My trip to Honduras seems like many, many years ago now. That’s probably because it was. It was my first trip out of Europe when I was 15 in 2007. My school had organised a Biology trip with a conservation charity for two weeks, so after exams off we went.
We got through the airports in London and Miami with little drama- other than having to take off our walking boots off twice, which didn’t help the queue behind us. This was my first sighting of America. Miami looked as I expected- sunny, but also very flat with lots of lakes sitting next to each other. It was also my first time at American airport security. My ears hadn’t popped back so I couldn’t really hear what the security man was saying as he attempted to get me to put my index finger on a scanner. He was did not think it was funny.
Our first night was not exactly cultural. After driving through San Pedro Sula, spotting men carrying machetes, we spent the night at the Holiday Inn. It was a pretty nice way of easing into a new country, I have to admit. Despite the heat, I had a cold so our dinner of chicken soup was not only tasty but necessary. Other than that, we spent the evening crowded round our bedroom window, watching a storm raging over the hills in the distance. The city was calm but the sky was flashing and a couple of times we saw a lightning bolt cut its way from the clouds to the ground. I have a weird fascination with lightning storms.
After a big breakfast and some waiting around, it was time to leave on our big, American, yellow school bus. On the plus side, we all got double seats to ourselves, but on the downside, the open window meant that my lunch of potatoes in mayo, rice with with peas and sweetcorn, chicken, bread and sprite went everywhere- along with my hair.
We discovered our itinerary had changed. Instead of spending a week in the forest before moving to the more relaxing beach, we were doing the trip in reverse. But first we were spending the night in a village by the coast.
During a stop off, I was able to get my first ever holiday-bargain-buy: some much needed Havaianas for a few pounds. This may have been before they were a big thing, either that or I just wasn’t flip-flop savvy.
Once we arrived at the village, we were split up into our respective houses as we were staying with the locals. The children in our house were adorable. One just sat at the end of the bed giggling and the others danced around and posed for pictures. They certainly made us feel welcome before taking us to dinner with the rest of our group.
The meal consisted of fish, beans, rice, salad and mango juice. So far we had been fed pretty well. Then the village came out to see us and took us to their school, where we played and watched dancing before heading to bed.
After yet another early start, we waited to catch a boat to Cayo Menor- one of the Cayos Cochinos islands. I get a bit motion sick, so the ride over the bumpy sea seemed to take an age but then we arrived and the Caribbean island was amazing. The sea was blue, there were palm trees everywhere and the science research centre was pretty much the only thing there.
Our meeting point was a dining hall, 107 stairs up from the beach. I wasn’t looking forward to climbing those multiple times a day but at least they would be good practice for the jungle hikes to come. After a breakfast of something battered and cereal, we collected our things and went to our camp on the beach. Finally, we were then able to go for a swim while the other groups arrived. The water was amazing. It was clear and warm and a perfect refreshment from the hot weather.
Sadly, I wasn’t going to be able to go scuba diving and so I got ready for my first snorkel. The urchins looked like exploded balls of black ink, the starfish were huge and the fish were colourful and came in varying sizes. Some were tiny and others were big with puffy lips.
Dinner was a wrap, bean paste, meat and cheese and then we had a dangerous creatures talk. Basically we weren’t to poke anything in the water and we’d be okay.
Typically, our first day on the island ended in rain. Heavy rain.