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The Girl with the Daffodil Tattoo

A Welsh girl let loose in a wild world

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Honduras

Copán Ruinas: The Best Place to Visit in Honduras?

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No matter how long you plan on staying in Copán for, I can guarantee you that you will end up staying there for an extra night! It’s a quaint little town, safe and clean, with oodles to do and not too saturated by tourists.

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The Ruins

Breathtaking Mayan Ruins in a beautiful park. Entrance costs $15, with $5 for a guide. Entrance to the site also allows you into a second, lesser visited site called “Las Sepulturas”, where you will end up climbing tomb raider style up and down more ruins than you can shake a stick at. I preferred the second site in some ways as it was quieter and the guides were more passionate, but the main ruins themselves were simply a beautiful place to just hang out and chill.

Bird Mountain

In San Pedro Sula, I was told that the bird park (“Macaw Mountain”) was unmissable, but I did in fact miss it. This was because:

a) I’m stingey

b) I prefer not to support businesses where animals are kept in cages

c) if you’re at the ruins at closing time, the macaws come in to roost, and you can get very close to them anyway. 

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Luna Jaguar

Beautiful thermal springs 60 minutes drive from the centre. I treated myself to this experience on the night of New Year’s day. It cost $25 (including transport), which was so cheap compared to anywhere else that I just couldn’t resist.

Eating

Most restaurants can be found on Calle de la Plaza, which goes from the south west corner of the central park. For breakfast, Avenida Sesesmil had a wide range of eateries, from organic coffee shops to local eating holes. There’s also a supermarket on this street, across from the football field, if you’re looking to cut costs, although a main course meal is unlikely to cost you more than $9, unless you go to the ritzy British Restaurant (obviously our notorious culinary reputation doesn’t precede us to Central America)

 

Honduras has a bad rep, but if you want to chill out and have a nice relaxing time, I highly recommend Copán. I’ve spent 3 months in Honduras now, and have come across the phenomenon that anywhere that is “safe” for me to go is invariably expensive and rubbish (i.e. some sort of chain). Not so in Copán, where people are friendly and welcoming, and when you ask them for directions, they actually stop, as opposed to in San Pedro where people are so guarded they won’t even turn to see who is addressing them.

 

As I was leaving my hostel, the proprietors and his friends asked me to stay. They are active on workaway.com and usually have at least one volunteer. I was tempted; they were lovely people, and this was the nicest place I had been to so far in Honduras. But time was awasting, and I had to continue my journey to see more of this beautiful yet troubled country.

A Week In Tegucigalpa…Without Internet!

I set off to stay with my friend in Tegucigalpa without my computer for several reasons.

1. It wouldn’t fit in my backpack and carrying in it in it’s little bag is like wearing a sign that says “rob me please”

2. My friend doesn’t have internet in her house so I would need to carry it out of the house to use the internet  (see point 1)

I often turn on my computer with a sinking feeling, knowing that I will inevitably lose an hour of my life to keeping up with email, facebook etc etc, yet when I don’t have access to these things for 10 days, there’s a usually a big surprise awaiting me when I finally go to check. The surprise is as follows:

Absolutely nothing has changed.

 

The world has not exploded, everything is OK, apart from the fact that I now have about 100 email adverts clogging my inbox and about 10 emails from friends asking if I’m free to skype “sometime”, but with full knowledge that we are both so busy that actually catching each other at a good time while being thousands of miles apart is easier said than done.

From now on, I will only spend 60 minutes at a time on my computer, making a “to do” list before I turn it on, sticking to it, and not get caught up in flimflammery.

Yeah right! 😛

Having a Root Canal in Honduras

Today I had my first root canal and this is what it felt like.

First, I went to a wonderful dentist who took out my old filling and gave me an x-ray. She told me that I’d need to see a specialist to have a root canal, so she gave me a temporary filling and sent me home to have lunch. I asked her if my interdental brushing or flossing had caused the problem with the filling, and she said that over time the mercury (amalgama in Spanish) expands, making the filling bigger, and so by pulling with the floss I might have loosened it a tiny bit, allowing the tooth decay to reach close enough to the root to require it to be removed. I thought “That’s it. I’m never brushing my teeth again!”.

She called again a few hours later to say that the specialist could come in an hour, so off I went again. The specialist arrived and was very kind and friendly. She took out the temporary filling, and started poking my tooth extensively with various needles that she seemed to be screwing in and out.

I realised that the main problem with going to the dentist in Spanish is that once a person is wearing a mask to cover their mouth, it’s much more difficult to understand them, which we don’t always appreciate with our native language. Another thing was that there were two dental chairs in the room, with two young dentist ladies drilling away happily, meaning that the extra noise was another factor which made life more difficult for me.

My job was basically to wait patiently until it hurt, wherein she could inject INTO my tooth with an anaesthetic, putting the nerve to sleep before yanking it out piece by piece. Sometimes she pulled out big bits but mostly they were small. Then she took x-rays. Then she compared all of the x-rays that she had taken. As she did this, I thought about all the times when I had gone to bed without brushing my teeth, vaguely thinking “I’m probably going to regret this at the dentist one day”. I was right!

Normally, the procedure is done in two sittings, but I asked for it to be done in one, although in the end the dentist seemed tired and I didn’t want her to make a mistake through being overtired from her delicate yet at times strenuous work. She patched me up with another temporary filling, telling me to take painkillers, antibiotics, and drink plenty of fluids so she could finish up tomorrow. 

As she worked on my tooth, I thought about all the people who can’t afford dental work, and I considered myself very lucky to be in so much discomfort. The clinic that I went to serves the whole neighborhood, even those who can’t pay. I asked her if she gave treatment for free because she was a Christian, but she just smiled. She explained that the people from the bordo ( probably translates as “slum” in English) mainly come in for extractions, and that she has so many clients who can afford to pay (sometimes by installments) that she doesn’t need to charge the one’s who can’t. She explained that she thought that Honduras was a strange country because the government doesn’t try to help the poor. I was impressed by her simple, humble altruism, as much as I was impressed by a lady I met who came here a few weeks ago. She was an american, and a qualified dentist, and she had PAID with HER OWN MONEY to come here to work FOR FREE. It’s meeting every day heroes like these two ladies that gives me hope that there is more good in the world than the media lead us to believe.

Teething Pains

Travelling over the Christmas and New Year period can be complicated as not only are you in places you’re not familiar with, but many places are closed, so if you NEED to do something (like go to the dentist or get medicine) then you might have to wait or pay extra. With this in mind, I felt a growing sense of dread as about a week ago I started to feel a sharp pain in one of my molars. I hoped it would go away but alas, it remained, and got a little worse each day. 

It’s no coincidence that the dentist who saw me this morning at such short notice was in fact one of the girls who grew up in the home. I feel incredibly humbled by how Our Little Roses can take little girls from grim situations, give them food, education, and love, and help them to become qualified in professions that truly make a difference to people’s lives.

I have a temporary filling for now before being booked in to have a root canal within the next 24 hrs. I feel so incredibly grateful that this has happened in a place where I have access to pain killers, antibiotics, and dentists, as if I had kept to my original plan and spent Christmas in Costa Rica, I’d be out on a limb to say the least, probably suffering from a lot of tooth pain which would be ruining my hiking in a beautiful nature reserve.

Thank you Universe! 🙂

Christmas in Honduras

I’m having a wonderful time sharing Christmas with the girls at Our Little Roses home for girls. Here are some of my observations about Christmas here (as opposed to Europe/USA).

1. Christmas is celebrated on midnight of the 24th, not on the 25th

2. People set off so many homemade fireworks you might think it’s World War III

3. Santa comes at midnight to give presents

 

ImageSpecial Christmas church service.

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More photos to follow!

 

Tegucigalpa at Christmas

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The city is nestled within a circle of green hills, dotted with little houses on the hillside. Riding in a taxi is kind of like being on a rollercoaster, as many of the streets are narrow, windy, and with a very steep incline. Taxis are more common than buses, and it’s normal that a taxi picks up as many people as they can (slowing to beep invitingly at tired looking pedestrians).

Although many people get around by motorbike.

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The streets bustle with activity in the run up to Christmas.

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Music blares from many shops, with someone talking on a mic, inviting customers inside the shops.

The main square is a hubbub of socialisation.

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Los Dolores church borders a busy market, although at Christmas there are a myriad of illegal sellers crowding the streets.

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The Espectáculo and Beyond

On the day, all was madness. Last minute changes, computer malfunctions, misunderstandings, tensions running high…

The event slipped out of my fingers, like a boat sailing away. I watched it from the stage, operating the subtitle powerpoint, marveling at the talent I saw before me. Although I had heard all of the poems so many times before, from my vantage point I could watch the faces in the audience, and it was as if I was hearing it all for the first time.

I thought I would feel good after the show ended, but now I feel… disconnected. The stress and pressure has been removed from my life and now I have time to take stock. What went well? What have I learned about myself? What would I like to not repeat in the future?

It was a steep learning curve, and now it has passed. The Universe took care of it all and everything fell into place in the end.

Monday Sexism

Today I had an interesting experience. I spoke with a man for 40 minutes, interpreting/helping a female coworker who is a highly qualified light/photography engineer. The man we were speaking to argued with us for 40 minutes about how what we wanted was wrong, but then immediately “understood” when our male coworker weighed in to explain. This leads me to come to the following conclusion:

“Women’s voices are high pitched, like dog whistles, and only some dogs can hear them.”

Joking aside, I’m pretty proud of myself for the way I handled it today. The last time I was in a similar situation, I let someone waste so much of my time that I finally said to the guy: “I’m going to be very direct. I wasn’t born yesterday. Please stop lying to me or I can’t help you”. I wish I was one of those people who could just smile and nod, but I’m not. Not yet. I wonder if I would still be me if I was that kind of person.

I suppose one has to choose their battles wisely, or else they will spend their whole life fighting. If someone is lying to me, my first instinct is to call them out, but in the world or work, that doesn’t usually result in cooperation, especially when dealing with male egos.

I’ve informed my male coworkers who aren’t cave dwellers that from now on, I want them to speak to this third party. I can’t change him and his ingrained opinions, nor the fact that he refuses to listen to smart women who have different ideas from him. Life would be much easier if I were a man (e.g.not having so much ridiculous and time consuming pressure on my appearance, traveling on my own, people taking me more seriously and allowing me to be a leader instead of cutting me down), but I’m not, and that’s that. I’m only here a few more weeks, I don’t care about this guy, and if he wants to discount what I have to say out of hand because I am a woman then he can talk to my male coworkers, they can say the same thing, and he might be less emasculated by that. But I need to bite my tongue from saying “You’re not listening because we are women”, because unlike Madrid, few people are direct here, least of all women to men. (After all the difficulties that I overcame in Madrid, who ever thought I would miss that city?)

Needless to say, it made me miss my partner terribly. He speaks to me like an equal in all things, he’s not scared to tell me that he disagrees with me, nor is he scared to admit when I am right. He never suggests that my map reading abilities may be sub par, even though we often “discover new destinations” when I am copilot in the car. He’s man enough to cook, and sing, and laugh and be silly.

Then I think about the girls at the home. They live here, they live in this culture. They are highly intelligent, beautiful young women, on their way to university. Will they internalise this crap, sitting in some office doing someone’s paperwork, thinking more about their hair, nails, and makeup, than they do about who they are and what they really want from life?

 

 

Thanksgiving in Honduras

Thanksgiving

The kids all came to school today in their Sunday best to celebrate Thanksgiving. There was food (chicken and rice) and then they all got to go home early, at 11am (school here starts at 7am).

Today I am thankful for:

>my students, for their undying enthusiasm

>the girls at the home, for their unconditional love

>how helpful the teachers are at the school

>all of the artists that I have met here (poets, photographers, documentary directors)

>the incredible strong women who run this home (the founder, the management, and the Tías, who take care of the girls every single day, giving them love and guidance)

 

It’s a miracle that I am here. I never would have imagined to come here, never would have thought of this by myself, and yet everything has fallen into place. I feel like I’m some way in between a volunteer and an intern here, and I am absolutely loving.

Some days are hard. People talking when I am talking to a large group is like nails down a chalkboard for me, so I’m here to learn to overcome that, and many other things.

Every day is a miracle.

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