months of the year macarena and the days of the week song set to the tune of Chris Evan’s Breakfast show!

Second grade – Profe Aminta

We have seen a lot of changes in this class over the past year. Those that were cheeky monkeys last year and struggled to focus are now very attentive students. They participate more, their writing has improved and so has their ability to retain what we teach them. They are a very kindhearted bunch too, always ready to ambush us at the door when we arrive to smother us in hugs and our walls and their jotters are full of drawings and notes saying thank you to us and that they love us. A lot of the little girls take a great deal of pride in their jotter work, drawing lovely borders, using their best handwriting and making sure everything is perfect.

Third grade – Profe Marina

Once again, we have seen some big changes in this class. When we arrived in August they were a young and wildly immature second grade class that we had to fight to control and even had me on the brink of tears once. Now they are a stellar example of how we wish all our classes would be! They listen, follow instructions, are climbing over each other to participate but will settle down when we need them to. This isn’t to say that they don’t have their bad days, when chatting is rife and concentration is hard to find. I have a lot of love for this class, partly because of how far we’ve seen them come but also because of their continued hard work and effort. Their favourite game is a mix of chinese whispers and splat the board where they pass a word down their line and then have to touch the right flashcard on the board.

Fourth grade – Profe Rosaura

This a very lively class – they can be very loud and energetic which makes them a lot of fun to be around but difficult to reign in. They like to play games but at times their energy overflows the space that we have available in the classroom. Progress is slow going but whenever we revisit a topic, I usually have a smile on my face because they are good at remembering. They are at an interesting age in their education – a kind of make it or break it point. If they’re interested in English now, I believe it’s an interest they will carry with them. All I can do is try and light the spark and I’m doing my best!

Fifth grade – Profe Doris

The opposite has happened with this class than has happened with many other classes. As we’ve spent more time together, the noise levels have slowly increased as have some of the cheeky comments but it’s all well natured. I feel very comfortable with this class, they are all great kids and I get on well with all of them. As with most classes there are some students who have a natural knack for English and others that struggle but the common denominator in this class is the hard work. The absolute favourite in this class is without a doubt X y O (a.k.a. noughts and crosses) with hangman a close second.

Sixth grade – Profe Lucia

How do I describe sixth grade? A brilliant class, brilliant behaviour, brilliant work. I have never had any problems with this class and that is not an exaggeration. They are bright and eager, always do their best and are truly a joy to teach. What’s helpful too is that their teaches appreciates the value of learning English for them and is a big help to me in class and very encouraging to them. They have a new favourite game that I introduced them to recently, Heads Down, Thumbs Up.

And now for the grand tour!

This is our Kinder, it is approximately a 45 second walk from our house. We work here every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8-8.45am. There are two classes – Pre-K which is the younger class that Amy teaches this year, full of 3 and 4 year olds, and Prepatorio who will be next year’s first grade.
 The grand entrance to La Escuela Urbana Mixta de Jose Cecilio de Valle! 
The school buildings are spread over three levels – this is the top level that houses the director’s office, 1st-3rd grade, both 5th grade classes and my 6th grade as well as the bathrooms down at the end.
The middle level of the school has the salon (basically the assembly hall), a spare classroom, the library and my 4th grade class. At breaktime they have a someone selling crips and sweets through the bars of the salon.
The salon during a school meeting
Next to the middle level is this construction. I think it used to be a kind of lunchroom but isn’t really used it anymore. We’ve seen it used once to make tamales at the start of the year.
The lower level has Amy’s 4th and 6th grade classes.
A football pitch next to the classrooms – mostly used by 6th grade boys
On the other side of the lower classrooms is this little play area. The seesaw and monkey bars are new but the swing set is deadly! I’m surprised that no one has ever gone flying off and into the river!
These tables line the playground on the top level of school and is where the kids get their provided snacks at breaktime.
And this is an example of a classroom, specifically my 6th grade. All the classrooms have tin roofs which can make them extremely hot at times but they also have fans which helps. We use the whiteboards to teach but don’t use any technology.

And there you have it, a little insight to my everyday life in Candelaria. The kids here are so special to me, even when they’re driving me crazy! Leaving in two months will be heart wrenching but I know I’ll be back one day.

UNICEF Day for Change

Some of you may remember that as part of my fundraising I celebrated the UNICEF Day for Change by with working with my old school, Newton Primary, and Belle, a returned Honduras volunteer. As part of a Global Citizenship award that volunteers can receive as part of a year abroad with Project Trust, you have to celebrate an international day and I’ve known from the start that I wanted to take the UNICEF Day for Change with me all the way to Honduras.

And last week, that’s exactly what I did! With only 45 minutes with each class at a time, I decided to take a whole week. Each class had two lessons – one that looked at differences between Scotland and Honduras and another that concentrated on ways we can look after the world – with the overall focus being on the concept and ideals of Global Citizenship.

Teaching first grade about the Scottish flag

With 1st-3rd grade we used an inflatable globe to figure out where Scotland is and just how far away it is from Honduras. Next we learnt about all of Scotland’s emblems, like the flag, national animal, bird, flower and tree. We were able to use our knowledge of colours in English to help us describe the flag but the kids were shocked when none of the animals they know in English were right and even more shocked when I told them that the national animal of Scotland is a unicorn! I bet there’s a few people reading this that didn’t know that either!

First grade working hard
Juan colouring his Honduran flag

Each 1st and 2nd grader then got two little bits of paper each, one for the Scottish flag and one for the Honduran flag so we could make some bunting out of our flags! With 3rd grade, we did something a little different. I had brought with me some packs of cut outs of little girls and little boys. With a little modification, the girls were ready to be drawn into the traditional Honduran dresses and the boys were ready to wear some kilts. It was great to see the care and creativity that went into the design of the dresses and especially the kilts. There were no cries of outrage from the boys in the class about the fact that they had to draw boys in skirts either – in fact they were all clamoring to get one!

Oscar from 1st grade
Jamie, my host sister
Karen from 1st grade
Third grade with their amazing drawings

With 4th-6th grade we ramped it up a bit. As well as looking at the flag and emblems, we talked about school, hobbies and home life and even threw in a bit of ceilidh dancing! 

For their second lesson we looked at the problems that our planet faces. Together we came up with superheroes that could combat these issues and we had some great ideas! My favourite was hypnosis that could make everyone friends so there were no more wars but we also had laser eyes to destroy rubbish and the power to breathe in dirty air and breathe out clean air to deal with air pollution. But unfortunately these superheroes don’t exist so instead we had a think about all the ways we can save the planet instead.

Gay Gordon-ing it out

Sharing this day with the kids was so much fun – it gave me a chance to talk about home to every single class, break into even more of a sweat than usual while ceilidh dancing and pretend to be a superhero (at least for 45 minutes!). We covered some very important topics that the students showed some brilliant consciousness of. They are aware that they have to be part of the worldwide effort to save this planet and I hope they will take that with them into their futures and try and share what they know to be true.

Seize the Day(s)

It often feels like a week doesn’t go by without there being some kind of celebration in Honduras. With most Hondurans being Christian, many of these are religious holidays, though there are also a large number recognising social issues. While they can sometimes be extremely frustrating, especially in September when it feels like you never get to see your classes, it’s also a great insight into the country I’m living in. I have compiled a list of the many celebrations and holidays that have been observed in our time here and others that we will experience before we leave.

Día de la Bandera (Day of the Flag) – 1st September

This is when things all kicked off for us after arriving in Honduras. Independence Day is in September so the month is laden with celebrations leading up to the big day. I honestly don’t remember too much happening on this day apart from a parade in the central park and singing the national anthem. 

Día del Niño (Day of the Child) – 10th September

This was a really fun day! It actually started the day before for us, with a visit to the school from some clowns to entertain the kids. More clowns for the main event (Honduras is not the place to come if you’ve got a phobia of them) and then a big lunch in their classes with games, dancing and a piñata!

Día de Independencia (Independence Flag) – 15th September 

The big one! The build up to this was huge, marching practices, drumming rehearsals, poster making, everything! All the primary schools and high schools from the municipalidad of Candelaria paraded through the town, with us proudly waving the Scottish and British flags (they couldn’t find an English one) and marching with Escuela Urbana Mixta de Jose Cecilio de Valle. The rest of the day included performances from various war bands, traditional dancing, singing and speeches. 

Día de los Maestros (Day of the Teacher) – 17th September

I enjoyed this one and felt very deserving, even after just over a month of being on the job. We joined all the other teachers living in Candelaria at a dinner hosted by the mayor where there was a performance from a Salvadoran singer, party favours and cake! There were also a few party games like a mini pageant and a balloon relay race (we played, we lost).

Día de la Biblia (Day of the Bible) – Last Sunday in September

We were invited to these celebrations by some of our friends from the Evangelical church. The night before the main celebration which was, of course, a parade and speeches, we went to a church service. The one service we had been to previously was hard work as we didn’t understand much but this one was more enjoyable, both because of our improved Spanish and the amazing family band that was performing.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – 2nd November

A day known for it’s celebrations full of sugar skulls and dancing in nearby Mexico is a much tamer affair in Honduras. Amy and I headed down to Erandique, a town about two hours away from Candelaria where Jaime, our host dad, is from. This day is all about family, above all else. It’s a day to spend with them, a day to remember them, a day to honour them. In Erandique we went to the cemetery where Jaime’s parents and some of his siblings are buried to clean the graves and leave some flowers.

Navidad (Christmas) – 25th December

With Honduras being a religious, Christian country, Christmas is kind of a big deal. Some traditions vary from home and some are the same. Instead of a turkey on the dinner table you will find tamales, corn parcels filled with rice, vegetables and sometimes chicken or beef, though you will still see Christmas trees filled with ornaments and lights strung everywhere. Most celebrations happen on the 24th, though the official holiday is on the 25th. Many people will attend church on Christmas Eve and spend the rest of the night with their families, leading up to the insane fireworks that take place at midnight.

Nuevo Año (New Year) – 31st December

New Year is celebrated in Honduras much like in Britain, with parties on New Year’s Eve, lots of food, time spent with family but also with some interesting traditions. As the clock strikes 12am, you must eat 12 grapes, one on each stroke of the hour, to make sure you have a sweet year. If you’re looking for luck, love or success, wear your best pink, red or yellow underwear, respectively.

Día del Padre (Father’s Day) – 19th March

Not as big a deal as Mother’s Day (see below) but there were cards made, presents given, hugs passed out.

Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship) – 14th February

Honduras’ version of Valetine’s Day celebrates platonic relationships as much as romantic ones and was marked with a show at the high school that had singing, dancing and a hilarious drag fashion show! 

Día del Agua (World Water Day) – 22nd March

Unfortunately I was recovering from being ill so we didn’t take part in the (you guessed it) parade but we did watch a few speeches from the shade, which included one from a representative of Water First, an American organisation that supports our water treatment plant, Cocepradil, who organised the parade. 

‘Look after me today to preserve me for tomorrow’

Día de la Garifuna (Garifuna Day) – 12th April

This is the day the Garifuna people arrived on Roatán from St. Vincent. The biggest and best celebrations are in Punta Gorda on the island of Roatán and we were lucky enough to be able to attend. A large group of volunteers and their families were on holiday on Roatán that week anyway and PT have a project there too. There was a lot of Punta music and dancing and we got to hear the story of how an American man discovered he was Garifunan.

Semana Santa (Easter)

Semana Santa is the week leading up to Easter weekend which is when the whole country of Honduras goes simultaneously crazy and silent. Want a last minute booking in one of Honduras’ tourist spots, like Roatán or Copán, for this weekend? Think again. At the same time though, don’t try and go anywhere on Good Friday. You won’t find a bus or ferry going anywhere, trust me, I tried. Celebration wise, painted wooden carvings of religious images walk through the town and in some places the streets are carpeted with dyed sawdust designs and illustrations, the most famous being in Comayagua.

Día de la Tierra (Earth Day) – 22nd April

We were out of Candelaria this weekend but we heard there was a photo competition and a screening of The Lorax in the park and when we got back there were signs all around Candelaria encouraging us to take better care of the planet.

Día del Trabajador (Labour Day) – 1st May

Coinciding with the May Bank holiday, this is basically just a day off. No big celebrations, nothing fancy, just a day of rest for the many hardworking people around the country.

Día de la Madre (Mother’s Day) – Second Sunday in May

And that’s today! Or at least the celebrations at the primary school were today. Each class presented something from poems, singing, traditional dancing, dramas and my favourite, a faux boy band performance! 

Día del Arbol (Day of the Tree) – 30th May

This is primarily an educational holiday, to educate schoolchildren on the importance of looking after the forest. There are special tributes to Honduras’ national tree, the Mexican yellow pine. I’ve heard there are plans for a school trip to somewhere near Gualcinse for the day with the primary school. 

‘The forest lives without man but man cannot live without the forest’

Día de Lempira (Day of Lempira) – 20th July

The Lempira referred to here is not the currency but the Lencan hero who fought against the Spanish in the 1530’s. Hondurans, and especially those in the Lempira department where I live, are extremely proud of Lempira and this day is very important to them. Expect a more in depth post about the celebrations after they’ve happened!

Ferías (Fairs)

At various points during the year, different in every town, there is a fair, almost like a bigger, more vibrant and bustling version of our weekly Sunday market. There are the usual food, clothes and homeware stores, there are carnival-like games and if you’re (un)lucky the rickety, diesel-smelling Ferris wheel.

Survival Guide: Teaching

The past three months have sped by and I can’t believe it’s already time for another one of these! The idea that the next three months might go at the same time pace terrifies me. At the same time there are things I’m am looking forward to about going home but I’m not ready to say goodbye to Honduras just yet. With the next three months mostly taken up by teaching and that being the purpose of the year (despite what my Facebook photos make it look like!) this anniversary blog post contains some top tips for making it through teaching in general and especially in Honduras.

Survival Guide: Teaching

  • Take every opportunity for a day off – the kids aren’t the only ones that get homework in this job so it can take its toll at times.
  • Be prepared to learn from them – this can be by them teaching you knew everyday phrases in Spanish to the games they like to how they learn best. Whatever it is, take note. 
  • Sometime no matter how hard you try, no learning is happening today – kids are fickle beings and have short attention spans and sometimes they are just not in the mood so on these days there’s no use in running yourself ragged trying to force it to happen.
  • Wear outfits that go with an inordinate  amount of stickers – if I don’t come away from a day of classes without at least a couple of stickers, something’s wrong. 
  • Don’t be ashamed to wing it – it’s something we’ve all done. If you didn’t have time to plan a lesson, if the lesson you did plan isn’t working, if your class needs some unexpected revision, all are perfectly good reasons to just go with it. 
  • No one is too old for If You’re Happy and You Know It or Sara Says – personal favourites of mine as they are perfect fillers for the last five minutes of class when you’ve run out of actual things to teach!
  • Give up all concept of personal space – between the mountain of hugs at the start and end of every lesson and their favourite game (a version of peekaboo mixed with guess who) there are always little sticky hands grabbing at you. 
  • Don’t let exam results get you down – you can be the best teacher Project Trust has ever had but at the end of the day some kids are not made for exams. Especially in the primary school, it’s easy to forget how young they are and at this age, as at any age, test results are not the end of the world.
  • Don’t be alarmed when a kid brings a machete to school – machetes are something that you get used to quickly in Honduras but the first time you come into a class where every student has one under their chair, that’s still a bit of a shock.
  • A full week of teaching is a rare thing – classes are cancelled, teachers are off, there’s a holiday, the list goes on and on but in the whole 9 months we’ve been here there has not been a week when we have taught every single lesson we are supposed to.
  • Take pride in the small victories – sometimes the fact that your class can sing the alphabet without any help from you or that they answer the question ‘how are you’ without repeating it or that they are excited to see you when you walk into class is enough to make your day.
  • Have fun with it – sometimes a lesson full of games is what everyone needs.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – Reduce your workload by reusing old lesson and recycling ideas. Also beg, borrow and steal from other teachers, volunteers, anything you can get your hands on. 

When Home Came to Honduras

Thank goodness that’s over! The last two weeks have been the hardest yet in Honduras. I have had to translate everything into English, endure complaints about eternal bus rides from hell, find food that doesn’t include refried beans or tortillas and worst of all, put up with being parented again! Jokes aside, it has been quite the experience having my dad and Kirsty here for the last two weeks, as I’m sure it was for them.

It started with picking them up from the airport in San Pedro Sula (thankfully with all their bags, Lucy’s family weren’t so lucky). Kirsty was understandably on edge, being in the murder capital of the world, even though that is technically now Caracas in Venezuela, but we were only there for one night and then started the all day journey back to Candelaria.

With Amy’s mum, Penny, and gran, Sue, in tow, I eased the newbies into Honduran bus rides with a nice minibus ride from SPS to Gracias, only to turn around and take them on the four hour chicken bus ride along bumpy, unpaved roads. In my dad’s words – “It was four hours of pure torture. I shouldn’t have to sit there and try to convince myself that it doesn’t hurt!”

Heaven in the form of a bus

Moving quickly onward, we spent the next two days in Candelaria where they got to see all of my classes, experience their first taste of traditional food (they weren’t big fans) and get over their jet lag in 35 degree heat. It was definitely a tough start to their time but I think they enjoyed meeting my kids and seeing me in action.

Enjoying breaktime
Feat. fried chicken

On the Wednesday, we took Candelaria’s only mini bus out to San Juan where we changed buses to go to Gracias. The luxuriousness of Guancascos was welcomed after an early start, especially the fresh passion fruit juice (for my dad) and the strong wifi (for Kirsty). It took a while for me to be able to drag them away but eventually I got them out to Fuerte San Cristobal, home of the best views of Gracias you can get without climbing a mountain. To end our first day we headed out to the Aguas Thermales, where my dad got to enjoy his first ice cold Honduran beer.

This was not candid, Kirsty was hiding
Kirsty blending into the fort
Los Aguas Thermales

Day 2 in Gracias saw us head to La Campa to do the highest zipline in Central America. Kirsty very bravely got through some nerves to do the first two ziplines accompanied by one of the guides and the rest by herself and my dad even more bravely offered to step back and take pictures. My hero.

Our next stop was the Copán Ruinas, a first for me too. We only had one night here so had to make the most of it. After we had some delicious lunch in Casa de Cafe, next to our awesome hostel, La Iguana Azul, we went to Macaw Mountain, a scarlet macaw sanctuary. It was a brilliant place with an amazing array of birds and you even get to hold some of them!

Yes we can!

The main attraction in Copán Ruinas, as the name may suggest, are the ruins. Alongside our excellent tour guide Virgilio, we wandered around the remains of an ancient Mayan civilisation. I have seen a fair few Mayan ruins recently and I have to say that Copán might possibly be my favourite. Not only is it in Honduras making me a bit biased, it is incredibly well preserved and a very compact site, making it easier to imagine what the city would have been like back in the day.

No rest for the wicked as we were off to San Pedro again for a night before hopping down to La Ceiba for the boat to Roatán. Let the holiday really begin! I know this was the bit Kirsty was really looking forward to and I have to admit some R&R sounded good to me too.

It seemed like half of the PT volunteers were on Roatán that week which meant that wherever we went, there was usually a lot of us! Over our four days in Roatán we sunbathed, swam, snorkeled and went for a ride on a catamaran, among other things. We also went out to visit Calum and Tom’s project in Punta Gorda and to celebrate Garifuna Day with them. Garifunans are the people that live in Punta Gorda and arrived in Roatan from St Vincent.

Stay cool Roatán
Before you ask Amy, I don’t know what fish they are!
Just cruising
The whole crew in Punta Gorda

My two favourite parts of the week were visiting the sloth sanctuary and our night dive. How many people can say they have been clambered on by a monkey, dive bombed by a macaw and hugged and kissed by Sid the sloth all within half an hour?! And then seeing as we were back at Honduras’ reef we decided that we might as well make the most of it. But why not mix it up? And that’s how we ended up doing a night dive and seeing bio-luminescence and strings of pearls. It was the most magical experience, like swimming through the night sky, even when we got lost in the dark!

The monkey wasn’t my best friend…
But I loved Sid!

We had to fly back from Roatán to San Pedro as we were leaving on Good Friday and there was no public transportation. One more night in San Pedro Sula before heading back to the airport, two weeks after they arrived. I would like to say that it was a tearless goodbye but I’m afraid I can’t. 

Proof of my dad in Honduras seeing as he was behind the camera most of the time!

After this visit I really feel like I’m on the homeward stretch, a feeling that excites me and terrifies me at the same time. Having part of home come here has made me realise just how much I’ve missed it but the thought of leaving Honduras makes me want to cry at the same time. I guess I’ve still got a few months to come to terms with it!

Guat’s Up Belize

I know I’ve been a bit quiet over the past month but that’s because the last month has been a bit quiet too. Saying that there have been a few interesting things. 

A few weeks after my birthday we went to Santa Rosa with a small group of other volunteers for some celebrations followed the next weekend by a trip to Gracias. This one was quite interesting because we were trying to get back to Candelaria the same day as the primary elections. This meant there were less buses running or in the case of Candelaria, none.

Happy birthday to me!

Seeing as we couldn’t get back on Sunday we decided to take an impromptu trip back to Yamaranguila with Grace and Hannah (free accommodation, what can I say?) and because our bus to Candelaria from La Esperanza wasn’t until 12 on Monday, we got to visit their school.

Abundant Life Christian School is a big contrast to Escuela Urbana Mixta de José Cecilio del Valle. It’s a bilingual school which we hadn’t actually seen before and blew us away. The school is also in a beautiful location surrounded by mountains and pine trees and in cool air. 

Classrooms at Vida Abundante
Nivelación class – an intense English course for the kids starting in August

We did eventually get ourselves back to Candelaria and in the next two weeks we finally started some adult classes with a small group including our host mum Saida, celebrated World Water Day with a parade through Candelaria, were laid up in bed for a week (that one’s just me); and had our visit from Vegas and Fra. 

Vegas is our in country rep who lives on Roatán and visited us back in October to see how we were settling in and Fra is our country coordinator from Coll. Thankfully I was just about better from my bout of sickness in time for their arrival, after having been floored with the flu and/or dehydration the last time Vegas visited us. We had lunch together and Fra came to see us teach in the colegio in the afternoon and then we had a meeting with the people involved in our project in the evening. 

Parading for World Water Day

Amy and I plus the girls from Tomalá and the 6 month project San Francisco have just gotten back from Belize where we have been to renew our visa. We stopped for a few nights on the way in Livingston in Guatemala. Livingston is only accessible by boat but it’s the same boat that takes it across to Belize so it was kind of perfect. 

We stayed in Casa de la Iguana, a hostel highly recommended by Calum and Tom who have stayed here before, and used our few days to do a few boat tours in the area, one of which was to Rio Dulce where part of Jurassic Park was filmed and another where we had dolphins swimming around our boat! 

Livingston was covered in gorgeous street art
With our man Edmar on a river tour

We moved on to Hopkins in Belize because as nice as it is, Guatemala does nothing for our visa. I’m not sure if I’ve explained this before but it’s because there’s something called the C4 in place here. It basically means a 90 day tourist visa is valid for Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua so a visa run involves a quick hop into Belize or going all the way to Mexico or Costa Rica in order to renew it.

Hopkins is one of the most chilled places we’ve been. That’s maybe because most of our time was split between the beach and the hammocks in our hostel, The Funky Dodo (what a name, I know!). 

Just what we needed!

We wrapped up our visa run by heading back to San Pedro Sula to pick up our families at the airport! I now have my dad and Kirsty visiting for the next two weeks which should be interesting! 

(Also I apologise for the title to those people who find puns offensive but I really just can’t help myself, there’s just too many good ones!)

Food Glorious Food

Something I often forget is that all the things I now find normal after seven months in Honduras are probably still at least a little strange to a lot of people at home. To help with this, I have a series of blogs planned to so you can understand some everyday parts of my life a bit better. First up is a food diary from the 13th to the 19th of February. It just so happened to cover my birthday weekend so there’s a bit more cake involved than my average week but I’m not complaining!


– Frijoles, ricissimo, green beans and egg, plantain and tortilla 
– Banana licuado
– Mora juice

Frijoles and torillas are a very important part of any meal. We eat frijoles at least twice a day, with breakfast and dinner, and a torilla with every meal. Frijoles come in many different ways such entero (the whole bean), licuados (blended so they are smooth) or revueltos, meaning refried (as shown in the picture).

– Tamal de frijol
– Coffee

Merienda is basically when the kids get a snack at school, although sometimes it’s more like a meal. We uesd to eat it every day but because of timetable changes since the holidays they have it later, just as we’re heading home for lunch.

– Frijoles revueltos, rice, chimichurri, beef and tortilla
– Mora juice

Lunch is our most standard meal of the day. It is usually composed of chicken, rice, salad and a tortilla. Once a week we get beef, as we did today, once or twice a week it’s spaghetti (the best days) and occasionally fish or soup.

Chimichurri is a salad of tomato, onion and coriander.

– Pan de piña

Pan is a very loose term in Honduras. In Spanish it literally means bread but it encompasses so much more. Pan is usually eaten with coffee and can be a sweet bread kind of like brioche, more cakey, or basically a biscuit.

– Frijoles revueltos, ricissimo, green beans and egg, courgette and tortilla

I have to admit here that I’m not actually sure if ricissimo is actually called ricissimo. It is kind of like cottage cheese but softer and smoother. We also have something called cuajada which is very similar cottage cheese too. The actual cheese that we eat here is very different from back home, not a bit of cheddar in sight. It is very hard and tastes a little bit like parmesan. I really like it but Amy’s not a fan.


– Frijoles revueltos, plantain, egg and ham, tortilla 
– Black coffee and sugar
– Banana licuado

 Licuados are basically milkshakes but so much better (for no specific reason). The most popular is banana followed by strawberry but I have to say I’m a banana fan. Very refreshing.

– Chicken, rice, cucumber, tomato, tortilla 
– Mora juice

We are very lucky that we have fresh juice to drink every day that Saida usually makes herself. Mora means blackberry and is surprisingly nice. Other flavours include orange, melon, lemon with chia seeds, passion fruit, a green one (not sure what it is but has to be healthy, right?), and mango.

– Pan de piña

– Green beans and frijoles enteros, cuajada, beetroot, avocado and tortilla
– Water
– Kit Kat 

We usually have a stash of sweets that have either been sent over by kind friends and family or that we’ve brought back from weekend trips. Especially with chocolate, you’ve got to get it when you can.


We were invited over to a friends house to celebrate El Día del Amor y Amistad (Valentine’s Day) and there was cake! I know what Valentine’s Day needs at home now.


– Green beans and frijoles enteros, cuajada, avocado, plantain and tortilla
– Coffee

Plantain is like a sweet banana you can only eat when it’s cooked. This is my least favourite way to have though the softer it it, the nicer. It can also be cut into strips and pan fried, which is delicious. When the strips are deep fried they become kind of like chips and are called tajadas and if you deep fry thin slices they are like crisps!

– Spaghetti in a tomato sauce, frijoles revueltos, ricissimo, tortilla
– Mora juice

Today was a good day – spaghetti for lunch!

– Frijoles revueltos, cuajada, avocado and tortilla 
– Mora juice 

Avocados are a blessing of Central American cuisine. I don’t eat much avocado back in Scotland but I don’t think it will stay that way once I return. Sometimes they’re a bit hit and miss but more often than not it’s a home run.


– Frijoles revueltos, ricissimo, scrambled eggs and tortilla
– Mora juice
– Coffee with sugar

People who know me at home know the closest I get to drinking coffee is getting a nice big whiff of the smell. I don’t really like coffee but here it’s a different story. I do need a lot of sugar with it but seeing as we don’t have milk to go with it I think that’s allowed.

– Chicken, rice, tomato, cucumber, tortilla
– Mora juice 

– Frijoles enteros, ricissimo, scrambled egg with tomato and tortilla 
– Fresh orange juice


– Frijoles licuados, cuajada, scrambled egg and ham, fried plantain, tortilla 
– Fresh orange juice

This is my favourite type of plantain to have!

– Chicken, rice, tomato, cucumber and tortilla
– Fresh orange juice

– Baleadas (with frijoles revueltos, cheese and scrambled egg) 
– A plum
– Mora juice

Ah, baleadas. By far my favourite food in Honduras, baleadas are made of a different type of tortilla to our usual, filled with refried beans, Honduran cheese and mantequilla (kind of like a mix between mayonnaise and sour cream) and then folded in half. This is called a baleada sencilla or you can have con huevos (with scrambled eggs). The king of Honduran food.


– Frijoles licuados, spinach and egg, plantain, cuajada and tortilla
– Mora juice

Ever since I got a touch of anemia in October (coupled with the flu which made it look worse than it was), our host mum loves stuffing me full of spinach and I must say I have a new found taste for it.

– Chicken enchilada (crispy fried tortilla, chicken, potato, tomato and shredded cabbage) 
– Banana licuado

If you’ve read my previous blog about my birthday weekend, you’ll know we climbed a mountain next to Candelaria so thought we deserved a treat. We went to a local cafe and got some enchiladas, which are thin, deep fried tortillas with toppings.

– Cena tipica from a comedor (frijoles licuados, scrambled eggs with onion, chicken, cheese, plantain, avocado and tortillas) 
– Coca-Cola

I actually forgot to take a picture when we were out with Jesse and Lucy at a comedor (a restaurant that kind of looks like it’s in someone’s front room!) on their last night with us so this is from another day but just imagine this plus a slice of avocado!

An interesting thing about drinks in restaurants is that as well as buying cans and plastic bottles of juice they also come in glass bottles that you return at the end of your meal. It’s obviously much more eco-friendly and I personally think that Fresca (a grapefruit flavoured fizzy drink) is never more refreshing than out of a glass bottle.

Cake! Again!

It was my birthday weekend and we decided to have the cake a bit early. Cake in Honduras is another weird one. After baking the cake, it is usually soaked in milk to keep it moist (more like sodden). At first we were repulsed by this but over time have come round. I did still opt for a milkless cake for my birthday though.


– Frijoles, cauliflower and broccoli, plantain, cuajada, tortilla
– Water

– Fried chicken and tajadas with salsa
– Pineapple juice (in a bag)

We went out into our weekly market and were treated to a free lunch by our friend’s parents as a birthday present. An interesting thing with this meal was that our juice came tied up in a small freezer bag. You bite the corner off and suck it out through the hole. This is not uncommon and bags of water are seen in most shops which actually saves on money and plastic if you already have a bottle. You can buy a few and squeeze them into the bottle you have, saving a bit of plastic compared with buying a whole new bottle.

– Frijoles, mantequilla, avocado and tortilla 
– Orange juice 


This food diary was supposed to be a week long but I knew our dinner from the Monday after I finished it had to be featured because it’s one of my favourite meals!

– Tacos flautas (topped with a tomato sauce, shredded cabbage and grated cheese)

These tacos are unlike any I had had before coming to Honduras. Instead of typical taco shells or soft tortillas, it is a tortilla curled into a flute shape and stuffed with, for us, chicken. The best way to eat tacos, in my humble opinion.