Welcome to Honduras

IMG_2022_SnapseedAuthor’s note: This is the second post in my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read more, click here.

As I walked down the stairs off the plane and entered the steamy, humid air of Honduras I felt an instant shock at the thickness and warmth of the air. After a dry cold December in Minnesota, the tropical heat and humidity of Roatan felt like I had entered a sauna fully dressed.

The second reminder that I had arrived in Honduras was Customs. I have traveled abroad many times and had never seen a Customs area and process quite like the one I found in the tiny airport of Roatan. There was no rhyme or reason to the queue. It was just a random, push and shove line and somehow I ended up at the back with a group of energetic scuba instructors. At least we got a few laughs at the craziness of customs on a small foreign island!

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Landed

Author’s note: This is the first post in my series on my trip to Honduras. To view all posts in this series, click here

Traveling to Central America from Minnesota is not bad. Total flying time is generally less than six hours with a connection in Houston. Furthermore, the time zone is either the same or only an hour different making jet lag a non-issue. The only bad thing about my flight was the departure time: 5:15 am. That meant I had to wake up at 3 am to catch my flight on Saturday, January 5th to Honduras. After a restless night of tossing and turning, and constantly checking the clock I was off to the airport, pillow in hand and ready to launch off on my latest adventure.

I had many mixed feelings about going to Honduras. After a bout of illnesses in our family, I was reluctant to leave. I also had a bit of anxiety about going there. I had read the reports on the US Government’s travel site on Honduras, and knew Honduras held the record for the highest level of murders in Central America. I also knew that Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti and in line with Bolivia and Guyana. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Hondurans live in poverty and a whopping 45% in extreme poverty, something that was going to be difficult to witness. Yet, I also left with a feeling of the usual excitement of adventure that I feel before exploring a new place. I was determined to make this trip a meaningful one.

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First impressions on nine days in Honduras

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Sunset over West Bay Beach on the island of Roatan is always a magical treat.

Sunday night I arrived home utterly exhausted and unfortunately sick from Honduras. I tend to be prone to stomach bugs when I travel to developing countries and thankfully I always carry an antibiotic which has already began to help. Nevertheless, I lost six pounds in a week and came back to a sick child again as well. We just can’t seem to get healthy in our house.

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The tropical island of Roatan. Worlds apart from the mainland of Honduras where 80% of the people live in poverty.

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Last morning in Roatan

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View from my hotel room across to the cay or “key” where the resort is located. I wanted to experience the cheap and the nice while in Roatan and both have been great. In US terms though this resort isn’t expensive but for Honduras it is. It is amazing. You can dive and snorkel right off the cay but unfortunately it’s been really windy so I haven’t gone much.

I can’t believe that it is already my last morning in Honduras. I leave for home in four hours already!

It has been an incredible trip. I have learned and experienced so much here over the last nine days that I am giddy and can hardly wait to start writing!!!! I will have so much to share with you.

The island of Roatan is amazing. As I am not one to sit around too much ( I got this from my dad!) I hired a local guide to take me around the island yesterday and in five hours I saw everything. All the Garifuna villages and the islanders’ houses on stilts. The beautiful resorts and the local culture. It was amazing.

It is crazy how different the mainland of Honduras is compared to Roatan. Like a different planet. But I am so thankful I got to experience both. There is a part of me that truly enjoys off the beaten path travel and even though I went nine days without a hot shower ( this is a western luxury that the mainland does not have), I loved every minute of it. For me, that is what travel is all about. Not just staying at the fancy hotels but living and experiencing a country like a local which I did while living with a Honduran family on La Ceiba.

Anyway, I will leave you with only a few photos for now as I want to enjoy my last morning in paradise before I go home to an 80 degree F temperature difference (lucky me, a Canadian cold front just arrived in Minnesota).

Enjoy these photos and next week I will start writing about my journey in Honduras.

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Sunrise from my room.

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the palapa or deck where you can dangle on a hammock over the ocean or dive in a snorkel around the amazing reef.

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My new little amigos

I’ve completed my second day volunteering with the beautiful children at a children’s day care center that assists poor single mothers so they can work. Originally I thought I would be working at an orphanage but that was somehow lost in translation. I’m finding that much for me is lost in translation since I’m only at a very basic Spanish level. But I’ve come to understand with traveling, especially in developing countries, that you must simply go with the flow. Having an open mind and open heart is paramount. Otherwise you’d pack you bags and leave the next day for home!

Honduras is much more basic and rough around the edges than Guatemala. It has truly opened my eyes. Over 80% of the people here live in poverty and it is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti and along with Bolivia. Yet despite the poverty and the dire situations most people live in, people are generally happy and resolved with their lot in life. Especially the children.

Here is a brief look at some of my beautiful new friends I met today at the center. They are so incredibly loving and full of life. They have so little material goods yet their joyous smile tells it all. For them, there is much more to life than having all the latest toys. Their love of life is evident and infectious.

Come, meet a few of my new little friends and see for yourself.

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The curious things I found in Honduras

I’ve only been in Honduras for three days now yet I’ve already managed to see a lot of surprises especially since I’ve come to the mainland. I will write more about my trip later however in case you are curious to see the curious things I found to date in Honduras, here you go….

First stop, the lovely tropical island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras which is more like the Caribbean than Central America.

My new friends include….

A scarlet macaw, the national bird of Honduras.

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And my favorite new pal, a white-faced monkey who was enamored with the smell of my hair. He was so fluffy that he reminded me of one of my children’s stuffed animals.

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And although this picture is ridiculous, I had to include it as it makes me laugh. You will also notice that all the photos are a wee bit foggy. That is because it was so insanely humid that my lens fogged up!

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Next stop is the mainland. Yesterday I took the hour and a half ferry ride to La Ceiba and was probably the only foreigner on the entire ferry. Nothing at all like touristy Roatan! I met my lovely host family who has graciously welcomed me into their home and slept in the torrential rains. Little did I know it is rainy season here in Honduras thus very hot, humid and wet. As a Minnesotan in the heart of winter, I am literally roasting here but that is half the fun.

Today, I witnessed another novelty. We went to a restaurant on the beach a little bit outside of town and here was my view….

The cows on the beach.

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Apparently they roam the beach every afternoon! This is my favorite picture of all. The cows go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.

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So far it has been an extremely fascinating experience. Honduras is very different than what I expected yet I have to remember that I’ve only been on the mainland for 24 hours. Tomorrow I start my volunteer work at a local orphanage and continue with my spanish classes. I forgot how hard it is to be completely immersed in another language, especially one that I don’t know very well. I continually slip in my french for some reason but I’m slowly picking it up. Should be an interesting week!

“Hasta luego!”

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Hola Honduras!

Hola! I made it to Honduras! After a brutal 3 am wake up for a 5 am flight, I finally made it to paradise early this afternoon. I had no idea what to expect of Roatan, one of the popular, touristy Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. But wow I’m surprised. It is absolutely beautiful and nothing like I imagined. In fact, it is hard to believe I’m even in Central America. It has a very Caribbean feel with loads of tourists to boot. I have read that the Bay Islands, which host the second largest barrier reef in the world, are nothing like mainland Honduras. The dichotomy between reality and fantasy is going to be very interesting.
Tomorrow I’m taking the ferry over to the mainland where I will begin my volunteer work in La Ceiba, a port town. I’m sure it will be interesting.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the sunset in Roatan. I took many more which I will share later but wanted to let you know that everything is great!

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