Fall at Disney’s California Adventure

Fall at Disney’s California Adventure


Last September, Chris and I visited Disney’s California Adventure for some excitement before beginning our senior year of college.

I know what you’re thinking….this post is long overdue. And I know! But this day was so fun, and I just realized that I should post the photos anyway so document the Disney memories.

As always, we were super excited to be heading to Disney… 🙂

On this September day, we had reservations for character dining at Storytellers in the Grand Californian! I HIGHLY recommend this place! Great food, great service, great character interaction. (We LOVED meeting Kenai from Brother Bear)


Next, we headed to Cars Land…my absolute favorite part of DCA!! The theming is amazing, and if you visit you MUST try Red’s Apple Freeze. It is basically frozen apple juice, and it will rock your world.

Also, can we talk about Cars Land at night??! Breathtaking! Neon lights! Life Could Be a Dream! You absolutely cannot miss Cars Land after sunset.


Chris’s favorite part of DCA by far is Paradise Pier.  The vibes, the sights, the food, the coaster (which I clearly didn’t enjoy….)….he loves everything about it!


The wharf area of DCA is super cool too! We love the Monterey Bay feel of this place.


I finally got to see it’s tough to be a bug in a bug’s land. This show was my dad’s pride and joy! So fun and magical to experience it.




And to close off the night, World of Color. This was our first time seeing this. Chris loved the Wall-E scenes, I cried….it was amazing!

If park hopper tickets weren’t so expensive, we would definitely be coming to DCA way more often. Both parks just have so much to offer, and we were so happy to spend an entire day here and really make sure we saw everything!


What’s your favorite thing about DCA? Let me know! Maybe I will have to plan another trip soon… 😉

Planning Our Walt Disney World Vacation!

Planning Our Walt Disney World Vacation!

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That’s right! Chris and I are in the middle of planning our graduation celebration trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida!

We are so beyond excited for this vacation! It will be the longest trip we have taken together with just the two of us, and we are so giddy about making dining reservations and planning out our days at each park.

We are working with a travel agent for this trip, and so far that has made planning a lot more convenience. Of course we are doing most of the planning ourselves, but he did help us choose a hotel, hook us up with a Be Our Guest reservation, and advise us on various activities. He will also be booking our FastPasses for us when the time comes, so that takes a load off our shoulders.

Something that I have learned throughout this planning process is that Walt Disney World is intense!! It is practically mandatory to plan a vacation to WDW almost a year in advance, as hotels and restaurants book up very, very quickly. But while it is a bit overwhelming, the fun of it all outweighs any stresses.

We will be visiting to WDW this Fall (side note—we got FREE DINING! separate post to come!), and I will be writing about the whole planning process along the way. And you bet there will be posts about the actual trip once we get there!

If any of my readers have tips and tricks for us, please let me know in the comments!



Holidays at Disneyland 2016

Holidays at Disneyland 2016

Disneyland is one of our absolute favorite places to go together, so Chris and I knew we had to visit it at Christmastime. I haven’t been in December since I was nine years old, and Chris has never experienced the Disney holiday season, so this trip felt so special to us. Our day was filled with eating our favorite snacks, getting to the park at rope drop (a first for both of us!!), holiday versions of rides including Small World, “Jingle” Cruise, and the Haunted Mansion, and strolling through the park hand-in-hand, enjoying each others’ company in our favorite little world.

Here are some pictures of one of the best days this season. Can’t you tell we’re in love? Special thanks to Disney for making this trip magical. This was by far one of my top Disney trips Chris and I have ever made.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

In September, after visiting the Tetons, Chris, his parents, and I drove through Idaho and Montana to Yellowstone National Park, where we would be for the next two nights. We stayed at a little hotel just outside of the park in Montana, and each day was filled with adventures, snowy air, and a lot of buffalo.


Driving into the park, we almost immediately saw gazing buffalo near a creek. This was amazing! My aunt visited Yellowstone a couple weeks before I did and she showed me all her pictures, so I was beyond excited with I actually got to see these in person. There were some people who walked awfully close, as you can see in the first picture on the left, but I tried to keep my distance. They scared me, okay!!

It actually snowed while we were there. I know…SNOW. I am a Southern California native, so snow isn’t exactly my best friend (we haven’t had much time to get acquainted, you see, and I have only ever played in it one time, that I can remember). But seeing snow all over the ground was absolutely breathtaking.

These pictures were taken from the car window. Can you believe that?! My little iPhone 5 did that from a moving vehicle! They’re not the best, but I do believe they capture the beauty of it all. I have never seen anything like this in person. This was amazing.

While we were in Yellowstone, we visited the Old Faithful geyser and ate lunch at the visitors center nearby. It was pretty cloudy this day and cold out, so it was kind of hard to fully see the geyser erupt, but nonetheless it was such a cool experience. Even hearing it was awesome!

We also walked around numerous hot spring areas. This was so cool!! It was so neat to smell the sulfur in the air and feel the steam. Chris’s mom and I kept joking about how it was like a trip to the spa. It was around 40 degrees outside each day, but we weren’t even cold when we were standing in the steam of the springs. I truly loved this part of the trip.

We also stopped numerous times along the road to see animals, hot springs, and even rivers!! I love how adventurous Chris’s dad is. He always wants to fully take advantage of every place he visits. It’s as though he doesn’t get tired! I really admire this about him.

And on the final day, we visited the Mammoth Hot Springs. We ate Huckleberry ice cream (IT WAS AMAZING), wore our matching socks, and walked up and around the hot springs together. It sure was breathtaking to be so high up on a mountain and see nature’s beauty. I will never take this trip for granted, and I know I will never forget these moments, being around the hot springs and walking with Chris and his dad.

We love you Yellowstone! Thanks for a great summer getaway and giving us a taste of fall.


Adventure is out there! 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This September, I joined my boyfriend’s family and travelled to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. What an adventure it was! I have never explored national parks before, so this was a real treat. This post is dedicated to my time in Jackson Hole, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

I swear, the air here was just cleaner. As someone who struggles with allergies, I often find more comfort inside than out in nature, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it when I get a chance to do so. As a young girl my family would take vacations to Lake Tahoe a couple summers in a row, and multiple times a year we would go camping in our pop-up tent trailer. But this experience in Wyoming was something entirely different.

We stayed at a hotel that had a lobby straight out of a storybook. I absolutely loved it!

The air was crisp and the sky was so blue. We took a stroll through the town of Jackson Hole and I felt like I was in a movie. There was country music playing everywhere, hunting merchandise, and a ton of huckleberry products. We ended up buying some chocolate covered huckleberries to try and they were pretty tasty!

We spent our second day in Jackson Hole hiking around Jenny Lake. We stopped by the visitor center before the hike and watched an informational video. This is something we did when we visited Taroko National Park in Taiwan, and I always think it is so fun to learn about the history and animals of the park before you explore it.


We even saw some animals on this day! We say pronghorn antelope on the side of the road. Seeing animals like this made me feel like we were on some sort of safari or in an animal park.

It was so chilly that we had to bundle up, but it was so amazing! I love being with Chris in nature — it feels so nice to be with your best friend while adventuring around the world together.

We hiked all the way through the trail in the forest to the hidden falls, but they were hidden quite literally by trees, so I couldn’t snap a good picture. But the experience was so awesome, even though the hike back to the car was tiresome.

On the second day we drove out of Jackson Hole but stopped on the northern edge of Jenny Lake to walk for a bit. This was the first day when we saw snow! I do not often visit the snow, so I thought this was just an awesome experience.

Little did I know that we would see even more snow (and animals!!) once we got to Yellowstone! But I will save that story for another post.

Thanks for reading! Where should I travel next? Chris and I are trying to plan our spring break and/or post-grad vacation, so email or comment some tips or destinations you recommend!


Taroko National Park, Hualien City, Taiwan Dec. 29-30, 2015

Taroko National Park, Hualien City, Taiwan Dec. 29-30, 2015

On Tuesday, December 29, after spending one night at a hotel equipped with natural hot spring water, we took a train further south to Hualien. We travelled via shuttle to the Leader Village Taroko, a cabin-style hotel in the mountains.

Because of the winding road, I was feeling rather carsick during the ride up the mountains, but I completely disregarded it once we stepped out of the shuttle. The mountains surrounding us were absolutely breathtaking and I kept turning around to look at the scenery because I could hardly believe I was in such a beautiful, secluded place. I have visited mountains in California before, but they were nothing like this.






We arrived at around 2:30 and we were not allowed to enter our room until 3, so we spend some time exploring the area around the hotel. The mountains were gorgeous, especially with the fog looming over them in the distance. It was so neat to walk down the narrow, moss-covered staircase from the hotel base to the visitor’s center. Though I was sniffling and coughing because of my allergies, I still really enjoyed the walk. The air felt so clean and fresh and it wasn’t as cold as you’d think it would be. According to the informational video we watched, it is possible for it to snow in these mountains, so we were lucky, I suppose! hehehe
After exploring, we were able to walk to our room. The rooms at the hotel are cabin-style, and many don’t have their own private bathroom, so although we had to have one small room with four people, at least we had our own bathroom.



The beds were four single beds all next to each other, and each bed had wires so it could be heated! This definitely helped at night, because the rooms had no insulation.



After relaxing for a couple hours and eating a buffet style dinner (with wild boar — it was delicious!), we went to see the nightly show, performed by the aboriginals! Leader Village Taroko is run by the members of the Taiwanese aboriginal Taroko (or Truku) tribe. The show was in Chinese, but Chris translated for me as best as he could. The owner of the hotel discussed the tribe’s culture as well as the meaning behind the songs, dances, and instruments that the children and adults performed.




The show was around an hour and a half long but it was so entertaining and I would definitely want to see it again, if given the chance! It was so fun to watch the children dance especially.
The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel before exploring around a bit and then eventually going on hikes all day! It was quite a long day but it was so much fun to see everything! Okay, maybe not that fun because hiking is tiring, but we saw beautiful rivers and even waterfalls, so that made it all worth it. I’m not sure if it was a once in a lifetime experience, but it was definitely an experience that was worth the sore feet. Ha!
Chris being cute!!



There are monkeys native to this area! We didn’t see any even though I wanted to, but now that I think about it, I probably would have been too scared anyway.

We travelled from the hotel to Swallow’s Gorge, a famous hiking area along the river. We had to wear helmets because it is an area where rocks fall often!

So dorky with our helmets on. Mine didn’t fit me right but oh well hahaha


The river was so beautiful! The water was icy blue and it was SOOOO loud! What an awesome sight.



This rock is supposed to look like a man’s profile. Do you see it?



Chris’s parents, Chris, and I wearing our helmets during the hike!
We moved from this 30 minute hike to the longer one, which was around 2-3 hours round trip. Although this next hike took a while, it was not difficult! The mountain we walked on was flat and not uphill at all, just a path around the side of the mountain overlooking the river. It was so fun to walk at a steady pace with Chris, take pictures and look at everything around us. We saw birds and butterflies, and even monkeys! Just kidding. I wish.


These rocks were made of marble! So cool!



We finally made it to our destination: the waterfall curtain. We donned our plastic ponchos and headed inside a super dark tunnel. We had to take our shoes off and roll up our pants to prevent them from getting wet, too!
Chris was super excited to do this! Me…well, you could say I was a bit afraid.



Chris told me to smile for a picture while standing under the waterfall! You can’t really tell by these photos, but the water was pouring on me this entire time, and it was super cold.



At one point, my hood fell off, and the ice cold water ran down my back. Not comfortable, but it was such a once in a lifetime experience that I didn’t care too much.
After this hike, we drove to get some traditional aboriginal food. It was pretty good! Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of it, but here are a few more pictures from the short hike we did following the lunch. At first I didn’t think I would want to come on this last hike, but then I thought that being in Taiwan is so amazing anyway and I should try not to sit out of anything at all!
I’ve said this before, but it’s so fun to have a boyfriend who stops you to take photos of you just because. The best photos I have of this trip are ones that Chris took while I was unbelievably and candidly happy.
There is a similar photo on an Instagram account I follow called iseetaiwan! It was so cool to see this bridge in person, totally randomly.






I was in the middle of talking while this photo was taken so don’t mind my facial expression, but take a look at this fun bridge!!


Aaaaand here come the selfies, of course.




Hiking around Taroko National Park was amazing! I love being in a place where the air feels so clean and I can see the color green everywhere I go. It is honestly so amazing to get to experience things like this, and I hope I can continue to adventure throughout college and beyond. My next post will be a short one about Hualien, where we stayed the next night. Thanks for reading!



Ruifang District, Taiwan Dec. 23-24, 2015

Ruifang District, Taiwan Dec. 23-24, 2015

On our third day in Taiwan, we travelled out of the city and into the mountainside to Jiufen, a former gold and copper mining town overlooking the pacific ocean. I stayed a the most beautiful place imaginable, and here are some photos to share!

We got off the bus and entered the foggy air, overlooking hillside temples and beautiful water. Jiufen is very popular among tourists, partially for its beauty but also because it is the town that inspired the scenery for the Miyazaki movie Spirited Away! This was such an awesome experience because both Chris and I love that movie, so it was so so cool to see it come to life. The environment truly felt magical.







There is a long, winding road lined with shops! It is a sort of marketplace in Jiufen, and it was so so fun and interesting to see all the different vendors selling foods, souveniers, trinkets, and more! I bought a couple things for my family, and we mostly enjoyed just looking around and trying not to lose each other, since it was SO crowded. Soon, we arrived at the doorfront of the Windsor B&B, where we stayed for one magical night. Our view was absolutely spectacular! As we were walking toward the hotel, Chris and I kept stopping to take photos of the scenery, but his dad kept saying wait until we see the hotel, the view is better. And he sure was right!












We could hardly believe this was real! It was honestly the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The fog gave it a very spirited, magical feel, and it was so wonderful to see the pacific ocean from the other side of the world. We spent some time inside before going out to explore a bit more, and then eventually Chris, his dad, and I went out for dinner! Chris’s dad wanted to go to a few different places to eat, which made for a very fun experience to try different things.

We took the back route to a little tea house… you could say I was a bit excited about it! The tunnel was underground and mining-style.


I loved looking at the old typewriters in the tea house 🙂




The menu at the tea house… cool, right?






We didn’t actually ring the bell! Haha

The next day, we woke up without an alarm, although it was bright and early on Christmas Eve! It was lovely to walk outside in the cool, misty air toward where we were going to eat breakfast. The food wasn’t too bad, but it was the view that really won me over. It was spectacular to drink warm milk tea while overlooking the ocean and the fog, and the moments spent there are truly unforgettable. We ate sandwiches and fruit before packing up and walking through the marketplace.

The lights were still on outside during this time, so I couldn’t help myself — had to snap a picture of him!


We suspect that this tea house inspired the bath house in Spirited Away! I want to re-watch the movie again and reminisce. 🙂


View from breakfast


Warm milk tea — classic






These women were making the snack pictured below!


Chris’s dad really likes this snack! Corn starch-like jelly with meat and bamboo inside. The filling was pretty good!


Super excited to try squid ink sausage– it was delicious!!
I wanted to try this snack from the moment I saw it the day before. It is like a waffle with sweet red bean filling. It was just as delicious as I thought it would be!!



After the market, we made our way to the bus stop. We had to wait around half an hour, so Chris and I had some fun taking pictures. I love the view of the ocean with the temple rooftops and just had to capture it.



We planned to go to Houtong, a coal mining town-turned-cat village, on this same day! It ended up being smaller than I thought it would be, and the weather was absolutely so SO hot, but it was so fun to see all of the cats. The residents of the town take care of the cats, leaving out food for them and building little cat houses, and it is a pretty popular tourist destination (at least, according to TripAdvisor!). All of the cats wear colorful collars with bells on them, it was so cute to see!















This cat looks so much like my cat, Cicero, back home!! Except this one has a stubby tail hehehe


These little paw plaques were along the pathway! I thought they were cute 🙂






We took a train to Shifen an hour later, where we set off a flying lantern and hiked to a waterfall park!! The atmosphere was so enjoyable, and even though my feet were aching tremendously, the view of the waterfall and the experience was definitely worth it. It is so interesting traveling with Chris’s dad because of how many activities he always wants to do, but I have never been to so many places in so little time, so I am so grateful to be with him and to be having this experience.
Watermelon juice! Sugary, delicious, and cold — perfect for surviving the heat.


Thank you, Chris, for always making me pose in different places so you can take snapshots. I do like this one!


Painting words on our floating lantern!


The finished product! We chose pink to represent joy — there were many colors and each color represents a different thing!


love this photo. love this place.
Even though it was one of the longest days of this whole trip, we saw so, so much that it was completely and wholeheartedly worth it. We have been spending so much time in Taipei lately, but soon we will be in Hualien, near the coast, and there will be even more natural scenes to see. Can’t wait to take even more photos!!
Thanks for reading, if you’ve stayed this far! Leave me a comment if you enjoyed.
Danshui District, Taiwan Dec. 22, 2015

Danshui District, Taiwan Dec. 22, 2015

On our second day, I woke up very early at approximately 6 am! I was full of energy, which never happens to me in the morning (as Chris and my roommate Lizzy would know, I am typically a zombie before I drink coffee). The first thing I wanted to know was what we were doing today, but Chris, his dad, and I just hung around the hotel room and relaxed until around 8:30, when Chris and I went down for breakfast.

The breakfast buffet at the hotel was delicious! I had enough food to make me comfortably full. I love eating the Chinese fried donuts and the steamed bao. I also had some orange juice and a cup of coffee (with soymilk, my favorite!). After breakfast we went back upstairs to get ready for the day before walking to the Metro.

We took the Metro to Danshui, where we planned to ride bikes near the water. But today it was so warm! It was around 80 degrees and so we just walked around the area, through street markets and near the water.


The streets are narrow and crowded, and the buildings are quite tall, somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco, but in a totally different way. The markets are very small and crowded, and the markets in this area sold mostly meat. There were all types of raw meats and seafood, some cooked, as well as a few stands selling snacks.


I got my first real Taiwanese bubble tea and it was just as delicious as I thought it would be! Chris got a passionfruit and apple tea, which was quite sweet but also very good. I love boba so much but it is so expensive in the states — around 5 dollars a cup — and in Taiwan it’s only $1!!

After buying drinks we all went to eat lunch at a couple places, and we ate soup at each place. First, we had fish ball soup at this tiny restaurant on the street. The soup was a clear broth and the fish balls were white with filling inside. It was so good! Chris lied to me, though, and told me that the filling was pork when it was actually shark. I felt bad afterward for eating the shark, but at least it wasn’t shark fin. After this place we walked down another street across from an area with a statue of Confucius. It was neat! This next restaurant was at least three levels with each level being very small, and it was very hot inside. We had wonton soup, which I thought was very, very tasty but unfortunately I became so full that Chris’s dad had to help me finish. I was grateful that he wanted to, though.





After lunch, we took a walk around the street, rested on a bench, and then went to a boardwalk-like area near the water. The Danshui river is absolutely gorgeous! Chris thinks it’s okay since the water isn’t clear, but from a distance it is breathtaking. There is something so awesome about the juxtaposition of city and jungle, and Danshui is just that. Across the water are trees covering the hills of the land, with skyscrapers gracing the edges. I would have been so comfortable to sit and look at everything for a while, if not for the heat.

We eventually gave up on the bike riding idea since we were all so tired and hot, and we made our way back to the hotel via Metro. We took a two hour nap! It was fantastic!! Then, Chris and I relaxed for another hour or so while his dad left for the city and we eventually left to meet him. But before getting on the Metro again, Chris and I bought snacks at 7/11. 7/11 in Taiwan is much better than in America, and they serve all sorts of delicious snacks for really cheap prices. We bought an onigiri, a triangle-shaped rice ball covered with seaweed and filled with kimchi and pork, as well as a carton of orange-guava juice. IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. I could have eaten ten more. Seriously.

We took the hour long Metro ride to Ximen, where we ate at Chris’s family’s frequently visited restaurant, Mei Wei Xiao Guan 美味小編. The food was delicious, as it always is! We ate with Chris’s dad’s family and it was so fun. After, we visited a night market, but Chris and his family said it was different than the Shilin night market or other ones that are larger. But here, I ate snake soup. It was a little scary at first because I am quite afraid of snakes, so I was making sure I didn’t look at any of the live snakes in the restaurant while we were eating. But the soup was actually not to bad! It was very herb-y and the broth tasted kind of like tea, and the snake was very bony with the flavor of chicken but the texture of fish. Would try again if asked, but probably not voluntarily haha.


After the soup we went to a massage place, where Chris, his dad, and I each got a shoulder and foot massage. It was so nice! Chris and his dad were in pain but I thought it felt so good. I wasn’t able to talk to the masseuse very well, but I did tell her that the snack was not bad but that I did not like to look at snakes, and she laughed and smiled!! (蛇 不錯, 我不看蛇。)

We walked around for a bit, went into a temple (see picture below) and then headed back to the hotel. I am so so tired as I write this so I will sleep now. If you have stuck with me this far, thanks so much for reading! I think I will post about each location where we are staying, so come back in one or two days to read another.



Excerpt from My Honduras Book

Excerpt from My Honduras Book

Hi everyone! This post is going to be a little different than the rest, as it is a first-hand account of my volunteer trip to Honduras in June 2014. I wrote approximately 5,000 words of a book about my experience during the summer in the months after my trip, but I never got around to finishing it. But here is a section of one of the chapters from the book, including a few photos that my friends and I took while we were there. I am not sure if I will continue to upload more sections of the book, but I figured I would give it a shot. Hope you enjoy! 

. . .

We entered the village of Fray Lazaro at around 8:30 am. After turning from the pavement onto a dirt road, we seemed to be driving slightly downhill. The terrain was not smooth and our van rocked back and forth constantly, which only added to the Survivor-esque mood. We passed structures of all kinds: small churches, small farms, small houses. Every so often, I caught a glimpse of the skinniest animals I had ever seen: cows, dogs, and goats with their ribs terribly exposed. As we drove deeper and deeper into the village, trees and structures surrounding us on either side, we began approaching the community of La Rinconada, and we were followed by a cow and her calf, both abnormally skinny. It seemed as though the calf wanted so badly to follow our van; either that, or she was terribly confused, as she soon turned around, disoriented, and found her mother.

We parked in the middle of the dirt road, and each of us eagerly and nervously entered the humid southern air. We crowded behind Armando, Lester and Joel beside him, two Honduran ejercito soldiers behind us (they were assigned to each brigade). I looked around at my surroundings: to my left, a well-structured house, run down but in stable condition. Ahead and to my right, however, stood two homes, each built from the ground up entirely of sticks. Growing up, I had conceived this notion of poverty in my head; that was nothing compared to this. I had never seen poverty, not even on TV, until visiting La Rinconada. After a few brief introductions that I honestly paid little attention to (due to even more shock), we made our way, single file, down the pathway in the direction of the community’s main water source. As we walked through the grass, past the casitas, we looked to our left and saw nothing but green in the distance, hills and valleys adorned with grass and trees, and to our right were green hills as well, only closer. Male community members had already gotten a head start on the digging process, creating a distinct pathway, 3 inches deep, for us to use as a guide when digging in the coming days. We were surprised at this, as we thought that we were to begin the project ourselves. But like we were told before, Global Brigades is not a charity, but rather a holistic model used to empower communities to improve their status of living. We work alongside community members; we do not give them clean water, we help them access water in a more efficient, hygienic, and sustainable way.

Past the hill and into the shaded, rainforest-like area, we arrived at the water source: a cement well. While the well provides the community with fresh groundwater, women typically carry five gallon buckets atop their heads all the way back to their houses, where it is stored uncovered and exposed to mosquitos and other disease-carrying insects. Children often go to sleep without bathing, and get ready to go to school, still dirty from the previous day. Mothers make at least five trips per day to fetch water from the well, time that could be spent at work or with their children and families.

The well, the original water source. 

At the well, the women in the community introduced themselves and greeted us, and Lester and Armando translated. After they explained what the current situation was like, Joel gave us an idea of what the new water source would be. He designed a gas-powered pump to propel the water out of the new well and into a filtration system, where it would then be transported through underground pipes to the faucets outside each house. Soon, we were allowed to try getting water from the well using a bucket attached to a rope. I tried this, curiously, and I was astonished at just how difficult it was! It takes patience and the right technique, and these women were able to do it so fast! I giggled and tried my best to say that I couldn’t do it, but they insisted on teaching me how. I was amazed at how kind these women were and how willing they were to help a stranger perform an act that they do so naturally.

We walked back to the residential area, and we divided into two groups, each group to visit three houses in the community. I was in Armando’s group with about 10 others. Little did I know that the first house we approached was the home of a little boy who would grow to be a dear young friend of mine. Oscar and his mother live in a one room shack made of sticks nailed together. Oscar has lived in this house his entire life, and his mother built it herself. Inside the house was one small bed surrounded by a holey pink canopy to act as a mosquito net. On one of the “beams” hung Oscar’s kindergarten diploma, and a few toys were neatly placed on the bed. Even though it was humble and quaint, it was a home; we were welcomed inside the eight-by-eight foot structure by a smiling mother and her son, who did not smile much for us. Oscar was almost seven years old, and though he was a very shy boy, he seemed curious. He had been standing atop the well when we were examining it, and he followed our group, even when his mother was not around.

We were able to ask Oscar’s mother a few questions about her house, what she enjoyed doing in her spare time, and what she typically eats. Even though I enjoyed getting to know her, this didn’t feel like the right way to do it. It felt very forced and unnatural, like we were interrogating a woman before we helped her on this endeavor. It wasn’t until we asked her where she lived before this house when I realized the true gravity of this situation. Oscar’s mother pointed to a home twenty feet away, also made entirely of sticks. The difference, besides the size, was that this house had large hornet’s nests embedded in the roof.

A photo of Oscar’s house in La Rinconada, Choluteca, Honduras

Oscar’s grandmother welcomed us into her home, a structure about three times the size of the house we had just seen. It had a bedroom area, and another area with a couple of hammocks hung from the ceiling that could have been considered a living room. Towards the rear of the house was the kitchen, and the back wall was covered in soot, due to the lack of ventilation. Lester explained to us that the smoke from the kitchen causes Oscar’s grandmother, as well as other Honduran families, to have respiratory problems. This is in addition to the multitude of waterborne illnesses to which they are exposed due to inadequate water storage.

After touring the homes, the 23 members of our student team gathered some chairs in a circle and introduced ourselves, in Spanish, to the community members. A few of the women repeated our names after we said them, making sure to pronounce them correctly. Soon, they, too, introduced themselves to us. To this day, I am sorry that I did not make more of an effort to learn the names of the community members, for now I am at a loss and cannot have them here. The people of La Rinconada had much more of an impact on my life than I had expected, and I should know their names, at least. I feel as though I owe them that much more respect, after they so graciously welcomed us into their homes.

Oscar and I when I had to say goodbye. 

We left La Rinconada on that first day feeling eager to begin working on the water project. I felt intimidated by the amount of work that lay ahead, but I felt more compelled to help these people than to simply back away. I became a part of something that would change the lives of several human beings.