Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Attack of the mutant hybrid bat-bug...

It's hard to believe how quickly time has flown by. Today was my last full day in La Esperanza and now I'm wishing I had a few more left. I spent pretty much the entire day handing out the fabulous donated gifts given to me by many of Voltimum's partners. I dropped off goodies at familia Santos and familia Marcos and then headed to the Infa Centre where I handed out more donated gifts to the mums of all the little ninos and ninas. I also went to some of the community primary schools where I handed out donated school supplies. After taking a trillion photos (or so it seemed) and seeing plenty of smiles, I bought a gorgeous little flower arrangement for familia Meza (my homestay family). Trekking home through the mud with all of my camera equipment and a rather cumbersome pot of flowers made for an interesting journey. Thankfully I didn't slip!

Upon making it back to Casa Meza, the fam and I went to Don Will's (Meza dad) brother's house, where the entire family gathered for a fantastically scrumptious bbq. I've offically decided I am a huge fan of cilantro. The highlight of my last night would have to be when a giant bat-like insect crashed into the wall beside me and my plate and nearly fell into my lap. Being a insect fearing wimp (especially when it comes to mutant sized unidentifiable tropical insects) I screamed English profanities while running with flailing arms into the middle of the room...not one of my proudest moments. I did amuse the spectators, however. Thankfully, Don Will's brother brought the bat-like beast to an early death.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Happy Mondays exist after all!

Today was jam-packed with heart-warming errands and activities for the community. It started bright and early when the project organizers and I met with the father of familia Marcos (the family that this building project focuses on). I managed to raise quite a bit of money from all my sponsors and much of it was used today to help buy materials to finish Casa Marcos. Sr. Marcos picked out tools (saw, sander, etc.), materials (cement, corregated tin for roofs, etc.) and other needed items for the house (door hinges, toilet basin, etc.). It felt wonderful knowing that all the money raised is going to such a kind and grateful family. And to see exactly what the money was going towards (every screw, nail and bag of cement) made the experience even more tangibly wonderful.

After the building materials shopping spree, I headed to a local grocery shop and stocked up on some serious amounts of candy for the adorable ninos and ninas that attend the local charity funded daycare centre (Infa Centre). We then headed to the centre, loaded them onto a pick-up truck and brought them to this nearby picturesque laguna. Here is where the pinata picnic took place. :) The other volunteers came as well and we loaded up the pinata with the tasty treats for the kiddies to knock down. It's amazing how much strength can come out of a tiny lil' child when candy is involved...hee. The kids (and volunteers!) had a blast!

And to finish off my fabulous Monday, I had a lovely dinner with my host family in which I taught one of the daughters how to cure her hiccups - drink a sip of water with your head down from the opposite side of the cup. I swear it works!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Back from Lake Yojoa...with some Salmonella.

Runs aside, I had a fabulous weekend adventure that took me to the biggest lake (surrouded by massive mountians) in Honduras. Here me and the volunteers hiked to this honkin' huge waterfall (Pullapanzak Waterfall - which was supposedly even bigger due to all the recent rain), where the brave linked arms and crossed through underneath. I, however, was not one of the brave (after almost losing a shoe in mud along the way and nearly slipping off of a jagged cliff, I realized I wasn't about to risk my life for a waterfall...plus I got them out of my system after living in Hawaii). So instead, I plopped myself down on the sturdiest looking rock and took in the gorgeous views, cooling mist and roaring falls. After, we all hiked back to the park's eating area for some nibbles, where some young locals (18 years old max!) decided to hit on all the female volunteers. Despite their admirable persistence, the chicos' advances were shot down every time. It was hilarious.

That night we all stayed at D&D's Micro Brewery, a collection of clean and cosy huts amidst finely kept gardens. And like the name implies, it also brews some fruity and tasty bevies - my favourite being the mango beer. My not-so-favourite menu item would have to be the chicken strips (a poor choice even without the food poisoning, but I really wanted something other than beans and rice). Me and a couple of the other volunteers indulged in this deadly dish...and suffered immensely that night. :(

I thankfully made it back safe and sound (after some immodium, a long couple of bus rides and then getting stuck in an insane rain storm, which had me seek shelter in a pulperia near my homestay) and am now in my dry pjs with a hot cup of chamomile tea...bliss.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Message from a soggy Snobel...

Rainy season in La Esperanza means that everything is pretty much wet almost all of the time...even when it's sunny out. Being on a building site means clothes are bound to get grubby, which then logically leads to doing laundry. I handwashed my clothes on Tuesday and they are still uncomfortably damp today (three days later).
Plus they kind of smell like damp moldy clothes. :( I am out of socks though and can't rewear this pair anymore...in fear of my toes falling off from filth. Despite my whinging (sorry, it's really not that terrible!), it feels really good getting down and dirty. There's something quite liberating about not having to style my hair or wear make-up...all while frolicking in the mud. :)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Pool hall festivities and fearing foot fungus...

I am proud to say that today I hitched a ride on my own, as the project coordinator is soon heading back to his flat in Tegucigalpa (the capital city of Honduras) and the other volunteers live in different directions. I'm finally beginning to feel more comfortable speaking Spanish (albeit a very limited broken Spanish) and am understanding the language more and more every day. I've discovered the best way to learn a language is to be forced to speak/comprehend it.

Today was Dave's birthday (a fellow Canuck volunteer), which meant a dinner out, lots of "ron y coca cola" and a friendly game of pool. Sadly, pool is not one of my strongest sports...truthfully, I can't even hold the pool cue correctly, let alone hit a ball into a pocket. The group of us had a great time though, but got comepletly soaked en route home, as a torrential downpour decided to rear its ugly head. I feel like my boots and socks are continually wet...and hope I don't develop some sort of foot rot...eww. ;)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Man vs. nature... and nature seems to be kicking my butt.

Today I repeated the same cycle - up early, hitched a ride to Chilagatoro, cemented another wall of Casa Marcos, etc. However, I failed to mention in my previous post that en route to the project, an astonishing number of cows and bulls are encountered...and some of them are rather intimidating.

After building, the coordinator (Mathew) and I headed along the usual muddy path back to the main road, but this time had a rather large and disturbing obstacle hindering our movement - a large and unhappy bull. After waiting patiently and undertaking some strategic tip-toing, we managed to get around the beast, but not without wading through calf-deep mud and nearly peeing ourselves in fear.

But this is not where the story ends. Upon this same pathway, I noticed another incredibly picturesque view and decided to step on a mound of dirt to get a better positioning to take it in. Much to my surprise, the mound was not made of dirt...it was a hill of ants! Thank goodness I had Mathew there to help me swat them off of my legs, as I could've been eaten alive! Nature seems to be against me today. I could really use a cup of tea and a snuggle right about now.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Hitching, cementing and some frightening unidentifiable insect bites...

Today we finished cementing the first wall of Casa Marcos (the family house that this project will be focused on). The adobe bricks had been made and laid by previous volunteers, so my main task will be to help finish the cementing of the bricks (which seals in the adobe bricks to strengthen them and weather-proof them for the wear and tear of the harsh sun and powerful rain storms). I'm basically stucco-ing the house, which is quite relaxing and enjoyable...well compared to lugging heavy bricks up a hill.

After hitching a ride at the back of a local pick-up truck in La Esperanza(the popular transport system for volunteers and locals alike) I met up with the other volunteers at the building site, which is about 40 minutes away in Chilagatoro. Here we sealed a big chunk of the exterior wall of the house.

While attempting to do a video update from the site (where I positioned the camera on this scenic little hill), I was attacked by some vicious lil' insects (sort of my fault, as I forgot my repellant) and now have a rather large welt on my arm and some other strange looking bites covering my extremities. :(

Just after noon, the project was wrapped up for the day, as the sun was beaming down intensely and the construction projects don't run too late in the afternoon because of this. The other reason is due to the fact that most of the families and Chilagatoro rely on farming as their main source of income and food, so the later part of the day is spent tending to their crops (mainly maize and potatoes).

On route to the truck pick-up spot, me and the project co-ordinator, Mathew (who has been integral in helping me organize this entire experience) made a quick stop at this ridiculously picturesque area just off the beaten track. Here we nibbled on cheesies and nuts, while gazing upon rolling hills of crops,cows and farmers. Muy bonita. :)