Olivia and Lisa

You know you’re a part of the family when you’re invited to the Friday night Zumba session. As great-grandmother Josaria rolled about laughing in the corner, Lisa and I shimmied and shaked alongside grand-mother Marta, her daughter Gabi, and her two children Yara and David. Even though we were most definitely schooled by all generations, the alternative Friday night amusement was one of the funniest and most enjoyable moments so far. Not only did we discover an unknown love for Zumba, but we realised just how at home we felt with our new family. The all-female Cruz household (save for five-year old David) has welcomed us with open arms, and shaped our time here in Honduras. Whether Josaria is giving us romantic advice, Gabi is taking us to ‘young people’s church’ or Marta is filling us in on the latest town developments, we are learning something new every day. 

Living with a host family is a truly rewarding experience, and one that I will not forget. The best moments are those of togetherness, whether it be making Mother’s Day cards or playing games with Yara and David resulting in hysterical laughter, making corn tortillas or the Friday night Zumba session. These moments make living with our Honduran family so special and helped us feel at ease within our new culture. In six weeks’ time, we will leave with a bond and amazing memories.

David and Jake

David and Jake with their host family

When we arrived, more than a little bit nervous, at our host family’s home on our first day in La Villa De San Antonio, our host mother Daisy greeted us with the words ‘mis nuevos hijos!’, and from that moment we certainly did feel like her adopted sons! Whilst we have had very different life experiences to our host family, it was remarkable how swiftly we settled into their routines and ways of life, and how comfortable we have been made to feel in these. Daisy truly is a mother to the both of us, constantly fretting over whether we’re eating enough and if we’re enjoying the food, despite us assuring her many times that it’s delicious. David, our host brother, is thirty and certainly reminds me of my big brother back in England. 

One of the many highlights so far was when he took us fishing for tilapia nearby; gutting fish together at the pila before having them for dinner was certainly a bonding experience! Living as part of a host family allows you to truly feel a part of the community in which you are working, and has made the ICS experience all the more rewarding. 

Dharel, Raquel and Marley

Dharel, Raquel and Marley with their host family

Similar to most Honduran families, our household contains several generations of a family. Across the mango-filled courtyard we have three older sisters living on the far side of the compound, one of which cooks for us in the weekdays. On the other side there is our host mum, dad and sisters with our annex connected to the kitchen area. The openness of our host home enables all generations to mingle and chat, especially after dinner time where we all sit in the semi outdoor dining space trying to communicate despite the language barrier. We were welcomed and made to feel part of the family by all members as soon as we arrived. Our three-year old sister Lizzie provides much of the entertainment. It is fair to say she is not a morning person, responding to Buenos Dias with Buenas Noches and happy to ignore your Holas and frown at you. However, the first time where she willingly came towards us and gave us a hug was a moment of pure acceptance. A month and a half in, we know she is still not a morning person and we have found she has the same reactions to everyone, including the immediate as well as extended family members. 

Callum & Ben 

Callum & Ben with their host family

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the experience so far has been living and sharing with our host family. Their warmth and kindness has ensured our happiness and well-being since our arrival in the community. We have been welcomed warmly by our Honduran parents, siblings, cousins, also nieces and nephews. It’s a real family affair. They say the way to the heart is through the stomach and this has cemented our family bonds, tucking into delicious home cooked specialities daily. Bonding with the family has meant that we have fully participated in family celebrations such as Mother’s Day and were proudly shown off as ‘los hijos cheles’ by the matriarch of the family Doña Lala, a pillar of the community and loved by everyone.  

Our large family took us in with the warmest hearts making sure that we were happy and comfortable, and double checking the next day. Doña Lala perseveres with teaching me Spanish each day, which is no easy task and requires infinite patience. We cannot express our gratitude enough for their hospitality. Despite complex connections across the world they maintain strong bonds with their entire family and have undoubtedly established a new one with us in the UK.

Written by our ICS teams in San Benito and San Antonio