Week 1- Heathrow- US -Tegucigalpa- Valle de Angeles- La Esperanza
La Esperanza Travel Blog› entry 1 of 11 › view all entries
April 26th, 2006 – by: Sbhattacharya69
So Sunday I got my flight, firstly, from Heathrow to Newark. The window seat I booked managed to be mistyped by the person at the Virgin Atlantic desk, and instead wrote, seat 29d, middle of centre. It was ok though, as I didn´t move from my spot for the 8 hour flight...well 9 actually, because something went wrong with Heathrow´s flight system, and so I was stuck on the runway for an hour, which was fun.
Anyhow, the flight was long, but I managed to get through a few films, and also made mates with this guy who does applied maths at MIT who was going to a friends wedding.
The next part of my journey took me to Newark airport, where, after an air train to terminal A, me and the MIT bloke found that nothing was actually open till 4 in the morning, it was 11.
Then after staring at space and wondering round like a hermit for 4 hours, I checked in and headed into the seating area. After accidentally going into the women´s toilets (I had been awake for 25 hours by this time, so I have an excuse!) boarded the plane, and it was amazing. Mainly because I got my window seat, and slept like a baby till the landing in Miami. The flight from Miami to Tegucigalpa was stunning, never seen anything like it before.
The landing at Tegucigalpa is jaw dropping. Honduras in itself is just covered full of mountains, and Tegucigalpa seems to be in a valley surrounded by mountains. Just for the passengers, the airstrip is down the side of a smallish mountain, but one none the less. So when flying over it feels as if you´re going to hit it, and I swear, a couple more feet to the left, and the wing would have hit the mountain! The landing strip wasn´t very long either, so some hardcore breaking was involved, supposedly Thursday before last, due to a bit of rain, the plane went past the landing strip into a bus.
If you don't believe the warning given above- check the youtube video first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_z5HtME9n8
Customs also took forever! Americans had given some of their free gifts to Honduras, i.e. the finger machine and the webcam/photo things. But I don´t think the Hondurans really cared, as when it came to me, I didn´t have a picture taken, and the guy used his own finger...so I´m guessing that bit of generosity didn't really work. I think the general feeling is that Hondurans don´t particularly like Americans. I won't elaborate further on this comment, as it may get me in trouble. Anyhow, at the airport, I met the other i-to-i people.
So we boarded the bus to go for lunch...driving is kinda crazy and with no rules here. Overtaking on blind bends, going 110miles an hour down a one way road, or down a mountain road, it´s all good out here. The driver went to the wrong place, so after checking into our hotel, which was cool, I mean very basic, Me, Oz and Seb shared a room, which was basically 3 beds, a hole in the ground, a shower that didn't work, and a light switch...but location was amazing, and we didn´t care, we all made it to Honduras!
The bus then took us to our co-ordinator´s house, a girl called Elisa. She is actually now married to one of the ex-volunteers, Nick, who decided to pack up his life in Central London and move out to Honduras, starting his own property development business.
We went out for dinner, and again had the typical dish, but this time including fried bananas and cream. We found that out here, everything shuts very early. It was 7pm when we went for dinner, and all but one restaurant was shut, so had food there. The thought we´d get a few drinks in and talk a bit, and found a small bar run by this crazy Honduran woman who started stating her love for this dead Mexican singer, who´s picture she still has up on the wall- i think he died 10 years ago. The beers kinda drowned the noise away- but the craziest thing was, in the middle of the bar, the 2 children were doing their homework!
Stayed for an hour, and by the time we left, the streets were dead...it was 8pm. We thought we´d follow suit and hit the sack.
It was boiling in the night and us 3 were lying there in our boxers.
Had some pancakes for breakfast at a restauarant which Elisa owns and manages, very nice. Had a 2 hour briefing of everything we ever needed to know, I feel quite safe with i-to-i, recommended company. There was no way of trying to contact home, the phones weren´t able to make international calls, and the internet was broken. So, went to change dollars instead. Greeted by a nice few army men with guns, who searched me with a metal detector, it didñt really work though, as I had a pen knife in my pocket, which they kind of missed. I needed my passport to change my money, which seemed a bit weird, but then they asked it from everyone who didn´t seem Honduran.
Krish, Will (and his guitar), Sally, Elsa and I got on the bus to go from Tegucigalpa, to our home for the next 2 months, La Esperanza, situated in the Western Highlands of Honduras. The bus was nice, but I am still getting used to the whole timing thing. Basically, Honduras is a very laid back country, and the given is, if the bus is full half an hour before departure time, it will leave, if it is not full, it will wait until it gets full, and then it leaves. So our 12.30pm bus left at 1.45pm. The total journey time was 4 and a half hours, so up and down mountains....felt like throwing up. I was kept distacted by the little baby and her mother who sat next to me for 3 hours. The baby enjoyed chewing at Pippa´s grey bear for the majority of the journey, whilst I tried to keep my guts inside of me.
We arrived in La Esperanza just after 6, and were greeted by the Save The Children guys. I guess greeted is an understatement, as all the guy did was put his thump up and then point to the back of the pick up truck.
So there we went, all 6 of us, and all of our luggage, sitting on the sides of the pick up with half the body hanging out, holding on for dear life. It was cooler up in La Esperanza (1900m up). We went and dropped off people at their respective houses. Krish, Will and Sally were all in the centre, but the accomodation wasn´t anything to jump up and down about.
We got fed crackers and peanut butter whilst attempting to use my scraped A at GCSE Spanish to converse with the family. Never have I done anything harder in my life. I thought Seb could help, but no, he says graci indtead of gracias....enough said. In those conversations with people who do not understand a single word of English, I have thought the hardest that I´ve done in my whole life. It came as an asnswered prayer when one of the sons of Conception (the head lady of the house) arrived, as he could speak a bit of english. Conception is a retired school teacher, she has 3 sons, one is a teacher turned artist (the one I talked about before), another used to be an electrician in America, but did´n´t like it, and after 4 years came back home, then there is the engineer in Maryland.
They also a couple of girls who work there, but are really nice. We were given chicken sandwiches for dinner, as they had no idea what we could eat. Also, there is no mineral water here, only purified, treated and boiled, so hopefully the stomach stays ok! Retired to bed at 8.30pm, by that time the rest of the town was in bed too!
Me and Seb were woken by the sound and smell of a dog tearing the throat off another one, in a typical dog fight at round 5 in the morning. Had a huge headache, which is probably the altitude, took a Beechams, and it disappeared. Breakfast was cornflakes with fresh warm milk, and fried b ananas with cream and beans (not the Heinz variety!) Me and Seb then walked the 40min road to the Save The Children office, down many dirt roads, and past many many stares and whispers, but finally arrived.
I thought La Esperanza was remote, but our school beats it hands down. The journey took an hour by pick up truck, we turned off a road onto a long long dirt track that maybe one or 2 pick ups use every morning. I can´t describe it in words, so will show you the pictures when I get back! Up and down, up and down, whilst grabbing onto the roof of the pick up- thought I may die. Got to the school at 10, where me, Seb and sally shall be teaching.
We made it to the top of the hill which the school sits below and realized that no cars go on the dirt road, and so walked for the hour and a half to the main road, this is a journey that shall be repeated everyday after school, it was really warm again, around 25/26 degrees.
Whilst enjoying a burger at Mike´s we planned our lesson plans for the classes for about an hour, till we met up with the rest of the i-to-i people and had a few beers, ending the day at 7pm, where we headed home, and had Fatimah waiting with a plate of Tortillas with beans, eggs and cheese in the middle. Stomach felt a bit funny after that, but got it down, in order to watch the Barcelona match....they love football out here! Hit the sack at 8!
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