Silver Lining

silver lining (noun)

a consoling aspect of an otherwise desperate or difficult situation; “every dark rain cloud has a silver edge or lining”; “look on the bright side of it.”

Hondruas sky

Arriving into dark rain clouds in Honduras. January 2013.

Roughly a year ago I was in Honduras doing volunteer work and taking Spanish classes for a week.  It was my fourth volunteer trip, third one to a Central American country, and was fulfilling the promise I made to myself years ago to give back to those in need.

For a place of so much beauty, there is also so much pain.

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La Ceiba, Honduras

Leaving La Ceiba

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.

I often find that a week is not enough time to experience a new country or volunteer abroad. There is way too much to learn, and the experience is often a bit overwhelming and intense. However, in my humble opinion a week is better than nothing so I normally do whatever I can to get as much out of my time abroad as possible, even if it means running myself rampant.

Friday came before I knew it. Just as my Spanish was beginning to pick up once again and I had finally began to feel comfortable in my surroundings, it was time to go. The hardest part leaving La Ceiba was leaving its people, both the children I had worked with at the day care center and my lovely host family. I felt really sad leaving the kids knowing how poorly they were treated and understanding that my presence as a volunteer at the center was the highlight of their day. I knew another volunteer was still there yet it wasn’t enough. In a center with over 60 young children and uninspiring employees, one volunteer could simply not make up for the lack of care, attention and love that the children required. It was heartbreaking to leave.


I also felt sad leaving my warm, caring host family. I was amazed how easily they welcomed me into their home with open arms, compassion, patience (with my lack of Spanish) and love. After only a few days I felt like an extended member of the family and it was hard to leave.  It is rare to develop this kind of friendship with anyone in such a short period of time yet I came to understand that most Hondurans are incredibly warm and compassionate people. They may not have much, but they do have happiness and an overall acceptance of the hardship of their lives. Something many of us could learn from.


A five year old girl takes care of her one year old sister all day long at the day care center as there is no one else to help her.

Here are a few of my last photos that I took before I left. I purposely chose photos that depict the sharp contrast I felt in Honduras between beauty and poverty. I felt it so intensely during my trip.


The Banana Republic

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.


A young boy selling fruit on a Monday morning (Shouldn’t he be in school?).

In order to get a clear understanding of where Honduras is today, it is important to take a brief look at the history. Below is a brief historical summary that I have paraphrased from Lonely Planet’s Honduras and The Bay Islands, Written by Greg Benchwick, 2010):

Like many countries in Central America, Honduras has a difficult history of her share of coups, rebellions, power seizures, foreign invasion and darn right meddling in her internal affairs. Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of Honduras (which means “depths” and was named by Columbus in reference to the deep water) on August 14, 1502. It was the first time a European had set foot on the American mainland, a historic landing that ended up being basically ignored for the next two decades until the discovery of gold and silver in 1530.


Finding beauty in La Ceiba, Honduras

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.

La Ceiba is not known as the most beautiful city in the world. In fact, it is known for being well, rather ugly. I had been warned about the unattractiveness of the city several times through my research in Lonely Planet and other noteworthy travel sites. But La Ceiba was where my volunteer project was based so I was going to make the best of it and be sure to use that good old “third-eye” (i.e. open-minded approach). Ugly or not, I would find the beauty of it.


Honduras is a diverse country with lots of jungle and mountains. La Ceiba is located on the Caribbean Sea not far from the famous Bay Islands. Photo credit: Wikipedia.


Love and Heartbreak in a Honduran daycare

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.


The main reason why I went to Honduras was to volunteer and give back. A month before leaving I found out my volunteer placement would be at a Honduran daycare center for poor single mothers to send their children to the day while they tried to earn a living. As a mother myself who adores children and an advocate for fighting poverty, I couldn’t think of a better placement. I could hardly wait.

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Learning Spanish like a local in La Ceiba, Honduras

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.

Finding the right program abroad can prove to be a daunting task. I searched countless hours on the Internet but after the trip to Honduras I realized my mistake. I was searching for volunteer opportunities not spanish language schools. Little did I know that almost every language school offers volunteer opportunities alongside their program. Had I searched under spanish schools, I would have found lots of options. In retrospect, everything worked out more than fine. It just took me a roundabout way to find my school, Centro Internacional de Idiomas. Next time, I’ll know the back way in and do it differently.


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Meet Maria, my Honduran host

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.

Perhaps the best thing about my volunteer trip to Honduras was the home stay. Going into the trip I was a bit worried. I had no idea what to expect. Would the family be nice? Would I be able to communicate enough in Spanish? Would I feel comfortable inside a strangers house for a week? And would I be able to sleep at night?

Memories of barking dogs and restless roosters from a previous home stay in Guatemala swam around my head. I had to be honest. I was nervous.

I also had no idea what to expect of the town I’d be living in for a week. I knew nothing about La Ceiba, a port town along the coast of Honduras. All I knew is what I’d read in Lonely Planet. That it was the third largest town and described as rather ugly. I also understood that it was probably going to be a bit more dangerous than Guatemala and that I probably wouldn’t be doing much exploring if any on my own. Thus, it was even more important that I liked my host family as I would be spending every evening inside the house with them and as we all know, nights can be long.


Looking out across the street from Gloria and Hugo’s house in La Ceiba.


Arrival in La Ceiba

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.

I arrived at the port of La Ceiba around half past three with a jittery stomach. I was a ball of nerves worrying about my ability to communicate effectively in Spanish and curious about what my host family would be like. It felt odd to just be dropped off all alone at the ferry station and have no idea what to expect. But I reminded myself I’d done it before and it turned out fine.

My first major culture shock had to do with the luggage collection. The hundreds of suitcases and bags were unloaded onto carts and wheeled into a large rectangular holding pin where one by one you had to yell out in Spanish what bag was yours to the three or four baggage handlers. You can imagine the difficulty trying to get my black piece of luggage! I was the last one standing until I finally got my belongings.


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In route to the Mainland

Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.


When I arrived at the ferry station and saw my fellow passengers, it was the first real indication that Roatan and the mainland of Honduras were worlds apart. Unlike the jam-packed United Airlines flight from Houston loaded with passengers dressed in their country club best, 98% of the ferry passengers were Honduran. I was the only blond-haired blue-eyed person on the entire ship of a couple hundred people.


First impressions on nine days in Honduras


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.


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


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.

Sunrise from my room.


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




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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