Friday, March 19, 2010

A week in Honduras! (Jamie's blog)

Well, it’s our last day together as a group, and I’m finally sitting down to write about our wonderful time together in Honduras. After my traveling fiasco, I met up with the group in Copan, which is such a beautiful little town, like something out of a movie. The streets are all cobblestone, and there are bright colors everywhere. ..buildings, fruit stands, umbrellas. Our hotel was at the top of a grueling hill, and from the top of it, we could see over the top of the buildings to the forest all around us. The hotel was so cute. You walk through the gate into a courtyard filled with tropical trees and flowers and a little outdoor kitchen and sitting area. We spent Sunday at the ruins, which were absolutely amazing. We took about a million pictures…I’ll post a few of my favorites. After the ruins, we went back to town, where we grabbed some lunch and walked around the town. The whole day was kind of surreal. Every so often, Jessica and I would turn to each other and say something like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe we’re here!” It somehow seemed so random to be so comfortable, with a group of my best friends, and in the middle of Central America.

It was an early night because our bus to La Ceiba was leaving Monday morning at 5:15. Ugh. I set my alarm for 3:45! Jessica and I were about to go pack our stuff but got sucked into a game of travel Scrabble with Jesi, Stokely, Hannah, and Rae. After that, we got back to our room, and just as we started packing, power outage. It was the blackest blackout I’ve ever experienced…I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Luckily, Jessica had a little flashlight, but it was solar powered, so we didn’t know how long it would last, and we were worried that we still wouldn’t have power by morning and might forget something in the room. An hour or two after we fell asleep though, we were both awakened by the ceiling fan turning on, laughed at ourselves, and fell back to sleep (despite the roosters crowing outside of our room…I always thought roosters only crowed in the morning…nope, all night long).

The bus ride to La Ceiba was long, but this time, I was able to see the countryside during the ride. It was very pretty…lots of banana trees. We got to the dock a couple of hours early…more travel Scrabble. We were all anxious to get to Roatan and see our house, especially Jesi, who was singlehandedly responsible for finding it. The ferry ride was beautiful. We had a spectacular view of mountains behind us, and we watched the sun set as we pulled up to the dock in Roatan. Baggage claim was chaotic to say the least, but we all managed to get our bags pretty quickly and head out. We had someone waiting for us with a minivan, which we had decided that day to rent for the week. She took us to our house, and oh my god, it was perfect! Jesi did a fantastic job with that!! The Tinneys had the entire upstairs area complete with a bedroom and a loft area for the girls, plus a screened in patio. Downstairs was a bedroom for me and Jess, a bedroom for Deb and Rob, a good sized living room, kitchen, and a huge wrap-around covered patio. Our house was literally a few steps from a gorgeous pool and the property owners, Lynn and Bob, who were so sweet and helpful throughout our whole stay. Lynn, apparently, was a marine biologist for 20 years and gave us a ton of great tips for snorkeling. We walked to the Blue Parrot for dinner right around the corner from the house. It’s run by a Jamaican lady, who makes the best Jamaican food I’ve ever had! We all splurged on dinner, but it was totally worth it.

The next morning, Jesi and I ventured out in the minivan to find a grocery store, which we eventually did and got stocked up on food for the next few days. Then, we all went to the west end for snorkeling gear for the Tinneys and to get fresh fruit off the side of the road…mangos, pineapples, avocados, peppers, bananas... After that, we went down to the beach by our house (a 2 minute walk!) with our snorkeling gear. Debbie, Rob, Jessica, and I swam out to the reef...oh wow, it was so beautiful! We had 2 underwater cameras and got a bunch of great shots. The funniest part of that excursion was our little friend, who we names Gus. Gus, we found out later through a little online research, is a remora, otherwise known as a sucker shark…it’s not really a shark, but it looks like one, only about 6 inches long. It attaches itself to boats and bigger fish and eats bacteria…well I guess we were really dirty or something because Gus would not leave us alone! It was crazy! He would target one of us and swim along under our belly, around our backs, up Rob’s swim suit, trying to latch on! I even reached out to touch him at one point, and he let me pet him! I’ve never seen anything like it. Snorkeling is hard work, and we were all getting hungry for dinner, so we sent out the guys to get some fresh fish. They came back with snook, which Stokely cooked on Lynn’s grill, along with all of our fresh fruit. It was delicious!

As I’m writing, I’m realizing that somehow, my days are off because I think I’ve left one out, but whatever. Thursday was unseasonably rainy and chilly, so we spent most of the day in the house being lazy, but with all the great company, no one seemed to mind. We decided we would just get an early start on Friday so we could snorkel at West Bay, which we were told was the best snorkeling on the island, and do one of the canopy tours. So, Friday morning, we got everything together and headed for West Bay. It did not disappoint! As per Lynn’s instructions, we walked down the white sand beach until we saw the big black rocks. That’s where the reef starts just a few yards from the shoreline. As soon as we stepped into the water, we were surrounded by huge schools of fish. It was amazing! We all swam out to the reef, which was very shallow at points, so we had to navigate through it to avoid getting cut. I guess about a hundred feet out, we found a great spot to swim around and look at all the beautiful fish and coral and take more pictures. We spent lots of time poking each other under water and pointing at various fish…it was a blast. After that, we ate sandwiches in the car on our way to the Pirates of the Caribbean canopy tour. That was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Everyone was very brave, especially Debbie and Jesi, who aren’t too comfortable with heights, to say the least. Luckily, they were allowed to do the ziplines together, so they just screamed and hung onto each other for dear life…it was pretty hilarious. Jessica and I, on the other hand, swung our legs up into the air, let go, and zipped over the trees upside down…what a rush! Hannah and Rae were both very brave too, and after a couple of zips with the adults, they both did it alone…Hannah even hung upside down once or twice. Everyone had a great time. It was the perfect activity to end our adventures together.

And now, we’re sitting in the house on our last night. The Tinneys fly out of Roatan tomorrow. My flight leaves out of San Pedro Sula Sunday morning, so Debbie, Rob, Jessica, and I will head out there tomorrow and probably spend the night in a hostel. I’m really looking forward to that…should be a fun day!