Published: June 16th 2012
June 2nd 2012
After a slightly convoluted bus journey, I arrived at the D&D Hostel and Microbrewery, by Lago de Yojoa, (Yojoa Lake) a huge volcanically formed lake to the west of the middle of the country.
It's a few minutes bus from the (small) main town, but the hostel has a restaurant, and it's such a nice setting there's almost no incentive to go elsewhere. The grounds are lush, beautiful gardens, and in addition to two 4-person dorms, they have private rooms and cabins. There's also hammocks, a communal hang-out/dining area, and a small pool. Not bad for $6 a night. The restaurant had a fairly simple menu, but good food. Nice chocolate cake, too. They also serve drinks, including their own homemade beers and sodas. Especially good was the rootbeer, made from herbs grown on the property, which is pretty cool! Drinking some of it with fresh tilapia from the lake? yum. Lots of daytrips and such to do in the area, and a lot of cool young backpacker types staying in the hostel. Very social atmosphere. Ended up staying an extra day or two, as there are lots of daytrips and things to do in the area. The first full day there was VERY awesome. Had a slightly late start (they are nice hammocks, what can I say?) and bussed (3 short trips) to the Taulabe Caves, about an hour away. There are two caves, both very deep (spelunkers are still trying to find the end, no luck thus far). The first is illuminated for the first 300 metres., It's a short, guided trip along a concrete path, with the rest of it limited to serious spelunkers. There was a school trip going through while I was there. Nice cave formations, but only one or two bats. Meh. The second cave is unlit, and a little bit wilder. Normally there are guides to take you in, but for some reason there weren't any available. I knew there were bats in there, so I asked if he was sure there wasn't anyone. He handed me a flashlight and told me to go ahead, just don't go too deep! I was a little nervous about this, but since there were no branching passageways, I was hardly going to get lost, and darnit, I wanted to see those bats. So, armed with camera, headlamp, and flashlight, I ventured in. Good decision! It was a bit cramped, and thus I didn't go very deep in the cave, but there was a narrow passageway with a few dozen bats (and some large spiders, I felt very brave). Two or three species... Not 100% certain on the exact species, but one was definitely a sheath-tailed bat of some kind, another a myotis. (related to most of the bats we get at home) As I said, very narrow passageway, so when the bats were spooked into flight by my lights and movement, they had to fly right past me. Several times I felt a bat brush up against me. Twice a bat actually landed on my shirt briefly, before realizing I wasn't part of the cave, and moving on again. I was grinning like an idiot by this point, and this was even before my hand brushed up against one of the bats on the cave wall.
She didn't move, so I got to touch a bat!!! (Don't worry, I have my rabies shots)
A number of the bats were mothers, with tiny little fuzzy baby bats tucked under their armpits. So very cute! Nursery colony, I guess.
Eventually just sat down and stared at a mum and baby pair of bats, about two feet away from my face, for maybe half an hour. One of those moments I'm glad I'm traveling solo... Anyone else would have been very bored by this point!
Eventually headed out, and gave the flashlight back to the ticket office, and bussed back to the hostel tired, sweaty, covered in bat guano, but very happy.
The next day I went to the Los Naranjos Ecological/Archaeological Park, a short distance from the hostel. The exit is perhaps ten minutes from the brewery, but the entrance is several kilometres away.
Not much of an archaelogical site. Earthen structures from the Lencan civilization, largely un-excavated so basically just look like small hilly bits.
The ecological park is what makes it worthwhile, though... Several kilometres of meandering trails through the forest, with a whole lot of birds.
The tree were immense, and each one felt like an entire ecosystem, they were so densely covered in epiphytes... Ferns, orchids, cactus-like plants, vines, and stuff I had no clue what they were.
Very interesting. You think of forests being the trees, then the undergrowth, in fairly distinct layers, but not with these trees.
One of the things that makes the area so great for birders. Over 300 bird species have spotted within walking distance of the hostel by various people.
The trails were very twisty, though, and I somehow managed to lose my map of the place (think it accidentally fell off the boardwalk as I was replacing it in my bag). The route signs were completely contradictory, and it was dark by the time I had followed the signs on a merry goose chase to the exit...
Which was in fact the main entrance, several kilometres from the exit close to the hostel. Very pretty, though, with frogs and hundreds of fireflies in the gloom, (I had my headlamp with me, never fear!) and it was a short walk before I caught a motor-taxi back to the hostel, so it all turned out okay in the end!
Got back five minutes before a serious thunderstorm hit. Yay me! And by serious, I mean bucketload, deafening, major rain. It's rainy season in Honduras, and in this area fairly predictably rains every day, almost ALWAYS in the early evening.
Sudden, heavy, but not normally lasting more than a few hours. Preferable in some ways to the more steady, dull, dripping down all-day sort of rain. It's warmer than our winter rains, too, and I love the smell of thunderstorms, so I can hardly complain.
It's nice sitting under shelter in the gardens of the hostel, chatting with other backpackers. A few have acoustic guitars, and there's usually a card game going on, or Bananagrams, which is a sort of portable, freeform Scrabble.
I got pretty good at this game... Being a geek helps you come up with random words like 'cilia' and 'lorn' to achieve victory. Even if it requires quoting poetry from a fantasy book to verify the legitimacy of the word in context. ( Totally didn't happen with 'lorn', noo...)