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Seasquirt

The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for August 29, 2007

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.

Belizean bletherings

We went to Punta Gorda, the southernmost ´town´in Belize to spend our requisite three days renewing our visas. On arrival we were slightly put out to find most of the town´s accomodation had been taken over by a group which turned out to be a meeting of all the village leaders from the whole country (”And there´s a lot of villages” as I was told by the the fifth hotel we tried!). This meeting even made the national radio news, as did the results of Punta Gorda´s beauty Pageant which also went on over the weekend we were there - it´s a happening place it would seem, except on a Sunday, when we had to risk eating lunch at a street vendor due to a distinct lack of choice. It turned out to be very nice food, and no d&v resulted, phew! ANyway, we finally found some very nice accomodation, complete with hot water (which came out of the cold tap and turned out to be surplus to requirements as it was so hot outside!)

On our first morning we decided to get up super early (5am) and go kayaking up a nearby river. Unfortunately our early start was slightly curtailed by a lack of keys to get to the kayaks, but a man soon turned up to sort us out and then we were on our way, paddling slowly up river (in only a vaguely straight line). Some of the course got very narrow as we were obstructed by fallen logs and some rocks, but it was all good fun. We saw lots of crabs scuttling up mangrove roots, four different types of heron, and the highlight - a couple of otters - one of which kept sticking its head out of the water and ´shouting´at us - it then went to get its bigger buddy and they both ran along the bank alongside me - I was actually slightly perturbed in case they came and started eating my kayak, unlikely I know, but it was a bit creepy in those parts! We also saw an iguana-like lizard which was very cool too!

After such an active morning we were relaxing on our balcony for the afternoon when we spotted a couple of our OpWall pals - Julie and Bex - who were also doing the visa run. We spent the next day with them and visited some Mayan ruins (one of only two main sites in Belize). It was a much quieter place than our previous experience of Copan - in fact we were the only people there. Oh and I´d like to mention Julie as the one person who seems to take delight in my accent, and, I quote “wants to speak like me”! She is Swiss, so not sure if that explains it at all?!

After an afternoon swim in the dubious sea (there was lots of floating scum), and a pleasant evening introducing Julie and Bex to the local weirdo (there seems to be one in every town recently - this one made a loud yell every 5 minutes and danced as cars went past), we said our sad goodbyes to them and set off for the ferry the next morning.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we had a nice break from struggling with our rubbish Spanish as thankfully the Belizean national language is English, lovely!

A busman´s holiday

We arrived at Puerto Barrios in Guatemala just too late for the boat to Belize, so took the boat to the charming town of Livingston in Guatemala instead - a town that can only be accessed by sea or river - just my kind of place!

We found fine accomodation on the cliff top overlooking the Caribbean and splashed out on a room with a balcony to enjoy the pelicans, frigatebirds and were pleasantly surprised by an evening roost of several hundred Aztec Parakeets.

We went on a small boat cruise up the Rio Dulce. It is a beautiful steep sided wooded gorge. The boatman was competent, his patter even seemed quite good, but it was hard to tell as my Spanish is still very poor. We travelled close under the cliffs, up little creeks and even stopped for a swim in some thermal pools (just like Deception Island, but properly hot!). All in all, a fine day. 

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…