MAKING A DOCUMENTARY: HONDURAS
I've never traveled outside of the U.S. before. That's not to say I haven't been outside the U.S. If you count a middle school trip I took to Montreal, Canada (not going to lie, it was for Space Camp……it was great). The first time I filmed a documentary was a short, and it was on my terms, because it was about a good friend of mine and her life as a tap dancer.
Honduras was different and I knew it was going to be different from the moment I signed onto it. (My friend Saira Alejandra Membreno is originally from Honduras, so for her senior thesis she wanted to go back to make a documentary about the Garifuna’s there). First off I was going as sound, which is a small passion of mine. Secondly I was going to a country that's native language was Spanish, and my Spanish vocabulary consists of "Hola, como estas, muy bien, gracias". (I took sign language in high school). Either way I was excited, and I was even more excited to be getting a stamp on my passport (because I'm a child).
So, I was on my way. We arrived at Miami International Airport, which is absolutely packed with people buying stuff like flat screens (because it's cheaper in the U.S.) and bringing them back home. So, note to self, get there early. After a two-hour flight, we land in San Pedro Sula, which is the most dangerous city in Honduras. Saria’s family was going to meet us there to pick us up and take us to Tela which was another two hours away. There is only one main road that gets you from San Pedro Sula to Tela, and there was construction.
After an hour, we were picked up and began the drive to Tela. We drove through the city and stopped to pick up some food to go, as we waited in the car for the food to be prepared a boy walked up to the car and started talking to Angelito. The boy looked to be about 12. He had no shoes on and had a desperate look on his face. As Angelito handed the kid some money Saira leaned over and said "he's homeless, and he's asking for food". I looked back up at the boy who was now standing on the corner ahead of us. He was chewing nervously on the side of his shirt. Behind him the restaurant had a play scape, and two boys who looked about the same age as the homeless child were playing inside. I couldn't help but think about the contrasting lives, here was a boy who was begging for food because he doesn't know when his next meal will be, and behind him were boys who only had to worry about being kids.
At some point, I must have fallen asleep, but I woke up to us driving down following a small black car down this beaten-up road in a village. While I was asleep we had met up with the owner of the house we were staying in at the gas station which was located right at the entrance to Tela. There were probably one or two occasional lights but for the most part it was pitch black. But it wasn't entirely dead outside. As we drove through the village we past small groups of people sitting around talking, playing a card game, and just walking around. And for whatever reason I just smiled, I was genuinely happy, and excited for the opportunity that I was so fortunately given to be able to come to Honduras and document the people living here, to be able to help tell their stories and culture with others. (I also had like a moment where I was saying to myself "I'm actually here, I can't believe that I'm actually here". It was also a realization because I always knew that I wanted to travel and make documentaries but in that moment, being there is when I knew for sure that this is what I wanted to do for sure).
I spent this weekend becoming diving certified at Ginnie Springs in Florida. Yep, that’s right I’m officially diving certified, so watch out, because if you thought I was obsessed with diving, the ocean, surfing, and all things water related, then you haven’t seen anything yet, because I can now spend more time underwater which means a whole lot of photos and videos are coming your way.
This was probably the most fun I have had in a while, and I’m talking about that feel-good kind of fun that you’ll never forget. I spent Thursday afternoon doing two dives with an amazing instructor Allen, who despite me initially not being able to sink (I was an idiot and didn’t weight myself ahead of time with my wetsuit) was able to toss some extra weight in my BC so I could finally sink. That night we had a fire going, grilled, played volleyball, beersbee, corn hole, and drank (don’t worry mom your 20-year-old did not consume any alcohol). There were a couple of wild moments but we all got our asses up at 7 am on Friday to complete our final two dives, and luckily Allen had gotten us through most of the skills so we only had one more left to complete. We headed over to Devil’s Ear (one of many cavern’s in Ginnie Springs – we also dove in Devil’s Eye) where we spent 45min because we were letting the cave divers descend into the cavern but we then made our way down where we sat on a log there and completed our last skill. After that we drift dived to the main spring to have some fun and explore (I highly suggest if you ever have a chance, you should go check Ginnie Springs out, it’s amazing).
Now that I am a certified diver we could go on a night dive/galaxy dive. The galaxy dive was incredibly breath taking, it was like being amongst the stars and watching as they floated towards you and coat you in a million different shining lights (a galaxy dive is when you cut Chem Lights open and allow the chemical mixture to float out – it’s totally safe). We then drift dived down the spring which was pretty cool, but I mostly floated the rest of the way after I ran into a snake (I looked to the side for a second and the next thing I know is “WHACK” a snake hits me right in the mask) so that was enough excitement for me. We got picked up in the truck and road back to camp and I must say I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It was just so surreal, and exciting, knowing that I am finally certified and to be quite honest I felt at home.
To wrap up the weekend I went for a morning dive at the main spring with a couple of the diving assistants. We checked out the large cavern located there and dove to about 50ft, as soon as we got in there and then lit up the place with lights it was incredible. You could swim to the ceiling and watch as the bubble from the diver’s regulators congregated there, creating a shimmery wave as new bubbles joined. There were a couple twist and turns to explore, and then of course you had to check out the grate at the bottom (the grate was there to close of the rest of the cavern because it was too dangerous). There was also a grave stone down there but I didn’t get to see it, but it was for a previous diver who had gotten stuck and couldn’t make it out.
I have to say that I am so stoked to be certified and I can’t wait for the many other adventures that I have ahead of me.