Archive for the ‘Honduras’ Category

First stop in Honduras was the famous Utila! I remember this place very well from my first trip as my first open water dive instructor did his instructor course here (and he almost let me drawn). Also, Richard’s instructor Diego spoke very highly about UDC (Utila Dive Centre) so once the ferry docked I went straight to UDC. If you happen to be on this island and have no idea where to dive or stay don’t despair, there are plenty of people waiting by the dock selling their dive shop/hostel.

So at UDC I met Sarah (English lady, super nice), who gave me a brief intro about the dive shop and facilities. I was mainly interested in doing my Rescue Course here and she explained the structure. There were already 2 fellow divers just starting the course, Alex and Lisa, so I joined in the next day. In medias res! I like it! I got free accommodation during the course in the Mango Inn, official hostel of UDC which I very much liked..who wouldn’t like this?

Mango Inn

Just a bit more about Sarah..and there is a reason why I dedicate a separate paragraph to her. I think we were meant to meet as she fulfilled a big dream of mine..She and her husband were living in London having fantastic jobs, and a great lifestyle..but something was missing. And what is the rare thing..that for both of them the same thing! They were both freedom lovers. They realised that life is too short to live in a crowded big city that however offers so much to someone who is in great financial situation, it doesn’t offer sunshine, warm climate or freedom to keep a healthy balance between work and these two. They were both beach and sun lovers, so one day in their 40s they decided to pack their bags and move to Utila and dedicate their lives to their passion..diving!

As I am writing this Sarah just posted the most amazing thing on Facebook that I have to quote..

20 years ago today, I stood on a beach overlooking the ocean, with my soul mate beside me. In front of dear friends and family, I promised to love him forever…

Today I stand in our beach front house in the Caribbean, overlooking the ocean with my soul mate still beside me. 

To my darling D.D¬†I love you more today than ever. We have had an amazing life together so far. We have lived, laughed and loved….here’s to many more years of that.

I love you forever…….’

She is an example for me ..and even if for now I made my decision to go back to London to the person I love, the dream of one day living on a beach and having enough sunshine that a human being needs in order to live a happy life with the person I love has not been forgotten…

The rescue course started with a one day EFR (Emergency First Response course). I did this for my driving license 13 years ago but it had to be within 2 years so I repeated it in English this time. During the rescue course the people doing their dive master courses are ‘helping’ by being victims. So during the 4 days we have about 2 hours theory and 3 hours in the water doing skills.

The 3rd day was the toughest but in the end I completed the course and I was very happy that I did it! The biggest challenge was not the course though but to resist the temptation of not continuing to next level. There would have been no point though if I wouldn’t work with it..so I made my decisions. After my 2 fun dives I got a flu so couldn’t dive anymore..

Few words about Utila. If you are looking for a quiet island don’t go to Utila. It’s a party island where there is nothing else to do but diving. There are several people doing their zero to hero courses (Open water to dive master) in one go while getting hammered in the evenings.. It’s expensive, locals are not very friendly and all conversations are about diving. If you see the whale shark you are lucky! I was there in the right time but sadly did not see it..but there was always somebody coming back to the hostel super excited about seeing one or two. There are some good bars and restaurants like Munchie’s or an absolute must near Mango Inn: The Jade Seahorse. It took the owner 25 years to build the place (you can stay here but obviously prices are not on backpacker levels.

Few pics:

Jade Seahorse JadeJadeUtila highest point Utila public beach shower with beer- Utila style UDC!

After Utila I went to Copan. This was my favourite place in Honduras, lovely town, great variety of things to do. The ruins were not that great as I have seen so many by this time that I couldn’t appreciate anymore, but I went one day to the hot springs and one day horseback riding. I met some great people here too and stayed in a superb hostel called La Iguana Azul. Oh and by the ruins there are a lot of macaws. They are bright red and loud. Awesome birds!

Copan horse riding Honduran children San Lucas finca Chanti Chanti View over Copan Aguas Calientes Hot springs macaw

After Copan I went for a day to Gracias- recommended by Lonely Planet..well..it’s a nice little town but unless you have a lot of time and want to see everything it’s not a must. There is a cute little jar shop though that is worth a visit (called Lorendiana), and some nice churches and a fort. There are no hostels, only slightly or very expensive hotels. (for a backpacker)

 

san marcos fort jar shop

After Gracias I chicken bussed it to Lago de Yojoa which I very much loved! I stayed in a microbrewery called D&D which had a pool, excellent beers, great tourist information and a bonfire every night. I met my friend Alex here (we did the rescue course together in Utila), we did a walk up to the view point over the lake, took a Flor de Cana bottle of rum and celebrated our efforts in 40 degrees!

Lake Yojoa rum team

I met a super nice girl here Nikky, we wanted to have an overnight jungle trip (Santa Barbara cloud forest) to check out this famous quetzal bird (official bird of Guatemala but can be spotted here too) but D&D was crap in organising tours..great info source but not great action behind.

I met Kelly and Wayne here too. I enjoyed their deep psychological conversations and debates by the bonfire every evening so one day we visited a national park together to watch birds.

Bird watching Kelly and Wayne

Just before the last night the brewery ran out of beer …so we were drinking wine…5 of us..8 bottle..NOT GOOD!

wine night in the brewery

that evil night after a few days just when I got to Nicaragua triggered my acid reflux so…next time I’ll think twice.

I also did an excellent trip to the¬†Pulhapanzak waterfall. If you get the chance go behind the waterfall..it’s an adrenaline rush!! Walter, the tour guide took me there with his motorbike (unofficial tour lol)

Pulhapanzak Waterfalls Pulhapanzak Waterfalls with Walter

 

One day Wayne and I went to the coffee farm next door, it was a nice afternoon with some great scenery. Same day we saw a Mot Mot bird in the brewery!! Such great wild life here!

pink banana view over the lake coffee bird watching

Mot Mot

So a few words about Wayne. He is an English guy, very clever but a little bit of a lost soul. This hasn’t turned out just yet..he will be in my next blog too. Anyway he used to work as an IT consultant in England and had some hotel points accumulated. He kindly invited me to spend a weekend with him in the Intercontinental hotel in Tegucigalpa (with no bad intentions, purely because he needed company I guess) and I was thinking ¬†why not splurge a bit for free and refresh in a nice hotel, dye my hair, have a proper shower etc.

We got a direct bus at 6am to the capital of Honduras (2nd highest murder rate in central america) ..and cause we couldn’t occupy the room yet we went across the street to a shopping centre. Wow..what a rush I had going through those amazing shops! too much time in basic places gives me back that genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for things we take for granted in the first world.

View Intercontinental Tegus Pool Intercontinental Tegus Sunset view

So after I did the ‘beauty session’ we went out with Wayne to the centre to check out a few bars and we ended up going with 2 locals to a Cuban salsa bar…I LOVED IT! Was dancing the whole evening. Wayne didn’t have this enthusiasm for dancing so he opted for drinking. We closed the night in a very fancy roof terrace.

Cuban bar Tegus

The next day I left Tegus and took the bus to Nicaragua. Next time I’ll continue from here.

I decided to do a special post only about today as this journey was one of the most adventurous one crammed with adrenaline, getting helped by locals, almost like being on a mission ( with almost no reason though) and completing it!!

Just to be clear this post does not cancel the post promised in my last one;-)

Yesterday I celebrated my last day in Guatemala with a fabulous Sunday roast at Casa de la Iguana in Livingston and decided not to take the easy and quick route the day after ( today) to Honduras: La Ceiba.

Here is the visual of the route that had to be completed:

Aliz Chicken bus route

 

Options :

1. Buy a direct shuttle from Livingston to La Ceiba for Q435 (£40) that allows you to take the last ferry at 4pm to Utila.

2. Do it on your own with chicken buses and 5 exchanges until La ceiba and take the ferry to Utila the next morning. Lonely planet described it as the following: ‘ Please not even if you take the 6.30 am ferry from Livingston to Puerto Barrios , it’s almost impossible to take the last ferry on the same day.

 

This is how I prepared myself.

I crossed to Puerto Barrios ( as last passenger ) at 6.30. There was the shuttle waiting for people who bought the direct shuttle . The guy tried to do business with me and offered me the same package that other people paid Q435 for Q250 which let’s be honest is a good price but I was so involved in the negotiation that I walked away from this deal because the guy wouldn’t give it to me for Q 200..I mean we are talking about ¬£4 difference for a 7 hour journey!! Sometimes I should really do that maths!!

So I turned around and made my way towards the main road to look for a chicken bus when I realised ..damn it I really don’t feel like changing several vehicles and being crushed in chicken buses!!! By the time I ran back to the guy ¬†to accept the offer he was gone..wow I thought ..I really screwed this up now!

So here the adventure began..took the first shuttle To the Guatemalan immigration where I got my exit stamp, then same shuttle took me to  Honduras boarder where I got my entry stamp . On the other side a chicken bus was waiting for me and took me to Puerto Cortez where straight away a shuttle was shouting : San Pedro Sula!!(most violent Latin American City..guide books emphasize to stay away)

This is when I saw a bit of hope of being able to catch the last ferry maybe to Utila!! I got to San Pedro at 11.30. I was told there was a bus going to La Ceiba at 11.40 and given that the journey is 3-4 hours, I was pretty confident that I would beat Lonely Planet and prove you CAN do it in one day!! ( again time was not an issue , I could have easily stayed a night in La Ceiba but I loved the challenge !!)

the San Pedro bus did not leave until 12.15 which made me sooo angry!! Especially because a local lady showed me this bus company – I could have chosen another one among 7 others! So as a ‘ punishment’ I did not speak to her:) I did tell off the driver too and emphasized how unacceptable it was to leave ¬†30 mins later and told him he better off putting his foot on the gas cause I have a ¬†ferry to catch at 4! ¬†He smiled and said u will be fine:)

hahh! Typical Latin laid back individual – I thought..

Well it was a hell of a 3 hour ride ..imagine an old school bus speeding with 130km/h , overtaking cars and trucks in blind curves etc. I was even more resenting myself not taking the Q250 offer!

We got to the edge of La Ceiba at 3.35 pm. The local lady kindly made a phone call to the ferry company to ask them to wait for me but it’s like calling an airline to ask to wait for 1 passenger:)

So the very end just before the bus would have arrived at the terminal the police stopped us for passport control..driver ran to me and said to get off now if I wanted to make the ferry, take a taxi ..FAST!! It was 15.46…taxi hailed and imagine a Fast and Furious scene…shooting through the town ..in decent traffic, overtaking cars from left and right, scaring off children playing on the edge of the road!! I was frozen in the car and had several colours during the ride..

When we got there, the ferry was still there. Taxi driver grabbed my big backpack, me the small ones and we ran…In this moment ferry started moving away from pier¬†..we were almost there …imagine this scene on a big screen in the movies..then 2 guys working there shouted: JUUUUMP! And yes..I had no other options..a big step wasn’t enough..taxi driver throw my back pack on ferry and I jumped with mine…I MADE THE FERYYYYYY!!!:)

Conclusion: Instead of Q 435 or second offer Q 250 I made it from around Q 150.. and instead of 7 hours I made it in 10 hours BUT…saved about 5 quid and had the time of my life on this adventure trip:)

LOL …that’s all I can say! Thank you locals for helping me with crazy drives, throwing backpacks, making calls…I made it to Utila, to the little seafood and dive heaven..and tomorrow I am starting my Rescue Diving course at the Utila Dive Center! Bring it on!

Oh and to close this post with a lovely story..as I got to the dive shop early evening all I heard is the word : CONGRATULATIONS…

A diver guy proposed to his girl 42 meters underwater and she ‘nodded’ yes…LIFE IS GREAT! ENJOY IT!