Peter Panama

At the bus terminal in Puerto Viejo De Talamanca we met an Irish couple who became our good friends and Panama companions. The border crossing was a bit of a nightmare. Firstly some dude tried to charge Dom and the Irish couple money just to cross a bridge. I had gone ahead and wasn’t challenged. The scam artist finally let Dom come to see me as I was carrying the money. He accompanied her and shouted stuff at us in Spanish. We ignored him and ended up not paying the $8 dollars or so our new mates had to fork out for nothing.

We had booked a flight to Colombia as you need to have proof of onward travel before you can enter Panama. You were supposed to for Costa Rica too but thankfully, we were not asked for any. Ciara and Mikey, our new friends, didn’t have proof of onward travel and they were refused entry. Luckily for them, a kind stranger offered them his phone and they booked a boat to Colombia. Problem solved. Time was against us now though. We only had a few hours to get to the docks to catch the last boat to Bocas del Toro, and the docks were a few hours away. With this in mind, we got a shuttle bus rather than the cheaper chicken bus.

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The Four Amigos

Bocas del Toro

We made it in time for the last boat and on arriving on the island, we went for a much needed drink. Whilst sipping our beer we used the wifi to search for accommodation. As there was now four of us, we may be able to haggle for a better deal. We needn’t have bothered. The first place we tried offered us a fairly good price. The girls went in to the neighbouring hostel to check that out whilst me and Mikey watched the UFC on an outside TV. Whilst the girls were doing their thing, the hostel owner asked if we had decided. We said that the ladies were just looking at the other hostel and we’d know in a minute. She then said we could have the room for $40, $5 cheaper than the girls had planned on coming out and asking for. By accidentally playing it cool, we had secured the hostel at an excellent rate. More drinks and some food were in order as a way of celebration.

Our choice of diner was a BBQ on the side of the road. It was a good spot. Right next to a supermarket which we bought our beers from, and really close to a shitty casino which we used for toilet breaks. Perfecto.

Whilst eating and drinking we took in the sights and sounds of our new temporary home. It seemed like never never land, where people don’t grow up. An adult towed a huge model aeroplane around in circles, whilst a crazy pedal taxi dude, cycled around in his pirate hat.

The night flew by and somehow it was soon 3:00 am and so we all retired for the night.

Our second day on the island consisted of walking around in the scorching heat, and making and drinking Pina Coladas. Day three would entail a boat trip to see dolphins, some snorkelling and a trip to see some sloths. We didn’t see any dolphins, my mask kept leaking when we snorkelled, and we only saw a sloth because our guide threw stones at it to show us where it was.

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On our way to Dolphin Bay, home to zero dolphins

Following our day on the boat we had a quick snack of our new favourite food, paterconies, and set off to catch an overnight bus to Panama City.

Panama City

The overnight bus was quicker than expected so we didn’t get enough sleep and we were also in Panama City way too early. Dom found some wifi at the bus terminal and found a hostel with a 24/7 reception. They kindly not only let us drop our bags off but also (foolishly) told us we could also use the beds free of charge, effectively giving us almost a free nights stay. They did try and make us pay for this the following night but it was their mistake and they agreed to not charge us.

Panama City, in parts, is very much like Miami. It is certainly not like many places in Central America and was quite refreshing in that respect. We started the day with a walk around the old town, a street food lunch and then walked across to the skyscrapers in the distance. Our plan was to get a rooftop bar and admire the view with a cocktail. It took us ages to get to the land of the giant buildings and when we got there, we were unsure where to go. Mikey suggested going to the shopping centre and using the McDonalds wifi. Mikey was McDonalds mad. He could spot them a mile off and used them for reference points. We never did dine in them though. That would be like so gross.

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Skyscraper land. A little bit of Miami in Panama

The wifi didn’t work and so we went to a Hard Rock cafe to use their wifi. Theirs worked but we didn’t really need it as one of the waitresses informed us that the best place to go was the Hard Rock hotel, which was conveniently located in the same shopping centre. Off we marched, stopping en route at a cigar shop so I could poison my lungs with a panama cigar. On arriving at the hotel, we found the lifts, jumped in and pressed the button for the top floor. During our ascent, a member of staff got in, informed us the bar was closed and did something to the lift which made it return to the ground floor and stopped it being able to go up again. Foiled by a jobs-worth, we trekked back to old town.

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The Celtic Abba

Once back at the old town, we went to the fish market for dinner. During eating we were treated to some entertainment in the form of a male dance troop. Simon Cowell would have ripped them to pieces but it took my mind off the smell of the drains at least.

Determined to grab a drink on top of a roof we left the fish market and headed to a hotel bar further up the road. It was pretty cool sipping on a rum, puffing on my cigar, and looking out over the bay towards the bright lights of the skyscraper world. Sadly we had somehow lost our money and so we could only afford the one drink.

The Panama Canal

Our last day in Panama City was supposed to be a mix of hiking in a park and checking out the Panama Canal. As we were now a foursome, getting ready in the morning took way longer than anticipated. This meant we left the hostel later than originally planned. We also didn’t have a map, didn’t want to spend money on taxis and had no idea where the park was and how to actually get there. This didn’t stop us attempting to find it. After the obligatory McDonalds wifi disappointment, Dom asked a policeman directions. After a while of confusion, he flagged a taxi down and told the driver he had to take us to the park for $4. Fair play to the driver, he took it well.

On arriving at the park we realised we would not have enough time to walk the trail and get back across town to get a bus to the canal. Me and Dom decided to give the park a miss and head to the canal. We’ve done loads of walks so far but the canal was a must see. We bid farewell to our buddies and walked back towards town.

Unbeknown to us, you need a travel card to get on the buses in Panama City. We didn’t have one and so were denied entry through the barriers. After pleading for a little bit, the kind lady behind the desk took our money, topped up a fellow passengers card and got them to let us through the barrier. Sweet dude. Even though we had officially paid for our bus journey, the driver still charged us when we got to our destination. Bogus dude.

The canal is crazy. The boats look gigantic as they pass through. I wish we had got there earlier as we bought a two-for-one, all you can eat buffet ticket, but were told we only had ten minutes left when we were halfway through the second course. To be honest I was stuffed at the end of it and couldn’t force anymore food down, but it would’ve been an ace way to spend a day. It would have been brilliant to sit watching the boats go through the canal as you slowly eat your bodyweight in a huge variety of dishes.

Feeling fuller than we have for a long time, we dragged ourselves off to the cinema bit to watch the story of the history of the canal. I don’t really remember the film. I just remember wanting to sleep.

Whilst waiting for a bus home, a taxi driver informed us it was rush hour and the bus would be ages. He kindly offered us a good fee for the journey and so we accepted and off we went. The driver was right. The traffic was horrendous. So bad that occasionally he would drive almost in the hedge to overtake people. His knowledge of the area was worse than the traffic though. He drove around cursing as he couldn’t find the street we wanted. Obviously we didn’t know where it was either and so we were just going around in circles. Funnily enough, we drove passed a girl we had known in Belize and I shouted out the window to her. Maybe she would know where our hostel was. The driver stopped and we got out. Our friend got her Google maps on the go and sure enough, we were heading in the wrong direction. We weren’t a million miles away though so after a brief catch up, we walked back to our hostel.

As it was our last night, we spent the time packing, drinking wine with our new buddies and unsuccessfully trying to download our boarding passes. Central America was soon to be a thing of the past. We were flying South. Next stop Colombia. We will take with us some amazing memories, some bad memories, and plenty of unsuitable clothes. We have made some great friends along the way and hope to make loads more. Adios Central America.

 

 

Costa (Lot) Rica

Compared to everywhere else in Central America, Costa Rica is very expensive. With this in mind we decided to travel through quite quickly. As Dom’s ankle was still giving her trouble, we decided against the big national parks where hiking would be the main activity. We would head to the Caribbean coast via Santa Elena & Monte Verde, and San Jose.

After crossing the border we got on a bus and headed for a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. We had read about it on a blog on the Internet but information about its whereabouts were pretty limited. Thankfully the bus driver knew where it was and so we got there with no dramas.

After a wait of about an hour in the middle of nowhere, we boarded bus two of two and made our way up the winding roads to Santa Elena.

Santa Elena & Monte Verde

Although I have never been to Colorado, I imagine it is what Santa Elena is like. A picturesque town in the mountains with a fairly low temperature. I didn’t feel like we were in Central America anymore. There were obvious signs of wealth and customer service actually existed. Our first port of call was our hostel which turned out to be excellent. Next up was a restaurant which disappointed before stopping at a hugely expensive supermarket. Food in Costa Rica was to be expensive and mostly average.

Our first full day was spent hiking through a forest. Up until now we had been spoiled with our wildlife walks. They were usually cheap and full of wildlife. Our first taste here was expensive and apart from a few birds we didn’t see anything exciting. To save money we hitched back to our hostel.

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The only monkeys in the national park

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Closest we got to seeing any animals all day was this stuffed bird

There were only two buses a day that went to our next destination, San Jose. One was at 6:30 am and one at 2:00pm. Not wanting to miss our free breakfast at the hostel, which incidentally was amazing, we opted for bus number two.

Dom had applied for a job and was asked to complete some writing activities, and so she spent her time doing that. I caught up on a bit of reading and we both took full advantage of the free coffee. Probably not the best idea with a seven hour bus journey ahead of us but hey ho.

San Jose

We arrived in the capital about 8:00pm and got a taxi to the hostel we were staying at. Our stay in San Jose would be short and sweet. Our journey to our next destination, Tortuguero, would start at 6:00 am the next day. The journey was a long one and would consist of two buses and a boat.

After dropping our bags off we headed out for some food and a beer. We again had some below average food and as the coffee had now worn off, we went back to the hostel to sleep off our disappointment.

Tortuguero

Our selfish room mates woke me up at 3:00am when they got up to leave. For some reason they thought it was normal to switch the lights on and talk loudly for half an hour or so before heading out of the door. I couldn’t get back to sleep so got out of bed at 5:30, showered and woke Dom up. Once she had gotten herself ready at less than half the volume of our noisy neighbours, we headed to the bus terminal.

I slept for most of the first bus journey and woke myself up with a coffee when we arrived at the bus stop of our first change. The second bus journey was slow and uneventful, but we did buy some amazing food at some point during the ride.

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Bus food

Next up was a boat. Boats are always way much more fun and we grinned all the way down the river. We also saw a Jesus Christ lizard running on the water. Pretty sweet.

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On the river

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Boats are way more fun than buses

On arriving we found our hostel and went out in search of some cheap food. Being in the middle of nowhere, in a town only accessible by boat, they kinda have you by the balls when it comes to prices, and we couldn’t find anywhere that was truly backpacker friendly. We spoke to a man selling crafts and he assured us that around 2:00 pm, the stall-holder next to him sells street food. This brightened our mood and so we explored for a bit and returned at 2:00. No sign of the man but no worries. This is Central America and this is how they roll. No sign of him an hour later and my stomach started to panic. Still we sat there. More time passed and the man still hadn’t shown up and so we headed to a restaurant and ordered two massive bowls of seafood soup. It was pricey but worth it and as it was pretty much dinner time at this point, we kinda saved money by only having to buy one meal.

Once it got dark we hit the beach in search of nesting turtles. Shortly after stumbling around in the dark however, we were told to leave the beach by one of the patrol guards. Apparently you are not allowed on the beach after dark unless you fork out $20 and pay for a guide.

We had another early start and again we were going on a boat. This time it was a wildlife spotting tour and it couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Within five minutes we were sat below a tree watching a sloth lazily crawl between branches. This was one of the main reasons we had come here and we were rewarded pretty quickly. We also saw a caiman, loads of monkeys, lizards and birds. If the tour started well, it finished badly. The Heavens opened and we were subjected to torrential rain for about half an hour.

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Boat rain!

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One of the many birds we saw and one of few that we managed to get on camera

After the tour we again nailed some free coffee. Costa Rica is not friendly 0n the wallet and so we took advantage of free stuff whenever we could. Even if that meant ruining the chance to go back to bed for a well needed nap.

Later that evening we managed to accidentally see some turtles. We went for a walk in the national park and thanks to spotting a troop of howler monkeys overhead in clear view, we stayed longer than anticipated and before we knew it, nightfall greeted us. We left the jungle when the sun went down and walked along the beach towards our hostel. it was then that we saw these giant creatures. Due to the darkness we didn’t see them lay eggs but it was still an incredible experience. Sloths, monkeys and massive fucking turtles all in one day. Excellent.

 

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We stumbled upon the beach in darkness

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Didn’t get any pics of the turtles as the flash would have scared them. This is the sea they came from though.

 

Puerto Viejo De Talamanca

Another early start and another gruelling journey. We had one more look on the beach to see if there were any turtles that were late to the party. There wasn’t and so we threw some coffee down our throats and headed to catch our boat. Our boat trip turned out to be good again as this time we saw a dolphin. After a slow start to seeing wildlife in Costa Rica, we were now seeing some amazing stuff close up.

It was a further six hours and three buses before we arrived at our destination. Our place of stay was a jungle lodge which had an outside bedroom and only cost $10 per night. Bargain. It ended up costing a little more than that though as I forgot to give the keys back and as they do not have addresses or a proper postal service, I had to pay for them to change the locks. Bummer!

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Dom and our host, Ivonne

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The outside bedroom on the edge of the jungle

After a little explore we stumbled upon the best food we had eaten in Costa Rica and possibly the cheapest too. Shattered we hit the hay for a sleepless night. Although we hardly slept it was enjoyable to lay in bed and listen to the sounds of the jungle all night.

Our first full day saw us hire bikes and cycle to a jaguar rescue centre. There we saw snakes, sloths, birds, a croc, deers, a wildcat and loads of monkeys. It was a cool place and it was nice to see the animals are all cared for before being released back into the wild. Next up was a spot of lunch at our recently found roadside diner before a cycle to the next town. The next town was about 6km away along a country road lined with jungle. It was an amazing ride and our destination was pretty cool too. We stopped at the beach to look for evidence of turtle activity and then cycled a short distance up the road and went for a stroll in the jungle.

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The wildcat

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Volunteers get to play with the monkeys all day

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A sloth having a nice little snooze after doing nothing all day

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Where the jungle meets the beach.

Our day out was so much fun that we decided to stay an extra night. Sadly, the next morning we were told by our host that there was no room to stay and so with heavy hearts and light wallets we packed our bags and hitched to the bus terminal. Costa Rica was expensive but worth every penny.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures In Nicaragua Land

This post was supposed to be an itemised account of our expenditure in Nicaragua as a travel guide thing. However, due to unforeseen circumstances our situation changed and so that idea went out of the window. Now, instead of the accountants wet dream of a post, you’re saddled with the usual nonsense. So here goes…….

Nicaragua is known as being the cheapest and safest place in Central America but due to the afore mentioned circumstances, we spent a fortune and ended up in two different hospitals. Bah! We’ll get into that later though. Let’s start at the beginning.

Esteli

After crossing the border and getting two buses we arrived at our first home for the night in Nicaragua: Esteli. Esteli is a small town and we pretty much saw all we needed to see in the first couple of hours of being there. Although it is safer than Honduras, on first impressions it was nowhere near as friendly. My constant “Holas” at anyone and everyone were largely ignored. Some people grunted back at me but we didn’t have strangers stopping us for chats or even smiling at us.

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Dom tucking in to some street food

We had decided to take a day trip to Somoto the next day so after some food, a wander and some beers, we organised our trip through a tour agency and got ourselves an early night.

Somoto

Somoto is a tiny little town not too far from the Honduras border. There is not too much of note in the actual town, but just outside is a canyon which was only discovered by the outside world in the 70’s. It was this canyon that grabbed our attention and the reason we would be getting up at the crack of dawn to head back in the direction of the Honduras border.

The canyon was ace fun. Dressed in shorts, T-shirts and borrowed footwear, we walked through some fields until we reached the canyon. Once entering the canyon we swam, climbed and jumped our way through until we reached the end where we were met by boats. These boats then took us to some more fields where we finished off the mornings fun and games with another brief walk back to the meeting point for a spot of lunch.

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The canyon which we swam through.

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Baywatch

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We made it in one piece

Matagalpa

The first signs that Nicaragua was going to be a bitch to us, appeared in Matagalpa. After a stroll round the town we stopped for street food. There was little choice and everything contained gluten. Whilst I got myself a hotdog, a meal which is fifty percent gluten, Dom opted for a keebab from the stall next door. The keebab was also a meal that had a high percentage of wheat but her options were slim. She gave me the bread and for once in her life, did not offer me any of the meat. This selfishness backfired and that evening, she spent the whole night being sick out of both ends.

Aside from a hike up to the cross of Christ, the local baseball team parading their trophy through the town on the back of a truck, some new food discoveries, and a couple of coffees with a Latin American Brexit fan, Dom’s food poisoning episode was the main memory of Matagalpa.

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Hot Dogs for tea boys

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Coffee O Clock

Leon

Leon was cool. An ace city with loads going on. Our first night turned out to be a pricey one as we fine-dined and drank two bottles of wine. We even went to a karaoke bar where a kind stranger helped out when Dom  took her turn on the microphone.

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Cocktails in Leon

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The following day we took a day trip to the beach where we body surfed and burnt our feet on the red hot sand. We also met an old sea dog who got us excited with tales about boat adventures. Luxury yacht owners desperate for company, would pick up tourists in Panama and sail them to Colombia. All you had to do was go to an island and wait for the rich sailers to come and pick you up. We’d be lazing on a deck, drinking bubbles in the Caribbean sea in a month or two. Thanks to the Internet, we later found out he’s a liar and our ideas of hitting the high seas on a super yacht were scuppered.

Jiquilo

We left Leon again the next day, although only temporarily. We went to Jiquilo and again swam in the sea all day. I am turning into a water baby out here. The water is lovely  and I am taking full advantage. We pretty much had the entire beach to ourselves too. Our only company were a couple of pigs which we assume were digging up crabs and eating them.

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Rancho Tranquilo. It certainly was

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Pigs on the beach. Not seen that before

The next day we went on a canoe tour which was murder in the heat. The sun beat down on us, forcing me to squint and ensuring that I didn’t see any of the promised wildlife that was on offer.

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Crocodile where?

Following the canoe tour, we went swimming again. This time we didn’t have the beach to ourselves. We were joined by a Dutch couple we had met over dinner. After a soak and a spot of lunch, me and the Dutch dude hired a surfboard for an hour. Surfing was ace fun, but obviously pretty difficult for someone with the balance of a one-legged drunk.

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Surfs up dude

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Great spot for surfers. Good waves and no one else about

 

Leon part 2

After three days of the beach it was time to soak up some culture rather than sun, sea and surf. Our day started with an art gallery and ended in a museum that was like a child’s version of Madame Tussauds. The waxworks resembled the Guy Fawkes that kids used to knock up in the UK in the approach to bonfire night. An excellent day out.

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One half of Staus Quo and a couple of his mates.

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A soldier rides his horse despite his arm being on backwards

If the day of culture wasn’t interesting enough, the following day we decided to hike an active volcano. The hike itself was pretty easy and the views at the top were awesome, but as it had been raining overnight, the ground was quite slippery and on the descent, Dom slipped and did herself in. A trip to the hospital was in order with a suspected broken ankle, cuts to the face, and yet another bout of whiplash.

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At the summit of the volcano which would have a huge impact on our travels.

The hospital gave Dom an X-ray which showed that her ankle wasn’t broken. It was just heavily sprained but would still take a lot of time to heal. There wasn’t a doctor qualified to examine her neck X-rays however and so we were transferred to a different hospital. The other hospital said it would be £1,000 for the MRI scans. A doctor had kindly looked at the neck X-rays free of charge and said that it was probably just whiplash. Satisfied that her neck wasn’t broken and terrified of a £1,000 bill, we phoned our mate in Granada and arranged transport to his house. It had been a nightmare day and as Dom was pretty much wheelchair bound and unable to carry any bags, our friend sent a taxi for us.

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Smile.

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All strapped up and on our way to hospital number two.

 

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Dom’s neck. Probably not broken

Granada

Whilst in Leon we had spoken to a girl who taught English as a second language. She told us that she worked online and chose her own hours. This sounded good to us and as fate would have it, a friend who lives in Granada emailed Dom to say there were places available on a TEFL course at his school. We would get the course and accommodation for a bargain price of £300 each. Perfecto. We both signed up.

Unfortunately, Dom’s body wasn’t allowed out of bed for a while and so she was unable to do the course. She also couldn’t shower, cook, wrestle or anything else that involved anything other than simply using her eyes. This meant that I was now a student and carer, and for the first two weeks it was exhausting. Hat’s off to all those that nurse people back to health. It’s no easy task and you’re all heroes. Fortunately, Dom was bored out of her mind being a patient and so after a fortnight of watching TV in bed, she courageously went against Dr Leeroys orders, declared herself almost fit, and took it upon herself to cook all the meals. She also did a two week Spanish course to try and improve her grasp of the language.

It wasn’t all work and no play in Granada. I managed to accidentally take part in a bull run one Sunday whilst attempting to go to the bakers for some cakes. I knew there was a bull run that day and watched from the safety of a pick up truck as a load of people ran from them. I didn’t see any bulls though as they apparently ran down a different street. I took this to mean it was now safe to continue my journey to the bakery and followed a large crowd up the street. Within a couple of minutes the crowd in front of me turned and ran back in the direction we had just come from. I guessed this meant the bulls had found us and so turned and ran too. I was in flip flops so it wasn’t easy and my footwear offered no protection as I kicked a kerb and cut my toe open. It was a false alarm too. Again people were running away from no bulls.

I went on to pass my TEFL course and so as soon as I get my certificate, some unfortunate souls will be having me as their teacher. If only my actual school teachers could see me now.

Isle of Ometepe

With my TEFL course passed and Dom fit enough to continue our adventure, we escaped from Granada and made our way to the Isle of Ometepe. After a sweltering bus ride and a journey across the lake on what felt like a death trap of a boat, we arrived on the island which is home to two volcanos. Dom’s ankle meant hiking them was off the cards though and so we rented a motorbike and went exploring.

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Dom on our mean machine.

I hadn’t ridden a motorbike for years and so was a little rusty at first but soon we were flying. The road signs confused me too. I was looking at one wondering what someone looking under a car could mean when a speed hump appeared out of nowhere. I eventually found out that the sign was a speed hump and not a badly drawn person inspecting his car.

We rode the length of the island, stopping only for lunch, ice-cream and when I went through a river in the wrong gear. We also went for a dip in a natural swimming pool which was freezing cold. Nothing like the seas which I have grown to love. The day of biking is up there with the best days we’ve had on the trip. Nicaragua had been in fun in parts but the memories will mostly be of the hard times, and so we were not sad to say goodbye and continue South. Next stop Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

 

Honduras Highs & Lows

1. People

Pretty much everyone in Central America has been friendly but Hondurans take the biscuit. For a country with a reputation for violence and murder, it’s citizens are extremely friendly. We have lost count of the times strangers have helped us, stopped us in the street for a chat, and generally gone out of their way to be nice. And not just to us. Whenever someone with a disability gets on a bus, everyone puts their hands in their pockets and donates a bit of cash to them. If everyone was as nice as your average Honduran, the world would be a much nicer place to live in.

2. Food

If Mexico is king of the taco, Honduras is the BBQ champion. All of the street food here has been awesome, from the baleda’s to the cow stomach soups, but the meat cooked on a makeshift grill on the kerb side is done to perfection and tastes like it has been slow roasted.

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BBQ on the street. 

3. Coffee

At last. Great coffee almost everywhere we go. For the equivalent of about 40 pence you get coffee that not only kicks you awake, it tastes fantastic too. And the proof is in the pudding. A coffee grower in Honduras currently holds the title for producing the best coffee in the world. You can’t argue with that.

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Great coffee for about 40p

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The worlds best coffee is grown by this man

4. Value for money

The cost of living is pretty cheap almost all over Central America. That is how we have managed to stay away from home for as long as we have. Honduras though is not only cheap, it also has great produce. As mentioned earlier we have eaten great food and drank great drinks for usually no more than a couple of dollars. We have also learned to dive, traveled extensively and stayed in some top of the range places for backpacker prices.

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Living it up on a boat on a budget.

5. Climate

It’s hot in Honduras but the heat is not over bearing. As a lot of the country we have visited has been at a fairly high altitude, the climate is perfect for me. T-shirt and shorts day and night, and no need to seek shade from the unforgiving sun. The lack of heat also means there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of those pesky flies and mosquitos. Everyone’s a winner baby.
1. Plastic

I’m getting tired of mentioning it, but again, plastic is an annoyance. It is used on an industrial scale in Central America and Honduras is no different. It is not just used needlessly. It is also disposed of carelessly, often just tossed from the window of the bus.

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Plastic collected from a beach. This is just the tip of the plastic-berg

2. Poverty

For a country that is so beautiful and has so much to offer, poverty is rife and is one of the major causes of crime in the big cities. Poverty makes people do desperate things. Hondurans are not fortunate to have social care and so if you are unable to work, you are highly unlikely to be able to eat.

3. Reputation

I feel sorry for Honduras. The majority of people are law abiding and exceptionally kind and friendly, but thanks largely to poverty and the United States foreign affairs, there are parts of the country that are pretty much lawless and controlled by gangs. Stories of murder and gang warfare dominate the headlines and dissuade travelers to experience the wonders of Honduras. Many wrongly fear for their safety. Of course, there is crime and an unusual amount of violence in the large cities, that much is true, but it is usually confined to certain areas of the city. The scaremongering is affecting tourism and therefore Honduras as a whole. Personally, I can’t recommend the place highly enough.

4. Gun laws

I don’t know for sure what the gun laws actually are but I do know I saw a lot of people: military, police and civilians, carrying guns. I heard gun battles in the street and have been told that sometimes, people get drunk and just let a few rounds off into the air.

5. Bus preachers

I only witnessed it once myself but I know it happens more frequently. Preachers board a bus, normally free of charge, and stand in the aisle reading a few passages of the Bible. Once they are done, they walk up the bus and collect money. Now, I have nothing against religion but surely if you are spreading the word of God, especially in a poor country, you should be walking up that bus and handing out money to the passengers.

Farewell Honduras

Leaving Gracias was hard. Not just because it was an amazing town and we loved it, but because none of the cashpoints would take our cards and we had run out of hard cash, and also we got really drunk on a night out and so stayed an extra day to recover.

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Techno, techno, techno, techno

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The three amigos.

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Sleeping off an horrendous hangover

We have made friends with a lad from Costa Rica and he came to see us in Gracias. On our final night we all went to bed fairly early as we were all a bit worse for wear following a night on the tiles. At about 2 in the morning, we were awoken by gun fire again. It was exactly the same as the first night. We had moved from our toilet of a hostel to our new upmarket one for security reasons, but our new hotel no longer had an armed guard and the shots were close.

After a while peace was restored but only momentarily. Soon after the gun battle in the surrounding streets, loud voices were heard at the gate of our hotel. We assumed it was the police to inform the manager of the disruption and to advise against unlocking the gates. It wasn’t the police though. At a guess I would say there were three or four men, all speaking Spanish and sounding aggressive, checked into the room next to our Costa Rican friend. It wasn’t long before he fled his room and pitched up in hammock outside of ours. He told us that the men were counting large sums of money and were talking about drugs. I imagine they were gang members and possibly involved in the shooting. After about an hour or so, a vehicle pulled up outside and I think the men left. We could no longer hear them and so drifted off to sleep.

Our travel plans after Gracias were to go to El Salvador, but our Costa Rican buddy was shaken up after the previous nights episode. As he has lots of tattoos, he was concerned for his safety in El Salvador, a country renowned for its gangs. He was also our only source of cash without having to pay the hotel 15% in fees for cash back, and so the decision was made to put El Salvador on hold and head to one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Tegus

Despite it’s reputation, the city is beautiful. Set in a valley and bustling with energy, it is a great place to visit.

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Some ace graffiti

Obviously we told to display extreme caution at all times and to not venture out and night. Advice we heeded. During the day though we took a walking tour through the city. We went passed the cathedral, museums, parks and stopped for a bite to eat in the busy food market.

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Plastic bottles put to good use for once.

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The square outside the food market

After our food and coffee we headed up to the statue of Christ monument on top of the hill overlooking the city. You could see everywhere and even hear the city. It was almost as if it were alive as it’s citizens went about their daily business.

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Looking down on the city.

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Statue of Christ. Even he can’t stop the gangs in the city below.

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Awesome views. Camera does not do it justice.

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Despite it’s reputation, it is worth a visit for the trip up here alone.

Our guide pointed out the dangerous parts of the city, far away from the downtown area and the district we were staying at, but close enough to make travellers wary of visiting.
We only stayed two nights but that was enough. If truth be told, I don’t think I’d have liked to have stayed another night in the hostel we were in. Our dorm had about 20 bunk beds and they were all occupied by people noisily getting up at the crack of dawn.

Despite it’s reputation as Central Americas bad boy, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Honduras and felt safe for the majority of our time there. I found the people kind, friendly and welcoming. I found the country to be diverse and beautiful. I found it hard to say goodbye to the place.

The Good & Bad Of Belize

Ok I know I left a good few weeks ago but it’s better late than never. Here is my list of the things I thought were great, and no so great about Belize.

The Great:
1. The people

There are only about 350,000 people living in Belize. That is less than some of the cities in the UK. Even though the population is so small, the number of races that make up this great countries inhabitants are many. There are Garifuna, Maya, Creole, Indian and Chinese, all of whom live alongside one another in harmony. Belize is a melting pot of cultures and many different languages are spoken. The people are warm, kind, friendly and welcoming. The people of Belize are an example to the rest of the world.

A Garifuna flag

 

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Two men of different skin tone stand united.

2. Conservation

Many people say, and I believe it to be true, that although there is little money in Belize, the country is rich. This is due to the abundance of resources available. The locals are obviously aware of this as most appear to take great of their forests and oceans. Obviously there are still unsustainable farming practices being used, such as slash and burn, but with education and investment, farmers can adapt. Belize has a great climate which allows plants to grow rapidly and some trees bear fruit all year round. Thanks to the authorities conservation awareness, there are excellent fishing laws. The people of Belize are mostly good people and they abide by these laws with no complaint.

 

Sadly, although Belize contributes very little towards climate change, it is a country that will suffer greatly. Most of the country is at sea level so flooding is a huge risk. Farming is the main source of income for the majority of Belizeans and farmers have already noticed the effects of longer periods without rain. You used to be able to set your watch by the changing of the two seasons, from dry to rainy, but this is no longer the case. For most parts, Belize is doing its best to look after itself. I wish all countries did that.

 

Planting trees for Earth Day

3. Wildlife

I used to love listening to the howler monkeys from our garden as we sipped on Pina coladas. Their lion like growls could be heard from miles away. I also loved watching the ants as they walked in formation whilst going in opposite directions, like an army going to and from the frontline. You would see a few of them and then as you followed the lines, it stretched further than the eye could see. Dom was fascinated by the huge variety of birds that we’d see on a daily basis. Birds ranging from tiny humming birds hovering over a flower, to Pelicans looking stupid in a tree.

Belize is full of creatures great and small. There are geckos, crabs that don’t live in the sea, scorpions, snakes and lots of other things to sting or bite you. The rivers are home to frogs, toads, fish and crocodiles, whilst the sea houses sharks, rays, turtles, lobsters and many different species of fish. Jaguars roam the jungle preying on deer, armadillos and tapir. The wildlife in Belize is beautiful, it is dangerous, and it is everywhere.

 

A lesser spotted Humankee

4. Attitude

‘Go slow’ was the motto in Punta Gorda and everyone seemed to live by it. The pace of life is slow, no one is in a rush and rightly so. For a start, it is too hot to hurry. Most people seem happy too. They haven’t got much and don’t ever expect to either, and so they are content. It is never too early for a belikin, never too late to play music at full blast, and it is always time for rice and beans. I love their attitude. Always smiling and rarely complaining. Bless up Belize!

 

It sure is. Go slow and appreciate it.

 

5. Entertainment

There wasn’t much going on in terms of nightlife where we were, and so people made their own fun. Bus shelters would double up as a BBQ shop or a spot for grown men and women to congregate and drink rum, just as we did when we were young. Even the entrance to local supermarkets would turn into social gatherings, with men propping up car bonnets and chatting over a beer or two which they had just bought from the shop.

 

Who needs the pub. A few rums, great company and a brilliant view.

 

Grab some ribs whilst waiting for a bus.

 

As well as the consumption of alcohol to pass away the time, there is also loads of things to do for the more adventurous out there. The warm, clear waters of the sea provides great opportunities for diving and snorkelling. You can canoe upstream through mangroves and jungles, or swim and clamber your way through pitch black cave systems.

 

Canoe through the jungle

 

If water is not your thing, you can go hiking through the jungle or sail along zip wires high above the canopies, like some kind of makeshift monkey. You can go bird watching or visit cacao farms to witness the chocolate making procedure from start to finish. There are lots of jungle retreats for those who just wish to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and relax in a hammock to the sounds of nature. You can do pretty much anything in Belize, you really should go there.
The bad:
1. Plastic

Again, plastic consumption is way out of hand. As with everywhere else in Central America, almost everything you touch when going for food is made of plastic. The chairs and tables, the plates, the forks, the cups, the lid you don’t need for your cup, the straws, the packaging for your fork, the packaging for your straws, and the fucking bags they insist on putting everything in.

In Belize the supermarkets are terrible for using plastic bags. It’s like they are in competition to hand out the most bags. Even if you only buy one thing, you have to physically stop them putting it in a bag. I don’t know if it’s the climate or what, but they keep the fruit and vegetables in plastic bags in the fridges too. In one shop I even saw a can of beans wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. For fuck sake man. Discarding all of the needless plastic is also a big problem with a lot of it simply being carelessly tossed away.

 

Plastic thrown out normally ends up spoiling things of beauty.

 

2. Drink Driving

Before we came here I read that car crashes are simply a way of life in Belize and now I know why. Almost everyone drives after having a few beers. I myself, I am ashamed to say, was a passenger in a car with a driver who had spent the day drinking with me on more than one occasion. It is against the law but it is a law that is not enforced. Sort it out Belize.

 

Even I could burn this off after a few sherberts in the Suzuki Wagon R

 

3. Food

For a country that is a melting pot of cultures, Belizeans can’t see passed rice and beans. As nice as it is, and they do make it brilliantly, they need to mix it up a bit. We had loads of nice snacks from vendors in the street and from door to door food salesman, such as tamales and pupusa’s, but if you went out for food, it was pretty much always rice and beans.

 

Rice & Beans. Again!

 

4. Expensive

Belize is a poor country and so they don’t have the infrastructure, capital, or business knowledge to produce most things in-country, and so a lot of their goods are imported. And for a country so abundant in plants and wildlife, a lot of their food is shipped in too. This of course meant everyday things like milk, butter and wine cost us a small fortune.

 

Sorry we are open, this shopping will cost you a fortune.

 

 

A pint of milk? How much?

 

5. Time went too fast

One minute we got there and the next minute we were gone. Four months went by like four minutes. There were things I didn’t do, and friends I didn’t see often enough as I took my living there for granted. And now it has gone. Bloody hell life, go slow will you.

Lago De Yojoa

The bus from San Pedro Sula was an experience. As we drove through the town towards the highway, various people boarded to sell their wares. As well as the food, drinks and newspapers being sold, we witnessed a man stand at the front, give some spiel in Spanish before removing his shoe to reveal a toe-less foot. He then kind of hopped up the bus taking money off everyone. Good show. Bravo. I still don’t know if it was a sympathy thing or a magic show. Two clowns also got on the bus, amused everyone and then sold crayons and things. The mega bus should be more like this.

After a cramped journey of a couple of hours, we arrived at D&D brewery. It is an upmarket place with backpacker prices. We unpacked, showered and went out in search of some food. After a stroll through town and with no sign of street food, we settled on a little restaurant opposite our place of stay and excitedly ordered some fish and chips. Dom had a massive fish. Mine was quite big but was small in comparison. I had the last laugh though as hers was under cooked.

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Big fish, little fish, banana chips.

After food we headed back to our new home and had a glass of beer. The brewery is the only place that does craft beer in the whole of Honduras. Shattered from a long day we again had an early night.

We had a lay in on Sunday. Only until about 9am but it felt good. We washed, dressed and headed into town for breakfast. Our choice of eatery was a tiny place on the main road. After ordering some pupusa’s, a kind of fried pizza thing that we sometimes made in Belize, we took a seat outside and watched the world go by. The food was good and so too was the coffee. Honduras is the first place in Central America that has had great coffee everywhere. We’ve hardly had anything decent everywhere else and when we have, we’ve had to search hard for it.

With breakfast done we strolled through an archeological site in the jungle and along a raised platform over the wetlands on the edge of the lake. The views were great and we also saw plenty of birds and insects. After a couple of hours we headed back to the brewery to watch the European Championship final between France and Portugal. I originally wanted France to win as I have more French friends than I do Portuguese, but as we got chatting to a nice lad from Portugal, I changed my mind. My decision was a good one as not only did ex manc Ronaldo get stretched off, the underdogs went on to win in extra time.
We celebrated by having a few beers with our new buddy, somethings which he seemed to appreciate a lot, before taking him out to dinner with us. It was more fried food. This time chicken and chips. It wasn’t the best but it was cheap, a small price to pay to enable us to stay away from the UK for longer.

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Dom strolling through the jungle armed with a stick to beat off any snakes

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Watching the European Championship final with a few beers and some chips n dips

A dog barking and a cockerel, um, shouting, kept us awake most of the night and so we were pretty groggy in the morning. Nothing a bit of grub and an excellent cup of coffee wouldn’t sort out though. Dom had a pupusa again whilst I opted for variety and had a baleano. Following breakfast we went for another hike. The money we paid the taxi driver to take us shoe shopping was paying off with Dom getting her money’s worth out of her new shoes. I got mixed up with our routes and so we ended up walking miles out of our way. It did mean we got to meet another seriously friendly bloke and buy an ice cream from a tuk tuk though so it wasn’t all bad.

When we eventually found the right way, we were rewarded with a great afternoon. We hiked through coffee plantations, up two different hills with views of the lake, along a river with loads of birds on its banks, through lime tree orchards, past cabanas in wonderful surroundings, and finally past an Indian burial site. The walk took us about five hours in total but really flew by.

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More jungle action

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Selfie by the river

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View of the lake from the top of a hill. The park was awesome

Wanting a change from fried food and to get something healthy into our bodies before we hit the road again, we decided to eat at the place we are staying. It is a little bit more expensive than the places in the village, but was worth every penny. It was filling and had vegetables. A rare treat for us these days.

Apart from drinking beer, something which we can’t afford to do on a daily basis, there isn’t much to do here in the evenings so yeah, you guessed it, we went to bed early again. Ah well, never mind. An early start and more adventures await us.
Nos da, bon voyage!

Thank You Gracias

Everyone we’ve met so far has been super friendly and so we decided to try and save some money and hitchhike to our next destination. We were heading to Gracias, the old capital of Central America. Gracias, as in most of the places we’ll visit here, would be more of the same: checking out the town, eating a lot, and walking in idyllic surroundings.

Within minutes we got a lift to the next town. The dude who picked us up had a little jeep that barely fitted our bags in, and had a swarm of flies buzzing about in the passenger seat, but it saved us about 80p so we were laughing. A bus was just about to depart for La Guama, the next town where we would have to change buses in order to continue our journey, and so we hopped on.

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No luck this time but a bus will be along in a minute.

At La Guama we again stuck our thumbs out, but this time we were not so lucky. After half an hour of cars speeding past, a bus showed up and so we got on. We had been joined by a preacher man during our short stint on the side of the road, and once on the bus he stood in the aisle and preached the word of God to the passengers. We didn’t know what he was saying as he was speaking Spanish, but every now and again the passengers broke out in applause. I preferred the clowns on the bus from San Pedro Sula to be honest.

After about an hour or so and a quick pit stop for food and drink, we were came to a junction where we had to change buses once more. As the bus was waiting, we gave up our hitchhiking and got on. I fell asleep for a while on bus number three so have no idea how long the journey was, but at some point along the way we were stopped by the police. Armed to the teeth, they boarded the bus and made all of the male passengers, me included, get off the bus for searches and ID checks. No one was arrested or anything and eventually we were on our way again. Next stop, La Esparanza.

Here we changed buses for the final time of the day. Just before arriving at Gracias, the skies turned grey and the rain started coming down. Bad timing. We donned our jackets, jumped into a tuk tuk and drove around looking for a place to stay. For some reason most of the hotels were booked up and we ended up staying in a tiny little shit hole. It was dirt cheap and dirt ridden, but was home for the night at least.

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The room was only about $4. They should be paying you to stay there though.

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Our room mate, Mr Cockroach

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The bathrooms weren’t the best. You’d need a shower to wash yourself after using the showers.

Not wanting to impose on the cockroaches we were sharing a room with, we headed out for dinner. We decided on a pizza joint and camped out there for the evening; eating and drinking wine, building up some Dutch courage to face sleeping in our room.

We were awoken in the small hours by gun fire in the street. There was no shouting but shot after shot rang out, and it was very close. It sounded a bit like a laid back gun fight. This unnerved Dom somewhat, and so the next morning we upgraded our digs to a hotel with armed guards. The hotel was at least three times as expensive as the prison-esque place we had just departed, but you can’t put a price on safety. It really is mad here. Everywhere seems to be protected by blokes with guns. Everywhere apart from the Honduran version of Cardiff’s Blue Dragon hotel that is.

Our new place was ace. We had a balcony with hammocks and amazing views of the tree lined mountains that surround Gracias. It was so nice that we abandoned our hiking plans and spent most of the day relaxing.

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Our new pad. Lovely views of the surrounding hills.

In fact we only left the place twice that day. Once for lunch and a little sightseeing stroll around the town, and once for dinner and to grab some wine. Our little ventures out were ace though. On our lunch excursion we found a shop full of jars of pickled everything and some ace spicy dips which set your tongue on fire.

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No need to hitchhike now Dom, we’re at the pickle place.

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Pickled things. Lots of pickled things.

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More jars of spices and pickles.

When we went out for dinner we stumbled across a BBQ in the street and had some of the best beef and potato we have ever had. All cooked on a makeshift grill on the pavement and at a very, very good price. We have arrived during the preparations for their annual festival too so there is loads going on in the main square every night. The actual big day is the day we are supposed to be leaving, but we love it here and so will probably stay an extra night. It would be a shame to come all this way and leave before the festival kicks off.

It took one car, four buses and a tuk tuk to get here, and has cost us a fair whack to pretty much just sit around and relax. It is amazing though and has made us feel like we are on holiday rather than traveling. Gracias is a jewel of a town. Situated in the mountains, the temperature is perfect and has a fraction of the population of flies that we have endured everywhere else. Gracias, Gracias. You have been worth every wet penny from our pockets and every minute of our journey to get to you.

Adventures In Jungle Land

Our final couple of days in Utila consisted of ‘fun’ dives, drinking, watching football, and planning our next steps. The fun dives didn’t turn out to be fun for me. In fact I only managed to do one of the two dives, due to the open wounds on my feet caused by my flippers rubbing. Dom did both and is now an all round ace diver as her ears no longer hurt when descending.

We met a guy from England who now lives in Texas and ended up spending the evening with him in a bar. The next day was spent drinking too. After a morning swim, we did a bit of travel planning before heading to our favourite restaurant for lunch and to watch Wales in the semi-final of the European championships. Obviously we were on the pop again. Some to settle our nerves, and some to drown our sorrows after the final whistle. Although we lost the game, the boys did the nation proud and can hold their heads high.

Our travel planning resulted in us deciding the next couple of legs of our magical mystery tour. Firstly we would head to the Jungle River Lodge on the outskirts of one of Honduras’ many national parks: Pico Bonito. We awoke at 5:15am, finished packing, ate breakfast and jumped on the 6:30 am ferry back to the mainland. From there we had a free taxi as part of the deal to stay at the lodge, but as we needed to go into town to buy some hiking boots for Dom, we ended up paying about $10. The boots are going to be needed a lot in the next few countries so it was an investment rather than a waste of money.

After arriving at the lodge, a lovely place in the heart of the jungle, we ate a second breakfast before heading off to do a spot of white water rafting. The rafting was ace. It was a two hour paddle downstream through a series of rapids. We got soaked and almost lost Dom off the side of the boat, but it was great fun.

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The Macaw is part of the family at the lodge but is free to leave whenever he chooses


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Post paddle. Rafting was like totally rad!

Once we were done on the river we returned to the lodge for a shower, a bit of grub, and some admin. The lodge is located on the bank of the river and there is a spot where you can jump from a rock about 20 ft into it. Not wanting to miss a great ‘red shorts video‘ moment, I slipped into them and Dom filmed me jumping in. Not on the first attempt however. I was too eager to take the leap of faith and the camera only got me entering the water so I had to climb out and do it all again. The current is strong too and I almost got dragged away.

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It’s like Baywatch meets Tarzan

Being on a budget, we decided against the dinner they sell at the lodge and walked fifteen minutes or so towards the park, where there is a little village. There we found a little cafe with an amazing backdrop. We got a pork chop, plantain fritters and coleslaw each for a total of $7. The views alone were worth the price. We’d got chatting to a Dutch guy who is also staying at the lodge and he joined us. After chatting politics and enlightening him on the horrific policies of the Tory party, I’m pretty sure he now thinks Britain is an awful place to live for the majority of its citizens.

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The view from the cafe.

The open wounds on my feet had by this point become a feeding ground for flies and so we headed back to the lodge. Dom was battling a cold and so went to bed not long after getting home. I spent an hour or so chatting to our new Dutch buddy before retiring myself. It had been a long day and another early start awaited us.

Day 2
We awoke at the crack of dawn again. Early rising is now common place for us. It doesn’t bother me like at home though. After a coffee we walked to the village again to take advantage of the cheaper food options than the lodge. The price was lower but so too was the standard. It didn’t taste great and Gordon Ramsey would’ve torn the woman a new arse hole, but it was big and more than filled the gap. A hearty meal in readiness for our two hour hike through snake infested jungle. We had been told that although there are loads of highly venomous snakes, you’d have to be an idiot to get bitten by one. Being an idiot, this filled me with dread.

Our entrance to Pico Bonito national park was 300 Lempira for the two of us, about £15 give or take a few quid, and was well worth it. We crossed a suspension bridge high above the river we rafted along yesterday, and entered the jungle. The humid air was full of the sounds of birds and animals that we were unable to see or identify. All around us were hidden creatures, beautiful birds and silent enemies. The floor was alive with insects going abut their business, oblivious to us. A world within a world.

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Those boots were made for walking

After a while we got to the first of the two waterfalls that are the parks main attractions. We sat around for a bit taking pictures and rehydrating before heading off again, deeper into the jungle, further away from what little civilisation there is in the area. Two guys caught up with us and mentioned they had just seen a snake. I was desperate to see one. From a safe distance though of course. I may be an idiot but I’m not stupid. I would get my wish on the way back but it was only small and was being held by one of the afore mentioned guys, and so I was a little bit disappointed. Too much of a zoo like scenario. We didn’t even see one of those boring green snakes that look like really long frogs.

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Possibly jaguar claw prints.


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Leeroy to the rescue. I had to hold up a giant boulder to provide safe passage for the rest of the troops


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Waterfall number one. Pretty impressive eh?


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Although it is highly venomous, it was too small and was in the hands of an expert to be impressive. Boring!

After about an hour of walking we arrived at our destination: a huge waterfall. To a man, we put our bags down and got our heads under the ice cold water which was almost as refreshing as an ice cold beer. I had worn my hat to avoid snakes falling on my head but the only purpose it served was to increase my temperature.

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The ice cold water helped cool us down after a trek in the heat.

The way back was mostly downhill and so we managed to get back to the lodge in time to hurriedly pack our bags, and just about catch our bus to La Ceiba, our ticket out of the jungle and to continue our adventure.

Operation Beach Clean

Dom loves nothing more than a couple of hours of picking up litter, and so on Monday morning, I organised for us to help with a beach clean up. Not only would this be a nice little gift for Dom, it would also help offset some of our clowns shoe sized carbon footprint that we have stamped into the earth due to our traveling.

The beach clean is organised by a lady called Tiffini and occurs every Monday. Utila is a beautiful island but unfortunately it is a magnet for all things that are discarded into the sea. The locals and tourists are only responsible for a tiny fraction (if any at all) of the waste. A very sad reality for the islanders and its wildlife inhabitants. Wildlife that include turtles which use the beaches to nest. As if the poor things don’t have enough on their plates.

Our day started at 8:45. We were picked up outside our hostel, loaded into the back of a truck and transported to the beach. The volunteers have built wooden traps in which they place the rubbish. This is then collected from the traps, emptied into the truck, sorted, and either recycled or disposed of properly.

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On board the clean up truck

 

 

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A man made litter trap

As the beach clean has only been in operation for a year or two, the volunteers have their work cut out. They are forever playing catch up. We were only there for three hours and I managed to fill about seven sacks. Once we were out of sacks, I also built a wooden trap and filled it with hundreds of bottles, ready for next weeks volunteers to collect. Dom was on polystyrene duty. Although she is fully aware of the problem, witnessing it first hand has made her vow to give up everything that contains polystyrene. That is no easy feat in this neck of the woods; plastic and polystyrene are widely used. A serious issue which needs to be addressed.

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Dom busy doing what she loves

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One of the many bags of plastic I cleared up

 

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Look at all of that waste. Most of it should have been recycled

Amongst the numerous plastic bottles I collected, I picked up children’s toys, flip flops, sandals, toothbrushes, syringes, pritt-sticks, bits of sunglasses, plastic forks, a steering wheel, plastic pallets, bits of polystyrene, lots of unidentifiable objects, and even a number four. All of which do not belong in the sea. The ocean is after all, a place where some of our food supply comes from. You wouldn’t scatter litter in your vegetable patch or feed plastic to livestock would you?

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Emptying the sacks into the back of the truck. We filled two of these

 

One good turn deserves another, so as well as giving the beach a little bit of a spring clean, I almost got to help what I thought was a shark which was struggling in the shallows. I saw a fin flapping about and quickly waded in. I was in my flip flops though and kept slipping on the slippery rocks below the surface, and so by the time I got to where it was, the tide had washed it safely back out to sea. The guy who was my cleaning partner informed us afterwards, that it was probably some kind of ray and not a shark.

If anyone reading this decides to learn to dive in Utila, I strongly recommend giving something back to the island and get involved in the clean up. It only takes a couple of hours, is rewarding, and the experience may even change some of your planet polluting habits.

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Dom loves a tidy up.