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Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for Honduras

Felix is all puffed out

Our hurricane experience turned out to be little more than a normal Scottish breeze and a bit of rain - Felix changed course to the south slightly and the depression filled up when it it hit mainland Central America. All we got here was a bit of a wet fart.

Preparations on Utila were interesting to observe - all the houses on the seafront were boarded up, a generator was towed behind a truck up a hill, and there was some premptory mango tree trimming and everyone living on the shoreline moved up the hill.

All but the hardiest of tourists left the island so we enjoyed a peaceful couple of days - we went to the posh man-made beach and enjoyed some solitary snorkelling.

Life is getting back to normal now, and there are still no tourists which is nice.

Hurricane Felix is coming

As you will see from our little map, we are on the small island of Utila in the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Felix, currently a category 5 hurricane, is forecast to come our way early on Wednesday morning. Yesterday it was forecast to hit us dead on but it looks like it will hit the Nicaraguan coast first - this is good for us, but bad for Nicaragua.

We have a great place to stay, owned by Germans, which is high up the hill, and in a sheltered valley, so we´re going to close the shutters and enjoy our books.

More news when the internet is fixed after the storm (might take a while)!

Kayaking

We have been out kayaking a couple of times recently and yesterday we went on a tour to Punta Izopo - a nature reserve to the east of Tela. This was our first time on a double kayak, but I think we managed reasonably well - Chris was at the rear and took charge of steering, which he did impressively well - we didn´t bump into the mangroves at all! We were also one of the fastest (not that I´m competitive at all!). On our tour we saw lots of blue crabs desperately clinging to the mangrove roots - they don´t seem to like the water too much. Apparently it is crab season and the locals can be seen collecting them along the roadsides to make soup from them, or sell them 5 for 100 Lempiras. They´re quite funky looking - will try and get a pic up soon….

We also saw a tiny baby crocodile - cute, and a couple of new herons - a boat billed and some other, the name I forget!

Food or Sea?

Whilst eating our lunch on a Caribbean beach, I noticed Chris had finished and was gazing longingly out to sea having finished his small portion of food (I´m sure most of you know how important food is to him). Much to my amusement I successfully guessed the dilemma he was faced with - if he went for a swim it might seem a bit rude since I was still eating, it also meant (more importantly) that he might miss out on the chance of scavenging some extra food from me. He decided to stay and this decision paid off as he was able to successfully beg some scraps from my plate!

We bothhad a very pleasant post-lunch splash around afterwards!

Tela

Our return to Honduras has brought us to the seaside town of Tela and our first Caribbean beaches, which we duly took to yesterday and in true British tradition managed to get nice and sunburnt, oops! The beach just along from the main town is beautiful - empty, palm-tree lined and the sea is as warm as a bath - all very nice and we spent a good hour splashing around and practising hand stands in the water (which I was particularly bad at).

Today we went to the Jardin Botanico Lancetilla, the second largest tropical gardens in the world apparently. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge to get to as the bus in the guidebook didn´t appear, so we attempted to rent bikes although they weren´t too safe looking (or small enough for me), so we resorted to a taxi. The park was quite nice though it was very hot (still acclimatising to the tropics). We cooled down by swimming in the river and were immediately surrounded by huge numbers of small fish who seemed to find us very interesting, although they wouldn´t let us catch them. I practised not being scared since as Chris pointed out, I will be actively seeking fish once we´re diving - hmm trying not to be too wimpy about such things. One day I shall learn braveness.

Tela also has a local weirdo who comes up to the windows of cafes/restuarants and stares at you. Creepy. We will endeavour to keep you up to date with the weirdos we meet!

Three countries in one day

We left Belize, crossed the Caribbean, passed through Guatemala, and returned to Honduras all in the space of three hours. Quite remarkable.

A sleepy border crossing…

After the immigration office in San Pedro Sula rudely refused to extend our Honduras visa - we would have to go to the capital, Tegucigalpa for such a service - we opted to make a run for Belize and re-enter Honduras three days later, thus gaining a new visa.

We bussed our way along the bumpy coast road to the Guatemalan frontier and arrived in the heat of the midday sun. Where the bus stopped we continued walking - there was no obvious guidance or directional aids, but Guatemala is west of Honduras, so that is the direction we went. Eventually we chanced across what appeared to be the immigration buildings - an elaborate collection of modern, yet completely unused buildings.

We found the immigration officer asleep on a concrete plinth in the shade. Fantastic!

El Paraiso

For our last week with OpWall we treated ourselves to a trip to the coast, staying in a very posh hotel that was taken over by us lot for the week - it was a lovely little place, newly done up, with swimming pool, idyllic Caribbean views and hanging beds in the garden (oh and hot showers and laundry). All was pretty much perfect, with the exception of having to entertain some spoilt, cotton-wool covered public school kids (who happily slated us staff in their reviews, so this is just revenge!). They weren´t even excited when Smammal Sarah caught an Opossum, or when Chris showed them some Hummingbirds and Woodpeckers, hrmph.

So, enough of them. The food was another change at this ´camp´ - it was delicious, although not very timely and in quite small quantities (didn´t bother me, but the others were left feeling unsatisfied). We managed to supplement the meagre portions with mangoes and coconuts that were kind enough to drop from nearby trees. We also made the very exciting discovery of chocobananas - frozen banana halves on a stick, covered in chocolate - delicious, satisfying, vaguely healthy and very cheap (1 Lempira each = 4p!!!). Will definitely have to give these a go on our return home.

Oh, and the other excitement of this ´paradise´was a long distance viewing of some Manatees that lazily surfaced every now and again from a distant shore. Lovely.

Unfortunately we had to return to base camp for a couple of days before finally leaving OpWall and the forest behind, although having said that it was kind of nice to be back for the last few days, even if database duties got a bit hectic towards the end…

We’re off

We had a lovely time at at the seaside. More on that later. 

We leave Cusuco tomorrow morning and are heading straight to the San Pedro Sula immigration office to negociate a visa extention, if that fails we might have to head to Belize for a few days.

The winds here are mildly elevated, and after a cursory look at the NOAA site it seems we are experiencing winds from the Hurricane Dean system which is heading to Mexico and avoiding the coast of Honduras.

 All for now.

From rain to sun

In Cusuco it ordinarily rains in the afternoons and a rainophobic bird person like me can easily avoid getting damp. Not so today.

I spent last night at Guanales and set off this morning for my last day of counting birds. At approximately 0732 I was on top of a ridge 700 metres above the camp, enjoying a Barred Forest Falcon, when it chucked it down. I got soaked, curtailed my counting activities and swung, monkey-like from tree to tree all the way down the hill.

Fe and I are off to the seaside tomorrow. We are going to a hotel on the Caribbean that Opwall run as a field site. There’s very little science to do - we just have to entertain some school kids. I’m looking forward to the pelicans, frigatebirds and sea whilst Fe is getting strangely excited about a rumoured washing machine.

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