Honduras & Nicaragua: 2/6-2/12

La Ceiba >>> Lago de Yojoa >>> Leon

2/6
+ Our hostel had a nice hearty breakfast ready for us in preparation for our White Water rafting trip we were to go on later in the day.
+ Luckily we weren’t the only ones signed up for the rafting today. We were joined by another nice couple staying at our hostel.
+ The 7 of us (including both guides and 1 of their wives) successfully navigated 2 small rafts through class 3 and 4 white water rapids down the Rio Cangrejal.
+ Maybe the highlight of the trip was when we had the chance to stop and jump off these really tall cliffs into the rapids below. Corey went first and when he resurfaced still breathing, the rest of us decided to give it a shot as well. After our 2 new friends jumping and the crazy guide back flipping into the river it was Liz’s turn. Thankfully Vegas wasn’t taking any bets at the moment otherwise Corey would have lost every cent he had because Liz actually jumped! From 40+ feet up in the air! While Corey thanks the influence of our new friends and some blatant peer pressure from the guide and group played a part, it was still so brave for Liz to jump! Way to go!
+ We were making small talk with our guide in between rapids. When asked our professions, Corey confidently stated he is a pharmaceutical fork!! (The word for sales and fork is very close) The 3 of us had a good laugh.
+ We then finished the rest of the rapids and survived riding on the rafts on the trailer back to the hostel (out of necessity, not just for fun).
+ We decided to explore up and down this only road in and out of the jungle here and ducked into a few different hotels and restaurants. Our favorite was a place called Pico Bonito, a fancy resort style lodge situated right on the river!
+ We ate lunch overlooking both the infinity pool and 100 foot waterfall down the mountain in the distance (not too mention the gorgeous garden that was perfectly manicured).
+ Just in our short time touring the luxury resort, we got the itch to take a break from our backpacking dorm rooms and splurge for a night here. We spoke to the manager who was extremely nice and we were able to land a room for the next night for 33% Off and a free room upgrade!
+ After lunch we walked up the mountain towards the section of the river containing class 5 rapids and were joined by a new friend, Ace, a very friendly German Shepherd. He left his animal oasis of a home and walked with us the whole time up and about halfway back. Unfortunately when we stopped to explore another hotel called Omega, he was chased off into the woods by 2 big (and mean) rottweillers. We were really worried he would get lost but the manager of Omega assured us it wasn’t the first time it had happened and that Ace always found his way home in the past.
+ At Omega, Liz lounged around in a hammock drinking a licuado while Corey went hiking at the hotel’s personal hiking trail for about 45 minutes. We then followed that up with some beers and chatting with other travellers before heading back to our Jungle River Lodge.
+ Liz then flexed her own bargaining skills and got us free use of the hot water showers to avoid another night of icy cold torture showers.
+ After another good dinner right there at the hostel, we watched “In the Heart of the Sea” with Liam (our dormmate) and then feel asleep listening to the rain and weird jungle sounds again!

2/7
+ The next morning we woke up to find out it had been pouring rain all night long and that the river had risen almost 20 feet from the day before! It was now much rougher looking and the river itself was brown instead of blue like before. We also discovered that the power at our hostel (and the whole mountain) had gone out and wouldn’t be back on for a while.
+ We ate breakfast at our hostel again, and then since it was still raining we decided to have a lazy morning inside and watched Bridge of Spies until lunch time.
+ We ate lunch there and then packed up our bags and moved down the road to Pico Bonito.
+ They also did not have power, but we explored their gardens for a couple of hours before we got ready to leave with the owner, Richard. He had offered to take us into town with him to a super bowl party at a cool restaurant right on the beach. This was perfect since there was still no power up on the mountain and there wouldn’t have been much else to do.
+ On the way to the party we stopped at a house owned by the people who worked at Richard’s place and hung out with them for a while. They were really nice and hospitable. We shared some cocktails while we used their Internet to book onward travel the next day. All of the people we’ve met in Honduras have been extremely friendly!
+ The superbowl party was a lot of fun and we met a lot of people, mainly ex pats from different countries (mostly U.S.) who now made their living owning different establishments around town. Plus the restaurant had an all you can eat buffet of delicious food which we (especially Corey) made sure to take full advantage of.
+ One interesting thing that happened was that a Miller Lite rep showed up and whoever was drinking a Miller lite got a free, regulation size NFL football! Although Corey was drinking a local beer at the time, he quickly switched to miller lite to get a football, and it worked! But who knew they had beer reps here in Honduras, how strange! (One of the bar patrons told Liz that the rep used to have sexy girl reps that came around with him until a couple of years ago when the girls were kidnapped by a gang. So they stopped doing that. No wonder Honduras has a safety travel warning.)
+ After the Broncos won we rode with Richard back up to his place (which still didn’t have power) and got ready to leave the next day before going to sleep.

2/8
+ Woke up a little early in Pico Bonito and got ready to leave. While waiting for Richard to take us into town to catch our shuttle, we spent the morning playing fetch with the dogs and admiring the beautiful jungle scenery for one last time.
+ Richard drove us the 25 Minutes down the mountain to Burger King (located in a very touristy part of town with Dunkin Donuts, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, etc. also around the area) where we were to meet our shuttle driver.
+ To make a long story short, the weather was still bad so they had initially canceled the ferry from Utila and our shuttle was going to leave with about 4 people (including us) towards our next destination, Lago de Yojoa. However at the last minute they decided to run the ferry (after some people on the island already bought a flight from the island to La Ceiba. So we ended up having to wait at burger King for almost 4 hours while the shuttle driver ordered another bus, and a couple cars to take all the new people that wanted to make the trip as well (since the ferry had not left the island in a number of days due to weather, there were a lot of people leaving now and wanted onward transportation).
+ So after waiting at Burger King for 4 hours we actually ended up riding with the shuttle driver’s wife in her personal car (a Scion, just like Marymom’s car!) To a halfway point where we got into a different shuttle bus for the rest of the trip. Plus, our bags were on top of a different bus the whole time, but luckily they did eventually arrive at the same destination as us.
+ We finally arrived at our hotel, D&D Brewery, the only brewery we’ve come across and it’s right in the middle of the jungle!
+ We checked in and spent the evening sampling the local craft beers by ordering flights and sitting around the camp fire to keep warm (it was much colder than our previous spot).
+ Went back to the room and watched the movie “Sisters” before falling asleep.

2/9
+ Decided to sleep in late and have a lazy day. Actually had to use our ear plugs for the first time due to all the noise outside by people who were getting up at a normal hour like losers!
+ Spent almost the entire day on our tablets around the main hangout area catching up on the blog and more importantly, watching hummingbirds fly around the area to all the different bird feeders.
+ Liz was very fascinated by all the different types of hummingbirds and their interactions with each other and how close they would fly by us.
+ Tried a couple new food dishes and beers from the bar and eventually headed back to the room somehow tired from perhaps our laziest day yet.
+ Watched “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” before going to sleep.

2/10
+ Slept in a little bit again today and while eating brunch we planned out the rest of our day.
+ Walked 30 minutes to the next town to try and get cash from the ATM. Unfortunately it didn’t like our card so we had to catch a bus to the next town after that to withdraw money there.
+ Finally got the money and then took a Tuk Tuk back south to our desired destination, a giant 43 meter waterfall called Pulhapanazak Falls.
+ We had originally intended to both not only hike to view the waterfall, but to climb behind it. Unfortunately we were not properly informed on just how wet we would get and once there we found out we would in fact get completely drenched and since we did not have a change of clothes or bathing suit with us, Liz chose to stay warm and dry while Corey stripped down to just his shorts and went in with the guide.
+ The waterfall was massive and extremely powerful up close, but a lot of fun to swim/climb up to and behind it. The force of the misty spray alone felt like I was being pelted with BB gun bullets. We viewed the caves behind the waterfall, but the openings were so tiny and pitch black that we didn’t go in.
+ We eventually made it back to the world class photographer, Liz, and Corey changed back into his dry clothes. We then explored the rest of the park before heading out with a little bit of daylight left.
+ Having walked back to the main road and no bus in sight, we decided to hitch hike back to town and hopped into the back of a pickup truck. Although not the most comfortable ride of all time, it was free and we didn’t get abducted/killed so we count it as a win!
+ Corey wanted something different than the same food we had been eating at our hotel so he grabbed some fried chicken from the little town on the way back.
+ Back at D&D, Liz got dinner and we decided it was time to move on to our next destination so we booked onward travel for the next day with the same guy who had brought us here from La Ceiba  (a little more expensive than the bus/taxi route option, but much more convenient and stress-free).
+ We finished the night sipping more of the local craft beer and roasting Marshmallows around the fire with some friends we met from the UK.
+ We did have 1 fun little surprise before the night was up however; the 2 local house cats each brought us dead/half dead mice as parting gifts and symbols of their eternal love for us. They then proceeded to toss them around in the air (as high as 5 feet up) while simultaneously performing acrobatic stunts. The cats were tossing the mice all around us! After watching and laughing for a while, we realized there was a very high probability at least one of us would get hit with this mouse corpse as it flies through the air.  Bed time, we decided- so we packed up and moved back to the room.

2/11
+ Woke up early on our last day at D&D Brewery to do 1 more activity before we left, and that was to actually see the lake (since we did travel all the way here to Lago de Yojoa)!
+ Rented a double kayak and a very, very, very old beat up truck took us to a nearby canal that connected to the lake. After about 25 Minutes paddling through the canal, we reached the lake which was teeming with many different kinds of birds. We explored the outskirts for about half an hour before heading back since we still had to pack up to leave.
+ Once back at the Brewery, we found out our shuttle was going to be arriving around 12 instead of 1 which put us into a mad scramble for the next 30-40 minutes trying to get everything ready. Luckily we were able to get everything together enough to throw it in the shuttle van, pay our bill, and grab a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches to go since we had skipped breakfast earlier and were starving.
+ Took off in the shuttle van with 6 other people to meet our main shuttle driver an hour away on the main road to our next destination: Leon, Nicaragua!
+ After about 7.5 hours in a shuttle bus with no individual seats or headrests we finally reached the Honduran/Nicaraguan border! (Would’ve been a lot faster if we didn’t stop every hour or so).
+ After exchanging money and getting politely ripped off with the exchange rate, as usual, we got our passports stamped and then hopped on the bus again for a few more hours to Leon.
+ Luckily the van came equipped with a dvd player and we got to watch movies the whole way. We watched Pain & Gain, Django Unchained, (most of) Steve Jobs, and Fast and Furious 6.
+ We finally ended our 10.5 hour journey in Leon around 11 pm. The bus dropped us off in front of a famous party place, BigFoot Hostel. We decided to just spend the night there instead of trying to trek across town looking for another hostel at 11 pm.
+ We opted for a private room to get away from the noise, but it was right next to the kitchen and due to some overly ambitious girls cooking about 7 lasagna dishes, our room was literally as hot as an oven.
+ After escaping our room, we grabbed some new Nicaraguan beers and talked with some people and then researched for our time in Nicaragua. We ended up staying up later than everybody else (as usual). Those youngsters just can’t keep us with us seasoned night owls.

2/12
+ After waking up sweating like we just finished a hike, we were already yearning the previous 6 days of cold crisp mountain air. We decided to check out of Bigfoot and hike to the other side of town and check into a nicer, cheaper hostel Liz had found called Hostal Tortuga Booluda. We opted for the dorm room this time since the people seemed more our style (tranquilo).
+ We gathered info from the hostess then set off to explore the city on foot. We grabbed some delicious tipico food (big plate) and 2 drinks for a total of $4! That includes both of us!
+ There is a really unique looking, historic Cathedral near Central Park that we visited after lunch. We climbed up the very tiny stairway to the roof to get sweeping views of the city. It was as if we were transported to Santorini, Greece because everything was white washed! (This Cathedral was built in 1747! Wow!)
+ It was a great view point to see other historic churches and the surrounding mountains.
+ Afterwards, to cool off (or at least that was Liz’s excuse) we stopped in a Smoothie shop and we shared a delicious Shake.
+ Now it was time for our regular interrogation of different tour companies that we do in each city to learn about all the different activities/excursions and price shop. We ended up choosing a tour to go Volcano Boarding down a Volcano called Cerro Negro. The company we chose was called Quetzaltrekkers. They not only had a great price and included lunch, but they were the only company that let us go down the mountain twice! And best of all, they donate 100% of their profits to charity.
+ As we wandered through town checking out all the different shops and restaurants, we were looking to escape the unbearable heat. We stumbled upon a movie theater and decided to watch “Deadpool”. Our first movie theater experience overseas! (Theater was the same, but the movie was only $3.50 and it actually started at the exact time listed! No extra 20 minutes of previews. Weird!) The movie was way funnier than expected and we were happy with our choice.
+ Only a block away was a cool place called Via Via that we went to afterwards to lounge around in the hammocks and enjoy some cervezas.
+ The dinner smelled too appetizing to pass up so we decided to forgo our original dinner plans (which included another 15 minute trek across town) and grab dinner here instead. Liz got some chicken fajitas and Corey got 1 of the best filet mignon steaks he’s ever had! It even included Jalapeño sauce! Soooooo good!
+ When we were finished licking the plates, we got back into a big hammock for 2 just in time for the food coma to set in. After an hour or so, we embarked on the walk back home and spent the rest of the evening lounging at the hostel and updating the blog/pictures.

Click here to see more photos from Honduras or photos from Nicaragua!

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Honduras: 1/29 – 2/5

 

Antigua >>> Copan >>> Utila >>> La Ceiba

1/29
+ After only a few hours of sleep, our shuttle bus picked us up at 4am from our hostel for our 7 hour journey into Honduras.
+ We tried to sleep most the way but were not very successful.
+ Finally said goodbye to Guatemala after about 3 weeks and crossed the border and arrived in Copan, Honduras around 11am.
+ Explored the town and ate authentic street food for lunch.
+ Walked to different bus stations and mutual travel agencies to find out information about onward travel to Utila.
+ Napped back at our hostel “Berakah”.
+ Delicious (and fancy) dinner at Twisted Tanya’s. Corey had jalapeño filet mignon and Liz had ravioli.
+ Corey watched “The Avengers” in Spanish on TV while Liz organized pictures on the tablet.

1/30
+ Woke up to our hostel (and the entire town) not having any electricity or water. Fun!
+ Wandered around town until we found a good breakfast/lunch spot.
+ Afterwards, we had a 20 minute hike out to the main attraction of the town, the Copan Ruins.
+ Explored the ruins and surrounding nature trails for a few hours. We saw a few Agouti, a Honduran deer!, a Capuchin monkey (looked exactly like Marcel from “Friends”!), and tons of wild Macaws!
+ After finishing with the ruins, we sat under some trees and watched the Macaws eat, argue, and fly all around us. Really cool!
+ Walked back into town and caught a Tuk-Tuk to the “Tea & Chocolate Place”, a neat family run reforestation project.
+ After sampling their various noni tea, chocolate (with fresh cacao beans) and homemade hot sauces, we relaxed in hammocks, drank some delicious chocolate, and watched the sunset over the jungle.
+ Ate dinner at multiple street food stands  (tacos and kebabs!)
+ On a quest to find a shop willing to make change for our large bills, we met the owner of a dive center/hotel on Guanaja (the 3rd bay island). He was very nice and his hotel sounded great! Unfortunately Guanaja is very remote and only accessed via express air charter. So we don’t think we’ll get to it on this backpacking trip, but hopefully in the future!

1/31
+ Woke up early to catch 6 am bus to La Ceiba. We decided to forego the direct tourist shuttle because it was 3 times the price of the local bus. When we arrived at the local bus station, the 6am bus was not the same as advertised and was actually an old school bus with updated seats. Because of the savings, we hopped on anyway for the projected 7-10 hour ride.
+ We connected in San Pedro Sula (yes THE San Pedro Sula everyone says to avoid because of high murder rates) and boarded another bus for the 3ish hour ride to La Ceiba.
+ Liz somehow managed to sleep for the majority of BOTH bus rides! Now that’s talent! Corey caught up on a few movies (Daddy’s Home, Creed, South Park).
+ After arriving in La Ceiba a few of us backpackers all split 2 cabs to get to the dock for the Utila ferry.
+ The cab drivers dropped us off at the ferry for the Utila Dream. We all bought tickets and dropped off our bags to be loaded on the boat. Only after this did we all realize that there is a much cheaper ferry a block down the road! We were so frazzled from our long day of travel, that our whole group of backpackers did not even bother to look for other ferry options! Despite our online research about the ferry, nothing mentioned the 2 different companies with such different price points! We were frustrated that we had saved money on the bus but then lost it again with the more expensive ferry. Oh well. We live and learn.
+ We talked with a friendly traveller (Cait) from Massachusets on the 45 min boat ride to Utila on the large catamaran.
+ After arriving at the ferry dock, we found Captain Morgan’s dive center, checked in to stay, and signed up for dives starting the next day.
+ Ate dinner at the sports bar “Skid Row” so Corey could watch the Pro Bowl. It was awesome.

2/1
+ Woke up at 6:45 am and got ready for diving!
+ Dove 1 dive on the Northside and 1 dive closer to the Southside of the island. The Northside is supposed to have better chances for spotting Whale Sharks as well as better visibility for diving. This was Liz’s first dive in 3 years!
+ On this dive we saw a giant spider crab ( similar to those you would see in Alaska!), a lobster (possibly dead?), and tons of different kinds of fish.
+ Spent the afternoon exploring the rest of the island (looking for good, cheap restaurants) and talking with other dive shops.
+ Ate dinner at Munchies with super cheap pasta special! Yum!
+ Spent the rest of the evening talking to a really nice couple, Gio (a girl from California who majored in biology) and a local Utila guy.

2/2
+ Decided to snorkel instead of diving today to save some extra money, but still went out on the dive boat at the same time in the morning.
+ Snorkeled 2 different sites again (1 north, 1 south), saw a moray eel swimming along the reef, a bunch of trigger fish, and a huge nurse shark (probably 9-10 feet long) just hanging out under a reef shelf!
+ Back at the hostel we showered, packed up, and checked out of our hostel. (We decided that we wanted to try out another company while on the island to better our luck of finding whale sharks!)
+ We ate lunch at a local hotspot called Rehab (famous for their drinking challenge, though we did not partake).
+ Checked into our new place, Altons, on the other side of the island. Spent the afternoon watching “The Rock” in the hang out area and updating the blog.
+ Went out for dinner, stopped to check prices at a party restaurant called “Underwater Vision” and started talking with a nice older couple from Wisconsin! (Right up near where Liz’s family is from!). Ended up eating wings (the 2nd time in 1 day for Corey!) and staying the whole time.
+ Hung out back at our dive hotel and did some blog work while watching “Drive” on tv.

2/3
+ Woke up early again (like our 4th day in a row! Ugh.) to meet our new dive master and get gear ready for our 2 north side dives today.
+ Both of these dives were way more impressive than the 2 previous sites. We explored 2 seamounts with surrounding mazes. (Spur and groove reef)
+ Tons of schooling fish, multiple moray eels, 1 large burrfish (similar to pufferfish), 1 sneaky (and large) barracuda hiding behind the school of fish and 2 cow fish!
+ Corey was an expert at spotting the eels both sleeping and swimming! He pointed them out to the group multiple times!
+ In between the 2 dives, the boat captains are always on the lookout for dolphins, pilot whales or whale sharks to snorkel with. On this trip he spotted some dolphins! Corey and I thought it would be a huge group of dolphins hanging out but only after getting in the water did we realize it was only about 6 dolphins who were swimming by. Liz could see them but was no where close. Corey was able to swim along behind them for about 30 seconds, but because the dolphins were already on the move, none of us snorkeling were able to keep up. We all climbed back in the boat and continued on to the 2nd dive site.
+ After we returned to the dock at Alton’s, we changed and found lunch at a nearby restaurant.
+ We wanted to do a night dive, but Alton’s was charging more than we wanted to spend. We spent the afternoon price checking other dive centers on the island.
+ While diving can be awesome, it is a very expensive hobby! Utila is known for some of the cheapest diving in the world, but diving everyday can still far exceed a backpacker budget.
+ We stopped by the Whale Shark and Oceanic  Research Center here on the island to talk to them about looking for whale sharks. They explained that when pilots are flying between Utila and the mainland, they let the research center know where they have spotted whale sharks. The good news is the research center does not need to drive around randomly looking for the sharks and has a much better chance of actually seeing them. The bad news is no one has seen any sign of the Whale sharks for a few weeks.
+ Watched sunset at Alton’s in the chairs on the dock.
+ Ate dinner at stir fry place that is only open a few days a week. It was delicious and huge portions!
+ After dinner, we walked over to this dock people had mentioned had some wildlife at night. After looking around for a bit we saw tons of huge tarpon hanging out and a few spotted eagle rays swam by!

2/4
+ Ate breakfast at Alton’s and then lounged around in hammocks on the dock before checking in at Underwater Vision.
+ Took a tuk tuk to Coral View. (Small bar with shore access reef at the end of the Utila lagoon)
+ The snorkeling was way better than either of us expected! We were in the water for over 2 hours! The reef was very shallow in some areas and very deep in others. We saw multiple eagle rays, 2 puffer fish, christmas tree worms, TONS of different fish (wrasse, tangs, damsel fish, few groupers, etc.)
+ Caught a tuk tuk back into town and ate lunch of pizza and then split a lionfish burger! Yum! Tasted very similar to crab cake.
+ Came back to Underwater Vision and got fitted with gear for the night dive.
+ This was our first night dive since we got our Advanced Open Water certifications at FSU!
+ The night dive was really awesome and filled with all sorts of cool creatures that are more active and visible at night. We saw 2 octopus, a bunch of shrimp, lobster, a brittle star, and a tiny eel.
+ Throughout the dive we were all swarmed by fish that were attracted to our lights to feed on the illuminated micro organisms! The fish ranged in size from a minnow to the size of Liz’s hand! They were nibbling our hands and arms as they swarmed around us swimming at top speed and bumping into our faces. It was quite the experience.
+ The coolest part was when we all turned off our lights so that we could see the bioluminescence in the water! Simply by moving our arms and legs around, the water would light up with a glowing neon green color with all of the micro organisms that were being disturbed. Super cool!
+ After our dive was over, we all hopped right back into the water without our dive gear just to swim around and see more bioluminescence.
+ We spent the boat ride back alternating between staring at the bioluminescence from the boat disturbing the water below and the magnificent display of stars above.
+ After a quick clean up of our gear for the last time on Utila, we skipped the roudy party scene at our hostel in favor of hanging out with our friend Cait we had met on the way over to Utila.
+ We ended up spending the rest of the night talking with her, a nice girl named Lola, and the coolest bartender on the island, Tom(?). He even kept the bar open for us after hours since we were having such a good time hanging out.
+ On the way back home we grabbed a good street taco to supplement the pizza we had earlier, then packed up our bags back at the room to leave Utila the next day.

2/5
+ Our initial plan was to go snorkeling for 1 last time in the morning from the dive boat, but the water was too choppy and the bed too comfortable so we chose a lazy and relaxing morning instead.
+ After a quick ATM visit and settling up with our hostel, we ate lunch on the dock at Altons and then set off to explore the other end of the island.
+ Walked by some building with very large walls with barbed wire on top and the gate said “King Kong Gate” on it. We nervously chuckled at how that wasn’t possible, and then hurried along just in case.
+ At the end of our walk was a nice public beach/park with Iguanas and a nice snorkeling area, although the wind was still too strong on this day so we cut our visit short and headed back.
+ We spent the remaining hour or so before our ferry was to depart lounging in hammocks and soaking up the last bits of island life before heading back to the mainland.
+ Our ferry ride back was still very smooth despite the much larger waves and we were glad we were in the bigger, more expensive ferry to avoid any potential sea sickness (that we heard happens often with the cheaper, smaller ferry). Plus we still had our free sodas to comfort us.
+ We were met at the gate by our free shuttle driver to the Jungle River Lodge we would be staying at for the next few nights. We were joined by a nice British guy named Liam and after a brief tour of the city and a quick 30 minute taxi ride, we arrived at our new hostel in the jungle. The perfect weather we were blessed with in Utila gave way to about 18 hours straight of rain and much cooler temperatures at our higher altitude.
+ We ate dinner right at the hostel and caught up on work with the tablets before watching the final 80% of “The Fugitive” (Liz had only ever seen the first 20% about 5 different times).

Click here for more photos of our time in Honduras!