Tag Archives: Tegucigalpa

The world game (Part two)

19 Jun

“After all, is football a game or a religion?”

~ Howard Cosell

The game was scheduled for 7pm, but the gates opened at 1pm. We arrived at 4.30pm and I was amazed at the number of people already in the stadium.

At full capacity el Estadio Nacional can hold 38,000. It didn’t end up being a sold-out match but the crowds were still impressive. Everywhere you looked there was a sea of blue and white (the Honduran team colours).

Blue & white

And the noise! The game didn’t start for another two and a half hours, but already the crowd was yelling and cheering, blowing horns and banging cardboard. The cacophony was overwhelming.

It’s a little shaky, but I recorded about 30 seconds of footage, which will give you an idea of what it sounded like.

For the entire lead-up to kick off the guys in front of us stood, chatting and cheering and drinking beer. I was a bit worried this would be my view for the whole game:

image

Fortunately they sat down once the game started, and only stood up when there were goals or close calls.

And the only goals to be seen were ours! Honduras won 2-0! Woot.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, but when Honduras scored a goal it was like 10,000 volts had been sent through the crowd. Everyone jumped to their feet, yelling, screaming, hugging and throwing full cups of beer in the air.

Full cups of beer and full cups of urine too, apparently. Eww!

My friend had warned me earlier there was only one set of bathrooms at the stadium. They would most likely be in an appalling state, so it was best not to drink too much and avoid using them.

Others who want to drink, but also don’t want to use the bathrooms, pee in their empty cups. I’m not 100 per cent sure how one achieves such a feat discretely, surrounded by nearly 38,000 people, but apparently it’s a ‘thing’.

All the amber liquid flying through the air after a goal is scored isn’t necessarily beer or Mountain Dew.

Luckily, not a single drop landed on me so I didn’t have to worry about the unidentified flying liquids. My only moment of worry was when a fight nearly broke out between two men in the rows in front of us.

About 10 police officers with massive batons pushed their way down to the arguing spectators, directly in front of our seats. There was a very tense stand-off, but after a few nerve-wracking minutes the situation was diffused and everyone went back to observing the game.

Watching it all unfold was quite frightening, and I was very relieved when it blew over. I’m not sure what the confrontation was about. It was between two Honduran supporters so wasn’t team rivalry boiling over.

I think I counted a total of five Jamaica supporters in the entire stadium. If I were them I would have been very intimidated, although the police presence, as promised, was massive.

They were spaced out about a metre apart across the top and bottom rows of the estadio. Earlier on they also marched a lap around the soccer field in what I assume was a show of force.

At the end of the game the police, in full riot gear, lined up to make sure the players were able to exit without being mobbed. Although considering there was razor wire on top of the fences separating the seats from the field, it would be difficult for a spectator to cross the barrier.

All in all it was a very exciting afternoon. Honduras’ win meant the crowds leaving the stadium were elated and I was thrilled to survive my trip to the big bad Estadio Nacional with no major incidents.

¡¡Vamos Honduras¡¡

Ticket

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The world game (Part one)

19 Jun

“¡¡Un país, una pasión y cinco estrellas en mi corazón!!”

~ From the Selección Nacional de Honduras Facebook page

Hondurans take their fútbol seriously. Very seriously. As you might be aware, we’re in the midst of World Cup qualifying matches at the moment and things are getting pretty tense.

Last night, Honduras lost against Los Estados Unidos. Their next game won’t be until September, when they will face Mexico.

My football knowledge is pretty shaky, but my understanding is they’ll need to win or at least tie the rest of their matches keep their World Cup hopes alive.

The first World Cup qualifier game I watched here (on the big screen) was Honduras v Mexico. I had only just arrived in the country so felt a little torn about who to cheer for.

My host-mum solved my dilemma by gifting me a Selección Nacional de Honduras t-shirt.

Honduras t-shirt

The end result was a 2-2 draw, reflecting my divided loyalties nicely.

Next we played and lost against Panama followed by a loss to Costa Rica. And last week it was do or die against Jamaica.

This game was to be played in el Estadio Nacional here in Tegus. A friend invited me to watch the match with him and I quickly agreed to go.

The expression on my host-mum’s face when I casually mentioned I was going to see the match live was priceless.

Unbeknownst to me the stadium doesn’t have the best reputation. In fact, it’s considered quite insecure and on occasions downright dangerous.

Our housekeeper told me yesterday that if it had been up to her she would have forbidden me to go!

My host-mum’s concerns spooked me a little but my friend assured me there’d be a large police presence (which to me wasn’t necessarily reassuring) and advised me we had tickets in one of the safer areas.

Honduras isn’t necessarily the best country to implement a YOLO attitude to life, but with tickets already purchased and my curiosity piqued (just how bad could it be?) I decided I’d probably regret not going more than going.

Probably…

Hopefully…

(To be continued…)

The photos in my mind

24 May

“A picture is a poem without words.”

~ Horace

There’s been many a time I’ve found myself wistfully longing to use my camera here in Honduras. I’ve come across many interesting and fascinating sights, even in poor old ‘dreary’ Tegus. 

However it’s often not safe for me to take out a camera, and it’s never wise to use your cel phone in public, even if it’s only to snap a quick photo. Mobile phones are thief-magnets and being robbed is not on my ‘to do’ list.

CameraIn any case, I’m rarely out on the streets. Most of the sights I see are from inside my host-mum’s car or during the taxi ride to and from work. There have been countless perfect photo opportunities that have flashed past me in a blur.

One of the few times I’ve actually been on foot in Tegus was when I visited a marginalised barrio with TECHO. Despite being in one of the poorest areas in town I actually felt quite safe.

I had my camera with me, but it felt wrong to be strolling around taking photos. We weren’t there to play tourist, we were there to help. So once again I kept my camera in my bag.

I wish the photos in my mind would always remain as clear as they are now. A picture paints a thousand words after all. It seems a shame they will slowly fade with time, but I guess it can’t be helped.

UNICEF Honduras recently published a photo book, Retratos de Vida: Niños, niñas, adolescentes y mujeres de Tegucigalpa (Life Portraits: Children, adolescents and women of Tegucigalpa). It contains images of Tegus that are both beautiful and saddening.

The book’s aim is to raise awareness of the living conditions that stop these women and children from living a violence-free life. It’s well worth a look.

It also includes many sights similar to what I’ve personally seen, but haven’t been able to document photographically myself.

Un techo para mi país

9 May

“Wishing you always…
Walls for the wind,
A roof for the rain,
And tea beside the fire.”

~ Irish blessing

TECHO is a youth-led, non-profit organisation that works throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Their aim is to overcome poverty through the collaboration of youth volunteers and families living in poverty.

Part of their work involves constructing transitional housing to meet urgent and priority needs in slums. As stated on their website:

The house built by TECHO is a prefabricated module of 162 square feet, built in two days, with the participation of young volunteers and families in the community.”

However before the construction phase begins, the volunteer team regularly visits the community and interviews families to determine their needs and establish priorities.

As mentioned earlier, I forwent my post-birthday party sleep-in to volunteer with TECHO. About 30 young Hondurans and I piled into a big old yellow bus on Sunday morning and headed towards one of the marginalised barrios (suburbs/slums) of Tegucigalpa.

We divided into pairs (or in my case, a group of three) and were assigned families to survey. We would either be interviewing families for the first time, or conducting second visits. Visiting families for a second time helps TECHO verify facts as well as build relationships.

My group was given an initial survey to conduct. We wandered along the dirt streets under a hot mid-morning sun until we reached our designated house. It was a small 6 metre x 3 metre wooden construction with corrugated iron roofing.

Once the interview started I was amazed to hear that ten people (5 adults and 5 children) lived in that tiny building. It only had two rooms, a kitchen/living area and a bedroom. The bedroom contained two beds and a mattress on the floor.

They had electricity, but no running water. Marina*, the interviewee, pointed over her shoulder up the road to indicate where the families bathed. I’m guessing this means there was a creek or a small river further along.

It was an eye-opening experience. Working at UNICEF I’ve read countless documents about poverty in Honduras, but it’s not the same as seeing it in person or talking to people who live it every day.

Marina explained that when her husband, who was some sort of construction sub-contractor, had consecutive jobs lined up they could expect their income to reach 4750 lempiras per month. That’s AUD$235 per month to provide for a family of four.

The second house we visited had neither electricity nor water and had one wall made of cardboard and old, raggedy tarpaulins. Rosa*, her husband and three children shared the home.

We noticed they had a television in the main room, which seemed a little odd, considering they had no electricity. Rosa explained that each night her husband, who was a taxi driver, would connect the TV to the car battery and the family would watch one hour of TV together.

Any longer and the battery might go flat. The taxi was their sole source of income so more than an hour of TV was too big a risk to take.

Despite their miserable living conditions neither of the families we spoke to seemed miserable. I got the sense they were living each day as it came but were now quietly hopefully things might improve with some help from TECHO.

I was impressed by how warm and welcoming the community was to the volunteers. You could see there was a strong spirit of cooperation. And with a hospitality that demostrated how those who have the least often give the most, the entire TECHO group was cooked lunch.

I’m hoping to do more volunteer work with TECHO before my time ends here in Honduras. I’ll be sure to write more about it if I do.

*Not real names

When it rains, it pours

4 May

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.”

~ Mark Twain

Over the last few weeks whenever I’ve spoken* to my host-mum about the hot weather, she’s told me that, without question, it will rain on the third of May.

*Ok, ‘whinged’ would be a more accurate term.

I have to admit that I was a little sceptical. It seemed like a very specific forecast when we were still weeks away from the date.

“Emma,” she assured me, “if it doesn’t rain on the third of May it means the world is ending.”

“It’s rained on the third of May every third of May for my entire life.”

It’s hard to argue with those sorts of statistics, but I have to admit I still wasn’t entirely convinced. More fool me.

On Thursday night (2 May) we arrived home just before 10pm. After a hot day the skies had clouded over. In the distance we could see flashes of lightening and we could hear the low rumble of thunder.

I joked that it looked like the weather was getting ready to fulfil the 3 May prophesy. My host-mum agreed, saying that as soon as it’s one minute past midnight it was going to pour.

We didn’t need to wait that long. At about 10.30pm one of the biggest electrical storms I have ever experienced began in earnest. It was incredible.

As I cowered under my blanket I wondered if the fact that Tegucigalpa was in a valley made the thunder louder due to some sort of amphitheatre effect caused by the surrounding mountains. When yet another huge simultaneous thunder-lightening combo cracked directly over my head I decided that this wasn’t the case.

It was just one big, bad-ass, mean, mofo of a storm.

It raged for hours. After about 20 minutes we lost power so I was able to ‘enjoy’ the rather frightening lightening show while sitting in the dark. I didn’t have the amazing views shown in the below photo, but it was quite the show nonetheless.

Image courtesy of Diario El Heraldo (David Cediel)

Image courtesy of Diario El Heraldo (David Cediel).

At one stage it seemed like the storm had passed, however an hour or two later it started up again, although this time, thankfully, not right over the house.

The next morning my host-mum had left for work before I got up. I sent her the following text:

Last night, I wanted to send you this message: Ok, I believe you. It always rains on the third of May. You can make it stop now!

This was her cheeky response:

Yes, I can see that. haha… I also wanted to scare you a little…that’s why as well as rain I sent lightening and sparks

She later also explained to me that 3 May is called El dia de las cruces (the day of the crosses). People decorate wooden crosses with flowers and coloured crepe paper to welcome and celebrate the beginning of the rainy season. And as we now know, it always rains on the third of May!

Image courtesy of Diario El Heraldo

Image courtesy of Diario El Heraldo

When Tegucigalpa woke on 3 May the workings of the storm were evident all across the city. There were blackouts, fallen fences and billboards, roads covered in mud and debris, 45 houses flooded, three homes and four tenements destroyed and two people missing. Jeepers!

I had wanted it to rain, but this wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I guess it just goes to show that you need to be careful what you wish for.

And that you should listen to your host-mum; she’s always right!

Feeling the heat

2 May

“Good morning is a contradiction of terms”

~ Jim Davis

It’s 7:35am and already it’s 22 degrees heading towards the day’s top of 30. Like most taxis, your driver’s car doesn’t have air conditioning. As you sit in traffic that is at a horn-honking standstill you can feel sweat start to pool wherever your bare arms touch the synthetic material of your bag.

A huge truck idles in front of you belching black fumes. You shift uncomfortably in your seat and wonder how long it takes to be poisoned by carbon monoxide. Your taxi driver starts honking his horn, but it’s a futile gesture; you’re not going anywhere fast. Or anywhere slowly for that matter.

Welcome to peak hour traffic in Tegucigalpa, folks!

Last night’s ‘low’ of 18 degrees made it difficult to sleep, so I’m overtired and cranky before the day has even started. I arrived at the office feeling like I needed a second shower and with the beginnings of a headache.

At least today we’re heading towards 30 degrees. That makes a nice change.

I’d almost stopped looking at the forecast because for the past few weeks every day it was 32 degrees. Sometimes a sunny 32 degrees, sometimes a dreary 32 degrees, sometimes an intermittent clouds 32 degrees, but always 32 freaking degrees.

I’m not sure if the two-degree difference will be noticeable, but there’s always hope. The rains are meant to start in May and with them come cooler temperatures. I can’t wait. I’ve never been a fan of the heat and Honduras hasn’t changed that.

My first task at work each day is to compile our media summary. This involves looking at all six major news websites for articles about children’s rights, development, education and protection etc. and compiling them into an online newsletter.

Scanning all the news sites means that I’m always well-informed about the latest happenings in the country. This is not necessarily a good thing. One of my host-mum’s friends says that she doesn’t read the newspaper here because she finds it too depressing.

Today on the front page of just one of the newspapers I scan (La Tribuna) were the following stories:

That´s a fairly standard morning’s news. If it’s been a particularly bad 24 hours, sometimes they roll all the homicides into one article. For example: 17 people killed on Sunday. (Sadly, that’s a true statistic from a couple of Sundays ago.)

It makes for a cheerful start to the day.

Now where’s my coffee? I need a hit of caffeine, aka anti-cranky juice!

All About Me Day: Mexicatracho style

24 Apr

“All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.”

~ George Harrison

Those who know me well would know I tend to get a little over-excited by my birthday. Not content with just one day of festivities, I like to extend the celebrations out to at least 72 hours, if not a full birthday week.

In true form, I started my celebrations early on Friday by enjoying a couple of (what will hopefully be my last) chilenas de leche. If a girl can’t enjoy a biscuit or two on her Birthday Eve, when can she?

Saturday was my actual All About Me Day, as I like to call it. My host-mum and her friend Claudia took me out to breakfast at Los Cebollines, a Mexican restaurant, where I happily munched on huevos divorciados. The Mexican-themed birthday celebrations continued throughout the weekend.

Upon reflection, having a Mexican-themed birthday in Honduras is probably a little odd, but we had a lot of fun with it. As the Leslie Gore song goes, “It’s my party and I’ll incorporate Mexican stereotypes if I want to.”

Well, they might not be the exact lyrics, but the sentiment is there.

Saturday afternoon we headed up to the house in Valle de Angeles where my party was to be held. Unfortunately the 40 minutes of hilly, winding roads did not treat my cake kindly, and the top half tried to separate itself from the bottom.

Cake

Lopsided or not though, I think you will all have to admit it was a pretty awesome birthday cake. Decorated with a sombrero, margarita glasses, cacti and chillies it was a sight to behold and yummy to boot. My host-mum had picked it out for me and it was a great surprise.

Continuing the Mexican theme we ate nachos and tacos for dinner and then next up it was time to destroy the piñata. This was a lot of fun. I think I might need to incorporate a piñata into all my future birthday celebrations.

Celebrate your birthday and relieve stress at the same time!

Celebrate your birthday and relieve stress at the same time!

Later on in the evening the karaoke machine was brought out. This is where things could have gotten screechingly and ear-piercingly ugly, but I played my ‘it’s-my-birthday-so-what-I-say-goes’ card and avoided humiliating myself in front of my extended Honduran host-family. (Party pooper, I know.)

On Sunday morning I forwent my post-birthday sleep-in and actually got up at 6.30am so I could go and do some volunteer work with TECHO, a NGO I’ve decided to help out in my spare time. I’ll write a separate post on my experience with TECHO later.

In addition to my fun-filled party, my birthday present from my host-mum included tickets to see Colombian crooner, Juanes, live in concert. When I read he was coming to Tegus on my birthday weekend, it felt like a sign. He’s coming to town especially to sing for me!

Juanes

The concert was excellent. I was so excited to see Juanes perform live. He had released his stick-in-your-head single La camisa negra a couple of months before I arrived in Mexico for my university exchange. That song was played everywhere.

 

His Mi Sangre album was the first CD I bought over there, and every time I listen to it, it brings back fond memories of my time in Mexico.

Back at work on Monday and the birthday celebrations continued. Four of my workmates kindly took me out to lunch to Matambritas, a local hamburger chain. There I ate a Chipotle Chuck Norris burger, because I’m that tough.

Chipotle Chuck Norris

Other Matambritas burger names include the Frankenburger and the Big Kahuna. I’m planning on trying all of them at least once before I go. Solely because it’s important to support local businesses. 😉

All in all it was a most excellent birthday. I missed everyone back home of course, but I was inundated with emails and messages wishing me well so I definitely felt loved.

Here, there and everywhere

19 Apr

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

~ Bill Bryson

I’ve settled into a nice routine here in Honduras. Weekdays I work at UNICEF from 8:00am to 4:30pm and then in the afternoon I either:

  • visit the gym (I’m trying to do this more often than not);
  • go to the mall (mostly to window shop and drink coffee); or
  • head home to read, watch How I Met Your Mother* on Netflix, or just chill out and relax.

*How have I only just now discovered this awesome TV show?

It’s a pretty cruisey lifestyle during the week, which is probably a good thing, as on the weekends it’s generally all go, go, go. My host-mum doesn’t like to hang around the house doing nothing and loves going on day trips or weekend excursions. This means she’s been doing a brilliant job of showing me the country.

This weekend we not only celebrate the birthday of a very important person (hint, hint) but we also mark my two-month anniversary here in Honduras. I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by. Thanks to my host-mum though, I’ve managed to see a lot in that short space of time.

So far I’ve travelled to Valle de Angeles (multiple times), Santa Lucia, Tela (twice), San Pedro Sula, Lago de Yojoa, Comayagua (twice), Siguatepeque, San Lorenzo, El Hatillo, La Tigra and even to Santa Rosa de Lima in El Salvador for the infamous soup-inspired border crossing.

I’ve loved getting out and about and traversing this fascinating country. Tegucigalpa can be a little underwhelming so having a weekend away can be a very welcome break. I particularly enjoy visiting towns where you can walk freely on the streets and not constantly worry about security.

Looks pretty safe from a distance...

Looks pretty safe from a distance…

My next AFS camp will be held at Copán Ruinas, 25-28 April. I can’t wait to explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Copán. They’re meant to be impressive and are considered one of Honduras’ tourism highlights.

It will also be nice to see how the other AFS participants are doing. Hopefully they’ve been having just as much fun as I have. I’m really glad I decided to turn this particular travel dream of mine into a reality. Almost halfway through and there are no regrets, just lots of great experiences and happy memories.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Valle de Angeles again. My whole extended host-family will be gathering to help me celebrate my All About Me Day (aka birthday). My host-mum and her friends have decided the party theme will be ¡Tequila!

I’m already dreading Sunday morning’s headache.

Dreary Tegus, colourful hammocks and mighty Olimpia

17 Apr

“Miscellaneous is always the largest category.”
~ Joel Rosenberg

Hi folks. It’s a mix bagged of miscellaneous musings today.

Dreary Tegus

I laughed out loud when I saw the weather forecast on my phone yesterday.

DrearyTegus

Dreary. I’ve never seen that descriptor come up before.

It is accurate though as it’s fairly dull here at the moment. Smoke from all the incessant forest fires is blanketing the city. And it’s not just Tegus. For the whole 5-hour drive up to Tela last weekend there was no end to the opaque haze.

I read a news article the other day that said the smoke is unlikely to dissipate until the rains start. We’re expecting the rains to come in the first week in May. Hopefully they will clear the air and make things a bit more pleasant.

Colourful hammocks

It may cost five times as much to mail a hammock home as it will to purchase one, but I’ve decided that I cannot leave Honduras without a hammock of my own. Here’s a snap I took of a hammock stall by the side of the highway on our trip down to San Lorenzo.

Colourful hammocks

I love the colours! They’re so bright and cheerful. I don’t know what sort of apartment or house I’ll rent when I get back to Australia, but it’s definitely going to need room for a hammock.

The hammocks made with a wooden pole at each end are bulkier, but much more comfortable. So despite the increase in postage I think this is the sort I will buy. I’ve spent many hours on the hammock at our house in Valle de Angeles. And I can foresee spending many more there in the coming months. Bliss.

Mighty Olimpia

I’ve now taken the plunge and picked a Honduran football team to cheer for. Although I didn’t really have much choice in the matter.

Lombardo, the 15-year-old son of the lady my host-family employs to look after my host-grandparents in the evening, asked me the other day if I had football team. When I told him I didn’t have one yet he promptly gifted me his Olimpia chain.

Olimpia

He’s such a sweet and generous kid. After discovering that I can read in Spanish, as well as speak it, he’s also loaned me his favourite book, Querido Yo. I’ll have to write up a book review once I finish it.

I double checked with Lombardo to make sure he really wanted to give me the necklace, and he told me he had a second one at home and that if I was going to cheer for a team it had to be Olimpia.

It turns out they’re the oldest team in Honduras (they celebrated their 100th anniversary last year) as well as the (disputably) most popular.

My new necklace has caused a little bit of controversy in the office though. I’ve now discovered that my boss is an unwavering Motagua fan—Olimpia’s biggest rival. Oops.

It’s always good to have a bit of team diversity though, right?

Fun with boats and mud

12 Apr

“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

~ Carl Sandburg

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been bogged in a FWD?

How about in an airboat?

*raises hand*

Yup, yours truly can proudly lay claim to being bogged in an airboat. We certainly got value for money when we went on a supposedly 30-minute tour of the marshlands surrounding Lago de Yojoa.

We were out there among the water fowl and the lily pads for an unexpected extra 45 minutes, maybe more. Which is kinda funny, seeing as we weren’t even meant to be at LakeYojoa.

Our weekend started off on Friday with my host-mum and me heading off on a three-day trip to Tela so I could see the famous Caribbean beaches on the Northern coast of Honduras.

On the Map below, I’ve marked both Tela and Logo de Yojoa with a red box.

Honduras map

So how did I end up stuck in wetlands in the middle of Lake Yojoa when I was meant to be sunbathing by the seaside?

This is how:

Wet, wet, wet

Wet, wet, wet

Not exactly the sunny, tropical paradise we were hoping for. It was raining in Tela when we arrived late Friday evening, and it continued all the through the night, and all through the day on Saturday.

Apparently it’s unheard of to rain like this in April as we’re well and truly in the dry season.

The unseasonable rainy weather really put a dampener on our beach plans. By Saturday afternoon we decided that it wasn’t worth staying another night so, after a delicious lunch of coconut crumbed prawns, we made our way back south to San Pedro Sula.

SPS, also known as the world’s most dangerous city, didn’t actually appear that scary. We stayed at my host-uncle’s house and went to the movies at a mall so I guess I didn’t really go anywhere that was going to expose me to its criminal underbelly.

I kept an eye out for “I survived SPS” t-shirts, but unfortunately didn’t see any. I think they would make a cool souvenir. Probably won’t help boost tourism numbers though.

Speaking of tourism numbers, I had to laugh when I read a news article about tourism in Tegucigalpa the other day. The article proudly proclaimed that during Semana Santa there were dozens of international tourists that visited the city centre.

Not hundreds, not thousands, not hundreds of thousand but dozens of tourists! You know you’re not a tourism hot spot when having less than 50 people visit is cause for a news article. Poor old Tegus.

Anyhow, I digress.

Sunday morning saw us back on the road to Tegus, which involves driving past (actual) popular tourist spot Lago de Yojoa. We decided to make the most of our road trip and stopped in at Hotel y Finca “Las Glorias” to have lunch and explore the lake.

Lago de Yojoa is famous for its fried fish. Even in Tegus (150kms away from the lake) you can find restaurants with large sign out front offering fried fish al estilo lago de yojoa. So I was pretty excited to finally get to try this local delicacy.

Here’s a before and after shot:

Pescado frito

As you can see, when they say fried fish, they mean fried fish. All of it. I’m not sure if you’re meant to eat the head too, but I left mine on the plate.

We then headed out on a sedate cruise of the lake. It was super pleasant being out on the water and relaxing in the sunshine. I’ve thrown together a little photo gallery of some of the gorgeous lake  views.

After our cruise we decided to go for a change of pace and boarded the airboat for rapid tour of the nearby wetlands. My host-mum had mentioned that part of the fun was watching all the ducks take flight as the boat approached, however unfortunately our driver was a bit of an idiot.

He didn’t slow down for the ducks so I spent half the time tensing up as I was sure we were going to hit one of the poor, terrified birds. It wasn’t much fun. The idiot then got us bogged. In a big way.

We all ended up having to  disembark and stand in the black mud. Fortunately a local hero named Joel, in an old wooden and rickety row boat came and saved the day. With his help the airboat driver and my host-uncle were able to push the airboat back out into the water and off the mud.

Joel then helped ferry us two-by-two from the mud to the airboat, by wading through at times thigh-high marsh water, dragging the row boat behind him.

The whole fiasco was pretty hilarious. I couldn’t stop grinning.

Having way too much fun being stuck in the mud.

Having way too much fun being stuck in the mud.

We’ve decided that between the lack of sunshine at the beach, getting bogged in the airboat and my subsequent bout of food poisoning once we returned home to Tegus, I really need to do something to improve my travel luck.

Any ideas? Is there some sort of equivalent of a rain dance I can do to improve my travel mojo?

If not I may have to resign myself to staying safely indoors (assuming there’s no more earthquakes) for the rest of my trip!