March 1, 2005
Copan Ruines, Honduras
Well, new country. Im in the little town of Copan Ruines which is not surprisingly just one kilometre from the famous Mayan ruins of Copan. Actually the town is for all the tourism not too bad. After a week or two in El Salvador it was a bit like walking into Antigua Guatemala. I have been enjoying a respite from the tipica meals of beans, rice, fired platanos, and tortillas. I have even had fresh tossed salads. MmmmmE Raw vegetables, what more can you ask for? (OK whole grain bread with a good crust, but I dont really expect to have everything.)
The Copan Ruines are nice. Its the last of the truly famous Mayan ruins that I havent seen. I headed out early in the morning and arrived just after they opened. I was able to beat the heat and the crowds. What makes Copan special is its carving and its stele. One of the pieces that I have been hearing about for years is the Hieroglyphic Stairway, the longest carved text of antiquity. It is not only know for its size but also for the fact that when the archoligolists put it back together in the 40s or 50s they didnt get it back in the right order. Since then reading Mayan glyphes has much improved and a lot of work has gone into figuring out what order the stones should be in. I enjoyed wandering around the park and its nature trail.
I had a quick lunch of tipica across the road and then headed off to the residential Mayan ruins of Las Sepulturas down the road a bit. (Although I am a bit tired of tipica this lunch stand had some of the best tortillas I have had since San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico.)
There was almost no one at the second ruins which had been a residential area. No big temples but more along the line of rich peoples houses. The entire time I was there I only way two other people excluding the ticket taker and guard who were napping at the main gate. As I had been walking around I was thinking that I wish I could see a ruin or two as the archologiests first saw them then I realized that all the mounds out in the woods I had been passing were just this. So I revised my wish to see what a ruin was like after the major brush and dirt had been cleared but before any rebuilding had been done. Just then I ran across a cite just in that condition. Good day.
I have ended up staying longer here in the town of Copan Ruines because I got a bit of a cold and as the next place I am planning on going to is cooler and mostly for the hiking I figured it would make more sense to stay here at the nice, cheap hostel in a town with good food and easy internet access. (Not to mention English book exchanges.)
March 6, 2005
West End (Roatᮩ, Honduras
Well I made it out of Copᮠand on to Gracias. I had a bit of a time getting up and getting going to leave Copᮮ A little fighting of the draw of good bed and shower can slow you down. (Not to mention the library qualities of book exchanges. Although I did get my taxes entirely done.)
Gracias is a quiet little mountain town that had been the home of the governing body of Central America before it moved to Antigua Guatemala. As far as I can tell now, it doesnt have much to distinguish it from elsewhere. I came here for its national park Celaque.
In the end I didnt really get as far into the park as I had hoped. To do it well would really require a two or three day hike and as I dont really have camping gear and didnt feel like doing it alone I only made it into a day hike. Its a pretty park and getting into the pine forests reminded me a lot of the black hills. I was hopping that I might find a camping companion either when I was in CopᮠRuines or before I went to the park, but I didnt. I did on the other hand find something else.
I have written about Ian before back when I was in Xela and in Antigua. Well when I went to the hotels desk to pay for my second night he was just checking in. This makes it that we have met four times in three different countries, without trying. What a wonderfully well folded world we live in. (Here in the West End I have also run into the guy from Spain who I first met in Santa Ana and then again in Suchitoto El Salvador.)
I had also been bumping into three Canadians who took the bus in from Santa Rosa with me. Ian had already met them when he ran into me and we even meet a couple of them one our way back from the park. On the trip from CopᮠI also met a couple of law students down for nine days over spring break. I cant quite remember what I did for Spring break but this sounds a lot more fun.
That night we headed off to the other reason that Gracias is on the backpacker trail, the hot springs.
Balnerio Aguas Termales is actually the first hot springs I have been to. A lot of people I have met seam to go from spring to spring and by the reports of one of them these are apparently the best. I dont know. Maybe hot springs arent my thing although you would think with my fascination with active volcanoes hot springs would bee right in line.
There were nice large pools of hot, but not ridiculously hot, water. It was pleasant but as much for Ians company as the pools. I guess I feel the same way about hot tubs as I do about dinners; its the people not the event. The one thing going for hot springs if I was alone is it is the closest thing to a long hot bath that I have had since I left Minnesota. (I am still kicking myself that I didnt take a nice bath when I visited Stan and Sarah in California. I had the apartment to myself while they were at work, I wouldnt have even felt bad about hogging the bathroom.)
After Gracias I headed out with the original intention to go to Tela which is a beach town on the backpacker trail. As I passed through San Pedro Sula I realized I could just as well move straight on to La Ceiba which is the jumping off point to the Bay Islands of which Roatᮠis one. As usual I will know where I am going when I get there. (I figured I didnt need to do a beach town as my next stop was another beach and snorkelling town.)
Part of my reason for the bit of rushing is that Easter is coming up. (March 27th) and during the week before (Semana Santa, Holly Week) most of Central America goes into vacation mode. I need to be someplace that will be interesting for a week and have housing for me by then. Hotels fill up, prices double and busses dont run or are full. Sort of a regional wide travellers nightmare. I am thinking of trying what Ian suggested which is get somewhere and do a week of language school with home stay. House is taken care of by others, schools general have activities and explanations about what is going on, and it cant hurt my Spanish. We shall see. But I have to decide and make (drum roll please) reservations, which are remarkably like a Plan. (Run, run, run for your lives!!!!!!)
But for now I am here on Roatᮠknow for its diving schools and snorkelling. I met a guy named Simon during the taxi ride over to the West End and we are sharing a room to save money. We shall see how it goes here. (I keep going back an forth about getting a diving certificateE.)
The other new thing here in the Bay Islands is that not only do they have lots of mosquitoes they also have malaria. As I have been running low on the bug spray I have been shopping around for it. The fun thing is I can never remember the word for repellent so it tends to turn into pantomime of me slapping bugs. I decided that although a literal translation of bug juiceEwould be fun (Jugo de Insectos) they probably wouldnt understand me. In my mind it mostly creates an image of a glass of red and yellow goo.
March 15, 2005
OK I have been bad keeping this up-to-date. I have a good reason though. (More or less, probably not a good reason why I dont upload it to the web more often, but at least for the few entries the last week.)
After the last post Simon and I switched to a different place down the road that had a nice kitchen, clean bathroom, (and as far as I was concerned most important reason) functioning window screens and a screen door with a real pneumatic door closer. (The place we spent the first night at only had very bad condition mosquito nets.) This place is nice. As it should be as I was paying a full ten dollars US for my half of the room. It would probably even pass inspection in the US. The electric shower head had the best wiring I have ever seen. I considered trying to get a photo of the wiring but it was so well done there really wasnt much to look at. Mike and Sue who run the place are nice and friendly and keep the place really nice.
For the first real day on the island, after moving our stuff to the new place, I headed out to pick up some food at the grocery store for breakfast and then off to the beach.
My fatal mistake for the day was when I was figuring out what to take to the beach I was thinking more about what the guide book said about crime on the beach and not enough about what I really needed. As it was I decided to not bring a bag and keep my pockets as empty as possible, this didnt leave room for sun screen.
The West Bay Beach is quite nice. Which probably causes its one draw back; a few more people that I would like and lots of small boat traffic. Its a classic sweeping endless white beach with the Caribbeans lovely blue water. According to the guide book there was good off the beach snorkelling on the south end and I wanted to give it a look to see if it was something I could do myself.
The walk there was a nice forty-five minuets along the sea and as along the way most of the shore was lined either with beach restraints or resorts quite safe. Maybe not the best idea alone after sundown, but fine during the day. As I got to the main beach I was happy to notice that although they had a few hawkers they didnt bother me. (There are things to be said for being a young scruffy backpacker among cruse ship vacationers, people know where the money is.)
As I got done to the far end I saw the snorkelling area with buoys and it was practically wadding distance off the beach. Easy. I looked around a bit longer, ran into Simon and then decided I might as well, after a quick lunch, try to get the snorkelling in that day. I found a place. There were at least three along the beach; one of the joys of being in a tourist place. Now if only I had been smart and ask if I could get a smear of sun cream as well.
The snorkelling was quite good. The stuff nearest the shore (and hence the hordes from the cruse ships) was a bit dead, but if you kept going and go to the outside it was as good if not better that what I saw in Belize. As usual I got chilled and came in before I would have liked to. If I ever spend a lot of time snorkelling I have to get a nice half body wet suite.
The next day I decided to take a guided snorkelling day trip in the afternoon. A lazy morning and then off to the dive shop. This time brining sun screen.
This trip provided two interesting experiences although the snorkelling off the beach for free was better. First off when being fitted for a snorkelling mask (as mine is in storage in Minnesota) I must remember to try to get a shop assistant with a beard or moustache. In variably they use my beard as an excuse for why it doesnt dry fit. Now it is true that it wont dry fit perfectly due to the facial hair but I can tell the difference between a mask that will leak like a sieve and one that wont. My own mask at home, a normal off the shelf and although not the cheapest, by no means an expensive mask barely leaks at all without me even putting any kind of stuff in my moustache. Often they dont even want to try. I will admit I am hard to fit for a mask as my head is narrow and my nose is big. Often they try out a childrens mask and it is perfect for the width of my head but ends up putting a painful pressure on my nose. Oh how I miss my mask, but not enough to want to carry it around for seven months so far to be used for less than two weeks. If I was smart I would have set it up so I could have had Becca mail it ahead. Arrive at the post office, pick up mask, snorkel for a bit, mail it back to Becca.
The other odd bit was that everybody on the trip was Italian, even the guides. Actually the guides also spoke English, but with a lovely Italian accent. When I joined the group the leader stopped her explanation and told me that when she was down she would come down and fill me in in English. Since I didnt have anything else to do I decided I might as well listen to the trip description in Italian as well. I figured hey, maybe I can do like I do with French and pretend it is just badly pronounced Spanish. If nothing else it would probably be good for my pronunciation when I sing in Italian. After the leader saw my rapt attention she stopped and asked in English, you dont speak Italian do you?Eand I replied, Not a word.EAnd waved for her to go on. I dont think she ever quite figured it out. Oh well it was fun anyway.
Those first two days of snorkelling unfortunately are the end of my fun on Roatᮮ Between two days of getting really chilled and the sunburn I spent the next five days mostly sleeping, reading, with occasional walks out for food. Being sick in a tropical paradise was made worse by the fact I had a headache and couldnt just layout on the beach in the shade somewhere. So I had to stay in my, albeit nice, residence most of the time. Times like this I really miss having Public Radio and the like to listen to. Also out on the islands internet access is expensive, about a dollar for five minuets, so I couldnt afford to just go veg on a computer. I guess I should be happy I didnt have to go to work.
Although I was still a bit down, I headed out on Monday along with Simon, who had done his advanced dive course. I figured it would probably be easiest to actually make the seven oclock fiery if I followed along in his wake. Everything went well and as Simon was taking nice class busses I did as well and spent the day ridding nice air conditioned busses watching movies. (I remembered my sweater.) I arrived in Tegucigalpa ten and a half hours after I left Rotan. Leave a Comment or View the Comment Page.
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