A Travellerspoint blog

Utila. Part I.


Utila, Honduras
There is a cluster of islands of the coast of Honduras, known as the Bay Islands. There are four main islands; Roatan (the cash cow or ‘jewel of the islands’ I’ve heard said), Helene, Guanaja, and Utila. I have come to Utila, off the beaten path. An island famous for its scuba diving, the majestic whale shark, and surprising number of American (and other English speaking) permanent and semi-permanent residents.
But before I tell you of the beauties of this island (only viewed through sheets of rain as of now) I must tell you of our journey to the island….the undoing of which all started with a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar with Almonds. *Warning-this story is not for the faint of heart
We awoke at 3:30am, an hour that reminded me of my time working at a packaging company in Batavia for a 10 hour shift 4 days a week. We got our cab and headed to the bus station. Wearily got on the bus for a 3 and half hour drive, which I mercifully slept through most of. During the ride to La Cieba, where we’d catch our ferry to Utila, we stopped for a bathroom break and snacks. I got a Diet Coke, granola bar and the dreaded Hershey’s Bar. I ate my granola and drank my coke, saving my chocolate for the boat. Oh, foolish, foolish, silly girl.
We arrived at the dock for the ferry, joining the population of American hippies, native Hondurans, and other American volunteers itching for some time in the sun. While waiting to board the ferry, rain started to pour. I didn’t think anything of it. We made our mad dashes to the ferry in groups. And I don’t know what you see in your head when you think ferry but I thought of a nice little flat bottomed boat with a deck, maybe a little snack stand where I could get a coffee.
It was a little cage bubble of Plexiglas and metal torture chamber of death. When we first got on I was like “Oh! How exciting! It’s almost like a submarine!” I got a seat by one of the few plastic windows, with rows of people behind me. Once everyone was on, and the boat started revving up, I saw a man handing out plastic bags. I started laughing! Ha ha! Its just a little boat ride, a little rain, we’ll be fine. I’ve read a dozen or so books about life on the high seas, romanticized live on the ocean blue, I’m a seasoned traveler. I’ve got a strong stomach, and besides I’d read enough books to know what to expect. We started heading into the sea, and it was fun! Up and down and crash and bang. I stood up to look out into the sea and imagined I was Charlotte Doyle, Christopher Columbus, Napoleon, this Scottish Piratess I read about not the day before, Jack Sparrow. I continued to peer into the unknown. Until….I started hearing things….smelling things…..I dared to look back. Half a dozen people had their head buried in those white plastic bags. A fellow American Volunteer we had just met had turned the shade of slate, sweat through her clothes and was heaving into her little baggy.
I will not succumb. I resumed my post, dedicated to Captain to her vessel. We will see this maelstrom through, we will arrive swiftly and to double profits! She is a beauty, my brig, more than able to brave the tempest! Oh no….half dozen more bags going out. Up and down, up and down goes the boat. People are asking for a second round. Children are buried in their parents’ laps. Women are embracing each other. People are openly praying for the rapture. That American volunteer is dripping sweat off her face. And is on her third bag. Or was it her fourth? I’ve lost count. Eyes to the open sea, eyes to the open sea. Dozens of the passengers were just puking their guts out. Up and down.
This is IMPOSSIBLE. I’ve read about seasickness, sea legs, etc. a million times. Eyes to the sea, eyes to the sea.
Enter Hershey’s Chocolate Bar with Almonds. (Consumed at the onset of our voyage)
From stomach to pretty little white plastic baggy. Fortunately, I immediately felt better. But the looked down and noticed their was a hole in my bag, dripping my once delicious chocolate bar (now in liquidated form) all over me. Ok, that's TMI. I know, I’ll stop.
Oh, it was terrible. Stuck in this muggy, hot, thick, vomit filled cage of death. There was no air circulation. Just all stuck till we got there. I heaved one more time, grateful that I was vomiting chocolate instead of a burger and fries….which I’m pretty sure the dude in the back was doing. I also felt a little bit of a pansy, as I was the only one in our group that got sick.
We finally landed. Ah, the sweet divinity of fresh air and a band of locals greeting you in their bare feet. Needless to say, the events following that boat ride have been wonderful and I’m not even half way through yet. The rain seems to be subsiding, and I love the local rhythms here. More to come. And if you ever buy a Hershey’s Bar with Almonds, please think of me, because I’m not sure I can ever eat one again.

Posted by buscarme 09:25 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (3)

Accion de Gracias

88 °F

So I have to be quick. It's 10:20 and I'm leaving for Utila tomorrow and have to be up at 3:30! Utila is an island of the coast of Honduras. Brenda, Hannah, Hannah's father (Rick) and I will be spending 3 well earned days in the sun. But I wanted to post a couple pictures of this glorious day. (Yara, regrettably will be spending her weekend in Miami to maintain her visa).

Brenda, Hannah, and I were in charge of the organization of this event. I wrote and directed a play that explained Thanksgiving in all its American glory. It was a lot of work. We had about 6 rehearsals. All very grueling. Honduran kids just don't know how to sit down and shut up. But we persevered and our work paid off. It was a great day.

This was during the service. I wasn't able to take any pictures of the actual performance, as I was doing the insanely nervous director dance in the back.

And this is me as a peligrina, a pilgrim, ready to make a fool out of myself for the sake of education.

Sixth grade at their Thanksgiving meal.

Fifth grade

And fourth grade.

And finally, me and Miss Erika, my homegirl at the fiesta for the teachers....at a casino. Yeah....I didn't get it either.

And while I'm here I've got a couple things to say, then off to bed. First, I went to a futbol game on Wednesday night. In a stadium. With thousands of people and just as many vendors. Insanity ensued. It was a game with two teams from Honduras--Marathon (from San Pedro) and Olympia (Tegulicigalpa). And it was for the country cup. It was amazing. It was not all like it is in the states. People snuck in fireworks they set off IN THE STADIUM, at the cops, over the cement trenches to keep the fans at bay and the 15 foot fences with barbed wire. Fans climbed over the fence and stormed the field. Marathon, the underdog, won the game. As I am a Marathon fan, it was a total success. I went with Hannah, Rick, Yara, and Yara's family.

And that brings me to the second thing I wanted to say. Yara's biological family has been my saving grace here. They have completely accepted me, which is such a wonderful, God-filled thing. I've gone to their house and played futbol with her brother and other friends of the family. I lay on Mama Leti's bed and watch MTV with her and Yara and other family members. And I have just received my second motorcycle lesson from Julio, (only spoken in Spanish I might add) a friend of the family, fulfilling a dream for me. And I'm getting better.--My Spanish is getting better every day, and I'm feeling bolder. I have a long way to go in this, but it is so liberating to speak it. This new sector of my life, with Yara's family, has been transforming my experience and making it complete. It gives me energy and refuels my batteries to tackle my turbulent time with the girls and school day after day.

So, good things, good things. Loving it here again. So vacation tomorrow. Taking the bus to the coast, then a ferry to the island. I'll take plenty of pictures, por supesto. And to all friends and family, I'm counting the days till I see your pretty faces and hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Posted by buscarme 20:16 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (1)

Una Manzana

85 °F

La hace mi dia.

One of my students gave me an apple today in a yellow grocery bag. I beamed.
When I told them I was going home, they told me I must be really excited to see my family. I said yes.
They said I better be coming back. I said, of course. They beamed.
They asked if I could bring my dog back with me. I wish.
Is there life to be found in Honduras? Me encanta.


It has been difficult to adjust to the differences between children in states and here. They are louder, more vocal about their feelings and are not afraid to challenge authority but there are really wonderful things that our kids are lacking or find challenging. Such as....this sense of family and community. I couldn't believe my fourth graders automatically assumed I would be excited to see my family--that they were able to see past themselves. The boys here are not ashamed to show physical affection. Alienation of any one student is not unheard of but extremely rare. They really do feel like a family within their grades and classrooms. They look out for each other. Its quite breathtaking.

I don't know if this is punishable by law or not, but I thought this would be fun.

The following are spelling words used in a sentence or definition from quizzes given to my students. Here are my favorites.

1. Director- president of a play
2. Laser- the gun of Star Wars
3. Familiar- to like the face of Kristel, like I have seen her face
4. Aloud- to speak very fart

5. The pirate marooned me in a city.
6. My balloon is explote?
7. I have a false question?
8. My alert is when want to go to the bathroom.
9. I give Miss Emily the worship.
10. What in the world someone tell me I'm ugly!
11. I interpret Hitler.

Also. I just ate the heart, the liver, the neck and THE FEET of a chicken with the girls tonight. Cluck cluck. Think little hunks of fat with little bones all wiggling, crunching, down my esophagus. Can't say I want to repeat the experience. But when in Rome.....and the girls are calling you a chicken for not eating chicken......

Posted by buscarme 10:12 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (2)

Vamos a Inglesia

I joined the girls for Church again this past Sunday. God is good. Breathing life where it needs to breathed. Restoring hope.

A new addition.

This is Kenzie



Posted by buscarme 04:08 Comments (2)

4 Glimpses of Life in Honduras

87 °F

One. –-Words, words, words
Because the rhythm of life is very different in the states I have found that I am able to read books I’ve been putting off or wouldn’t have read otherwise. There is always so much to pull you away from those books you know will take some effort. Little social things, coffee dates, work, sitcoms, etc. Here are some highlights…..

Like Water For Chocolate. “The weeping was just the first symptom of a strange intoxication—an acute attack of pain and frustration—that seized the guests and scattered them across the patio and the grounds and in the bathrooms, all of them wailing over lost love.” (The after effects of a dish, Quail In Rose Petal Sauce)

The Color Purple. “Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you are not looking or don’t know what you looking for…don’t look like nothing, she say. It aint a picture show. It aint something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that you’ve found it.”

Tuck Everlasting. “Well, thought Winnie, crossing her arms on the windowsill, she was different. Things had happened to her that were hers alone, and had nothing to do with them. It was the first time. And no amount of telling about it could help them understand or share what she felt. It was satisfying and lonely, both at once.”

Their Eyes Were Watching God. “From now on until Death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything.”

Two.—Work Place Hazard
Accidentally saying/teaching words you shouldn’t.
Examples: Shoot, freaking, put (a spelling word for the 4th graders that is dangerously close to ‘puta’, a naughty word in Spanish—this resulted in gasps and dropped jaws, I tried to commonly explain without looking shocked at myself)

The Coca Cola sign. People here drink soda like we drink or designer coffee. There is a bright neon sign that glows at night in the hills surrounding our home, paying homage to this beverage. A giant trail leads to the sign and it’s a nice piece of exercise to trek up there. The girls get to go up there every now and then when they are to convince a grudging Tia to volunteer to take them. My backside and the hour wait for the bus to pick us up made me understand the grudging-ness of the Tias. But oh, what a day it was.

This a shot of my walk from our house to the home. It was around 6am. Very pretty.

This where we're headed....that teensy tiny sign in the mountain.

On the bus on the way there.

A picture of me and some of the girls on our way up the mountain. Note the perspiration. ;)

Sweet Glory. After about an hour, the sign.

The mountains.

Four.—The Deaf and MJ
Yara, Hannah, and I decided we must see “This Is It”, the MJ movie. We settle into our seats with the hoards on cheap Tuesdays ($1.50!). The movie began and there was a group of around eight people who violated all the movie-goer rules. They got up 100 times, were playing with their loud cell phones etc. I quickly rescinded my impatience when I realized the majority of them were deaf. Hmmmm…..this begs the question why they would come to see a movie about a concert. Shame immediately followed considering this thought.

Coming soon: How to eat a liche. (a fruit that looks like red, spinney bug from the ocean….delicious)

Posted by buscarme 18:24 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (2)

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