Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gracias - Hot Springs

This post is a bit out of order but I just realized that I never posted about the hot springs. I will start by saying...if I havent emphasized it enough, that the second we got to Gracias, summer hit Honduras. We thought that it was just the town of Gracias but being back in Copan has proven it. We just sort of hung out during the day in Gracias. The one thing that we wanted to do in town was visit the hot springs. It had been recommended for us to go in the evening when the temperatures cool down but by 3, I was getting pretty bored and thought...maybe if we go while its still hot, getting out of the water will make the warm air seem cooler. We wandered around the small town trying to find an empty tuktuk. We found one...totally empty...not even a driver, and asked the young guy standing next it in mime if it was his. He responded in wonderful English that it belonged to his friend who was in a nearby store. We chatted for a little while and found out that this guy had lived for 6 years in Nashville, working construction and discussed cities and towns that he had been to. When the driver finally came out, our new friend asked him if he would take us out to the hot springs and come back to pick us up 2 hours later. He obliged and we hopped in. I tried to pay attention to the route just in case he didnt return to pick us up and realized that it would be a pretty long walk back in the dark so I said a little prayer to the gods of returning taxi drivers...who had come through for us in the past. We got to the pools not really knowing what to expect. They were actually really nice. There were 2 large hot tub sized pools each with a couple of local guys in them and a kiddy pool. They each fed down to the next pool with a large pool at the bottom. We changed into our bathing suits in the changing room and walked down to the pool. I should be used to being stared at when we are the only gringos around but I was especially self conscious in my bikini when I realized that the few other women there where all in tanktops and shorts. Even though I feel good about my body in a bathing suit for once in my life, it seemed to be attracting even more attention. Rob tried to make me feel better that they were actually staring at his super pale body but it didnt really help too much. We self consciously walked to the big pool, dropped our bag and got in. It was really nice. The water was not uncomfortably hot, more like nicely warm. It smelled slightly of sulfer but not nearly as strongly as the hot spring on Lago Izabel and we got used to the smell quickly. We swam around for awhile, watching the other people and the kids splashing around in the kiddy pool. We could tell that Gracias is not a lake community where people swim all the time because even the teenage guys were flopping around in pathetic splashing dog paddles. My theory about the warm water making the air seem cooler was right. As we were swimming, a big group arrived. First a bunch of ladies carrying pots of food came in and setup tables. We knew wasnt the typical, setting up food to sell kind of thing when they started setting up chairs in a circle and a guy came in carrying a huge speaker on his shoulder. This was some kind of private party. Great, these people werent planning on swimming and here I am, a gringo in a bikini. After about an hour, we got out, I wrapped my self in the towel that we thankfully remembered to bring and we had to walk through the group to get up to the changing rooms. I felt better once we changed into our clothes and we started watching the group. It ended up being a really nice thing to watch. We could be completely wrong on our interpretation but we are pretty sure that it was all the teachers at a school, saying goodbye and thanking 2 asian girls who had come to volunteer for 2 years. It was so sweet. 2 different groups of teachers actually wrote their own songs, which they sang completely off key off of papers. We understood enough to know that they were teachers, they sang about the difficulties that they had had communicating. We presented her with a bag and some shirts. She was such a sweet smiling girl. We felt even better when she had read her speech that she had written in a notebook for the occasion. After 2 years, her Spanish was still pretty poor and she had to read every word but you could tell that she had made a real connection with these people and had a really great experience. It was really heart warming. At 6, we went up to the parking lot, a little worried that our driver wouldnt come back for us. At least we knew that if not, when the party was over, one of these lovely teachers would probably take pity on us and give us a ride but it looked like their party was just getting started. The gods came through for us and at 6:05, our guy pulled up in his tuktuk and drove us back to our hotel.

We had only 1 other item on our todo list for the town and that was to check out a highly recommended restaurant, Reconcito Graciano, that serves, what the guidebooks stated as being "the most authentic and best Honduran food in the country". We had planned on going their for lunch but found out it didnt open until 7 in the the evening. At around 6:45, we went upstairs to our hotel restaurant to use the computer and burn a few minutes. The young teacher from Montreal that we had met the first day in Gracias was up there to use the internet again, since it had been down the first day. We chatted a little and both were checking email and facebook, when BAM, the whole town went black. Oh no, the poor girl had walked all the way over there 2 days in a row with very bad luck. We watched the black town from the balcony, optimistic that it would come right back up. Rob and I decided to wander the town and quickly realized that not only was it pitch black but that everything was closed but the street food vendors. We gave up on finding the restaurant in the dark and went back to the hotel which had proven to have pretty good food. I had a boliboleada which is a typical Honduras cheap dish. A boleada is a big huge flour tortilla with beans, cheese and sourcream...basically a quesadilla honduran style. I ordered the boliboleada which was even better...basically the perfect breakfast quesadilla with beans, scrambled eggs, cheese and sour cream. Thanksfully, the power came back on just as our dinner was serverd. Oh well, I can say that our list of things that we have wanted to but didnt do is pretty short...snorkeling in caye caulker, the hot waterfall at finca paraiso and now the restaurant. I dont think thats too bad and had no regrets when we decided to head out of Gracias the next day.