Tag Archives: Valle de Angeles

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.

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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.

Just call me RoboCop

2 Apr

 

Single red paintball

“I’m not a malicious person, but the feeling you get from shooting someone with a paintball is beyond words.”

~Oliver Lang

On the Thursday before Easter, my host-mum and her friends and I decided to play paintball. Unlike the beautiful alfombras of Comayagua, this isn’t a Honduran Easter tradition; it’s just something we decided to do on a whim.

I was very nervous. The only woman of the group who had played paintball before, I was well aware of just how much it can hurt.

My first ever game of paintball was played with a group of 25 guys as part of a social event for members of my department’s graduate program. In the interest of gender equality the boys held no quarter, and I got absolutely pelted with paint balls.

The bruises lasted for weeks and weeks. My worst one didn’t fade for two whole months.

When we arrived at the paintball field in Valle de Angeles I was jittery and struggling to keep my face frown-free. We divided into two teams of three people each and entered the playing field.

However once the game started I soon relaxed. The five novices playing with me seemed content to stay hidden and take pot shots at the opposite team only every so often.

I had already decided that the best form of defence is to attack, so I started creeping forward from a pile of tyres to a wooden barricade to an old oil drum.

Once I was in a good position I started shooting at C, one of my host-mum’s closest friends. I assumed that once she realised she was being shot at she would move to a location with better cover. To my surprise she stayed put.

With each subsequent shot I kept thinking, ‘surely now she’ll make a run for it.’ But nope. She stayed where she was. After about six direct hits she finally leapt to her feet with her hands in the air yelling, “ALTO! ALTO! ALTO!” (Stop! Stop! Stop!)

Then I felt a bit mean. From my first game to my second I’d transformed from the runt of the pack, completely victimised by the other players, to the big bad alpha paintball wolf.

In my defence, I really did think that everyone else would move around a lot more than they did. I ended up coming away from the day completely unscathed, whereas the players on the opposing team had all been shot repeatedly. Mostly by me.

Oops. So much for engendering good cross-cultural relations. Someone call the embassy I think I’ve just declared war on Honduras!

For the rest of the afternoon I was given a new nickname: RoboCop.

Next time (if there is a next time and I’m not banned from playing) I’ll know to take it easy.

Vacaciones

26 Mar

I’m on holidays this week for Semana Santa. Spending most of my time to-ing and fro-ing between Valle de Angeles (where I have no Internet access, therefore no blog posts) and Tegus.

The majority of my time in Valle is being spent in a hammock with a good book, or two, or three, or four…

It’s a tough life, but somebody’s gotta do it. 🙂

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Meetings and greetings

26 Feb

I arrived in Tegus at 8:30pm on Thursday evening. Waiting for me at the airport were my host mum and a volunteer from AFS. My host mum drove me home and I got to meet my host grandparents and all three of my (initially very wary) host dogs.

Several of my host mum’s friends came round to meet me too, as well as my host uncle. It was really nice to have such a warm welcome and meet so many friendly faces on my first night.

We had a late, light dinner of dried banana slices topped with a salad of tomato, green capsicum and onion mixed with a vinaigrette. It was really yummy. I should have taken a photo, but after a day of travelling I was really tired and didn’t think of it.

When it became obvious that I could barely keep my eyes open any longer everyone said their goodbyes and I went to bed. My host family had a gorgeous bunch of flowers and a card waiting for me when I got to the room.

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My room is lovely and also very pink as it belongs to my host-sister who is 17 and currently on an AFS student exchange to Austria. I leave Honduras on 2 July and my host sister returns 5 July so we’ll just miss each other.

It’s a bit of a shame, but we’ll chat be able to chat via Skype and ‘meet’ online. The Internet has definitely made the world a smaller place.

On Friday my host mum dropped me off at the airport where I waited with several AFS volunteers for the other participants to arrive. There are three boys from Japan and one girl from Sweden starting their high school exchange as well as two girls from Belgium doing the community service program.

Once everyone was safely on terra firma we set off for Valle de Angeles, a small town about 40 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa to have our orientation/arrival camp. The camp was fun and, apart from the extra focus on safety and security, very similar in content to the sort of camps we run in Australia.

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AFS volunteers and participants at the arrival camp

On Sunday we returned to Tegus, quite early in the morning as most of the other participants needed to travel to reach their final destinations. Tela, San Pedro Sula, Danli, La Esperanza and Siguatepeque will each host one of the new arrivals. In Tegus there’ll be me and one of the Japanese students.

My host family actually have a holiday house in Valle de Angeles so early on Sunday afternoon I then travelled back there with them. I’ll write a bit more about Valle de Angeles tomorrow if get the time.

It’s my first day at work today (Tuesday) so I need to get organised. Fingers crossed I make a good first impression. Wish me luck!