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El Sol es Fuerte!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link   All Posts
 George Glock Sorry for not posting recently, but you know how busy it is here! As my blog followers know, this December I traveled to Honduras my third time to engage in volunteer service with Students Helping Honduras (SHH). This time, I kept an electronic journal throughout the week, and I would like to share it all with you. I am going to leave my style of writing as is when I wrote it; some sentences are incomplete, but the purpose is to tell the story of what I did as concisely as possible. For those of you who enjoy volunteer service, you will have many opportunities to do so at the Academy. I hope you enjoy!

Sun 1500 - On plane to Miami. Very excited to see the SHH staff again and to meet all of the other volunteers! I hope some of the kids from Villa Soleada remember me like they did the last time I returned. This time, I brought an entire duffel bag of clothes for them. I got that idea from my friend Chi who did that the last time she went to Honduras. Can't wait for the warm weather. El sol es fuerte!

Sun 2100 - Left Miami, on plane to San Pedro Sula, HN. It has been a very long day, and the flight departed late so I am very tired. I hope I have enough time to meet the other volunteers tonight. They all arrived yesterday and know each other already.

Sun 2145 - Still on the plane for some reason. We are over an hour late now. I feel bad for whichever staff member is picking me up!

Sun 1000 - Ohhh... time zone change... my bad!

Mon 1625 - Wow! What an amazing day so far. After a good night sleep (6 hours is a lot for me), we had some breakfast at the hotel consisting of delicious eggs, refried beans, cheese, and of course, tortillas! Then we all hopped on the bus to head to a nearby school.

This week there are a lot of volunteers and we are divided between three hotels. My hotel, which is not the same one I stayed at the past two times, had 20 volunteers. Everyone has great personalities and we are all already becoming very good friends. I think this will be my best trip yet.

The morning was actually a little chilly (60 degrees is chilly here). When we arrived at the school, the temperature had already risen to about 85 (in December)! All the little kids ran to the bus and started yelling and smiling. It was adorable. We got off the bus and were swarmed by the kids who wanted high fives, hugs, and to be picked up.

We made our way to the work site where one school was finished and the second, which would be joined to the first, had a foundation laid and a trench dug halfway around the perimeter. Today we finished the trench around it which will be for the wall. It was a lot of hard work. We pick-axed and shoveled for hours in the sun then broke for lunch. The village mothers prepared us baleadas: eggs, beans, rice, and tortillas. It was delicious. I love the simplicity of the food here, and it really gets you immersed in the experience.

Tues 1430 - After lunch, we spent another four hours moving cement. It was very hard work. Later in the night we went to Villa Soleada for an hour of salsa dancing. This morning we returned to the school and mixed the cement we moved yesterday. Luckily it was a lot cooler today, though it was raining on and off.

After lunch, we made a quick stop at the mall. It is surrounded by a large stone wall and dozens of federal police officers. Mostly Americans and wealthy Hondurans go there. We are now on the bus and arriving at Villa Soleada. All of the kids are chasing the bus, I'd better go!

Tues 1730 - Villa was so much fun! We got a tour of the village; it was great to see all the progress that has been made since the summer. The learning center now has computers and internet, and the Children’s Home is almost finished. They also now have more agriculture and gardens.

Quite a few kids remembered me. My little buddy Jorge was back too (he was in Villa during my first visit, but not my recent one). We played an intense game of pick-up soccer (Hondurans vs. Gringos). I scored a goal but we still lost 4-1.

We are on the bus now, and just got stuck in mud so we all got out and placed a rock trail in front of the tires to make it through the mud. So much fun! Now we are returning to the hotel for a relaxing evening after a long day.

Weds 1330 - This morning we went to IHNFA, the state orphanage. When we arrived, another group was already there. They had someone dressed up as Santa giving the kids gifts (donations of toys, clothing and candy).

I always enjoy the IHNFA (one of the largest orphanages in Honduras) visit because I get to spend time with the most desperate kids in Honduras. Since there were other visitors as well, I did not get the emotional shock I usually get when I am there. It is great to see that other organizations visit the orphanage as well. Afterwards, we went to Baleadas Express for lunch, an SHH tradition. It is similar to a Chipotles, and is unbelievably delicious and filling.

We are now on the bus and heading to Villa Soleada to paint the new Children's Home and to play soccer again. We just bought some fruit from off the side of the road. I’m not sure what it is, but it's very strong and sour. It’s just like a gummy candy actually.

Weds 1445 -We are about to start the soccer (futbol) game. The mothers are selling the hand-made purses and jewelry; they make for great Christmas presents! And the weather is perfect - sunny but not too hot!

Weds 1745 - We had a great afternoon at Villa today. Lots of soccer games and just playing with the kids.

I hung out with one of the older Honduran girls, Ruthy Adriany Lime Reyes, who goes to college in Honduras and works with us in Villa. She went through my phone's music and told me all of the American songs that are famous in Honduras. I was surprised at how many songs she knew and that she knew many of the words to them. When Hondurans are given the opportunity to be educated, they put 100% effort into it and soak up as much knowledge as they can.

We are on the bus and heading back to the hotel now. Tomorrow we are going to the beach which is always a highlight of the trip! The water is very warm, even in December.

Thurs 1845 - Today was great. We returned to the school to continue laying the foundation for the walls. It was pretty hot today and all the shoveling and manual cement mixing was very tiring, but fun too.

After the construction, we went to a beach in Tela with a group of kids from Villa. It was a blast; the water was warm and the kids were great.

Fri 0820 - Last night we watched Su Nombre. It was my third time seeing it, but I enjoy watching it every time. It is about the gangs in Honduras, and is very educational as well.

Now we are on the bus heading to the school to continue laying cinderblocks for the wall.

Sun 2200 - Finished walls to school. We did way more than they expected us to. And the Honduran locals and workers even commented often about how much we were getting done.

I spent my last day in Honduras to relax and have some adventurous fun. Bobby, a recent SHH staff member, took me and two volunteers to the biggest waterfall in Honduras. It's even higher than Niagara Falls! We descended down the side of a cliff, then jumped down into the water and went through the waterfall. We had to cover our eyes and noses to make it through. Water was shooting everywhere and it was almost impossible to see. Behind the waterfall there is an extremely small entrance to an extremely small cave. We crawled inside despite it being completely pitch black.

The return back through the waterfall was even more dangerous than entering it, but also more fun. On the way up, we stopped to jump off a 30 or so foot cliff. That was a lot of fun considering we had to jump very far to clear rocks, and being only a few meters from the waterfall meant a very strong current. I was very happy I jumped though!

After the waterfall we stopped on the side of the road and purchased a bunch of fireworks. We drove to Villa Soleada (being the first volunteers ever to be there at night), and started lighting some off. After the first BOOM! kids came running out of their houses, even though it was late. We spent the next hour putting on a firework show for the kids.

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