43 and Counting

Honduras Travel Blog

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I was in a jeep yesterday with a girl who has been living in Honduras for a little over seven months. She recalled for me some of her initial impressions of the country and shared one of her earliest conversations. “After being here only two or three days,” she began, “I introduced myself to a local in a restaurant. We talked for a while and when I turned to leave, he smiled warmly and said, ‘Welcome home.’”

I understand perfectly what he meant. Honduras has quickly become one of my favorite traveling destinations. Lizz and I got here Thursday afternoon and, after a painstaking five hour bus ride, arrived at Omega Lodge, nestled in the mountains just beyond La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast.

It was dark and stormy by the time we made it up the winding, dirt road to the lodge, so we shared a plate of fresh, sweet vegetables and retired early.

When we awoke the next morning, we were mesmerized by our surroundings. Lush green mountains peaked in the distance while fruit trees, singing birds, and chirping frogs comprised the foreground. We enjoyed a breakfast of sliced banana, mango, papaya, cantaloupe, and pineapple and then got ready for our first adventure: whitewater rafting.

Although the rain from the night before had improved the rafting conditions marginally, an earlier drought had left the water level too low to raft the full length of typical trips. Instead, our guides elected to lead us on a whitewater swimming and bouldering excursion before tackling the best available rapids. As we hiked down to the river, we were advised to watch our steps since the rain had made the steep path quite slippery.

No sooner had the warning been issued than the man directly in front of me slid several feet, landing squarely on his camera. He gathered himself and stood up, cursing his poor balance. Not even five minutes later, I found myself walking in front of him. As we continued to descend, I suddenly heard the shoe-scraping, loose rock-tumbling sounds characteristic of someone about to fall. Fearing I was going to be taken down myself, I shot around quickly, just in time to see him barreling headfirst into a tangled mass of trees and bushes beside the path. I managed to suppress overwhelming urges to laugh until he had assured everyone he was all right.

The whitewater swimming turned out to be just as fun as the rafting. We made our way from bank to bank, swimming through rapids, climbing on and jumping from enormous boulders, and sliding backwards down natural water slides. The easily 80° water felt amazing even when the rain clouds rolled in, dousing us in a quick, cool shower.

Though the rapids we rafted were only class III – maybe one class IV – they still made for plenty of exciting moments. Someone managed to fall out of the boat three times, but I can’t tell you who it was. (It’s possible though that the name she goes by has four letters in it.) Even our guide got thrown into the churning water at the base of one of the falls. The search party is still hoping to recover his body.

After rafting, Lizz and I took quick showers (a spider just fell on my keyboard) and spent the evening enjoying the company of fellow international travelers. We’ve met some truly incredible people, but I’ll dedicate an entirely new post to them a little later.

Saturday morning we got up early and shared another fruit plate. We then hopped in a jeep and set out for a day of kayaking in a lagoon surrounded by mangrove swamps in a Garifuna village called El Cacao. I haven’t yet mastered the fine art of steering a kayak in a straight line, but my incompetence detracted only slightly from the trip.

We paddled around the swamps for several hours, spying howler monkeys, huge orbweaver spiders, a tree snake, and countless bright blue crabs. We eventually made our way to the Caribbean coastline and shared a picnic on a deserted beach. As we were eating, boys from the neighboring village seemingly appeared from the trees and lovingly filled with gigantic crabs a canoe that two ladies in our group were being paddled around in. I laughed heartily until the excellent joke (the ladies weren’t exactly nature lovers) ended in the crabs' having their claws ripped off.

The paddle back through the lagoon was relatively uneventful – stroke left, stroke right, stroke left, stroke right, begin to spin left, stroke left twice, continue to spin left, stroke left harder, spin left anyway, repeat. The trip did provide me with the unique opportunity to develop a marbled sunburn though. Lizz offered to make me a map of its precise distribution. I can’t wait for it to fade into a patchy tan. I’m really into camo skin.

On the way back to the lodge, we took a detour to a small zoo. Lizz made friends with the spider monkeys, and I fell in love with a clingy kinkajou. When our friend was finally able to pull us away, we hit the road again and arrived at the lodge just in time to catch a full-blown deluge. Rather than run for shelter, Lizz and I submitted to the rain and ran around splashing through puddles. Seeing what fun we were having, someone recommended to us a hidden outdoor shower. The tall rock walls of the shower spiral inward to a large, cylindrical opening lined with perfectly maintained plants. Palm leaves dangle overhead and mountains can be seen in the distance when the clouds clear. We took a much longer shower than necessary in our bathing suits and then changed into warm clothes for a tasty pasta dinner followed by hours of scintillating conversation.

When we woke up this morning, Lizz and I ordered yet another fruit plate, but that’s not all! This time we had some toast too. And then we went back to sleep for several hours. When we finally crawled out of bed, we ate some more and then did nothing. Nothing all day. Just nothing. I might have 43 distinguishable insect bites, but life couldn’t be better.

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