Roatan & Copan (Christmas In Honduras)

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Central America Caribbean » Honduras
December 20th 2011
Published: March 1st 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

It took 8 legs of transport to get from Belize to Honduras, including a water taxi, walking, buses, a ferry and a completely overcrowded shuttle bus (25 people on a 12 seater minibus, both sliding doors open and 5 people hanging out, the driver still racing round corners at full speed). It took the entire day but was quite cheap. The border crossing into Honduras felt a tad sketch as some hoods were walking around eyeing everyone up and making gestures to Ade but nothing happened. We got off the bus at Omoa and as we walked the 1km to our hostel by the beach the power went out. It was completely pitch black with only fire flies and stars to brighten the way. We managed to find the hostel, check in as the only guests into a lovely room and eat dinner by candlelight down by the sea.

Roli’s Place, the hostel, gets an extremely bad rep on TripAdvisor because of the owner. We had a good experience though, they helped us change some dollars when we were stuck, gave us helpful info plus the gardens and rooms are top quality. It’s obvious a lot of money and effort has gone into the place. One of the main complaints online were the signs absolutely everywhere with rules (eg. all bikes must be parked backwards and be back by 6pm, no mosquito coils in the rooms, no moving the bed searching for creepy crawlies etc) but we just found these amusing.

Getting to Roatan the next morning was also a mission involving a 5.30am start. We needed a stop in Puerta Cortez to use the ATM before getting another crowded shuttle to San Pedro Sula. SPS, as it’s known to locals, is famous for two things in Central America; having the biggest bus terminal (it’s mammoth) and for being the AIDS capital. On the bus to La Ceiba we had a few different sales people pitch their wares varying from food to antibiotics. A blind guy gave his spiel at one point then came round asking for donations. On the ferry to Roatan, an island in the Caribbean off Honduras, we got free motion sickness tablets and men handed out sick bags. Known to locals as the Vomit Comet for a reason, the ferry is the most unseaworthy vessel we have ever travelled on. Luckily for us only one spewer was within earshot, for some others in our group it was a lot worse!

Getting our bags at the other end was far more complicated than necessary but we got there in the end and Mike from the Mariposa Lodge was waiting for us. Arriving at our flat was fantastic. We had a stay of 10 days over Christmas and New Year’s booked so opted for the kitchen, private balcony, living area with separate bedroom & bathroom. Space, how exciting! It was also 100m from the beach and the strip of bars and restaurants of West End. Ade really enjoyed being back in the kitchen for the first time in 5 months. The next day we took a collective minibus for $1 each to Coxen Hole, where the large supermarkets and cruise ship terminals are. Roatan is approx 50km long by 2km at the widest and is a huge cruise ship destination, frequently having a few ships docked. We had a lot of fun going down each aisle and buying anything we wanted. There was stuff we had forgotten even existed! We were laden down when we finished and managed to flag down a collective taxi and load him up. It only cost us $4 to get to our door, so total $6 return. The tourist price is $20+ for the round trip, the difference between cruise ship prices and the normal is staggering (especially considering a beer in a bar is around $2) .

We had arranged to meet a gang of people on the island for the holidays, Sarah & Mark who we sailed down Belize with, Helen & Kyle (from Seattle) who we’d met in San Pedro and spent Thanksgiving with and 6 others they’d met along the way, Michelle & Andrea from San Diego, Emily & Andrew from England and Andrea (Irish) & Lucas (German). Everyone had assembled by Christmas Eve so we all went for drinks. West End was surprisingly dead but there were enough of us to start our own party.

On Christmas morning we went for a swim spotting a Santa lookalike snorkelling in his red shorts with white beard and big belly before skyping home. We got a water taxi to West Bay where we ate a Christmas buffet on the beach listening to a live reggae band entertained by crab racing (Ade’s won a race!) Not a Christmas Carol was in sight so we sang carols in the minibus on the way home. We found a bar over the water back in West End serving buckets of cheap beer and willing to play Michelle’s Xmas playlist where we stayed till they closed up. We were used to Christmases far away from home in Sydney but this was even stranger as hardly anyone was in the festive spirit and we struggled to find crowds / venues. It was a good job that we were in a big group of similarly minded travellers !

For most of our time on Roatan we chilled out in our flat watching movies, cooking or diving. The island has fantastic canyon dives, with loads of swim throughs plus excellent reef. Reef Gliders took good care of us, especially Mickey the best dive master ever! Two of our group did their open water diving course with them and enjoyed although we never got to dive together. One day we spent at the beach in West Bay with a few hours on Reef Rider the floating bar watching the fancy power yachts nearby and people walking the plank into the sea. The water taxi there and back was fun too. A couple of evenings we got together for dinner or drinks with the guys.

On New Year’s Eve we all gathered for warm up drinks at Sarah & Mark’s cabin before heading to the Blue Marlin, a waterfront restaurant for our 3 course steak and lobster dinner. On arrival we were decked out in hats, horns and beads and given our 5 bottles of free sparkling wine which disappeared before the mains arrived. The centre was cleared for dancing after food where the world’s worst DJ bored us for awhile before Andrew and Sarah started making requests which had the floor hopping. The DJ even missed 12o’clock. After realising people were celebrating without her queue she stopped the music, counted from 1 to 10, said Happy New Year then turned on the same useless song right in the middle!! At least they had some lame fireworks. Most waterfront properties did so the whole beach was lit up. Most of the crowd left shortly after midnight.

The day we left the island we were up very early. The lines at the ferry terminal were long and slow. Our leftover alcohol was taken out of the carry on and checked through. Luckily Kyle & Helen were ahead of us in the line and kept us rooftop open air seats. These were perfect until the heavens opened chasing us inside. We parted ways in La Ceiba, our bus led us back to SPS before we caught another to Copan. The last hour of the journey was in the dark and was quite hairy. The headlights on the bus weren’t working so the driver lit up all the inside lights every time he saw oncoming traffic so we could be seen. He still flew around corners though on steep hills sometimes. Ash’s bag went missing when arrived but we spotted it across the road behind a group of people so we took it back. Our hostel, Iguana Azul, a recommendation from the others, was really nice and walking distance from everything.

Copan is a beautiful hillside town famous for its Mayan ruins. They aren’t so high but have many intricate carvings and the grounds are very well maintained. At the entrance ways are feeding boards attracting a lot of wildlife and the site itself is cleared but surrounded by forest and hills. The Museum of Sculpture onsite is very interesting, you enter through a serpents mouth winding down his belly and exit into the enormous museum with a full scale replica of the Rosalia Temple inside. Las Sepulturas, another Mayan site, is just a few more minutes along the road but attracts far less tourists so we explored it alone. A lot is covered in jungle and walking around feels like discovering it for the first time.

There are many great restaurants in town, Twisted Tanya’s being a stand out although not cheap. Others were Mi Tio where we had excellent Uruguay steak, Comedor Mary’s for local food and Via Via for brekkie and lunch. The streets are cobbled and lined with multi-coloured colonial buildings. We took an overnight trip to Fince El Cisne, a local farm and coffee plantation which was a highlight of the whole trip so far, despite the start. We spent an hour stuck on the road on the way as it had been raining so much that part of the road was a mud bath and some trucks were stuck blocking the road. Our driver put chains on the tyres to get through. Once we arrived we put our bags in a lovely big room and set off on a tour of the eco farm then got allocated to horses and spent 3 hours riding around the coffee plantation. Our horses were obviously best buds and whenever Rubio headed off at warp-speed with Ade, Luna wasn’t far behind with Ash. We nearly always were well out in front. We passed through streams and rode through fields eating fruit fresh off the trees. All the food served was excellent and the trip to the hot springs was way better than expected. The whole place has sculptures in Mayan theme and 13 pools to soak in including a mud pool and a steam pool.

Generally we found Hondurans to be less friendly than Guatemalans except in Copan where everyone was very nice. We finally were able to practice our Spanish again and found it lacking. It’s amazing how quickly you lose it. On our extensive bus travel we noticed that Pepsi seems to sponsor the whole country, their advertising is in every town sometimes on every building. For the first time we’ve had some bad weather, it was cold and rainy most of the time we were in Copan except for the day we went horse riding luckily. Next stop Mexico, via Guatemala again. Arriba!

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2nd March 2012

glad your having such a great time you look so healthy and radiant and happy love you aunti g x

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