For leave this summer, I decided to take another week to return to Honduras. This was my fifth week-long visit to the Latin American country for some volunteering. I spent three days in the Santa Barbara Mountains north of San Pedro Sula helping paint the interior of a newly constructed library. I had such a good time up there because some local guys came to help us (myself, Mark Zanowicz who is another Academy blogger, and Bobby, the owner of Volunteer Honduras). The locals who helped us were my age so it was a lot of fun working with them and talking with them all day long. It's amazing how similar they are to me. Yeri, a 21-year-old, and I are now both very good friends and will be staying in touch from now on. I love making friends with Hondurans, they are some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Early in the week we went on a half day hike up the Santa Barbara Mountain with an older British gentleman named Malcolm. He is extremely knowledgeable in many environmental subjects, especially birds. It was an amazing (and dangerous) hike several thousand feet in elevation and I took some amazing photographs.
Later in the week we also visited a cave that goes so far into the earth that tourists wishing to complete the entire tour must use oxygen tanks. Unfortunately, we were on the way to a waterfall and did not have shoes, so we were able to complete only the first hour of the cave tour, but it was still very amazing. The waterfall afterwards was also breathtaking. We jumped in the freezing cold river (the water is cold because it comes from a nearby mountain) and swam through the waterfall to a cave behind it. It is the first waterfall I have been to that is “safe” enough to swim through – others I have had to swim around to get behind the waterfall. I even jumped through the waterfall from a cave behind it, though it violently pushed me into the river. Still, it was very adventurous and fun.
Even though we don't get too many long vacations here at the Academy, it's important to do something worthwhile with that little time we are given. When you're here, try something new. Go to another country, and begin to see the world. It's incredible how much there is out there.