Wednesday 10th October 2007 by C. Freeman
Former Brooke Weston student, Douglas Jenkins was so cut off from the outside world that he didn't know Gordon Brown had become Prime Minister until he returned to the UK! It was just one of a series of changes that Douglas had to get used to, after a year's work experience in Honduras.
He had spent his time teaching English to school children after signing up for Project Trust, an organisation that sends gap year students to countries across the globe with 25 destinations on three continents.
Douglas quickly adapted to an unvarying diet of rice, kidney beans and chicken or fish during his time at Roatan on Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras. There was no mains water; it had to be collected in outside tanks and then gravity fed into the house to provide cold showers a couple of times a week. Home comforts were equally scarce with Douglas having just a small radio to keep him in touch with world events.
He worked from Monday to Thursday teaching students at a local school. He said: 'My boss, the staff and students all spoke Spanish. I did Spanish at A-level but when you got there you realise how little you know!' Douglas worked from Mondays to Thursdays so he had time to explore the local area, and even visited Mexico and Guatemala during the school holidays in December and January.
He said: 'Guatemala is my favourite place. There's some beautiful things there like volcanoes and underground water caves. I went swimming underground; that was awesome. At one point I had to swim, but with one hand held up keeping the candle alight because it was pitch black!'
The locals, called the Gurifinas, came across from Africa during the slave trade. They made Douglas and his Project Trust partner very welcome, paying for their food, accommodation and electricity bills. They even held a leaving party, presenting Douglas with t-shirts and necklaces. Douglas said: 'I didn't realise how much I'd miss the kids. They were very poor compared with what we have. Most of their money comes from their fathers fishing, or working on cruise ships.'