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Published: July 28th 2010
Waiting for the bus
Nic is unimpressed by the seats as we had 6 hours to come on similar ones left inside the bus ... but then the Dengue was making her grumpy about everything!
Our sights were firmly set on the North Coast of Honduras, before we had even crossed the border. It's a pretty simple crossing at Los Manos, but the CA4 agreement means that you don't get a stamp if you are entering and exiting from other CA4 countries. Without thinking, we told them we were going to Guatemala next, when a simple "Belize" would gave got us our Honduran stamp. $3 and no stamp, devastating.
By nightfall we had reached Comayagua with a series of well timed bus connections. We thought of going further, but Nic was feeling tired and had a headache. No matter how the guide books dress it up as a "colonial" town, it's rubbish!! The cathedral and parque central pass muster as picturesque, but don't take up more than 20 minutes of your time. Unusually, seeing as we have mentioned 20 minutes, some muppet has used Roman numeral IIII instead of IV on the cathedral clock, but it isn't worth the journey to see it.
Comayagua, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba - 3 very missable towns in Honduras. Unfortunately to get to the Bay Islands a change of buses is needed in San Pedro (though timing
... apart from the mosquitos and sand flies
it right means not staying there) and the ferries go from La Ceiba. Having left Coymayagua at 9am, we got stuck here as connecting buses meant arriving after 4pm and the afternoon ferries had departed. Tip for anyone else doing the same journey, get the 8am (or earlier) bus from Comayagua, La Ceiba isn't worth overnighting in. Hotel rooms have price tags way above their value ... and the one we eventually chose had the bonus of being entered at 1.30am by the hotel staff just "tidying up". Paul's ability to be grumpy in Spanish in the wee small hours turned out to be quite fluent, but we didn't sleep too well for the rest of the night.
Still the lack of sleep gave us more time to mull over the Utila v. Roatán question. We'd changed our view several times but as Utila's main draw, the Whale Sharks, won't be home for a couple of months yet and the Roatán ferry gave us an extra half hour in bed, Roatán won.
We stayed at Chillies in West End. We had a lovely wooden cabin whose price dropped each day we dived. It was in peaceful grounds,
Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys and Coconut cream ... what better way to get over the Dengue!
dotted with hammocks which was perfect as Nic still had a headache, but by now just a sharp pain behind the eyes.
A trip to the doctor led to blood tests and the feared outcome was confirmed on the afternoon of our 2nd day on the island. Dengue Fever, fortunately a very mild dose, but rest for 3 days were the doctor's orders. No diving!
To make matters worse Nic developed an alergic reaction to something and was covered in a rash, exacerbated by heat. Fortunately it was only 33 degrees! Life couldn't have been more miserable on a tropical island if she'd been Tom Hanks.
Paul, while obviously concerned, managed to get the 9am dive in each day before returning to tend to his patient. An improved blood test 3 days later and our friendly GP gave Nic the thumbs up to dive and we extended our mini holiday a couple of days to allow her the chance to take the plunge. It also meant a celebratory drink or two at the sundowner bar happy hour.
Second, and final, destination in Honduras was the Mayan city at Copán Ruinas. It meant going through
West End Boy
in a West End bay
La Ceiba & San Pedro again but only to change buses, and the ends justified the effort.
There are many Mayan sites graced with spectacular pyramids and ball courts, but as Frank (remember our Dutch drinking buddy? well he is a stonemason, so he knows a bit about this stuff) pointed out, the sculptures are not only amazing by standards of 1300 years ago, with lousy tools, they would be hard to better today. The 63 steps of the heiroglyph staircase are are amazingly intricate. A pair of binoculars to see the higher steps would be good as there is no climbing the stairs, but Paul lost them ages ago in Asia. It's a pity that a large part of the stonework has been moved from its original location into the on-site museum and an even bigger pity that they haven't felt the need to translate the information as (apart from school children) the brunt of visitors are tourists.
Honduras seems to have less to offer than other Central American countries, but we didn't touch the La Mosquitia area or the Pacific coast, so perhaps we just didn't look hard enough.
But we only have 3 weeks
Heiroglyphic Staircase, Copan
The Mayans prove their skills at sculpting
before we land at Heathrow and we've still to visit Guatemala and Mexico. So, like most of the previous 25 countries we have been to on this trip, we will just have to find the time to come back, if only to dive with Whale Sharks in Utila.
And for classical scholars out there, champing at the bit to correct us, we know IIII is how 4 used to be written in Roman numerals, we just needed some literary licence.
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