Experience

Sometimes you wake up when it’s raining and you’re lucky enough to have a sunny afternoon.

(Depression In A Nutshell)

It’s a cycle. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never get out. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to describe to anyone exactly what goes on in my head. I know I think differently to everyone else, because I just don’t want the same things as other people. The things people say to me just don’t make sense. It’s like the times you put the TV on mute during the ads. I can see them but I just can’t hear them. I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for but I know that I eventually want to find peace. I’m just not sure where to find that peace just yet.

I wake up every day with a heavy heart. It’s almost like a rain cloud. Some days you wake up when it’s raining and you’re lucky enough to have a sunny afternoon. Sometimes the day clears, usually because I’m distracted and it’s sunny again. Just for a little bit. I’ve tried so hard to rid myself of the pain I have endured since I was a little girl. I’ve tried everything. But it just never quite leaves. Travel has always brought me a certain element of peace. It gives me a sense of purpose and a chance to really think about how far I have come and how much further I can go. But then reality hits and nothing seems worth it.

I thought as I got older things would be easier, but in fact it’s just become easier to distract myself and stop facing the reality. When I do face reality it’s like that rain cloud comes back, but this time it’s a thunderstorm. I search and search, trying to find things to be grateful for, and don’t get me wrong, I have a lot more than some, but somehow I just can’t stop feeling the panic in that thunderstorm. I panic that I have got to the age of 23 and never really felt true happiness. I panic that I am 23 and still feel so lonely in this world no matter how many people surround me. I am a loner, I always will be. I’m used to my own company, but I am addicted in getting lost in my thoughts. I’m addicted to exploring into the thunderstorm, trying to make sense of what goes on. My life has been very much unanswered so far which leaves me lost and confused. I’m willing to fight. I’ve fought with my own thoughts for years and years challenging those thoughts that tell me to give up. The thoughts that tell me that none of this pain is worth it. But I never have given up. This tells me I am strong and can fight it all.

There was a time that I couldn’t get out of bed. There was a time when I woke up a cried as soon as I opened my eyes because I woke up and felt reality. The only peace I found was sleeping when I was shut away from everything. I became lethargic and unable to get myself together. Depression really is a disease. It takes over everything. Even now, living with depression stops me from doing so many things. Bad news hits me like train and anything personal makes me feel worthless. I’m not sure there are many people that would sit on a train on their way home in an evening with a heart so heavy all you want to do is scream and cry. Sometimes I look around on the train and wonder if any of those people can see my heavy heart, do they step back and think I look sad? Can they see the pain behind my eyes? I can always see others pain, but I guess that’s all part of it… being able to empathise. For some reason all I want to do is help, but I can’t quite get the help myself.

The reality is, I rely on emotional support, and I push people away that don’t understand me and love so hard and unconditionally that all I end up doing is hurting myself. It’s a common process. Studies show that children who suffer traumatic experiences early on in life are more likely to blame themselves. To become lovers of everything but themselves. How can a child understand such things? How can a child endure such pain and suffering without thinking they could somehow put it right? How can a child not feel guilty about what happened to someone so close to their hearts?

Many people that suffer from depression will tell you that the storm in your head will never cease to die down. I guess I’m angry that I have to endure this every day of my life and feel so utterly and entirely lonely, simply because I know I am different. I hear people discussing their latest dramas, their problems such a drop in the ocean in comparison. Fact is, whatever they’re going through right now, and it’s going to get better. There will be light in the end of their tunnels, it’s just a phase. But imagine carrying around that sadness and pain with you for your entire life. Just imagine that. Remember the time you had everything but you felt down because life wasn’t working out the way you expected. Imagine growing up in a world where nothing was the way it ever should be and all the problems were masked. Imagine being a child, then a teenager and wondering why no one has ever helped you.

People tell me that better things are coming. Of course, there’s always a new opportunity round the corner. There’s always a space in the world for hard working, driven and passionate individuals but is that really what I want? All those things mean nothing without happiness. That’s all I ever wanted, and I’ve truly never been happy but I’m more determined than ever that happiness is possible. It’s time to be careful with my heart and love myself. I’m a fighter. Not a quitter. If you’ve been through any sort of depression, then believe me, you’re a fighter. We’re the strongest they come. There’s alot of other people out there that can relate to this but I don’t know how, but one day we’re going to wake up and it’s going to be sunny.
All day.

OUT OF THE SHOWROOM AND INTO THE AMBULANCE

It was 2010. April 2010.

Today was the day I was going to pick up my new car. This wasn’t any old car. This was a new Mini Cooper. I’d was just about to fork out £12,000 on this shiny sexy number. Having £12,000 aged 18 is a whole other story, but we’ll leave that one for next time. That really is one you’ll want to read. Believe me.

So the day arrives. I wake up at the crack of dawn on my weekend off with a smile plastered over my face. I’d just been in a whirlwind few months sacking off college and being deeply unmotivated with life and I’d passed my driving test a few months earlier after 5 FAILED ATTEMPTS. I REPEAT 5 FAILED ATTEMPTS.

I’d spotted Maisy the Mini on the Mini Cooper website and oh my she looked so very beautiful. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be able to drive this car right out the very showroom and she would be called my own. I was actually very confused. I didn’t really know why I chose this car. I knew it was a too higher litre for me and cost a fortune in petrol. Not to mention, THE INSURANCE. Oh my sweet baby Jesus, mother of mary, this car was costing £4,000 per year to insure. WAS I COMPLETELY INSANE?

Answer: Yes. Yes I was. I think life caught me up in a hot air balloon and wouldn’t let me down. I don’t think I was let down until I’d learnt all my lessons. Very, very harsh lessons and my balloon was burst and down, down, down I fell. To the very bottom.

Here I am, 18 years old skipping into Mini Cooper and singing the documents with my immature signature. I handed over my card and made the payment. She passed me the keys. I walked over to my new vehicle and smelt the leather. She was stunning. I was caught up in my balloon desperate to show off my new toy. I wasn’t even thinking. I couldn’t think straight. I look back and wonder why no one helped me. I was an entire mess. Actually, this is yet again a whole other story which you really will want to read. I’ll give you that soon.

I was terrified. I had no idea how to handle this car and had virtually no experience driving minus my failed attempts at life (sorry, I mean driving tests). My Dad jumped in next to me. I knew he was terrified. Like any Dad, he wanted me to have a cheap, clapped out old banger to drive around in, in case anything happened (famous last words). But I also knew deep down that he was slightly impressed with this flashy pimped out vehicle.

I was off. I took to the road. It went a lot faster than any other car I had driven before and I hit the road revving and unable to maintain much control. My nerves had got the better of me this time. After half hour tuition I hit the road again and felt much more confident. I put in my freshly burned CD and wound down the windows. It was a super hot day and my Dad was impressed on how well I was doing. A smile grew across my face and my red hair blew in the wind. For the next hour I felt so so happy. Chasing that temporary happiness always was my forte.

I arrived back to my house. The sun gleamed off the freshly waxed car. I jumped out banged on the front door, desperate to show the rest of my family. I couldn’t leave my new baby alone; I just wanted to keep on driving. The day was getting hotter and hotter by the minute. I opened the double sunroof and called my best friend, telling her the news. I was off to go pick her up and seize the day.

I tooted my horn. I could not have been more excited. These rough few months felt temporarily paused and I was living again. As stupid as it may sound, my freedom and independence meant so much to me, I knew I could never look back.

We were off. I hit the road, unaware where I was heading. I just kept on driving. I didn’t know these roads, especially not the bloody M25 and I was feeling brave, like nothing could stop me. I was driving so far that we ended up pulling into a random ASDA car park to stop for a break and work out exactly where we were.

I knew I didn’t really feel in control of that car. I knew it.

We discovered we were over near Orpington away. It was a fair drive from home but neither of us had any plans. I pulled off down the road. We hit traffic. I turned up the music. Blu Cantrell, Breathe was playing, one of old favourites. I turned to laugh and chat with my best friend. My moved forward at about 20 miles an hour and gazed ahead of me.

Then out of nowhere, a huge almighty BANG startled me. Before I knew it there was a cloud of smoke and the car was out of control. I grabbed so tightly to the wheel, screaming. I locked eyes with my friend sensing the look of fear and terror in her eyes. We both remained intensely looking at each other desperate for some comfort. I knew the car was being thrown over the other side of the road. I knew it was heading towards a fence. I just screamed and pain and shock just fell over me. I jolted forward at serious speed and the airbags burst out attacking me hard in the face. My seatbelt locked hard on my right arm and the window shattered.
We had stopped. I looked up to see if my friend was alright. The first thing that came into my head was the overcoming sense of guilt and panic that I just caused this to my friend. I was terrified she was hurt. I couldn’t even care less what had happened to me.

I immediately started shouting “my arm, my arm” before realising that the car was smoking. All I could think of was the entire car going up in flames, like you see on the movies. That would be a little dramatic I thought. My door was bent in towards me and I couldn’t open it. I was screaming to get out of the car. I threw myself across the front seat to the passenger seat and we were out. I find myself on the other side of the road to where I had been before, with the traffic all stopped and staring. One woman ran over and turned off my music. It was apparently very loud still and playing even though the car was in literal tatters.

The next hour was a complete blur. I went into shock, which I later discovered was very serious and started to pace up and down the road. I was running and crying and my heart pounded on my chest. I was cradling my right arm like a baby. The next thing I remember was sitting on the grass bank outside someone’s house with a man asking me multiple questions. He told me he was a paramedic and I had to listen to him otherwise I could be in serious danger.

I have never really understood what really happened during that shock period, but I tell you what, I never, ever want to feel like that again. So out of control and out an out of body experience.
I started uncontrollably crying, and within an hour I was screaming down the phone at my Dad and the insurance company. I literally had no idea what to do. This was my first car, my first day driving a car by myself and my first insurance contract. It was a whirlwind of panic.

An ambulance arrived. It parked up next to my crumpled Maisy. The paramedics jumped out and pulled me into the van for tests and questions. “Was I drinking?” (No, but i bloody wish i was…) It was all pretty simple. I was lucky to not have been anymore seriously hurt but I had severe whiplash and scarring from the airbags and seatbelt.

My Dad arrived. I saw him pull up and he looked devastated. The look of panic made me uncontrollably cry and scream. I have no idea how or why that crash scared me so much. I like to be in control. It’s something I’ve always had trouble with. If I’m not in control I feel terrified and panicked. I wasn’t in control of that car.
As I arrived home, I fell into a deep, deep depression. My arm was in pieces and didn’t stop crying every day for two weeks straight. Something I have unfortunately experienced many times before. It brought a whole sea of emotions flooding up. I was humiliated that I had crashed my first car, within HOURS of driving it out of the showroom and felt horrendous guilt for putting my friend in danger. I had flashbacks of being out of control and after working so hard to get to this point I had just lost my independence once again within a few short moments.

I never got back Maisy. She was entirely written off. I had hit an island in the middle of the road, popped a tyre and the car had been flung out of control. I could not believe it. It wasn’t just a little damage; I’d managed to write the ENTIRE vehicle off and it had to be scrapped. That gives you a little perspective on exactly how bad it was.

It took me a long time to drive again. I’d lost all my confidence. I’m sure this is something a lot of people can relate to. But now, I turn back and laugh.

And think “Hell yeah, lots more shit to write for my blog.
And one day, my book.”

THE CURSE OF THE OH SO VERY SMARTPHONE

It has come to my attention in recent years that smart phones can potentially destroy lives.

No, not literally, but the ability we have to connect our (very) smart phones to any free wireless connection in the world can damage not only our experiences, but what exactly we are seeing in front of us.

As a traveller I have found it harder and harder to cope with the ever growing technological lifestyle. When I first set off travelling in 2010 I didn’t have an iPhone. I had a phone that wouldn’t allow me to connect to any sorts of Wi-Fi. I didn’t know any different. I relied on good old internet cafes. (And what a wonderful thing they are!) Internet cafes not only limit your time you have on the net also stop prevent one from being disgustingly vain (I mean you’re not gonna take webcam selfies) or talking to people, that quote frankly don’t mean a lot. The curse of having an iPhone to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots means that we have to deal with all that bullshit vibrating through (you know what I mean) WhatsApp messages from some guy you met last year in a bar, spam emails asking you to protect your life insurance, snapchats of pets, university announcements, club event invites, Tinder matches, creepy tinder messages, birthday reminders for some lunatic you haven’t spoken to in 5 years, chain mails, and most importantly JUST A LOAD OF SHIT THAT MEANS NOTHING.

The worst part about it is that WE ALL FALL FOR IT. We are all addicted to our phones. So we’re sitting out and before we know it we’re scrolling through Facebook blah blah blah and OMG JESSICA FROM COLLEGE IS PREGNANT???!!!! AGAIN??? I mean, honestly why are we even interested? Do we even know this person anymore? I hate myself for it.

It’s obvious that smart phones have their benefits, but what about the influence they have on the experience we are having? Personally for me, travelling, concerts and even nights out have all been spoilt by silly human beings (including myself) who are glued to what is actually happening on our screens rather than right in front of us. How many of us have been to concert and the majority of the audience are watching the actual concert through their screens rather than enjoying what is happening on stage? I nearly had to stand on a girl’s head at the Beyoncé concert this year because this bitch had her tablet out recording. That damn near huge piece of technology was nearly blocking my entire view of Queen B.

I hate myself for being so attached to my phone; it’s the one thing that aggravates me most when I’m out to dinner or in a bar and the majority of people are flicking through their twitter feeds or even worse snapchats. This is in no way a hypocritical blog, I myself when I am in London are glued to Snapchat and twitter to pass the time on long train journeys or lectures (shoot me!) But I personally am able to detach myself from that life, a simple read on the train or making a few notes in my diary is more than enough to satisfy me if my battery dies.

But do we really need to have our phones out on the tables at dinner? Where has the art of conversation disappeared to? Do we really need to be sharing with the world exactly how pretty our dinner is? Is this just habit? Unfortunately we have now become obsessed with sharing our locations, our food, our family, our friends, our selfies. But why do we feel the need to share everything with predominately strangers? Is it simply an ego boost? Do those 50 likes on insta allow us to sleep easier at night? Am I going to wake up in a cold sweat if my latest selfie hasn’t reached the crucial 11 like mark?

No, but there probably is someone out there reading this who knows someone who does.

Where do we go from here? It appears that the social media could possibly have reached saturation. Have we explored every avenue? Kyle Bylin for Hypebot describes what we live in now as an “always-plugged-into-social-network reality”. But with 2.5 billion global internet users the possibilities are endless. I am always intrigued when travelling to Asia the amount of locals that have a Facebook account. It really is so intriguing. I recently travelled India and visited the largest slum in Asia and low and behold there were tons of guys with their camera phones and some without, begging to take pictures for their Facebooks. Anyone you come across always requests to be your friend on Facebook, especially in Asia its an absolute privilege to have a white western on your friends list.(They show how happy they are by liking and commenting on anything and everything) In Nepal, our project leader told us to keep the Wi-Fi password a secret because otherwise all the locals would stand outside the house and start uploading pictures to their Facebooks.

Amazing huh?

The U.N states that Honduras is the most dangerous country on the planet. I travelled here alone aged 18. My Honduras story finally told.

ARRIVING IN HONDURAS AGED 18

I’ve never really told my Honduran story before. But it sure is an interesting and complex one. I was 18. I quit my job working for TOPMAN in September 2010 and told everyone I was leaving for Central America in 5 weeks time. I was lost and to be quite frank couldn’t be asked to go to university. I just wanted to roam free and let my free spirit take over.

I had been browsing online and stumbled across a link for teaching English up a mountain in a remote place.

SOUNDS PERFECT

I can’t even lie. I barely read the info. I called up the volunteer programme that day and booked. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t even know where Honduras was. Lord only knows where I inherited this spontaneity from. Virtually nothing fazes me. The UN states that Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world. I didn’t think much into it. For me, it’s all or nothing. I like extreme experiences and half-hearted adventures leave me nothing but disappointed. I googled where I was heading. Copán Ruinas. Copán Ruinas is a municipality in the Honduran department of Copán. The town, located close to the Guatemalan border, is a major gateway for tourists traveling to the Pre-Columbian ruins of Copán. It looked beautiful. And most importantly peaceful. Maybe I would finally find some peace here.

I told my Dad. He turned pale and asked why I always have to “go over the top” with everything. My answer was simple. “Yeah whatever life’s short”. I wasn’t fazed by this upcoming adventure but was perhaps very naive as to what I would actually encounter in this incredibly third world country. What I was to come up against was weeks of emotional turbulence and huge challenges. I never believed that such an experience would honestly change everything about me but It 100% did. I returned with an entirely different outlook on life and can honestly say was one of the hardest times of my entire life.

The day arrived. My Dad was completely and utterly shitting himself but he knew there was nothing that would stop me on this adventure. I have always been incredibly mature for my age, even at 18 I felt like I could take on the whole world and the challenge that I undertook was a mean feat for someone so young. Honestly most people my age or even now would have crumbled under that immense pressure.

First up I arrived in New York. It was late at night and it was an 9 hour wait until my next flight. I was due to wait in the airport but two hours after waiting the cleaners started arriving and I knew something was up.
They were shutting the terminal.

What the fuck. I didn’t have a hotel or even a phone that worked. Next minute I know I was having a huge panic attack. I’d never had a panic attack before. I couldn’t breathe and I was screaming and crying and trying to suppress my tears in front of the cleaners. I was genuinely panicking so hard with what to do. I sat outside and snow started to fall. I smoked a whole packet of fags and got it together. I bought a phone card and rang a nearby hotel.

My alarm rang. It was 4am and I’d paid $120 dollars for 5 hours in a hotel. GREAT.

Soon I was back at the airport, boarding my flight to Honduras. I was sat next to a tiny Honduran woman that kept giving me boiled sweets. I think she sensed my nervousness. As we landed into Honduras I leant over my flight partner to look out the window. It was the most green, plush place I had ever seen. SO SO BEAUTIFUL.

I was met at the airport and boarded a bus with my new project leader. It was a local bus and full of drunks and screaming children. I sat on the bus for a total of 3 hours up a mountain next to a huge man with a large beard. Every time we turned a corner he fell closer to me and his sweet smelling beer spilling onto my plimsolls. The sides of the bus were open. I could smell the air. It smelt so fresh. The climate was muggy and uncomfortable. Children noticed me from the paths and screamed and shouted and even waved passing through each village. This was my first taste of absolute poverty. People were sitting in the gutters begging and children so skinny. I automatically felt touched by these people, a feeling I soon realised would never go away. The scenery was incredible. Honduras is a mountainous country, with beautiful rolling hills covered in rainforests.

We arrived into Copán Ruinas late evening. The place was small and full of cobbled streets and Spanish style open buildings. I was walked up to my new home. I knocked on the door. My new Mum opened the door. A small smiling Hispanic woman opened the door and hugged me so hard. This was Tina. Conversation was limited. She only spoke Spanish and I, only English (minus the few phrases I’d learnt on the plane).
I entered my room. It was a simple room with an en suite and huge bed. I was told my host family was one of the richest in the entire town. Tomorrow I would be meeting for orientation and to enrol in Spanish school.
So here I was. Up a mountain in the middle of “The most dangerous country in the world” without a single word of their spoken language nor a mobile phone. I was petrified. I slept deeply and awoke with Tina knocking at my door asking me numerous questions I could not understand.

I enrolled at Spanish school. I automatically felt relieved. The school was outdoors and I could see vivid parrots flying overhead while I went through my lessons. Nelly was the most beautiful teacher and spent hours smiling at me from the other side of the desk and hugging me after each lesson. I had two days before I would start at La Escuela at San Rafael. It took me a couple of days before I built up the confidence to wonder about Copán Ruinas. It was single handily the most intimidating place I had ever been. As I wondered the streets I was petrified I’d get lost and not be able to ask for directions back. I soon found out I was pretty much one of about 5 people that could speak English in the whole town. Armed guards marched the streets and questioned locals. Anyone and everyone stared. I Wherever I wondered I would turn around and find a group of children following me. They would laugh and giggle and chase me down the street. I stopped and sat on the kerb while the girls played with my hair. They tried to speak to me but I found it so hard to communicate and became more and more frustrated. They opened a black bag. It was full of handmade corn dolls all different shapes, sizes and colours. I was immediately taken a back. They were beautiful.
I reached into my bag. Careful not show my money. (I was a millionaire in this country) I gave them all the equivalent of £20. The children couldn’t believe their eyes. They kissed me gave me the entire contents of their bags and ran all the way home shouting. I now was the proud owner of 26 corn dolls. Not bad for £20 I thought. I later found out this is more than most families earn in months.I continued to give the children majority of my money throughout the stay without telling my project, and i don’t regret this at all. Actually, on my last weekend the street children came to find me to give me a homemade card and CD that they’d found to say Thank You. I was absolutely touched.

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My alarm buzzed, it was 4am. This was life now. 4am everyday set for school. I ate my pancakes in Tina’s kitchen surrounded by chickens and children. In my whole time living with Tina I never understood how many children or grandchildren she actually had. I walked the three streets down the hill to the main square where the pickup truck arrived. We all scrambled in. This was the journey now to school, all piled in the back of the truck sitting on plastic bags up the mountain. The air was so heavy and the clouds hadn’t cleared. By the time I got to the top my hair was easily 6 times the size. We passed the rice plantations as workers waved at us every day and hundreds of men sleeping on the streets.

I was introduced to my class.It soon became apparent that i wasn’t in fact teaching English, but ALL classes in SPANISH. WOW. Just another challenge i knew I’d have to overcome. I was overwhelmed. My class was a group of 22 7-8 year olds and I was named Miss Flor. (short for flower). The children immediately welcomed me. I was jumped on a hugged as soon as a arrived. The children were so loving, they felt my face as if they couldn’t quite believe I was real. My first week consisted of assisting the only existing teacher at the school and attempting to communicate with the children. I felt pressured and had to learn quickly when it came to answering the children’s questions. They were understanding and so full of life. Within a week I was dictating to the children to read pages, answer questions and teaching maths and natural sciences in Spanish. I was so overcome with the progress I had made after a tough few days. I rewarded the children with sparkly London stickers and gel pens. I really didn’t think anyone loved sparkly stickers as much as me.

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At 12 every day we would offer the children a meal. This was rice, beans and a flour tortilla. Each child brought a container with them to collect their food in. The most suffering of children didn’t even have a plate to eat from and I watched as they ate from their hands. I was heartbroken to watch the almost skeletal little ones fight in the queue for food and then eat two or three beans and put the rest under their desk to take home for their families. They were starving themselves and I later found out that nearly all children walked a total of 2 hours each day across the mountains to school on an empty stomach.

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Each evening was spent at a roof top café lesson planning overlooking the entire town. I never anticipated how much work it would take. The project run by GVI (Global vision international) was dedicated and clear about what they wanted the children to learn and how much work we were required to put in. There were two other volunteers. Both in their 30s and two project leaders in their late 20s. They constantly supported me and were astounded at how young I actually was. I will be forever thankful for them. Each night I spent doing Spanish homework and making worksheets. In between the tears and being terrified of my surroundings, I had never been happier.

On Tuesdays we volunteered at a local orphanage. We had been briefed before of the low standards and utter poverty that these children were living in. I prepared to have my heart broken. The orphanage was a short walk from the village. It was a small house run by “nannies” which I later nicknamed “evil bitches” when I found out they had been abusing the children and stealing all of the donation money. I arrived and was met with the most overwhelming love I have ever experienced in my entire life. The children (and roam dogs) jumped into my arms. They stunk of urine and were filthy and were unclothed but I didn’t care. I wanted to give them everything I had. We played games and activities and read stories. There were babies there too and the “nannies” allowed them to sit in soiled nappies and hit them when they cried. Each week when I left the same children held onto my legs and screamed when I left. They were so adorable and I still hold my promise to this day that one day I would love to look into returning and finding some of those children again. We were not allowed to take photos here but I can still remember their faces so vividly.

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I spent the whole evening sitting in a bar myself crying my eyes out desperate to think what I could do to help. I was at loose end because I knew I wasn’t allowed to involve myself in the project and damage the reputation of GVI. If I was to enforce anything on the nannies then it could risk GVI being involved at all at the orphanage and putting the children at an even higher risk. I couldn’t donate money either; it would go straight into the pockets of the wrong people. I was so frustrated I was unable to do ANYTHING. My friend Jesus who worked on the bar informed me of the reality of Honduras and how there was little anyone could really do. His country was corrupt and it upset him so. This really hit home. (I was a regular at the bar by now)

Virtually my entire time in Honduras was spent alone. This was one of the biggest mental challenges I had ever come across. It was a lonely time but was overshadowed by the vast amount I was achieving. I visited the famous 5th century ancient Mayan ruins alone and climbed to the top of the pyramids to take copious selfies. (pretty sure selfie didn’t exist in 2010, but yeah) This was incredible and just felt so alive.
Weekends following included a stay at a coffee plantation, wild horse rides to a ranch and bathing naked in the hot springs. (here I felt really alive as you can imagine). I met numerous Americans who helped me along the way and were untimely puzzled to come across an 18 year old traveling alone.

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I spent weeks working at the school and building incredible relationships with the children. I was comfortable to have my own class by now without supervisation and we played outdoor games and i bought them craft resources they’d never even seen before. Each day was a mental and physical challenge and i was undergoing tests at Spanish school which I was struggling with. It was a constant battle but bought me nothing but rewards everyday. Each day I spent smiling and overwhelmed with love from all the children at that school I can still to this day remember all of their names and have photos and mementos from all of them.

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The day I departed the school was single handedly the most overwhelming day of my entire life. Each child had drawn me cards and posters and made me feel so special. I later translated all their letters which were along the lines of “Please come back you have taught us so much and we love you”. I was so sad and disappointed I was leaving but i knew it was time for another challenge. The children screamed and hugged me as i left and some even cried. They begged me to come back “Te vamos a extrañar” and “cuando vas a volver” was ringing in my ears. As the truck drove off the children ran down the street screaming my name. I cried way too much.

My journey home from Honduras was the most eventful I have ever embarked on. This was the amusing part of my entire adventure. The evening I left I headed to the bar to see my friend Jesus and two other volunteers. There were Americans and two hours later I’d had 5 tequilas and 3 wines and was running the streets of Copan. Alicia and I headed to an Honduran club. What an experience. I can barely remember this entire time but i certainly remember being groped by numerous men while there was a live singer and no DJ and there was certainly sand between my toes. Very. Very confusing. I had been abandoned by new American friend who had run off with a short local and i was returned to my house. I had three hours to sleep this off and i was already throwing up all over the entire room. WHAT THE FUCK I HADN’T EVEN PACKED.

I awoke to Tina knocking on my door. I was SO ill and I started throw the entire contents of my bag on the floor. Tina was so upset I was leaving. We had an emotional depart and i gave her everything. I just abandoned most of my stuff and legged it to the bus. I bought a beautiful handmade bag to which i spent the entire journey to the airport throwing up in. The whole bus had moved away from me and I continued to throw up on myself and the seats. It was horrendous. I have barely ever drunk tequila since. The memories haunt me. I left the bag on the bus and ran to the airport.

I checked in. My bag was mental overweight. I bought plates and everything and would have had to pay hundreds to get it home. I grabbed a load of clothes asked the security to watch my bag and legged it outside. Surrounding the airport was thousands of beggars. I gave everyone a pile of clothes and food. They looked at me like i was mental then grabbed my hand and kissed it. There we go. I AM NOW GOING TO HEAVEN.

I ran back inside. It was under an hour til my flight. I went through security and noticed a sign. “MUST PAY TAXES”. WHAT? WHAT TAXES? I ran to the cashpoint. The screen flashed BLOCKED. My card was blocked. I grabbed my phone. INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. SHIT. I CAN’T LEAVE THE COUNTRY. I had no money and no phone credit. I had to board my flight in 20 minutes. I sat on the floor and cried. I couldn’t speak to anyone and i just felt pathetic.

10 minutes til my flight…

I WAS GONNA MISS IT. I felt a tap on my shoulder a small woman with glasses looked at me with piercing eyes. “Stop crying my darling what is wrong?” I told her my situation through floods of tears and she spoke to me in an American accent. She owned a bookshop in Rotorua. She placed 50 US Dollars into my hand and closed it. This angel gave me her business card and told me to run. So, just like Forrest i ran to the gate and paid my fines. I made it onto my flight just at the gate was closing. I let out the biggest sigh of relief, and that was that.

I MADE IT.

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