We had a pretty busy morning! We visited the botanical garden called Lancetilla. It felt like a safari being surrounded for miles and miles of unique plants (and PLENTY of mosquitoes) much different from what we see in Wisconsin. We learned about some of the uses of plants, medicinal or for wood, if they’re poisonous, or ornamental. We even got to taste jam from rare fruit! After our 45 minute hike, we got ready to head to the beach! Israel, our favorite driver, took us for an hour long drive with good music playing and plenty of bodies stuffed in the van. We arrived to see the beach nothing but clear skies, hot weather, and not too many people. It was UWO’s & OYE’s time to take over Tela Beach! Some swam, some sun bathed and others played soccer in the sand. Of course we got hungry and thanks to Amanda and Israel, they brought us pizza. It was great to have fun with all the OYE students but for many of them, it would be the last time we saw them. We truly did not want to go back to the hotel for the goodbyes, but it wasn’t all sad.
When we arrived at the hotel, emotions were high. Our new Honduran friends were calling us their sisters and friends, so there might have been a few tears shed. As for the happier part of the evening, each of the students who directly helped us and worked with us throughout the week received a backpack full of school supplies, everyday necessities and of course, UWO gear. The smiles on their faces were worth everything we had worked so hard for.
After some goodbyes, we rushed back in with our messy beach hair and sandy feet to get ready for the next event…. dinner and dancing! I’ll say, our girls clean up pretty well in such a short amount of time. When we arrived to the restaurant, we were super excited to hear that our favorite, baleadas we’re going to be served again. We were definitely hungry after swimming so we dug in to our food and our conversations. After a wonderful meal with many of the people we worked with, we hopped back in the van to go to another hotel for dancing!
At this new place, we were pretty shy at first, but before you knew it, many of the girls were out on the dance floor! We had learned so much Spanish this week, what better way to end the Honduran experience than with music in Spanish. They danced to bachata, merengue, salsa and other types of music. But once again, the fun came to an end as we said goodbye to more of our OYE friends. They, and the others before have grown so close to us, not wanting to go home so soon was a wish on both sides.
We returned back the hotel exhausted and a little sad. We went right into reflection, but this one was different. The girls did an activity that reminded us of how well we worked together as a team and how each one of us was important and crucial to the success of this trip. We can’t thank the people who made this possible enough.
Tune in tomorrow for our last and final blog post concluding our 2017 Honduras trip. (Definitely will be needing tissues)
After a day well spent at Pronino, we start reflection tonight by discussing all of the things we want to bring home with us that we have learned from our time here in El Progreso. We started out our day at the local high school getting a tour from one of the student advisors and the president of the PTA. Here we learned how truly lucky we are when comparing the classroom sizes, the computer labs, and the library to our own. We’ve come to realize our privileges at UWO throughout our time here, but today really hit home for most of us. The high school that we visited today hosted about 3000 students, where some took class in the mornings, afternoons, nights, and some even on the weekends. Most of the rooms in the school were locked up because it was just orientation day, and school is not in session yet, but we still learned that the library had approximately 200 to 300 books to share between the 3000 students. One of the high notes of this tour was learning that this was the only school in all of Honduras that was home to an Olympic sized track, that both the students and community could occupy as a safe workout place!
From the tour of the high school we set off for our final day with the Pronino boys, one that we knew was going to be tough one! The boys who at first didn’t show their interest in us being there were now some of the closest to us! Both the younger boys and the older ones continued to ask us for pictures, beg us to play games, and still thought it was the greatest thing in the world to paint our hands to draw on the wall.
We’ve never seen more smiles from the simplest of things!
Today we brought all of our donataions to Pronino, and seeing how grateful they were for everything we brought them helped us realize how the simplest things we could have done were the biggest things to them! With heavy hearts, both tears and smiles we said goodbye to all of the boys and will always cherish those memories. We then played soccer with the OYE kids at a field in town, and although they let us join in, most of them were running circles around us!
Another scholar and her family had us over for dinner tonight, not only did they cook for us, but her mother showed us how to make the meal and let us help! The families are so welcoming here, it’s hard to not feel like one of them.
Tomorrow we head to the Botanical Gardens and the beach in Tela, check back tomorrow for an update!
We began our day with a quick breakfast at 8:30and headed out to pick up Amanda and the OYE students at the center. With a toasty early temperature of about 90 degrees, we soaked ourselves in sunscreen and bug spray and then headed over to start our day with the boys of Proniño. According to Israel, we all looked really nice in our bright and peppy matching odyssey shirts!
At Proniño we had a complete day of fun with OYE and the boys. We played intense games of UNO, Suspend, checkers, built puzzles, and continued working on our mural with music playing in the background. It’s our second to last day working on it and we can’t wait to show you all the finished product! Each and every part of the room was created by our UWO women, the OYE students, and the Proniño boys themselves. Some of us became the art as some of the boys were notorious for sneakily painting on people whike they weren’t looking! It has been amazing to have gotten to know some of the boys on a personal level as we finally saw them break through their shells. They now love giving us hugs, taking pictures with us, teaching us Spanish, practicing their English, and they even got a little sad seeing us leave today. But no worries, we return tomorrow to deliver more donations, finish our projects, visit the Proniño girls and play more games!
Later in the evening, we were invited to join an OYE scholar’s home for dinner. We freshened up and drove out to the rural/agricultural area. Not only did we enjoy a great dinner of chicken or carne asada (grilled meat), cheese, beans, and chimole (diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and green peppers), we also got to explore their area. They showed us their “backyard” which included the mountains, the agricultural areas with papaya, plantains and cilantro, and also their fish farm with about 2,000 fish in one little area! Although some of us got eaten up by mosquitoes during dinner, we were impressed and very grateful for their hospitality.
Our Honduran family continues growing and so has our Spanish! We can’t wait to come home to show and tell and show you all that we have experienced and learned. Stay tuned tomorrow for another post! (We might need tissues)
Our day began bright and early at 7:45AM as we prepared to have our first Honduran breakfast. Not too far from our hotel we found ourselves at the very authentic, “cute” and comfortable placed called Que Rico Cafe. The girls enjoyed a dish called, baleadas, which consisted of a toasted tortilla filled with beans, eggs, and Honduran cheese.
We also enjoyed some of the local’s favrotie drinks such as freshly made strawberry cream smoothies, frozen coffee and tea! After an amazing first breakfast, we hurried off in excitement with two very special people in our front seat. Finally the moment we had all been waiting for since Saturday arrived, Amanda and a student were taking us to the OYE building to meet the students and staff!
At OYE we unpacked necessary donations for our activities later that day, but most importantly, we learned about the organzition and the students that have been impacted by their generosity. With a range of ages, different levels of English speaking and comprehension skills, levels of shyness, different personalities, and interests, it was so much fun getting to know the students at OYE. We not only got to practice our Spanish as we introduced each other with names, age, field of study and our favorite animals, the OYE students also got to practice their English, it was a proud moment for all of us to step out of our comfort zones. After a tour of the building and recognizing the staff members like Amanda and Dylan, we had a better understanding of how important it is in this organization to be close to one another, because they truly are one big happy family, one we are now very happy to be apart of.
After our tour, we packed up a suitcase of various donations and materials and headed over to Pronino. We were also eager to begin painting the mural that the OYE students envisioned. We got to see where the boys ate, slept, played and relaxed, it was definitely an eye opening experience to finally meet the organization we had collected all these donations for. The most somber part of the day was seeing the ruins of the building that had burned down. Still standing with colorful murals on some of the walls, we were reminded how hopeful, optimistic everyone is about getting these boys what they need. We played card games, board games, and an intense game of soccer that left our girls winded, those boys were in it to win it!
Leaving pronino was but we were very excited to hear we were going to dinner at a fellow OYE students house, his name is Bryan and his family was absolutely amazing for opening their home to us. Dinner was delicious and we shared plenty of laughs and stories. Bryan enjoyed showing us his art and music!
Coming back from a night of fun, and pictures, we went directly into reflection, and are super excited to go back and meet the OYE students and return to our volunteering at Proñino.
After a hectic day yesterday, we’ve made it to our destination in El Progreso at last! Although since we rebooked our flight for today, we flew into Tegucigalpa rather than San Pedro Sula.
It was nice to get through customs and finally see the smiling faces from OYE greeting us on the other side. Both the landing and the four hour drive from the capital city to El Progreso were full of gorgeous sights of the city and countryside.
With such a positive group it’s hard to not find fun and positivity where ever we go (even after 3 bags of donations didn’t make it here)! We learned today that four hours of winding roads up, down, and through the mountains lead to unforgettable conversations and endless laughter!
We started out our day in Honduras by going out to lunch with traditional Honduran food and fresh cantaloupe juice! By the time we made it to the hotel in El Progreso we had homemade food prepared by one of the nutrition centers staff the group worked with last year.
So with our stomachs full, and our traveling complete (at least until next weekend) we head off to bed eager and ready to jump in to a day full of volunteering at pronino tomorrow!
After a long day of traveling, exploring, sleeping and eating we can officially say we have expended all of our energy on our first night. Friday night was one to remember as a slight miscommunication between our bus provider resulted in the 10 of us standing outside at midnight with about 30 suitcases and bags waiting anxiously to be picked up. Luckily, our bus driver arrived quickly and we boarded the bus to catch our flight at Chicago O’Hare which boarded at 5:15AM.
The process of checking 18 suitcases full of donations at O’Hare was a bit overwhelming but with the help of such a positive group we got through with some time to spare before our scheduled departure at 5:55 AM.
We soon left O’Hare, and boy was it a bumpy ride to Atlanta! The south was experiencing stormy weather and that kept our plane in the air past our scheduled arrival. Despite the turbulence and the anxiousness of arriving on time, we all found ways to enjoy the ride with complimentary drinks, snacks and even free entertainment. Before we knew it, we were arriving in Atlanta with only minutes to catch our next flight across the airport.
Here in Atlanta was where Kate Fladten showed off her great track skills. Racing towards the terminal to claim our spots, we ran into many supportive passengers who cheered us on, witnessing our scramble. Unfortunately due to our late landing, our plane to San Pedro Sula left without us, and we had to regroup to access the situation.
With an amazing team of individuals, and a wonderful trip leader, Missy Burgess, we were able to calmly book hotel rooms and another flight which is scheduled for tomorrow, January 22nd at 10:05AM. The estimated arrival time in Tegucigalpa is at 12:54PM (Flight DL0849).
To enjoy the rest of our day in Atlanta we decided to take the advice of our friendly shuttle driver, “Tim Tim”, to head downtown on the local train system. We saw merry-go-round, explored the CNN building and finally got the hang of the transit system, we were officially pros. To reward ourselves of such a positive day, we had pizza in the lobby!
We are looking forward to flying to Honduras tomorrow, but for now, our exhausted travelers will be heading to sleep for a long day tomorrow. Stay tuned for more posts!
Friday night the 10 of us head out for Chicago to board our flights for Honduras on Saturday morning. While some of us have been here before, and others of us have not, the excitement is overwhelming!
Everyone decided that to start the trip out we shared with each other what we’re most excited and most nervous about as the date gets closer to leaving.
Our trip advisor, Missy Burgess said: I’m most excited for seeing everyone learn and grow on this trip, and I’m most nervous about making sure that everyone has a positive experience.
Our trip leader Naomi Krawczyk said: I’m most excited for seeing a new country, and getting to know all of the wonderful people. I’m most nervous for making the planes on the way down.
Alaina Riedel said: I’m most excited to see all of the OYE students and everyone we met last year, and she is most nervous about getting bug bites!
Katelyn Fladten said: I’m most nervous about the safety, but I’m most excited about traveling and experiencing a new culture.
Josie Ribley said: I’m most excited to learn about their culture first hand, and I’m most nervous about the plane ride.
Jenna Krueger said: I’m most excited about leaving the country for the first time, and I’m most nervous about the airports.
Serena Larie said: I’m most excited to interact with the Hondurans, especially the children and to fully immerse herself in their culture.
Hannah Schmidtfranz said: I’m most excited for working with the children!
Lukki Smolarek said: I’m most excited to experience this all again, to see everyone from last year, and make so many new connections this year, and I’m most nervous for the plane rides!
Jessica Martinez said: I’m most excited to practice my Spanish in a culture that is similar to mine, especially when we get to interact with the community. What I am most nervous about would definitely be the bugs.
That’s just a little bit about us as we get ready to finish packing our bags and head out, check back for more updates as the trip goes on!