A Travellerspoint blog

honduras to nicaragua

i know i know, it's been a while. this might be long...

hey friends. this chunk might be a little more functional in its aim, cause i've got a lot of ground to cover -- more than three weeks of adventures to relate! i'll get to it. (oh by the way, i'm now in leon, nicaragua.)

SO, left panajachel on the 5am bus to guatemala city. interesting, everyone who got on that bus, that early, took a moment to stand in front of all who were already on board and wish them "buenos dias" (to which all responded in mute chorus). got to the city, and luckily the only thing that hastled me was an overpriced taxi ride. continued on, unscathed...! from guatemala city, took a series of buses through the eastern countryside, soon left the paved road, soaring up and down over the hills, dust coating the arid landscape, some of the most apparent squalor that i've seen flitting by like on a discovery channel program. these people seem to subside solely on whatever they could grow from this unforgiving earth. dog-tired, and dirty, arrived in chiquimula, near the border of honduras. took a shower, and laid down on my bed at 5:30, just to rest before going to find some dinner. i regained consciousness, still on my back, spreadeagle, 14 hours later. got up, breakfast, bought some 2 dollar aviators and a bottle of water, back on the bus. cross the honduran border, and arrive in copan ruinas. check into los gemelos hotel (not then aware how well i'd come to know that place), and wandered around the city in the late afternoon. copan ruinas is a beautiful town in the hot forested west, the comparative wealth of the city evidenced by swanky hotels, clean streets, a beautiful plaza... even an alcoholics anonymous chapter! it's fueled by tourism funneling to Copan, one of the significant remaining Mayan cities. Copan rivaled Tikal, and though not as dramatically tall, is renowned for its incredible sculptures. The walk around the ruins and the museum the next day was eye-opening (into which poured the liters of stinging sweat this hot land was forcing out of my forehead). macaws squaked from the trees as triple headed mayan gods, 10 feet high and their arms entwined with plumed serpents, peered out from arched doorways. i chugged two liters of water, went back to my hotel to rest, and didn't really leave the room for the next eight days. that evening, and throughout the whole night, i was deluged with sweat, then rapt with cold, squirming on my mattress and staring at the ceiling. by the third day, in which period i had only eaten one fruit shake, my fever attracted the attention of the hotel owner. she was a charming old grandma, maternalistic to the bone, and took me under her wing. in between my hurried trips to the loo, quick runs for another gallon of water, and the endless uncomfortable hours rolling around my bed, she brought me vegetable dishes, remedial teas, refrescos, and changed the sheets whenever i wadled out the door. that sickness was miserable. i was so homesick, so isolated and bewildered. i tried two doctors five times, was given injections, skeptically downed six different drugs, then finally my worried parents called the hotel directly from the states. those first conversations were a liferaft; just hearing those familiar voices put me on the road to recovery!

finally, after a few books, many pills, gallons of water and a cartload of patience, i took off on the 7am bus to san pedro sula. got into the city, transfered to the tela bus. got off in tela and began looking for a cheap hotel. a bus meandered past, its ayudante enthusiastically enticing "la ceiba, la ceiba ceiba". on a whim, i hopped on. after eight sedentary days, i was anxious to get some ground covered. landed in la ceiba, on the northern honduran coast. went for a swim in the chocolate-milk ocean, took an evening walk. still battling the loneliness set in with my fever, i had a quiet dinner and a beer, thinking too much about myself. the next morning, headed out to the ferry station and took a boat ride to utila, the backpacker, hang-loose hangout of the three famed bay islands. if you start feeling down while traveling, the easiest thing to do is just change the scenery! got to the island, had some lunch and then went for a saunter up and down the single roadway to peruse the 12 odd dive shops that vied for travellers. stayed the night on the island proper, then hopped on board captain morgans dive center's dive boat for a transfer over to their hotel on jewel caye, a spit of land some 15m wide and 250m long. the diving for the next three days was surreal. morning dives into the beautiful blue of the caribbean, the visibility almost 100ft, turtles, rays, eels, fish darting about everywhere over the reef. every color was on parade, me blissfully floating along in the middle of it all. wrapping myself around, dodging through the pillows of champagne bubbles of the other diver's exhalations, catching the light and shivering like happy little diamonds in the endless cyan, on their quivering ascent to the surface. coming back to the hotel on that post-dive high, watch movies most of the afternoon. i admit that i saw all three lord of the rings in a three days span. meals on the island... breakfast at one woman's house, lunch at another, then barbeque dinner at the big family's house over the bridge on pigeon caye. the locals were fascinating as well, and honestly gave me my largest culture shock yet on this trip (including the highland indigenous mayans). they're diverse -- garifuna blacks, honduran latinos, descendents of white expats. and they all do... nothing. all day long. just sit, chat, maybe make a sandwich, watch other people walk around, nothing. it was bliss for three days, i might survive a week, but no way i could live my life like that. i guess i've just been cultured differently! had some great moments of self-reflection out on the caye, met some fun people, swam and kayaked all around, and to the other tiny cayes. you could almost imagine some pirate landing ashore to bury his recently looted treasure. there's at least one guy on utila who thinks robinson crusoe's tale was based on this island.

finally took the ferry back to la ceiba, at 6am the morning of may 15. did some emailing in the city, called home (best birthday present ever!), and soon got myself out into the jungle of pico bonito national park, a wilderness just outside the city. i had learned of a great place to be -- the jungle river lodge, right on the shore of the rio cangrejal. it turned out to be a paradise, a raw-wood rustic place, lit by candles at night, and squatting atop the huge white-granite boulders through which snaked the river. i opted for a rafting tour that afternoon (present to myself!), which was almost indescribably fun. we spent the first hour exploring the river, climbing up and around and jumping off of boulders. at one point, jumped off a 5m boulder INTO a waterfall, drifted downriver, climbed out of the current, and scaled right up the cliff wall (overhang at one point) to 10m, where we jumped off and floated down to the raft. great fun, the rafting was a blast, got back to the hotel just grinning. had a great dinner, met some great people from baton rouge actually on their honeymoon (and willing to share their time with the few other travellers at the lodge!). the next morning, went for a walk with them through the jungle, after swimming across the river. beautiful jungle, a couple snakes, and finished at a waterfall, which even in the dry season fell an impressive 200m. wow!

after leaving the lodge, parted with my new friends and took off for trujillo, farther east on the coast, and the jump off point for the la moskitia wilderness. this huge bit of land, a UNESCO heritage site, comprises the largest jungle north of the amazon, and is rich both ecologically and anthropologically. i wanted to try the difficult traveling -- by pickup, boat, wooden canoe, and rickety plane. in the end, it proved to be prohibitively difficult for the solo traveler, and expensive!

left trujillo, bussed six hours dirt road south to juticalpa. on the way, two gringos surprised me by climbing on board. they sat down and we had a great talk. both women were recent graduates and were working as teachers at a school in juticalpa (my destination that day). after our chat, they invited me to a party that evening. we arrived, i checked in to a hotel, and called them up, happy to have a local contact and not just read in my little hotel room till an early bedtime. went to their apartment at the school, chatted, had a great time. went to a few discos, wandered the city, and ended up at the huge white cross overlooking the town as the sun brightened the horizon. they walked me back to my hotel, i grabbed my bags (which were never unpacked), and strutted off for the bus station.

14 hours, after no sleep. that's how long it took me to get out of honduras, through nicaragua, and into leon. i don't really want to talk about it, it was difficult, dirty, hungry, exhausting. so, landed at bigfoot hostel in leon. great new place with a good vibe and tons of young gringo backpackers schmoozing around. i've spent the last few days talking with travellers, enjoying some good, cheap food, and exploring leon, a fantastic colonial city. there still remains so many vestiges of the revolution here -- dramatic political murals, lots of art, bullet holes in bell towers. interesting history, friendly people (someone's ALWAYS coming up to me here, usually looking for some handouts), humongous cathedral.

did a tour yesterday with the hostel -- volcano boarding down cerro negro, a young and active volcano (you really have to check out the pictures i just posted). the pickup'bed ride out was gorgeous, lush green fields, and all the locals greeted us so enthusiastically, really unlike any place i've yet been. kids would come running out of the houses to say hi and wave (one girl bizarrely just stood her ground and screamed as we passed). pigs were grunting around everywhere, dogs, chickens, horses (passed by one lone horse hobbling on a broken leg, and a pig dragging its paralyzed hind legs through the dirt). different life, for sure. get to the mountain, it looks big! this thing just sprouted from a farmer's corn field 157 years ago. climb up, great views and expansive ridgeline, leading down into multicolored and mineral-laden caldera. sprint down a scree slope into the crater through sulphurous gas and superheated mud, sprint back up to the rim, overlooking all of nicaragua. great fun as were gasping for air. we then donned orange safety suits, our chem-class goggles and our singular work glove granted us and sat down on our plywood boards. looking down 400m of black volcanic sand, at a 40% pitch was a dizzying site, and quite scary, way more so than any snowboard hill i've seen. i was with the canadians then, so we just had to "give her". pushed off and were soon rocketing at 45kph down the slope, a dust plume straying behind us. one guy bailed at top speed. ran out at the bottom, laughing and rolling in the dirt. as we climbed into the back of the pickup the rain started. within minutes of getting into the truck bed, the skies peeked open, and all of the rainy season slid out. it quickly turned into a deluge so encompassing that you couldn't open your eyes (we wore the goggles), and people could hear the huge drops slapping my back. the dirt roads aka rivers were almost too much for our 4x4, the pigs running out from the houses we past having a field day in the mud. descended on the hostel (instant celebrities for being soaked to the bone), and were greeted by warm sheets and a free beer. good fun!

i'm tired of writing, as you are of reading. quick points to go: 1) you may have heard it. i have booked my flight home. yes, the end of an era. flying into san francisco june 8th. it feels weird, i can tell you, to now be counting my days left. but i've realized that at this point in my travels, i'm almost seeking novelties (have seen lava, haven't flown in a tiny cessna to the middle of nowhere, have been diving, have ridden a horse), rather than simply enjoying a sense of place. these last few weeks will be lived to the fullest by all means, but getting a little worn out of the same cheap hostels and comedores. looking forward to being back in cali! 2) posted a lot of new pictures on the photo gallery, so check them out! 3) i better see you all soon! 4) from here: granada, masaya, lago de apoyo, then isla ometepe on lago nicaragua, and to spend my last week in central america surfing in san jual del sur.

love to all! tyler

Posted by tyrobinson 11:52

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.