That’s right, one Kristi Bruner and I were set loose in Honduras for a week and we took the opportunity to relax on the northern beaches. Kristi caught me up on all the Seattle/Tacoma gossip and ate Pringles with me during our 7-hour bus ride to Tela, Honduras. I could see by the look in her eye that she was prepared to have a real Central-American adventure, which turned out to be a good thing, because it’s safe to say we had an awesomely Honduran week. How, you might ask? Well let me just fill you in.
|(Yay! We're in Honduras!!)|
|(Kristi outside of our hotel)|
After a quick laugh and an attitude adjustment, Kristi and I set out to explore the small town and soak up some cancer-filled rays. We made our way to the beach with the help of some locals, and walked all up and down, checking out the area for the best spot. Kristi had her first baleada for breakfast (classic Honduran cuisine: a tortilla, beans, and chismol) and I got a nasty sunburn after choosing not to reapply my SPF 70 as my mom would’ve surely recommended.
|(We used the "No Distorb" sign to avoid getting woken up at 6am the next day. It didn't work.)|
|(Yes, this is breakfast, but no, it is not a baleada. Kristi enjoyed some "plato tipico" on the last morning in Tela.)|
|(Enjoying the ocean!)|
We saw monkeys in a tree (and almost got pooped on), tried to snorkel but there were no fish to be seen, and generally enjoyed the short tour of the jungle and the delicious, right-out-of –the-water fried fish. It was a wonderful day… until our boat was filled with bad gasoline and we almost got stuck in the middle of the sea. When we finally got going the waves were so rough that I closed my eyes to keep the salt water out, and used my messenger bag as a body shield… and yes. My bag was sticky with seawater for the rest of the week. It wasn’t the smartest decision I made that day. The smartest decision was buying “pan de coco” (coconut bread) and taking a nap in the sand at the end of the day, in the late afternoon warmth.
After our stay in Tela, Kristi and I headed to the middle of Honduras to rendezvous with a crew of my fellow volunteers to spend a weekend at Lago de Yojoa (does this location sound familiar? Ya, there's only so many places to go in Honduras. It seems that all the visitors get a similar tour). We took a bus from Tela to San Pedro Sula (congratulations, Kristi! Another survivor of the murder capital of the world! We should've sent your mom a postcard or something!) and transferred in SPS to a bus to Lago. Now, I didn't get to sit next to Kristi on the bus, but it was okay because I sat right behind her and watched her break her college-learned-Spanish back in... by chatting with a BOY. And by that I mean, a very young man that probably thought she was 18 tried to work some Latino magic on her. Don't worry, Kristi's conjugation was great, as well as her immunity to Central American charms; girl after my own heart.
Kristi and I made it to the lake before anyone else, and so we had time to claim the best bed and head to the coffee plantation down the road to explore before my friends finally arrived. Although the sign stated that the plantation closed within the hour, we asked the guard if that meant that we had to be out of the area by that time, or just that no one could enter after the hour. He assured us that we could take our time walking the trails and as we thanked him and walked in, he was suddenly struck with the notion that Kristi and I were about to wreck havoc on his beloved nature reserve (I'm still not positive what kind of trouble it looked like we were capable of creating) and he told us very abruptly and seriously, "no jumping". Also, "no swimming". Ya, because those would be my first reactions.
(Not to give away the ending, but I jumped while we were inside. It was crazy).
|(We made it to our lodging! And this time there was no taxi mix-up.)|
(Not to give away the ending, but I jumped while we were inside. It was crazy).
|(This is right before I jumped. It's why I look so devious)|
|(Beautiful blue pond)|
|(Breakfast with the volunteers. We're deciding what to do for the day.)|
|(Irene, Kate, Lydia, and me, all excited for our adventure-day!)|
|(Cows on the road, what else is new?)|
|(Me, Lydia, and Kate, all decked out in GREEN!)|
That waterfall was beautiful, and it was totally worth the harrowing ride in the taxi (our driver for the day seemed a bit more concerned with turning around in his seat to flirt with us than keeping his eyes on the road. It was quite concerning). We all jumped in and played in the current and jumped underneath the stream of water for quite a while. So far, we were having a lucky St. Patty's day!
|(The whole crew at the waterfall)|
After we were all done playing in the water, we packed up the taxis again, and headed off to some hot springs. When we all spilled out of the cars and hiked down to the river, we were all in awe at the sight waiting for us- there was a boiling river that we had to cross by balancing on rocks, and jumping from stone to stone. It felt a bit like a videogame except that if you faltered you would be burned, instead of simply asked to try the level again. I was really, really nervous for this part because although the sight was impressive: a giant tunnel of rock with steam billowing in the wind, I was concerned about slipping.
|(The steam rising off of the boiling water)|
|(The line of gringos walking through the steamy cave, jumping rock to rock)|
And with good reason- when we made it safely across the molten river we saw pools of boiling water with corn tossed in them. That's right- the water was so hot that locals were cooking corn-on-the-cob directly in the hot springs.
But by then we had made it safely to an area where cool and hot water were mixing in a deep pool of paradise... so I pushed the thought of our return trek across the burning river to the back of my mind and hopped into the pool. And it was lovely.
|(Finally relaxing in the hot springs)|
|(View of the river from where we were soaking)|
|(Group shot in the aguas termales)|
We hung out the the hot springs for quite a while and then decided it was time to get back to reality... well, not quite reality I suppose, as we were headed back to a brewery on St. Patrick's Day instead of to work... In fact, we were heading back to dine on fish & chips!
As I was treading across the river, up ahead of me I heard a blood-curdling scream, and looked up to see Jen freaking out. She slipped her foot into the hot, hot water by mistake and got a nasty burn on her foot that was exacerbated by having to continue her trek with the boiled straps of her Chacos still stuck to her foot. Plus she had to wait for us to drive out to the main road, and then get to the neighboring town before we could get any ice or even cold water on the burn. It was really terrible.
After our erratic driver not only almost got us stuck on the backroads, driving through mud that most people needed 4-wheel drive to conquer, but as we were on our way to the main road, we could see a car stopped on the road and men with huge guns (weapons, not biceps. I know. Disappointing.) outside of their cars, arguing. We all yelled at the driver to STOP and not drive past this pre-homicide scene. He listened. And then he started driving again, telling us "It's okay, it's just the police". Um, REALLY!? Have you MET the police here? Let's just say that they don't make headlines very often for being not corrupt. Well, we yelled again "stop!" and he did. And then he went again. Thankfully he was correct, and it was some police officers stopping someone on the road, but we were very lucky that nothing happened while we were watching- there was no way our driver could have known that the situation was safe (sorry Kristi's mom! This post has a lot of hilariously dangerous stories in it, doesn't it...).
I guess in some ways our St. Patty's day WAS pretty lucky.
|(This picture is for Kristi- a chicken sitting on an armchair, on someone's front porch. You know you're in Honduras when...)|
Well, after our misadventurous day, it was certainly time to pump up the celtic station on the satellite radio and chow down on fish & chips. And, of course, call my favorite red-headed leprechaun brother (Jono, you are my favorite NOT-leprechaun brother. Congratulations.) and wish him a festive evening.
|(A crew of happy gringo's after a fun weekend)|
The next morning we settled our tab, took a group pic, and shlepped our backpacks out to the highway to catch a bus back to the city. Kristi and I ditched our bags with some of the volunteers (thanks again Lydia!) and headed to the "luxurious" Granada Hotel in Tegucigalpa. Kristi opted for local food instead of a pizza chain, and so we walked across the street to the seedy "Pincho Loco's" for a plato tipico and some Pepsi in glass bottles. Eventually we tired of gossiping and watching futbol on the TV and headed back to the Granada to watch reruns and terribly offensive reggaeton music videos. It was great.
On our last day we were planning on going to Valle de Angeles, but one of the two of us had lost a round of street food roulette and was not feeling up to any activity not close to a bathroom. Such is the life in Honduras, sometimes. ;)
Instead we headed back to the Ranch and saw the boys in my hogar, and explored a little more the next day as well, Kristi even heading down to the external clinic to see where fellow volunteer and Class of '09 Lute, Heather Brook works.
|(Visiting our friend Heather at NPH's external clinic)|
|(Hanging out in hogar)|
|(Having dinner in Hogar San Pablo!)|
All in all, a pretty good week. I would have to say that I LOVE living in Honduras, mostly because it IS so ridiculous sometimes. When things go wrong here, it can mean feeling like the parasite in your stomach will never be cured, the driver of the bus or car will never get you home alive, or the man hissing at you in the street will never just leave you in peace. But when things go right here, they are amazing: relaxing in some hot springs after a week of travel, playing in a waterfall surrounded by nature and locals, having a friend that loves you enough to brave layovers, bus rides, and Honduras in general. Things here are FRUSTRATING and WONDERFUL, and I am so thankful that Kristi got to see my life here.
Also, I'm glad that Irene is my friend because the transportation to the airport got messed up (oh, Honduras) and I had to bit Kristi adeui from the Ranch instead of taking her to the airport myself. Just sent her off in the capable arms of Irene, with a hug, and a bit of that Irish luck.
|(Thanks for being such a good friend and fun travel-buddy. Love a miss ya, Brunski.)|