Helga Sierra
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Journal: Stories on Creativity & Adventure

Learn about the artist's process, photo stories, traveling & more. 

Explore: 3 days in the South of Honduras

6 minute read, 30 second scroll if you only care about pictures.

49 mi. seems close enough to the capital. Unfortunately, it's not a drive I'm recommended to do on my own.  While I drove form Dallas to Nashville and back by myself more than once (12 hour drive), driving in Honduras as a woman, on my own is not recommended. 

I jumped at this opportunity when it presented itself.   I need to explore.

 

Semana Santa in the Hot South of honduras

Since being back in Tegucigalpa, I’ve been sucked into the hustle and bustle of the 5 o’clock traffic and all the different projects I’ve been working on.   The reality is that travel (sometimes within my own city), allows me to slow down and observe: life. The majority of these observations end up being part of my paintings.  When I slow down and observe its almost like my mind memorizes what I see, smell, hear, and feel.

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Just breathe (camara tip)

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Pro-tip: Lately, I’ve realized the slower I breathe when taking photos, (meaning, the bigger breaths I take when taking pictures), the better my pictures are in the long run.  Slowing down my breathing allows me to focus on what is in front of me. I allows me to noticing a subject in a new way and then create something different.  It’s been a while since I’ve challenged myself within photography, as I’ve focused on other things as of late, so it was fun to get back to basics.

Last week was Semana Santa in Central America.  Semana Santa is the longest vacation week in the work calendar, and is considered summer. Most people go out of town or go swimming as it is blazing hot. This week (Easter week) celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

Fun fact: In 2014, it was reported that the division of religions in Honduras was: 47% catholic, 41% evangelical, 12% other. (El Heraldo, 2014)

SAN MARCOS, CHOLUTECA

I was invited to a quinceañera in San Marcos de Choluteca, as my friends’s daughter was turning 15.  I couldn’t say no, but I also couldn’t go on the road by myself.    While I in San Marcos, I also designated some time to give an art workshop, as part of the non-profit I’ve been working on for the last  3 years.  

LUNNA, empowers kids from at-risk neighborhoods through art.  We’re working on a logo, website, funding and getting non-profit status.  I’ve also talked to program partners and one of them is in San Marcos de Colon, Mission Lazarus.

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The drive: a stop in San Lorenzo

Before arriving to Mission Lazarus (the organization where the workshop would take place) my friend Evelin and I stopped at San Lorenzo.  Located in the department of Valle (department: how we delimitate land in Honduras, similar to a State), San Lorenzo is known for its cheap seafood, we had to stop and eat a plate of shrimp.  We picked out a spot at the end of the road by the historic central dock.  Lined up with several restaurants by the water, we chose one that seemed less crowded: The New Porlamar We ended up ordering the same thing: Camarones al Ajillo (garlic shrimp).  The breeze entered the top deck of the restaurant as we enjoyed views of the water and shoreline.  

 
 

Yes, right before arriving we listened to Bob Marley (Evelin's request), the beach vibes were fully there.

My friend Evelin is quite the foodie, enjoys traveling, and serving her community.  We grew up together and both lived outside of Honduras during our college years, so this was a great way to escape the city together, catch up and reminisce on old times. 

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 Photo courtesy of Evelin Vermont. 

Photo courtesy of Evelin Vermont. 

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Monday: Art workshops & a restaurant

After spending lunch at San Lorenzo and the night at my friend's quinceañera (which I didn't take pictures of), we were preparing for the workshop at Mission Lazarus. 

Mission Lazarus is a holistic ministry based San Marcos, Choluteca. One of their ministries is a refuge with about 40 children who are in a state of orphanhood.  The workshop was to prepare the caretakers from the refuge on how we run art workshops, why creativity is important, what God says about creativity (if you didn’t know this already, yes I am a Christian…), how we work as a team to allow children to discover their creativity.

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The women who were a part of this workshop had never had an art class. Since they will be helping in future workshops it was crucial to train them before training the children.  Not only were we doing practical activities, mostly we wanted to discuss and show them that creativity transcends art.  Creativity is a skill, a way of viewing the world that affects most disciplines in life.     After the workshop, they realized that art can be quite complex, but at the end of the day expressing yourself freely can be a distressing and fun activity.

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What started as a “classroom” setting, that turned into a practical art exercise where these older women were told that they should pretend they were 4 or 5 years old again and use their imagination.  It wasn’t easy, but they were all smiling, giggling and had a blast at the end. 

Find out more about LUNNA by signing up at www.lunna.org

 

Exploring moutains

 
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Prior to the workshop, I had some work to finish and last minute details for the workshop.  My laptop lost power so Evelin and I headed towards a little cliff to do some exploration.  (I had been in Mission Lazarus in 2012, for a period of 2 weeks as part of a Social Enterprise program with ACU, my university, so it had been quite some time since I’d been at the ranch.). 

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Food in San marcos

After the workshop we decided to head to the town in search for food.  I ended up having a plate of yucas, 2 gringas (which is similar to a quesadilla in Mexico or the US) and Evelin and I shared an anafre (plate of refried beans heated by charcoal in a traditional vase/pot and tortilla chips).  I spent $9.75 on this meal.  Stop by Braseros if you ever make it to this town. 

 

THE OCEAN: Playa el eden

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San Marcos is about 1.5 hours away from the ocean.  Located near the Golfo de Fonseca, (known for its deep waters and our second largest port). Evelin and I decided to make a detour before returning to the capital.  I finished up some work early that morning and Evelin went for a hike at the Posada San Lazaro,  a rustic mountain getaway part of the Mission Lazarus social enterprises.  There are more beaches on islands off the coasts which you can take a boat to, but we were short on time. 

Based on the recommendations of locals, we arrived.  We parked, and looked for a champa (hut) were the restaurants are to order lunch. 

We had arrived at EDEN. 

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There were no waves this day, it was in fact Playa el Eden.  I’m much fonder of the Atlantic Ocean, our beaches in the Pacific are known to have strong currents and big waves, however on this Tuesday the water was calm. 

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The restaurants are built on stilts and these shacks seem very sketchy, so why would we eat here.  Its part of knowing and experiencing the culture.  If I ate insects in China, why wouldn't I eat shrimp and fish cooked in a shack by the ocean. 

We ordered and as we waited for our food, we took turns taking a dip in the water (somebody had to stay and look out for our things…).  The hammock was perfect spot to put my headphones in and enjoy the view. 

The food arrived. The weather was nice, the water was cool, the food was good.  

This 2 hour stop was worth it. 

 

One last stop: Fish Market in San Lorenzo

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I told my dad we had shrimp the first day, he kept sneakily asking if I could get some on the way home, so we had to stop.   The Mercado at San Lorenzo is like most food markets.  We turned left and their it was: the fish market.  We arrived at 3:30pm, which is late in the seafood industry.  We missed the fresh catch of the day, but I was on a mission.… 3lbs of frozen shrimp later (+ Evelin’s 2lbs of shrimp and 3lbs of fish) and we were headed back.  Before leaving the market I heard some little girls playing as we exited, and I had to take their picture.  They were some of the cutest little girls, enjoying a warm afternoon.  They had the Honduran smile, one that I can usually spot anywhere in the world. 

 

 

to living life fully

Cheers to a successful weekend full of views, deep conversations, laughs, exploring, sharing with others, seeing others grow, ohh and shrimp.  I'll be spending more time in San Marcos as we continue to work with the refuge at Mission Lazarus, if you're interested in volunteering/donating to that cause send me an email at helga.s@hsierradesigns.com. 

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