Written by Sidney Lok and Ruizhe (Samantha) He
During our trip so far in Honduras, we stayed in many hotels. Among the hotels, there is one that is located on the mountain, which takes 20 minutes of a rocky drive to get there. There is also one that is just along the highway, but has several separate houses with capacity for up to 3 people in each. The whole team made so many wonderful memories at these campgrounds; we sat around a bonfire, got to know the staff, and struggled to get wifi and hot water. However, the most memorable experience (in our opinions) is the 2-night homestay in Las Vegas.
Our first night in the homestays, we were still getting into the groove of communicating with people who speak a different language. That night involved a lot of sign language, google translate, and games. However, these obstacles are what created a special relationship between us and our hosts.
One example of a game introduced to us that Samantha really liked was called "Loteria". It is something like "Bingo". Every player has a different map showing 16 figures. There is also a set of cards. Every time a card from the deck would be revealed. When the figure on your map is the same as the one on the card, you can put a rock on your map. Whoever has four rocks in a column, row or diagonal should say "loteria" and they win the game. For Samantha, it was a really a good way to learn Spanish because every card has a Spanish word on it. Since Samantha really loved this game, the mom gave it to her as a present and she truly appreciated her generosity.
The mom who welcomed Samantha and her roommates was named Jessica. She has a daughter and a son. The grandma also treated them very kindly. The dad speaks both Spanish and English, which made it much easier for to communicate. Once they arrived at home, Jessica first showed them their rooms and they just gathered in the living room to chat and play games. Generally, for Samantha who knows nothing about Spanish, the chatting part should have been so exhausting. However, thanks to their kindness and the help of our teammate Rose, they really had a good time sharing our stories.
Sidney also had an amazing experience at her homestay with Dinorah and her daughter Daniela. The very first night, Zoe broke out a pack of Uno cards as a gift for them and an icebreaker for all of us. The game made it easier for us to all get acquainted with one another. It became very clear to Sidney and Zoe that there was a special bond between Dinorah and Daniela, and which they extended to their guests. Throughout the stay, Sidney and Zoe were treated with exceptional warmth, kindness, and generosity. They learned to make baleadas (a tortilla with beans and cheese sandwiched inside) from Dinorah and had a chance to do their laundry for the first time in a week. Daniela gave Zoe a dreamcatcher necklace and Sidney a friendship bracelet as a gift.
Once it was time to leave our homestays, a feeling of gratefulness washed over us. Sidney became so overwhelmed that she started tearing up when they had to leave. It was hard to leave. Zoe even asked at one point if Daniela was going to walk with us back to the park and drop us off, but Dinorah sadly said no. When we left, there were plenty of bittersweet hugs to go around. Thankfully, we all exchanged contact information to keep in touch. We will never forget the memories we made at Las Vegas. And if our host families are reading this, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING!