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Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Punting on the Trench

Apparently it rained in the mountains again last night. And since we’re digging right at the bottom of the hill, our trench filled up with water. A lot of water. The trench isn’t level yet though, so I spent about an hour stood at the side of my trench, pushing the water out of my part to lower down.

We managed to get a lot more done than I expected and just about levelled the whole trench out. Which involved being stood in a puddle for quite a while. The mud did make funny squelching noises though, which kept us entertained.

Tried a Chocolate & Banana licuado today. Not as nice as the Pineapple or Cereal ones. More souvenir shopping, and then saw Don at Cafe Welchez, and he very kindly paid for my coffee and cake.

And I’m almost packed. Just the clothes I’m in at the moment. Leave at 6am tomorrow. What fun. Got 7 free internet minutes left here, of the 900 I started with 5 weeks ago. Just about enough I think.

Things I’ll miss about Copan:

  • Cafe Welchez: nice place, friendly staff, great coffee and great cakes (especially the carrot cake)
  • Pickup rides: the best 20 minutes of my day
  • Being somewhere I know well

So catch up with you in a few days, after I get to La Ceiba and do some tours.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005


Work started off well this morning. It rained in the mountains last night, our trench filled up with water, so we had to leave a wall and start lower down, in the easiest digging ground I’ve found. Barely had to use my pickaxe! Then I finished that and had to move onto the waterlogged, rocky part. Rubbish.

I visited the museum in the afternoon, all about Mayan history and culture shockingly, and has some replicas and some of the real stuff from the ruins. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the Spanish I understood from the explanations. And helpfully, there were English translations next to some of them.

Went to Cafe Welchez. Finished my book, Matchstick Men. Which reminds me – yesterday, for the second time this holiday, the film adaptation of a book I was reading came on the TV. Don’t think there’s any chance of Robinson Crusoe or my new Tom Clancy book coming on though.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Keegan, who I was in Antigua with for a week, started work today. He’s been in Spanish school in Copan for a week, but I haven’t seen him. We are now right at the bottom of the side road we’ve been on since Thursday. The local guys did most of it over the weekend and just left us with a couple of hundred yards though.

Spent the afternoon shopping for souvenirs and hanging out in Cafe Welchez. Went on the internet in the evening. Exciting stuff, huh?

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

The Accidental Hike

Keith and Nicki were both off travelling today and Lauren was getting ready to leave so it was up to me whether I went to work or not. I battled with my conscience for quite some time, and eventually decided to ‘do the right thing’.

It started raining on the way up to Sesesmil and within about ten minutes of being up there, the heavens opened good style. I spent the next hour and a half attempting to dig a trench that was flooded and sulking about being there in such bad weather. I was wearing my raincoat over my shorts and t-shirt, but still managed to get soaked right through. The Chillis song ‘I Like Dirt’ came on my Zen. As much as it pains me to do so, I had to disagree with Anthony.

So at 9:30am, I’d finished our work from Thursday and decided to call it a day. I started walking since there were no pickups on their way, and didn’t see any pickups that I could’ve got a ride in until I was almost back in Copan. Took me 2 hours and 15 minutes. Good thing it stops raining once you leave Sesesmil Dos.

Spent the afternoon resting my feet, watching The Negotiator. Then checked emails and went to Cafe Welchez to hang out for a while.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Turtle Power!

Raining again so my clothes and towel on the line will have to stay there another day. Freddy’s now got a new tuk-tuk. Don’t know if it’s borrowed or if it’s his, but he’s back. We were set to work on another new trench for the main pipe today, digging down one of the side roads.

I took my MP3 player and it really made the time pass a lot more quickly. Until the battery died. Some of the tracks I listened to included: the Baywatch theme, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Britney, Marilyn Manson and the Chillis. Class tunes.

Keith and I decided to start walking towards Copan rather than wait in Sesesmil for a pickup. We were walking for about 30-45 minutes before one came along, and the thought of having to walk all the way back crossed my mind a couple of times!

Went to Café Welchez in the afternoon and started a new book – Matchstick Men – cuz I finished George Orwell yesterday. Sent emails to hostels and tour companies after supper, and they had to kick me out cuz I was there till closing time!

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

The Porch of the Big House

Freddy, my host brother, is our usual tuk-tuk driver. But his was broken yesterday so he got another guy to take us. Thinking something similar would happen today, I sat outside the house from 6:50am to 7:30am waiting. Then I walked up to Nicki and Lauren’s house, and we all waited on the corner for a pickup. Keith decided yesterday that he’d try to get a pickup since the tuk-tuk struggles so much, and evidently, he had already gone. Another taxi drove by at 7:55am and he said he’d take us.

Got up to the project by 8:30am and it was raining lots. Beginning to wish we’d all just gone back to bed! So after the slope that we were going up, the local guys have gone down again and back up again. So we were stationed next to the church, where the pipe finally gets into the village. I’m sure there would’ve been an easier way to get there.

The big house that looks like it doesn’t belong is owned by relatives of Nicki and Lauren’s host family. And they invited us for coffee today. I’ve been as far as the porch!

Did very, very little all afternoon, and then spent the evening flicking between Harry Potter and Bridget Jones on two different channels.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Oh, Another Slope to Dig

So we’ve gone down one slope and now we need to go up the other side. It’s a steeper slope and it rained a lot last night so it’s really slippy, but I still found it easier to dig than yesterday’s slope. We’ve decided there’s a bit of a conspiracy. They put us to work on the steep slopes cuz we’re always falling over and slipping, and they find it amusing. Somehow they never fall over. They’re like cats – if they do lose their balance, they always manage to land on their feet.

The weather improved a lot by the afternoon so I went to the pool. There were other people there! For like, the first time! The idea of swimming in front of other people made me feel quite self-conscious, so I spent ages on the sun lounger reading, and only swam for a little while.

Went to Café Welchez afterwards cuz I haven’t been there for a few days. After supper, my host mum gave me a t-shirt of the Mayan Calendar as a gift. She’s so good to me!

Any of you guys watched The House of Sand and Fog? It’s so depressing. It’s good, but not really worth the feeling of wanting to kill yourself afterwards!

I’m thinking of trying to finish a couple of days early so I have more time to travel, cuz at the moment I’ll be cutting things a bit fine.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

The Main Pipe

Ok, so Robin’s left but Nicki is back, and Lauren is volunteering this week before she moves on. And Keith’s still here, so there are four of us up in Sesesmil now – the tuk-tuk struggles up the hills!

We’ve been set to work digging from the water tank down to the village. It’s the main pipeline, which means we have to dig deeper – about halfway up my thigh. Today’s slope was really steep and full of roots – not fun!

We’re working with the local guys now and it’s becoming quite evident just how much better at this they are. It takes four of us to do the same amount of work as one of them! But, at least we did the houses while they worked on the main pipe – saved them some work!

After getting back and having lunch, I went to a restaurant that makes really good licuados and stayed there for a couple of hours. Tried to watch I, Robot before bed but couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Bug Fodder

The bugs are quite literally feasting on me. They’re taking chunks out of my arms. Or at least I am cuz the bites itch so much! Don’t know if it’s the ants in my room, or if there’s something up in Sesesmil, but it’s really frustrating!

Robin’s last day of work. We were supposed to go on a hike today up to the water source, but the guy never showed up, so we carried on with our biggest trench yet. Finished it, but couldn’t be bothered going to find the next house with only a little time left, so we went home early.

The pickup we rode back in bought five bags of oranges from one of the locals for 100 Lempiras. That’s about £3.50 for what looked like about 250 oranges. That’s 10 pickup rides into Copan. Or 5 café lattes in Café Welchez. On Tuesday, we were talking about how these people weren’t the poorest people in the world: they had homes made from breezeblocks, some had concrete flooring, and they generally looked healthy. They must really rely on the food they grow themselves. And I’d hate to have to save up for something – even clothes – if I lived there.

Saw Jimmy in Café Welchez and organized going to Gracias tomorrow morning with him, Lauren and Lycette. Attempted to organize my travel plans today but didn’t get very far. Then watched some of the news when I got home and La Ceiba is flooded. Yey!

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Photo Shoot

Happy Birthday Pop!

Much better day weather-wise, so the digging wasn’t going too badly. Guillermo came along and took some photos of us digging and working. You so can’t tell that we’re posing! Then he and one of the local guys took us up to the water tank for more photos, and then to another house to finish their pipe and start covering it back up. It took quite a while, so we were all a little late getting back for lunch.

I went to ViaVia after lunch cuz they have some travel info on a notice board and a few leaflets. I also had the worst cup of coffee ever there. Bumped into Jimmy in Café Welchez later, and chatted to him for a while. Robin and I met Jimmy at Tunkul’s later cuz it was her last night, and we had the pleasure of meeting a scary Columbian guy. Ok, so he wasn’t really scary, he seemed like a nice guy, but he was kinda intense and that scared me since I was sat next to him. Glad Jimmy was there!

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Rain, Rain, Rain

Decided to go to work even though we didn’t have to. Unfortunately, there’s a hell of a lot of rain due to Hurricane Beta. Oscar showed us the next house that needs a trench. It seems the others weren’t challenging enough for us, so we’ve got a super duper long trench to dig. We didn’t stay long today: the rain made it very difficult to work. The people in the new house gave us coffee made from maize before we left. Apparently, because coffee is too expensive for them to buy, they make coffee from maize out of season, then use their home-grown coffee in season.

Robin sat in the front of the pickup on the way home, and the driver was telling her that Copan is really expensive. It’s the cheapest place I’ve ever visited, and the people who live in the mountains 10km away think it’s expensive. That makes me feel kinda bad.

We were back in Copan by 10:30am and met Robin in Café Welchez after we’d showered and changed. Started reading Deception Point by Dan Brown. In fact, I spent most of the day reading, until we went to ViaVia for a drink.

Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005


It’s raining, it’s pouring, and we get a puncture on our way up to work. Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to change the tyre on a tuk-tuk, so we were only delayed by about 10 minutes. Work wasn’t too bad cuz the rain let up a bit. Oscar came over to tell us we didn’t have to come to work on Tuesday or Wednesday cuz it was a fiesta for them so they wouldn’t be working.

Attempted to practice Spanish in the afternoon. All afternoon. Yey!

Watched Sleepy Hollow – Halloween special on the movie channels. Gave Carrie a miss though. Finished A Time to Kill before bed.

Stuff I miss (in no particular order):

  • Hair straighteners – the curls are getting tired. I long for a sleek outline!
  • My vast wardrobe – wearing the same clothes day-in day-out. Oh wait, I do that every day at home for work!
  • Being able to walk down the street without having every male conversation stop while they all stare. Don’t get me wrong, if I thought they did it cuz I was something special, I’d be flattered, but they do it to every single girl
  • Being around people I know – I’ve made friends here, but I can’t be myself around them. People who’ve known me for years still think I’m strange: how would these people feel?!
  • Having more to do – way too much free time on my hands here!
  • Staying in bed until 10am – I’m the last one to have breakfast in my house at 6:30am. Kids are walking to school at 6:45am while I wait for the taxi up to Sesesmil.
  • The Dogs – it’s just not the same without two white balls of fluff jumping all over me to wake me up in the mornings
  • My computer and a fast, decent internet connection

Stuff I Love about here:

  • How beautiful and lush the countryside is
  • People seem happy with what they’ve got. I’m sure they’d like more money and easier lives, but they still seem happy without
  • English TV channels – I’d be very lonely without them!
  • Being able to walk from one side of town to the other in 5 minutes. It took 10 minutes to cross Leeds campus!
  • The pickup rides. Haven’t been in a really packed one yet which is a bummer, but they’re good fun. And a lot more dangerous than I let myself worry about
  • The kids in Sesesmil being fascinated by us. A little boy walked past the other day, and his face lit up when I smiled at him. There were about eight kids watching us in another house, and they were made up when we waved at them from the pickup as we went home. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I’m going soft!
Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

My Achy Breaky Hands

Woke up at 5:45am, like I do every morning and lay in bed until 6:15am. My hands have a habit of seizing up while I’m asleep and I use this time to try to stretch them back into their proper position. Fucking hurts. My muscles are getting used to the work after five days, and the skin on my hands is starting to toughen, but I hate having to stretch my hands!

We started work on House #4 today. We have two concrete walls to get underneath. Guillermo showed up after an hour or so and told us the trench in House #2 needed to be deeper and then he’d show us how to put the pipes in. So we dug deeper, we watched, and then we covered it all back up.

The lady of the house made us a cup of coffee straight from the harvest. It was kinda nutty, but certainly the best cup of black coffee I’ve had here.

We went back to House #4 and got another hour of digging in. The ground isn’t too bad so far: not filled with rocks like the other three houses we’ve done. And the walls aren’t very deep: Keith’s already got underneath one of them.

Nothing to do this afternoon, so watched A Time to Kill dubbed in Spanish whilst reading it English, and then went to some café and had a yummy Piña Liquado con Leche. Robin and I went to Tunkul’s, which was dead cuz of some Peace Corps party which was warming up in ViaVia. So we went there for one but weren’t really up for a big night out. Watched The Day After Tomorrow when I got home. Awesome film.

Cafe ViaVia and Tunkul’s
Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005


Had pancakes for breakfast. Yum. Quite cold today, by Honduran standards at least. All the locals are wrapped up in jumpers and scarves. Oscar set us to work finishing a trench on a house the locals started. We reckon they reached the tree roots and decided to pass the buck. By the time we’d finished Oscar was nowhere to be found and no-one seemed to know what we were supposed to be doing next, so we had another early finish. We got a chance to watch coffee being harvested, and came across a random huge house in the middle of all these huts. It was absolutely massive, had a double garage, and was so nice I would live there. Totally out of place though. We caught a lift in a government pickup today, so we didn’t have to pay.

The weather improved a lot by the afternoon, so Robin and I spent the afternoon sunbathing by the pool. I did a few lengths but it was baking hot and that just made the water feel colder than usual. I went to Casa de Todo on the way back and had a Granita, which is basically a coffee-flavoured slush puppy. Not as nice as Café Welchez.

I’m getting a lot more freckles and what could be described as a tan on my arms. For me at least. Legs are still as white as milk though!

Drying Coffee in Sesesmil
Honduras Honduras and Guatemala 2005

Frangipani Plant

Short day at the office. Got up the mountain to find my very big trench being filled in and another being dug next to it, to get around the huge boulder. We still managed to finish it quickly, and Oscar let us leave early, but we had to wait ages for a pickup.

Kike took Adam (another volunteer), Robin and I to the Enchanted Wings Butterfly House & Nature Centre today. We traveled on paved roads. I didn’t think they existed in this town: it’s all been cobbles and dirt tracks so far. There were some beautiful butterflies in frames, but the live ones were mostly uninteresting. Lots of Owl Eye butterflies. The Orchid House was a bit rubbish: over 100 species of orchid and three were in bloom. The best part was on the way out, when I spotted a Frangipani Plant.

It was Adam’s last day in Copan so he invited us to Café ViaVia for drinks. We left at about 10pm – getting tired from all this digging!

Frangipani Plant