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. :)

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The eagle has landed...

After two long plane rides and a stopover in Texas (just missed the hurricane, thank goodness) I have finally arrived in Honduras...yipee! Truthfully, I was a little bit nervous about meeting up with people I had only communicated with via email/phone in a foreign third world country, but had my fears immediately cast aside upon walking through the arrivals gate. The incredibly friendly i-to-i team were there to greet me with big smiles and open arms. We also befriended two lost Aussies who then joined us for a fabulous lunch of traditional (and tasty!) Honduran eats (aka "plato tipico")- rice, plantain, chorizo, tortilla, beef, choros and beans. Funnily, the dish reminded me of a Latin American version of an English breakfast - lots of random good food, served on one big plate.
After polishing off our generously portioned meals, we dropped off the Aussies and headed to Valle de Angeles. This is where the Honduras i-to-i HQ is. This is also where they drop off the jet-lagged volunteers to shower and rest before undertaking a long and bumpy bus journey into La Esperanza, where my project begins.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Under 23kgs...yeah right.

Tomorrow is the big day and I have to somehow squish all of these fabulous donations into two suitcases...both of which I also have to somehow transport. This is when a big burly boyfriend would come in handy. Instead I will have to use some strategic packing and pray that my mini-cab driver feels sorry for me and offers assistance.

Before I get packing, I feel the need to give a quick shout-out to all the wonderful supporters who are filling these suitcases and donating some much needed moolah for this volunteer experience. They are (in no particular order):

Adaptflex, OSRAM, BASEC, Philips, Legrand, Kew Technik, Leica Geosystems, Cooper Lighting and Safety, Dimplex, NICEIC, Applied energy, Weidmuller, Vent-Axia, Thorn, Edmundson Electrical, SummitSkills, ECA, ECA Education and Training, Draka, Moggs, Margaret, Bruno, Georgia, Mike and Mum.

I also feel the need to send some warm and fuzzy energy to all of my peeps at Voltimum, as they have supported me through my planning (and now have countless emails of itinerary and copies of my ID...I'm like a girlguide when it comes to safety). Plus they have been involved technically with the development of the project's soon-to-be live webpage and even helped me figure out how to set up this blog. Can you believe that this is my first blog?...welcome to the 21st century, Frankie.

With that, I am off to pack and look forward to making contact again...from Honduras! Very exciting!! Hasta luego! :)

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Today I learned a new word - Trypanophobia: the extreme and irrational fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. (Gotta love Wikipedia!)

The reason for my word search is due to the fact I have temporarily become a human pin-cushion. From Typhoid Fever to Hepatitis A & B, I've begun my series of vaccinations for my big trip. Unfortunately, I fear needles. I'm not suggesting I have an extreme irrational fear, but I do really really dislike them...but I guess I would dislike being infected with Typhoid Fever more.

Yesterday I had my second round of the rabies vaccine. It seems that certain parts of Central America are prone to the rabies virus. This includes the part of Honduras I am visiting. Like many (I'm sure), I assumed that the rabies would be transmitted via infected dogs. I was sadly mistaken, however, as the virus is also found in bats. Yes, you heard me correctly - BATS!!! Healthy, sleeping bats don't really bother me - I actually had a family of them camping out in one of my huts while travelling through Thailand - but foaming angry bats?! I'll never complain about the noisy pigeon that hangs out on my terrace again.

Monday, 14 July 2008

It's like Christmas...minus the turkey and eggnog!

Today I was pleasantly surprised by the mailman...finally a delivery that doesn't involve bills and/or junk mail! After trekking up 3 flights of stairs in the summer heat (it's about time!!), the poor mailman handed me over some fabulous donated tools/gear sent to me by the fine fellas at Kew Technik...and of course I had to try some of it on. :)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Look out Arnie...

I am sitting here in pain. Not a terrible life threatening pain, but rather an aching-throbbing-why-did-you-think-you-could-lift-that-much-with-scrawny-arms pain. In attempt to develop better upper body strength (as I am assuming tougher arms and abs means better building) I decided to switch up my gym routine and take on a personal training session. Session 1 was last night and I still can't walk properly, lift my arms (even typing hurts a bit!!) and laugh wholeheartedly. My trainer is pure evil disguised in a tight vest and Adidas trainers. Despite my complaining, it's a good pain for a good cause. Hopefully tomorrow won't be quite as tough on my system and by late September I will have biceps of steel...or perhaps a softer metal, like aluminium. :)

Monday, 23 June 2008

Spanish for Dummies...

Hola! Me llamo Frankie. Fala ingles? Tengo ganas de ir a un bar de karaoke. Donde esta el lavabo?

2 months - This is how long I have to learn the basics of Spanish. Today I took my first step towards mastering Spanish 101...I purchased "Spanish for Dummies". Okay, it might not be the most glamorous of titles, but it looks quite thorough and easy to navigate...plus it comes with a free CD by Berlitz (and they're supposed to be the "international leader in language instruction"). This gives me hope. Despite being somewhat traumatised by my evil Quebequois Grade 12 French teacher, I really think that with a bit of determination (and perhaps a hunky Spanish speaking tutor) I can learn enough of this beautiful language to semi-communicate with the wonderful community that is about to take me in.

Hasta luego! :)