Archives for the month of: July, 2009

I never actually wrote this note back then, the note that completes this journey but there’s a couple good stories in here so I’ll share it now.

I left off sitting in Honduras trying to figure out what to do for my last 2 weeks of travel, thinking I’d head to Roatan that next day. Well I got in the bus in the morning and met a guy who told me that Roatan was a mess and that he was headed to San Pedro Sula(SPS) airport to get a plane out of the country. I figured I’d go along with him so I did. On the way into SPS our bus got stopped at a roadblock, there was no way it was getting past it but we were told that if we were willing to walk there would “probably” be buses on the other side of the roadblock that would be willing to take us the rest of the way. How far I asked? Maybe a couple kilometers I was told. We decided to go for it. This very kind gentleman who I had met offered to carry my large pack (in addition to his own) if I would carry both our smaller packs, good deal, I’ll do it! So off we walked, with others from our bus as well. It was high noon and boiling hot so I was soon using my umbrella as a sunshade as we went along. At one point a group of local people passed us, carrying various farming implements, machetes, hoes and such like. I don’t think they were planning on doing any farming with them though but they were smiley with us so there was no cause for concern. We made it eventually, probably after about 4 or 5 kilometers, to a bunch of minibuses one of which I was silly enough to sit in the very back far corner of, I then proceeded to get more and more squished in a we picked up more and more people, I was soon literally hanging my head out the window gasping for air and desperately trying to catch a breeze, we ended up with about 30 people in a bus made for 12, good times.

Finally arriving in SPS we caught a cab out to the airport, fairly far out of town. The guy who had helped me with my bag had his ticket already so he was set but once I got there I was told I couldn’t get anything for 2 more days, so I booked it then and there, heading back to San Jose Costa Rica. In the meantime I had to kill time in SPS, a major Honduran city in the midst of some serious protests about this coup, I didn’t want to go back there so I asked a cab driver to take me to the closest hotel to the airport, I figured it would be expensive but outside of town at least.

He dropped me off at a veritable fortress, a very large complex with walls about 10 feet high with barbed wire running around the top, I’m pretty sure this looks like a good place to wait out the apocalypse, nevermind this coup so I take a room there. It’s got everything, a kitchen, wifi, restaurant, pool. Ok I can do this for a couple days no worries. I phone home and reassure my worried mother that I am in a very safe place and that I have a ticket out, I’m just waiting. Then I get online and figure out what the heck I’m going to do. I’m exhausted from traveling for these last 2 months and I think I might have picked up some little bug when I was on Big Corn Island in Nicaragua as I am sometimes slightly feverish and have the runs about once or twice a day. It’s bearable…just, but I really need a break. I google resorts in Cabo San Lucas Mexico, what the heck, it’s on the way home right, and easy as I’ve been there before. I do a search for adults only as I don’t want to deal with screaming children as I relax poolside and I settle on a place that looks quite lovely and is a good price, I book it and my flight and spend my next 2 days hanging around the pool waiting to fly.

I do eventually make it to the resort without much incident, just a lot of plane changing and waiting around. When I walk into the reception area the first thing I see is a statue of a man and a woman who are, shall we say, intimately entwined. Oh no, with a sinking heart and major sense of dread I start to consider that I may have booked myself into one of “those” places. This is confirmed once I make it down to the pool and am confronted¬† by many pairs of naked breasts, entirely of the much older saggy variety, shit, I’m in a swingers resort! I tough it out through the week, ignoring the passes made at me and burying my nose in a book at virtually every conceivable moment, I should have known something was up when I read the name of the resort….Temptation, but believe me I wasn’t, at all!

I made it through my week at Temptation and then headed home with misgivings, I was looking forward to starting to teach yoga, in addition to my pilates, it would make a nice change and offer a new challenge, but I knew it might be hard to settle back into a routine after being so free for the last 4 months. I planned to stay with my dad and step-mom once I was home, my stuff was to stay in storage and i would start planning my next trip, longer this time….

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Originally published on facebook – July 1, 2009.

I made it to the cemetery in Granada the next morning, an incredible place, huge, with many beautiful monument/gravestones/sculptures, unfortunately my camera is being persnickity and I only got a couple shots off before it died. I’m not sure why but the thing is eating up batteries like there is no tomorrow, failing me at the worst moments, oh well, at least I have the pictures in my head.

And one here…

After the cemetery I booked it back to the hostel to pack up my stuff and head to the Corn Islands via Managua. Managua, what an ugly city, incredible amounts of poverty and filth. As far as I could tell there were absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. I took a long cab ride from the bus depot out to the airport, every time we stopped at a light people came up to the window of the cab either trying to beg money or sell something (anything from, water to plastic seat covers to assorted foodstuffs to Nicaraguan flags etc..) Was hard put to say no to everyone, did buy some water though, what the hell am I going to do with a plastic seat cover? Got to the airport in good time and was lucky to be able to buy my ticket for the fight right then and there. During check-in everything gets weighed, not just my big backpack but me with my carry-on as well! We walk across the tarmac to get on the plane, it’s a small plane, a Short SD360 ( here’s a link to see it for those of you who like that kind of thing: http://www.lacostena.com.ni/fleet_short.php ) holds about 33 people, it’s not the smallest plane I have ever been on but it does not make me happy, my heart speeds up as we approach it. Apparently these smaller planes are much safer then jumbo jets but I’m still nervous as hell during take off. Fortunately I am quite tired so I manage to sleep through pretty much the whole flight, seems to be my coping mechanism with uncomfortable travel really.

As we approach Big Corn Island I can see beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear Caribbean blue water, I’m smiling already. We land on a runway that cuts right through the center of the island, with only 2 flights leaving and arriving daily at predictable times the runway is often used by people as a soccer field or playground. There are in fact gates in the fence that surrounds the runway so that people can cut across it instead of going around. Once in the airport we have to talk to a nurse who asks us again if we are feeling well, no signs of flu etc… I make it through no problem and hop in a cab (it’s one dollar anywhere on the island) I get the cabbie to take me to where I planned to stay based on my Lonely Planet guidebook, I get there and it’s such a dive, the bathrooms smell like urine and I just can’t bring myself to stay there (I’m not a total priss, I have stayed in some pretty nasty places on this trip but this is just too much) so I start walking, pack on my back, checking other places in “the book” they are all filthy. Finally in desperation and exhaustion I settle on one that I am still not happy about. I go outside and find a cab and ask him to take me to another part of the island and other hotel I had heard about, I go check it out, still horrible and I still haven’t seen that beautiful beach that I saw from the plane. I ask the cabbie, which beach on the island is the nicest, he tells me picnic beach so I ask him to take me there…AH HA! I’ve found the dream I think to myself, only problem is it’s $40 a night and I have to be here for 5 nights, I haven’t brought enough money and they don’t take visa. I have no idea about the banking facilities on this island but I decide this is where I want to be. I get a cab to take me back to the hotel I choose earlier,grab my stuff, make my apologies to the clerk and taxi back to picnic beach. I figure I can stay here one night, visit the bank in the morning and then move to a dive if I can’t get any more money. Luckily the bank comes through and I get to spend 5 glorious nights in supreme comfort. My place is basically right on the beach, beautiful golden-white sand and crystal clear blue ocean.

In the mornings it is sunny but once afternoon rolls around rain , thunder and lightning reign, but I can deal. i spend mornings on the beach and afternoons either exploring the island, reading or internetting, quite nice and leisurely. My last day I rented a golf cart to get me all around the island, haven’t driven in 4 months but hey, it’s a golf cart no problem…and fun! I explore dirt roads that end in the ocean…

I find a cemetery (of course), and take pictures of all sorts of random things…

I unwittingly gave free rides to little kids as well. At first I didn’t even know it was happening, then I heard them giggling away behind me and I turned to see three smiling faces looking back at me, rascals! They had just been jumping on and off whenever they wanted, was quite fun for them, and me. All in all it was a quiet time, not too many other tourists around, perfect. The only drawback was the food, no fresh vegetables at all the whole time I was there, barely any fruit either. I ordered things that I though would have veggies in them only to be denied, vegetable curry was just potatoes, over rice…..carb city. I felt malnourished quickly and wondered how the people who live there deal?

After Corn Island I flew back to Managua, once again, horrible city and I planned to get out asap. Took a cab straight from the airport to the bus station hoping to head to Leon. I get to the bus station and guys are yelling in my window “GRANADA, GRANADA, LEON, LEON” Ok, ok, TRANQUILLO! I yelled back at them, was just a little too much in my face. I get out of the cab and the guy for the Leon bus is there, so I pay him for my ticket but he tricked me and as I went to get on the bus another guy demanded money from me,. I looked to the first guy I had paid and he denied I had paid so then I had to pay or they wouldn’t let me on the bus at all, I’m actually livid at this point, on principle, after all it’s only really a couple bucks to me. But I tell them, yes in SPANISH no less, that I’m pissed off about it and I tell the guy who ripped me off, that he was a bad man , he didn’t deny it.(wish I could have done better but hey, at least it was in Spanish) Soon I am in the bus and we are on our way to Leon.

In Leon I stay in a lovely hostel, dorms again but really nice comfy beds, there is a pool and internet and a big courtyard. Leon is ok, very run down and more begging here then in Granada. I visit churches, even get to go on the roof of the main Cathedral in town, and visit and art gallery with loads of contemporary Central American artists work, very inspiring.

My last night in Leon I’m walking back from dinner only a couple blocks away from the hostel and a guy walks past me and slaps me on the butt. I lose all my Spanish and yell at him, very loudly, hey, fuck you. Not very original I know. Then a couple steps later I remember some Spanish and I know he understands me when I call him a PUTA and a CERDO and a PERVERTO because I see him start walking more quickly. My honour is regained!

Nicaragua hasn’t been the biggest pleasure to be sure, I was robbed from my room in San Juan del Sur, ripped off in Managua, in danger of getting scurvy in the Corn Islands and groped in Leon, time to get to Honduras….

I take the Tica Bus from Leon to San Pedro Sula in Honduras, it’s 13 hour bus ride. The Tica Bus is a luxury bus service, air-conditioning, movies, bathroom, and best of all really comfy seats. I choose it because it’s faster then the chicken buses I have been taking up until now and I’m running out of time and also because damn it, it’s a long, long bus ride. I arrive in San Pedro Sula on June 28th. I know I am spending one night here only before I head to Copan Ruinas and I decide to treat myself to a very nice hotel, king size bed, super clean fresh sheets & towels, hot water, my own balcony overlooking the pool, cable tv and room service….heaven! I luxuriate in my room for the night and yes, indulge in room service.

The next day I make my escape to Copan Ruinas, back on the chicken bus, The seats are all broken so that they are permanently in the reclined position, neat, not really it makes me feel carsick, I try to sleep it away.. It’s a 3 hour ride and I arrive in Copan Ruinas and start looking for a hotel. As I am wandering around checking places I am told that there was a military coup yesterday (Sunday) and the president of Honduras has been whisked away, for his own safety, to Costa Rica. Then I find out that Martial Law is in effect, 9pm curfew must be obeyed. I’m thinking, what the hell have I gotten myself into? I obey curfew, even though I haven’t seen a single soldier in this town at all I am NOT taking any chances. The people here seem to be taking everything in stride, everything seems quite normal with the minor exception that a lot of tv’s are tuned to the news in shops and restaurants. Everybody is smiling like normal and going about their everyday business. I wish I spoke enough Spanish to be able to understand the news and have conversations with the Honduran people about what is really going on! It’s kind of boring though because of the curfew, I’m now having to arrive home at about the time I usually would be heading out for dinner, it doesn’t make for a very exciting nightlife.

Today (Monday) I played tourist and visited a butterfly house, very beautiful, took tons of pictures. As well I went to my very first ruins, Mayan ruins. Interesting to be in a place that is literally thousands of years old, and still standing (at least parts are). I can’t even begin to imagine what the lives of the Mayan people were like, except that there were a few alters that looked suspiciously big enough to fit a supine human on. I don’t know if human sacrifice was part of Mayan culture, I didn’t pay for the guide but you know, it looked likely. I also climbed an awful lot of temple stairs today, all of which appear to have been built for people with legs at least twice as long as mine.

My touristy activities complete I made it back to town and started to contemplate my next move. I had planned to go to the Bay Islands (specifically Roatan) to finish up my travels with some beach time, however I have heard that in addition to this coup there has been major rainfall there, resulting in flooding and possible mudslides, hmmmm. I got online and started to try to figure somewhere else to go, no luck. With the way my flights to get home are arranged I can’t get anywhere else with out going to Panama city first, and I have been there already, plus that wastes about 6 hours of a day, there and back so really doesn’t leave enough time. Therefore I think I am going to check out Roatan after all, heading there tomorrow (Tuesday). If I get there and it’s terrible then probably will come home a few days early. Will keep you posted.