I was looking through some old posts recently and, much to my shock and horror, I realized that I never really wrote much about the month I spent in Honduras over Christmas of 2013.
I don’t know why I never did. I mean, I shared a couple of thoughts and posted a few times while I was there, thanks to a semi-reliable WiFi connection. But I never wrote about the places I saw, or the people I met, or the beauty of the place. So it seems high time to write about the majestic country of Honduras.
Now, I did share my feelings about the volunteer experience. Of which I spent a grand total of about four days out of 30 doing actual volunteer work and I wish that was an exaggeration. But it was what it was, and I used my time to see some really amazing things and places.
Beware. There are lots of gorgeous pictures ahead.
All 12(?) of us had to take a very small boat to get there. Out on the open sea. In a small boat that was basically a really sturdy dinghy. Yikes.
Luckily, we survived.
The cays are beautiful. Simply amazing. I’ve never seen water that color before.
We stayed on a tiny little island with no electricity, which was actually kind of cool. The old couple who take care of the place live in a nice house, but, again, no electricity. Other than what they can get out of their generator, which they use sparingly.
We snorkled, and swam, and sat on the beach and built a bonfire and just relaxed like I’ve never relaxed before. It was amazing.
And doesn’t this just look like something out of a movie?
It was amazing. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a place more peaceful. It was free from stress and worry and work and trouble. It was just a place to exist and enjoy.
One of the days, we went to another of the cays for lunch. It is a tiny place where about 200 Garifuna people live and we ate a delicious lunch of the freshest fish you can possibly imagine, fried plantains, and rice and beans. It was simple, but I have never forgotten how good that meal was.
The island was tiny and there wasn’t a whole lot to do, so we were only there for two days. But the entire weekend, which consisted of taking a bus to the “port” on the side of a river, the boat to get to and from the island, plus island hopping both days, plus accommodations, plus meals was about $75. A screaming deal.
I found myself sort of envying the Garifuna people a little bit for the simple lifestyle they live. They really seemed to enjoy their day-to-day. They live in a truly spectacular place. They don’t have to worry about traffic or getting to work or any of the hustly bustly things we deal with every day.
But I don’t think I could live that close to 199 other people.
Now, most people that have “been to” Honduras have visited the popular cruise port on Roatan. Utila is a bit smaller, but is a popular spot for diving. In fact, it is one of the least expensive places to get SCUBA certified in the world. So there are dive shops galore.
The other thing they have a lot of on Utila?
You know how much this Mormon girls LOVES to drink!
So I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do during the several days we’d be there since I don’t drink and had no intention of diving.
Turns out, not much. BUT! There was MORE RELAXING. Which I was starting to get pretty good at by now.
Our Project Manager, Tarché, had lived on/in Utila a few years before and had some friends that were still around. One of her friends runs a bar that also has a very interesting art garden that we HAD to check out.
And then, New Years’ Eve happened.
I’m not going to use this post to tell the whole story of how my New Years Eve started at an amazing breakfast in the morning, and had me cleaning vomit out of someone’s sheets before midnight even happened.
Let’s just say, there was drinking involved. A lot of it.
My Pepsi was delicious, thankyouverymuch.
But for EVERYONE else in our group, they were sticking mostly to the rum. And oh man was there ever a LOT of rum. After all, it’s the Caribbean.
The rum was gone because they drank it all.
During a rowdy game of King’s Cup.
While most of the group took off for another local bar to ring in the New Year, I escorted our nearly-passed out Project Manager back to our room and whispered Happy New Year to myself in the dark while she slept it off.
It wasn’t one of my better celebrations.
But also? Surprisingly, not the worst.
The next morning, I got up and decided to take myself for a walk around town. I discovered some new places and found that it’s actually quite charming. When you ignore the catcalling pirates (yes, real Pirates of the Caribbean).
I was disappointed because I wanted to go to church that Sunday morning and gave myself an hour to walk there, but I never did find it. I love visiting other Mormon churches when I’m on vacation and I thought I had figured out just where to go, but nope. I spent two hours looking for it before resigning myself to the fact that it might not even exist.
Not having had the greatest time in Utila, I had NO idea what to expect. There were only five of us continuing on to Copan. The rest of the group went back to our “home” in El Porvenir. Traveling with the smaller group was less chaotic, but we quickly missed some of those crazy party animals when they were gone.
The bus ride to Copan was, like, three hours, and that was after the 90 minute van ride from the dock in La Ceiba (we literally went to Copan from Utila) to the bus terminal in San Pedro Sula.
So by the time we arrived in Copan, we were tired. And starving. We dropped our stuff at our hostel (the awesome and VERY clean and orderly Blue Iguana in case you’re ever looking for a good hostel in Santa Rosa de Copan) and took off in search of sustenance.
The town was lovely, with cobble stoned streets and colorful buildings and the biggest hills you can imagine. Walking around was exhausting. But beautiful. And much sleepier than Utila. I loved Copan immediately.
The next morning, we got up and took off for the Ruinas Copan. They are Mayan ruins that are very old and very, very cool. And running around on them is totally acceptable.
So there you have it. Honduras in a nutshell. The excursion parts, at least.
There were a lot of places I didn’t see. Like, when the group took off to Jungle River the morning after I arrived when I was still VERY exhausted from the adventure the day before.
But I felt like I got a really good experience and really got to see a lot of what the country has to offer. And it has stayed with me, because I think about my time there often and have contemplated how I could go back and spend some more time. I’m pretty sure I left a little piece of my heart behind.