Friday, September 06, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT trip, Day 7

I woke up around 7:30, the other two didn't wake up until after 10:00am. I explored the island a bit, did some fishing and gazed. I boiled some water for tea, then went to get the tea bags, and couldn't find them. As I was exploring the island, I found them. Come creature (probably a mouse) got a hold of them and dragged them into the forest and ripped the baggie apart and then ripped most of the tea bags up.

Lisa made us an awesome breakfast of eggs (mixed with various veggies) and potatoes, then we packed up our camp and headed back to town.

I mentioned that we were bucking the wind all day yesterday, so we figured we'd have the wind advantage today. Nope. The wind totally changed direction and was blowing the complete opposite, so we were bucking the wind and waves across the stupid lake again. Annoying!

We got back to the kayak rental place about 3:45 and packed our stuff up. Lisa dropped me off at her place so I could get my car and see about souvenir shopping before everthing closed at 5:00ish

I got back to her house around 6:00, got showered and then me and Lisa went to the Black Knight pub for some pub food and a beer. Back home, and we watched tv. I was sooo tired, I went to bed about 9:30, and I knew I had a long drive tomorrow.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT trip, Day 6

I got up around 8:00 and went for breakfast at the Dancing Moose Cafe. Then headed out on the Ingraham Trail past Yellowknife for a couple of hours.

On the way back, I saw a wolf on the highway.

I got back to the house at noon and Lisa sent an email saying she wouldn't get off work until about 2:00. Lisa came and picked me up to take me to her work for a bit.

We were finally ready to go on the kayak trip after 4:00, so went to the kayak rental place and got everything packed away and we were off. Great Slave Lake was windy and we had to cross a bay in the kayaks, going right into to the wind whitecaps breaking on is. It was soooo hard. Arms were killing us. Once we crossed the bay, we followed the shoreline to the the Yellowknife River, bucking the wind, as usual. At least we'll be going with the wind coming back, we figured.

We kayaked to Cinnamon Island and set up camp. I made Kraft Dinner for supper and made a fire. As the night rolled on, a group of Japanese tourists showed up on a tour group, here to see the northern lights. The northern lights did show, as the night went on, they came more and more south, eventually directly overhead. They were not amazingly awesome, but it's been probably 10 years or more since I saw the, so it was pretty cool.

To bed after midnight sometime.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT trip, Day 5

Up around 8:00 and had a shower and made bacon and eggs and got all packed.

After filling up with diesel, I started the 300km drive to Yellowknife. Boring drive! It started to get a bit more interesting after Behchoko/Rae-Edzo when I started to get into the Canadian shield, but still not spectacular.

The highway past that was pretty bumpy too, with parts gravel and under construction. I think the permafrost wreaks havoc on the highways, causing bumps and dips all over.

Arrived in Yellowknife around 3:00. Went to the visitors centre and the museum, which was really good and free. The museum has a 43-foot canoe built by the natives made out of moosehide, way cool. I called Lisa, she was working until around 6:00pm, and gave me her address. I bummed around the old town for a bit.

And then the unthinkable happened. I dropped my phone. Smash, the front touch screen is completely busted. Only part of the touch screen actually works, so it's pretty much useless. I just bought it in January. Horrible. Anyway, it's a good thing I didn't need it for anything, as I have my tablet that I can use for all internet related needs.

Lisa has arranged an overnight kayak trip up the Yellowknife river. It'll be me, her and another guy, Steve, who works for the military and got awesome deal on rental kayaks and equipment for us.

At 7:00, we headed to the kayak place to sign for the equipment, then went to the Bullocks Bistro for supper. The specialize in a bunch of fresh local fish (pike, pickeral, arctic char, whitefish and others). Expensive, though. I had arctic char, which was $39.00.

Back to Lisa's place and we Skyped Jen Moller, just because. Then to bed.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT trip, Day 4

Up around 8:00 and went to shower. Beautiful blue skies.

I made breakfast and bacon and eggs and decided to reorganize my car to fit more firewood. They have firewood for sale here, I plan on buying as much as I can fit into my car.

After rearranging and packing everything back up, I headed to the office and bought wood. $5 for as much as I could fit into my car. Pretty good deal, and I had made significantly more more in my trunk by rearranging.

I headed off to Fort Providence, which is less than 100km away. Very short day for me today. I crossed over the Deh Cho Bridge, a new bridge crossing over the mighty Mackenzie river. The bridge is just over 1km long and replaces a ferry crossing (in summer) and an ice crossing (in winter). It opened late last year.

Got to Fort Providence Territorial park and picked a spot. There are a handful of other campers here. When I went to register, the park guy said "I hope you have wood". I said I do. He said "Good, because I ran out." Good thing I stocked up on wood this morning at the other campground.

I unpacked my tent and got setup. I noticed one of my rear tires seemed low, so checked it and it was. All the wood in the trunk! There was an Shell service station just back on the highway about 5 km back, so went back there and they had a air and pumped it up and checked the rest of the tires for good measure. This is the last service for 300km, until Yellowknife. And there is no cell service for the whole way either, until Yellowknife. Big trip.

At the gas station is also a cafe and a store and a bar. I bought a Jones soda pop and sunflower seeds. The bar was closed, but will presumably be open in the evening, so I may go for a beer. This gas station is popular with truckers, going to/from Yellowknife. They can stop here and get coffee, a bite to eat before heading on.

I must talk about the bugs. There are these tiny flying bugs, they are incessant. They horde around you. They don't bite or anything, but they are SO ANNOYING! They fly in your eyes, in your ears, in your hair. I've swallowed a few. There's nothing you can do about them, but they seem temperature dependent. As I was cooking breakfast this morning, there were none, but as it warmed up, WHAM, all of a sudden they're all over you. At the new campsite, as I was setting up, swarming me. Later in the day, it must have got too hot for them, because all of a sudden they're all gone. I'm sure as the day cools they'll come back. The only other saving grace is wind, even the slightest breeze will keep them away.

Back at the campsite, I walked down to the Mackenzie river and sat on the shore, skipped rocks and searched for fossils.

I gave Lisa a call on Skype. I'll call her again when I get to Yellowknife tomorrow. She may be able to get off work early as well, and we can hang out.

Started a fire around 6:00 and did up some chorizo and made Kraft Dinner with sausage. Yum. I had a random plastic bottle with some sort of soap or detergent, so I used it to clean the dishes. I think it was shampoo. Sure smelled like it.

The campground is filling up. Lots of campers coming in later in the afternoon and evening.

Got an email from Lisa, she is going to try to get Thursday and Friday off and we'll do a kayak trip up the Yellowknife river for a night. That would be cool.

It was a perfect evening. Clear skies, no wind, campfire, beautiful stars, nice temperature (sweater weather). I stayed up quite late, almost midnight before retiring.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT Trip, Day 3

Up around 8:00. It stopped raining, but overcast and cool this morning. I slowly got going and then had a shower (free!) and the hot water felt nice. I debated about cooking breakfast, as it seemed like it might start raining at any time. I decided to make breakfast (eggs and maple sausage and tea). I took the spiral staircase down closer to the Hay River and Louisa Falls for some pictures.

Got all packed up and left maybe around 11:00am and drove to Enterprise, then took did the quick trip to Hay River, as it's a fairly big place by NWT standards. Got some supplies at Megamart (or something like that) and filled up with diesel. Hay River is like an ocean community, along the south bank of Great Slave Lake. The Coast Guard is even here, and lots of fishing boats and such. It was weird that I wasn't at an ocean. Not a particularly attractive town, though.

Headed back to the main highway and up to Lady Evelyn Falls campground. Very nice campground. I checked in, and had the choice of spots. There's only one other camper here. My tent fly was soaked, so setup my tent and laid the fly out on the picnic table to dry in the cool air. Drove down the road to the small Dene (First Nation) community of Kakisa. Not much to see and the village store was not open.

Back to the campground and did the short hike to Lady Evelyn falls on the Kakisa river. Back to campsite and figured out the technology on how I may call Lisa. Rogers doesn't have any service up here, but I do have a Bell wi-fi hotspot, and they have spotty coverage, including the town of Kakisa, which the campground is very close to. Seems like the only choice is Skype.

Built a fire and made supper (Spolumbo's sausage and potatoes). Remember the squirrel tying to get my cookie!
The day started out cloudy, but as it went on, it cleared. By supper time, there were hardly any clouds. But it was chilly!

Even in September, there is still light in the sky at 10:00pm.

Funny story (to me). This morning, when I was in Hay River, I was imagining a scenario where I ran into some local who had no idea that they made diesel cars and how that conversation might go. I have no idea why this thought popped into my head. When I pulled up to the campground caretaker, he remarked that my vehicle sounded a bit rough. I told him it was a diesel, they sound rough. He was really surprised and said "Wow, they make diesel cars nowadays?"

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT trip, Day 2

Tent is soaked on the outside. I did a short hike to the other lake. I have no idea why they are called Twin Lakes, the lakes don't look anything like each other. One is short and fat, the other is tall and skinny. Whatever.

Stopped in High Level for diesel (I'm filling up often) and A&W for lunch. Talk about a boring drive. It's so flat and trees on either side, there's nothing to see. The highways are straight as an arrow. Further south, around Peace River, you swear you're driving in Saskatchewan, wheat fields, bales of hay, farms, etc. I lost cell service as I got close to the NWT border and won't have it again, until maybe Hay River for a bit or Yellowknife.

It was pretty much like that the whole way. When I entered the NWT, I stopped at the tourist info centre there for a bit, gathered up some reading material and got to Twin Falls Territorial Park about 3:15, where I'd reserved a campsite at Louisa Falls campground. I got there and the campsite I had reserved was occupied. The lady running it was busy cleaning the toilets, so I waited outside the toilet area to ambush her. When she came out, she apologized and just told me to take another, unoccupied site. I had reserved because the website indicated that only two sites were available. When I got there, there were a handful of sites available, so I didn't really need to reserve.

I got my tent up and laid the fly out to dry and headed to Alexandra Falls for pictures and sightseeing. Talk about a site! And you can walk right up the to the edge of the falls at the top and peer over, standing inches away. It was quite something.

Back to the campground and bought some firewood (they sell it by the "bundle", 10 pieces per bundle for $5. I wanted two bundles, but she didn't have change for a $20, so she said give her $5 and take a bundle for free. Haha. But it's not bundled, so you have to grab pieces from an almost empty wood pile and go on the honor system. I grabbed as much as I could fit in my little front seat in my car. This is one spot where a truck would be awesome, transporting firewood!

Back at the campsite, read my reading material, then went for the short hike to Louisa Falls. Not quite as spectacular as Alexandra Falls, but still a site to see.

Back to the campsite and started up a fire. The day was quite nice, a bit cool, but as evening came, it started to cloud over. I made hamburgers for supper. There's two (or more) families at the campsite next to me and there's a whiny, whiny kid, he won't shut up.

I sat staring into the fire for the night, and it got quite chilly with a few drops of rain. When I went to the bathroom, it was sleeting out, I could see it in the light of my headlamp. I'm hoping for clear skies, I want to see the northern  lights again, something I haven't seen since I lived in Saskatchewan.

Eventually went to bed quite late, and it started raining and it rained steady all night long.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Yellowknife, NWT Trip, Day 1

Up around 6:00, wanted to get an early start.

Got diesel and checked my oil at the gas station (something I kept forgetting to do during the week) and there was no oil on the dipstick at all! I had grabbed oil from my house, so dumped it in and got it back to within "normal" range. That's bad, good thing I checked it!

I headed north on Deerfoot and remember passing by 16th Ave. at 8:02am. On the way to Red Deer, I had electrical issues. I had bought a new electric cooler (DC and AC) from Canadian Tire a few days ago, and now my phone was saying it was almost dead, despite being plugged in in my car. I thought it had something to do with the electric cooler plugged in in the trunk.

I stopped in Red Deer at Canadian Tire and discovered that my phone charger had a bad connection where it plugged into the phone. Thank goodness it was not the new cooler. Got oil and some new DC phone charging stuff at Canadian Tire before heading back on the highway. I turned off the QE2 just after Red Deer, figured the other highways would provide better scenery and I could also avoid Edmonton.

Nothing exciting happened, and I arrived at Twin Lakes Provincial Recreation Area shortly after 6:00pm. As I was arriving at the campground, there was a nasty looking storm cloud and it rained a bit as I drove in. Nice campground, not too busy. I got my tent up and started a fire, and looked up and the clouds were swirling. I knew it was going to rain, so decided to not throw any more wood on the fire and instead grabbed all the stuff I needed for hot dogs and tailed it to the picnic shelter. It started raining as I ran and once there, it poured and hailed and lightninged and thundered. One bright flash and a second later, one of the loudest thunders I have ever heard. The storm was on top of us. I made hotdogs while the storm unleashed its fury. After 30 minutes or so, it subsided, so I headed back to the tent. The inside of my tent was a bit wet along one side. After investigation, I realized my tent was not leaking, but the hail and rain was coming down as such an angle and with such force, that it was bouncing off the ground, under my fly and getting into the tent a bit. I dried it up and tightened the fly wires a bit better and got everything ready and climbed in bed and started reading. It started raining again and more lightning and thunder. It was cool! As I reading, I had the scare of a lifetime. There was the brightest flashes of light I've ever seen, instantly followed by the loudest thunder ever. Crazy! My tent handled it fine, no leaks or anything.

Eventually the storm passed and I fell asleep.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Back to Calgary

Got a taxi to the airport around 4:00am. Got checked in and waited.

Nothing exciting happened today. All I really have to say is that going through US customs and baggage at Houston was a royal pain the ass. It took soooo long. It's a good thing I had an almost 4 hour layover or I would've missed my flight. It ended up that my flight to Calgary got delayed by couple of hours as well, so didn't get back to Calgary until about 7:15pm.

Tracy picked me up, we went out for supper, and then I went home and crashed!

And that wraps up my 34 day trip to Honduras and Nicaragua.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Off to Managua - Almost finished. :-(

Tried to sleep in a bit, as there's nothing planned for today. We are catching a shuttle to Managua at 11:30am.

We had breakfast then just hung around the hostel for the morning.

The shuttle was uneventful. It dropped us off at the Tika bus station in Managua, which has a hotel and where dad had a reservation. Our first air conditioning of the whole trip, brrrr was it cold when you're not used to it!

We headed out to find something to eat for lunch. Most of the places were closed, but we did find one place that was selling food "buffet-style", you picked what you wanted, she'd scoop it on a plate. You could then sit down in a open-air table area and they'll bring it to you, and get your drinks for you. We had white rice and another rice dish, kind of like chicken fried rice, then a chicken thing with some sort of creamy alfredo-type sauce that had a bit of kick to it (this was amazingly delicious!) and some beef ribs. It was all very good and very cheap, as it was a local restaurant, not a tourist one.

We walked back to the hotel and did nothing for the rest of the day.

Went to bed kind of early, as I have to get up at 3:30am or so to get to the airport.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Isla de Ometepe

Up early, 5:15 to pack and get ready for our 6:00am pickup for the Isla de Ometepe tour. It was about a one hour drive south through Rivas to San Jorge to catch the ferry to Moyogalpa, about 1-1.5 hours, where our guide, Erik, met us.

First we had some breakfast then we went to La Punta de Jesus Maria, a sand point filled with lots and lots of shells that you wouldn't expect to see in a lake. However, this lake was part of the ocean at one point, but got cut off from the ocean due to volcanic activity. It has slowly lost its salinity, and apparently has a lot of unique fish species because of this, including shark and sawfish. The sand point may have been connected to the mainland at one point as well.

Then to Charco Verde, a natural reserve with a green lagoon (because of the algae) and lots of flora and fauna. It was a very overcast day, so the colors didn't really come out, unfortunately. We saw half a dozen howler monkeys. It was hard to get clear shots of them through the foliage. Also saw plenty of birds.

Then to see petroglyphs, which are up to 5000 years old. Then we headed for lunch at a resort along a huge stretch of beach. Lunch was not good at all, both dad and I agreed.

Then we headed to a natural springs (Ojo de Agua). Our guide told us they were neither hot nor cold, but just right. I jumped and near froze to death! It was cold to me!

The morning started off very cloudy and both volcanoes were completely obscured and it even drizzled a bit on us. As the day wore on, the clouds somewhat cleared from the volcanoes, allowing some decent pictures. The bigger volcano is ConcepciĆ³n and is still active. The smaller one is Maderas and is now extinct.

Back to the ferry about 3:45 and back to our hostel after 6:00pm.

I really liked Ometepe. It would have been awesome to stay a few days and rent a motorbike and explore the island. Lots and lots of backpackers around. This is the first place I've been in either Honduras or Nicaragua that would make me consider another trip to Nicaragua.

Around 7:30, we headed to O'Shea's Irish Pub again, as we really liked the food we had last night. Danielle and Alice showed up randomly, so sat with us.

Back to the hostel about 10:00, did some journal stuff and then to bed.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Tourist

Dad got up early, as usual, as we were going to go kayaking early this morning to see the lake, but they locked up all the kayaks last night and there was no one around to unlock them. So much for that idea!

When the kitchen opened, we ordered breakfast, paid our stay and hung out until the shuttle came, about 10:45.

Back to Oasis Hostel in Granada, got our old room back. We hit an ATM to grab a bit more cash, as we don't have enough to last us. Then we booked a day tour of Isla de Ometepe, walked to an artisan market, then walked through a huge local market.

About 7:30pm, we headed to O'Shea's Irish Pub to meet up with Danielle and Alice, who we had met in Leon. Very nice evening, we sat outdoors. I had a great tasting filet mignon.

Headed home around 9:00pm, when it started to spit a bit.

I normally don't post pictures during my regular blog updates, but I need to for this. When we got back to Granada, dad did laundry, so pulled out a bunch of new clothes to put on for the day. This is what I had to walk around with today:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Laguna de Apoyo

Got up and had breakfast. Packed and checked out and got the shuttle to Laguna de Apoyo, Paradiso Hostal. A crater lake, Laguna de Apoyo is clean and a very comfortable temperature. Paradiso Hostel is a nice place too.

I went for a swim in the lake, had a beer at the lakefront lounge and had lunch. We talked with a German girl for a while.

Very relaxing here. They have kayaks, but dad and me are going to take them out early tomorrow morning instead, when most of the animals will be active. Lots of bird life here!

Did lots of reading. I think dad may have been a bit bored, as he had nothing to waste away his time, except his computer. But I think he still enjoyed the quiet and solitude.

There was a small shower this afternoon.

We had burgers for supper, very good burgers. I love the third world french fries as well, Canadian french fry makers don't hold a candle to them. In third world countries, they don't try to do anything special or fancy with them (i.e. spices).

With nothing to do and the rest of the guests having appeard to disappear from the hostel, dad went to bed early, like 8:00 or 8:30 I think. I stayed up reading until after 10:00pm before going to bed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dad Waves at Prostitutes

Got up about 8:00am after being awake for a few hours laying in bed. It's a free all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast (with bananas and coffee/tea) at the hostel.

The city tour guide picked us up about 9:00 for our city tour, which wasn't as interesting as the one in Leon.

Back to the hostel around noon, when we went to a ABM (for dad) and I bought some dresses for Tracy. It's hard, I have to try and size the dress based on mannequins that look about Tracy's size. Hehe.

Sent an email to Paradiso Hostel at Laguna de Apoyo, a hostel at a deep, clean, volcanic crater lake near Granada. I tried to do some laundry by hand. Had a dip in the pool, then journal stuff and relaxing.

Dad got an email from Danielle, one of the Dutch girls from Leon, inviting us to an Irish pub for trivia night and a beer tonight at 7:30. We said yes.

A big storm hit about 5:00pm, massive downpour and lightning and thunder. By 7:30, it was still raining a bit, but we decided to go to the pub anyway, as we needed to eat. We assumed they wouldn't go out in the rain, and I further assumed the rain would ruin the outdoor seating at the pub and the trivia wouldn't happen anyway. I was correct, there were a few people braving the rain, but the pub was not busy. Remember the three prostitutes hanging around outside, under umbrella's, waving in at us, and dad waving back at them.

Back to the hostel around 9:00, still raining. At least the power hasn't gone out yet.

To bed around 11:00, and BAM, the power went out! We both groaned and complained to each other. Fortunately, it came back on about 20 minutes later. The power did go out periodically throughout the night, but only for a few minutes at a time, so it wasn't bad. The room was pleasant with the door open and the fans going.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Granada

Up early again. Did some research on hostels in Granada on Trip Advisor, decided on Hostal Oasis.

A somewhat small and cramped minivan with 5 others already on board picked us up shortly after 10:00. About 30 minutes outside of Leon, Alexandra realized she left her passport between the mattress and box spring at the hostel. Another guy on the shuttle who was fluent in both Spanish and English called up Colibri and arranged for a private car to race her passport to the airport in Managua so she wouldn't miss her flight. That cost her $65US.

We dropped Alexandra and another girl off at the airport, then on to Granada. The bus dropped us off at the Oasis Hostel. Private rooms with private bath for $28/night. If we want A/C, it's an extra $15/night, but we'll see how the first night goes without A/C.

Went walking around downtown Granada, a very nice downtown. The government is obviously making Granada the home of tourism, all the old colonial buildings are restored and it's all very touristy, with the touts and beggars that go along with it.

Had lunch at a cafe, then to Tierra Tours office to see the tours they offer. Booked a city tour for tomorrow morning, then walked along the promenade that has tons of cafe's and bars and tourist shops, then a whole kilometre of under construction promenade all the way to the lakefront. Including kids begging for money.

Back to the hostel. It's very busy with backpackers, tons of them here. We have a room on the second floor overlooking the pool, hopefully it's not noisy at night.

We actually didn't do much of anything at all. I read all evening plus some journal stuff, jumped in the pool in the afternoon for a bit.

Headed to bed shortly before 11pm, and just as I walked through the room door (dad was already in bed), the power went out. Dad tried to blame me, I think he was in a half sleep state, kept asking me what I'd done to the power. Anyway, without power (and fans), the room got stifling hot pretty quick. I think I fell asleep maybe after two hours of laying awake sweating. At some point in the night the power did come back on. I woke up, I dunno, maybe between 4 and 5 am and the fans were going again. But then the power went of again a short time later and I laid there begging the fans to start swirling again. They finally came back on, maybe 6:30 or 7. I'd be pretty upset if I had paid $15 extra for A/C and the power was out for half the night.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Volcano Boarding

Up about 7:00am, had breakfast and got picked up at 8:00 for our volcano boarding trip. It was about an hour drive on a dry river bed to a volcano called Cerro Negro, so called because it's all black rock and ash and really stands out amidst the countryside. It's a protected area, so we needed to sign in at the park station, then started the hour or so hike to the top.

Cerro Negro is a very new volcano, first appearing in 1850 and is one of the most active, having erupted at least 23 times since 1850. The last eruption was in 1999.

Alexandra, the Dutch girl, was undecided about going, but decided to do it. She's not in the best of shape and she was struggling a lot. When she got to the halfway point, she had a breakdown and started crying, saying it was too hard. Anyway, our guide, Miguel, who was the same guide we had for the Telica Twilight tour, said that the first half was the hardest part and the second half was much easier, so she continued. The colours were amazing in the crater, yellow sulfer, red iron, white magnesium all contrasting with the black rock.

We reached the summit and walked to the edge of one of the craters, where the soil was hot, hot, hot from the heat underneath! It's still active.

We suited up and I was first to go, as everybody else were scaredy cats. I had dad's camera head mount he made with my camera attached, so turned it on to take video of my ride, but the battery was almost dead! BAH! I had just charged it two days before and didn't use it. WTF! When we were in the hot springs in Copan, it got a bit wet and has been acting weird ever since (the flash doesn't work at all, and if you try to use the flash, the camera locks up and has to be turned off). So, all I got it was about 20 seconds of me getting ready and yelling at dad asking him if he's ready....

Anyway, dad walked part way down the volcano to take pictures as we passed.

I went fast! It was a blast! Black rock and sand flying all over my face, I could barely see most of the time. To get an idea of what it was like for me, see this, starting at the 15 second mark. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_JobPvfxWY) Just lots of rocks flying all over! Everyone else didn't go nearly as fast as me. One guy, from New Zealand tried "snow boarding" style, standing up on a snow board, but he struggled, wished he'd done the sitting down one. Anyway, it was a blast.

Back to the hostel, went to lunch, then back to the hostel to wait for our pickup for the Flor de Cana rum tour, which wasn't that great, actually. It was more talking about how awesome they are, all their awards, how socially and environmentally responsible they claim to be and stuff like that, then the gift shop, then the gift shop, where I bought two t-shirt because they were cheap, 2 for $23, one for me, one for Tracy.

Back to the hostal around 6:00am and went to Carnivoro for supper with Alexandra, but it was closed, so ended up going to Barbaro again. Very quiet in town tonight.

I tried to wash my clothes the "Ralph" way today, but it was a miserable failure. I must not have the technique down, but it's hard to try and soap up clothes when you're wearing them and everything came out still stinky and dirty. Oh well, I only have a week left.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

When You Play With Fire, You'll Get Burned

Up after 7:00pm sometime. No plans for today. We had breakfast with the two Dutch and American girls. One of the Dutch girls and the American girl left to go back to Granada today. The other Dutch girl offered to make us lunch today, as she had groceries left over from yesterdays pancakes.

Dad and I walked to the bank, then to Tierra Tours to book a rum tour for tomorrow and a shuttle to Granada on Tuesday. Then to a large market that we drove through yesterday on the way to the volcano. Dad bought a hammock and I bought a top for Tracy. I hope it fits.

Back to the hotel for lunch, then Alexandra gave me a lesson in Spanish conversation.

Did nothing exciting this afternoon.

It's Sunday, Leon is pretty quiet, most of the stores are closed, although the market was fairly busy.

After 5:00, me, dad and Alexandra walked down to Parque Central and then to Barbaro for supper. Treated Alexandra as she made lunch for us the past two days.

After supper, we walked through Parque Central. It was dark and for some reason none of the lights were on in the park, but it was very busy with locals, including some selling flying plastic contraptions that light up. In fact, they were selling the same flying thing that locals were selling when I was in China. In China, I had bought two of them for Ryan and Darren's kids, but they were a piece of junk. Alexandra bought one anyway.

Then there was a fire juggler, so we went over watch. He did the fire breathing trick, but something went wrong and the fire stayed on his face for a number of seconds and he started freaking out, probably burned himself a bit, but nothing major.

Back to the hostal and didn't do much.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hiking up Telica Volcano!

Up whenever and had breakfast.

I hit an ATM, then we went to Tierra Tours and I booked a volcano boarding trip for Monday. Dad will come along, but won't do the boarding down the volcano. The two girls I mentioned yesterday that did it loved it.

Then we headed to the supermarket to get snacks and water for our Telica Twilight Tour, which includes hiking down the volcano in the dark, with only flashlights.

When we got back to the hostal, Alexandra, one of the Dutch girls, invited us to join them for lunch, she was making Dutch pancakes today, so we dined with them for lunch.

At 2:00pm, we left on our tour. Two guides and a driver. It was a 15 minute drive down the highway, then we turned off into a dry river bed for an off-roading adventure for an hour up the dry river bed to the point where we'd start hiking. The price was worth it just for the drive alone! We saw the national bird of Nicaragua, the turquoise browed motmot (or the guardabarranca, as the Nicaraguans call it). We had a coffee before heading out, and as we were drinking the coffee, it started raining, so we sat in the SUV for 20 minutes or so until the rain passed, when they decided to keep driving up the foot of the volcano, and we'd start hiking there instead.

It was maybe 1 hour hike up over large and small volcanic rocks. It would be easy to twist an ankle or knee here, but dad did awesome! The views from the volcano were amazing, lots and lots of sulfer gas coming out of the volcano and clouds cleared for some amazing views all around. We hung out at the volcano rim until after dark to see if we could spot some red magma through the thick, sulfuric gas, and sure enough we did see some, albeit 120 metres down the cauldron edge. Still pretty cool!

It was now pitch black, the stars were very bright, and it was time to hike down by flashlight. On the way down, we saw a tiger skinned gecko that was missing a front leg.

Parts were a bit hairy on the loose rock, we but all made it down safe and sound.

On the drive out of the dry river bed, we got a flat tire, so had to stop and put on the spare.

Back to the hostal about 9:30.

I'm pretty proud of dad. He's been doing things that he probably didn't think he'd ever do (ziplining, peering into an active volcano) or ever do again (two days riding around a ranch on a horse) and he's loving it and getting along fine!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Checking out Leon

Up early, like 6:30. So much for sleeping in! Free breakfast is included at the hostal. We walked around a bit then, dad headed to a Claro store to get internet on his phone/hotspot. That took over an hour.

Then to Tierra Tours to checkout their offerings. Booked a half-day city tour for 2:00pm this afternoon, and a the Telica twilight tour for tomorrow that includes a hike up to an active volcano to hopefully see magma bubbling. I want to to volcano boarding as well.

We had lunch at ViaVia, then back to the hostal to get picked up for our city tour.

The city tour was 3 hours long, we went to Sutiaba, an indigineous neighbourhood, then to the main cathedral, including going to the rooftop, then to the Musem of Myths and Legends, and we learned all about Nicaragua history, including the dictatorships of the mid-1900s and the civil war of the 1970's and 80's.

Back to the hostal and did journal stuff. Headed to a restaurant called Carnivoro for supper. Great restaurant, higher class service and presentation, but the price isn't terribly expensive.

There's a couple at our hostal travelling with a tiny chihuahua dog. She carries it wherever they go.

Met three girls at the hostal, two from Holland and one from the U.S. Two of them are doing volcano boarding tomorrow, the third one might do it on Monday.

As we were walking around, a store had shut down a street and hired some famous Nicaraguan singer to do a show on the street, including four hot chicks in skimpy outfits gyrating to a crowd of many hundreds of locals, all cheering when the girls did sexy dance moves. Pretty hilarious stuff.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

LONG Bus Ride

Up early at 4:30am for our shuttle at 5:00am. Quick drive to the Guatemala border, easy customs and immigration getting out of Honduras and into Guatemala. It was so early in the morning, there's nobody at the border yet.

There was a girl from New Zealand on the shuttle as well, she's heading to San Salvador.

Getting into El Salvador was a bit painful. For some reaon customs and immigration were very keen on the Kiwi girls passport first, wondering when she got to Central America in April. She doesn't speak much Spanish, but kept telling them she didn't arrive in April, she arrived in May. After they got through hers, they were very keen on mine and dad's passports. They had them for a very long time, checked them against a list of some sort, made some sort of printed reports about them, ran around lots with them, was having everybody look at them, then some other guy (presumably a supervisor) signed the printed reports before we finally got our passports back. Must have took 15 minutes. Interestingly, El Salvador did not stamp any of our passports (including the Kiwi girl's passport).

We stopped in San Salvador, dropped the Kiwi girl off and picked an older couple from Australia. They are 62 years old, backpacking across Central America. They decided to "upgrade" to a tourist shuttle instead of taking chicken buses like the locals. They don't really speak Spanish either, but were getting along fine.

Then to Playa El Tunco aroun 9:45am, a backpacker surf paradise, where we got off our small mini-van shuttle and waited about 30 minutes to get on a larger 20 seat bus. Lots of other backpackers also joined us on this bus. The half an hour allowed us time to check out the beach, a black sand beach, here. I stuck my feet into the ocean in El Salvador.

The bus left around 10:15am.

Exiting El Salvador and entering Honduras went ok, a bit slow as it's midday, lots of customs and immigration traffic.

Once we got to the Honduran/Nicaragua border (around 7:30ish pm, I guess), things went sideways for one person on the bus. There's a woman from China travelling with us, along with her son (8-10 years old maybe), who's American born (travelling on an American passport). She's married to an American, but only has her Chinese passport. When leaving Honduras, the immigration people said that Nicaragua will not let Chinese into the country (i.e. they won't stamp a Chinese passport), but they said she could try, but if not, she'll have to come back into Honduras. So, across the bridge to the Nicaragua side and sure enough, they will not let her into the country. So the bus had to take her back to the Honduran immigration point, where presumably they gave her a place to sleep (with her son) and our bus will pick them up tomorrow morning and their way back. That really sucks for her, she didn't know that Nicaragua wouldn't let Chinese into the country. This whole thing took over an hour, everyone else had to wait at the Nicaragua immigration building while a tropical storm raged otuside.

Finally, over an hour late, we were on our way to Leon.

Arrived in Leon late, like 10:15 or something, at ViaVia hostel. Holy crap! We pulled down the street, and there are two big hostels across the street from each other, ViaVia and Bigfoot. Both were overflowing with drunk backpackers, partying it up like it's 1999, loud music blaring from both, drinking games happening. Party central.

No rooms were available at either of them nor at a another smaller hostel just a few buildings away, but the guy at that hostel pointed me in the direction of another hostel a block and a half away. We trudged there and they had a large room with two beds for $23/night, Calibri Hostal, owned by a Belgian guy.

We immediately went to bed after over 17 hours of travel.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Back to Copan

Up early, like 6:50 or something. Dad was up at 5 recording the sounds of the morning.

Breakfast was at 8, porridge and pancakes with fruit and honey.

Carlos came and picked is up for the drive back to Copan. It's his sisters birthday today in San Pedro Sula and there were no tours today, so he was going to go there.

We went back to La Posada De Belssy and booked a room. Headed to ViaVia for lunch and got more info on the trip to Leon tomorrow. The shuttle drops us off at ViaVia in Leon, which is perfect, smack dab in the of backpacker central in Leon.

Spent the afternoon on the rooftop patio doing journal updates and watching the storm clouds build up. Around 5:00 or 5:30, before the storm hit, the power went out. Then the storm hit. Lots of lightning, thunder, pouring rain. Amazing stuff.

Around 6:30, the streets were dark. A few places were lit up with generator power and we went in search of a German brew pub that Carlos told us about, but couldn't find it. It probably had no power anyway.

Since we got to Honduras, dad has been fascinated with a fast food joint called Super Pollo Express. He's been wanting to try it, so I relented and we went there for supper. We both had menu 9, two pieces of chicken, fries, drink and gross coleslaw for 66 lempira each. Essentially KFC.

Power was still out when we finished, everything was dark, we headed back to the room.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Where's Shelly?"

Up about 6:30, breakfast was at 8:00 (amazing!). Carlos had two other people doing a day trip today as well, so he was in Copan picking them up this morning, then will stop by guest house and pick us up on the way. The guest house is about a 15-20 minute drive from the ranch (and his mothers place).

He arrived shortly after 9:00 with a couple from California.

We got a lesson on chocolate (which they also grow here) at the guest house, then up to the ranch for about 3 hours of riding. Dad and I got the same horses as yesterday. Princessa (my horse) was quite a bit more relaxed than yesterday. Once again, over streams, forests, through fields, to the cow milking area, where they milk their own cows, by hand, for milk and cream. No machines used for milking here. We were then heading up to a spot where they plant seedling coffee plants before they get replanted on the estate. We get up to this area, along a dusty road, Carlos turns around and blurts out, quite startled, "Where's Shelly???" Shelly's horse is with us, but Shelly is not on it! Carlos bolts back down the road, and her boyfriend is quite perturbed as well and follow him, leaving dad and me sitting on our horses, holding onto the reins of Shelly's horse. They're gone quite a while, so dad and I started making our way back along the road, me towing Shelly's horse behind me. We round a bend and there they are, with Shelly. She looks a bit shaken, but she says she's alright. She had lost her balance while going over a small ravine and fell off her horse. She says she's ok, but hurt her finger a bit, but she says she's good to go. She was alsy very dirty. It's very odd that she didn't yell or scream when she fell or cry out to get our attention. She did indicated that she did try and whistle to get her horse's attention, but to no avail, and we didn't hear the whistling. When we turned around and didn't see Shelly, I thought someone really bad had happened, like she fell off her horse and broke her neck or had a smashed head or something.

So, we continued on with the horse tour and then back to his mother's house for lunch around 1:00pm. Carlos also told us that the sick horse from yesterday did die overnight.

After lunch (which was amazing!) and a rest, he took us through their small production facility. Unfortunately it wasn't running at the moment. Carlos is preparing coffee the same way his grandfather did, using much of the same equipment that his grandfather used back in the day. Quite interesting. All the coffee they produce is shade grown as well.

We headed to the hot springs around 3:30. Lots and lots of tourists there today, including a GAP tour with a guy from Lethbridge (works at the U. of L.) that does a lot of work with Dialog achitecture company in Calgary, where Darren works. At the hot springs we found out that Shelly had a big gash in her head from her fall from the horse as well. She says it was from her plastic hair clip, but a plastic hair clip would have broken and wouldn't have been able to dig into her skull like that. I believe she actually hit a rock and maybe even passed out for a very short period of time.

After the hot springs, Carlos took us to the guest house and took Joe and Shelly back to Copan.

Since we arrived in Copan, we've been hearing distant thunder and seeing sheet lightning in the later afternoons and evenings, and cloud buildup. Every day it's been getting more and more, slowly building up. Rainy season is coming!! Carlos says the rainy season has probably already hit the Pacific coast.

Tonight as we were waiting for supper (served at 7:00), the thunder is constant in the distance and lots and lots of lightning lighting up the sky and very windy. Then the power went out.

Adelia (the lady who cooks at the guest house) cooked supper by candlelight and I asked her, "Lluvia?" (Rain?) and she replid "Si!". She thinks it'll rain tonight.

After supper, lots of lightning, very dark without power, and dad and me are the only ones at the guest house. As the evening goes on, the wind starts to die, the thunder slowly dissappates and the lightning becomes less and less. After a few hours of no power, the electricity did come back on. No storms or rain tonight.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Riding Through Fields

Up early, had breakfast, paid our bill at the hotel, then went to ViaVia tour company, dropped our bags off and dad bought a new pair of sunglasses for 50 lempira. He keeps dropping his old ones and they broke.

Had a shake at ViaVia and booked the shuttle to Leon, Nicaragua for Thursday. She needed our passports to book the shuttle, remember the look on dad face when he realized he had no idea where his passport was, no recollection of putting it anywhere. He did find it between his clothes in his backpack.

About 10:20, a mini-bus came and picked us up for a rough, dirty and windy drive over mountains and valleys and through small villages, for about an hour, before stopping at a somewhat rundown looking building. We unload and go into the building, there are two locals in there, neither speak English. They show us two rooms and we pick one. We're the only ones there. The lady drags a bucket of water from outside to the toilet and indicates we have to pour water from the bucket into the toilet to flush. She turns the tap and there's no running water. The rooms look a bit run-down, paint peeling, and there's lots of spider webs and dead insects in them running up the corner of the room. Andreas, the guy at the guest house, takes us out back to show us some cocoa bushes. Then he herds us into the bed of a pickup truck where we stand in the back holding on to metal railings, as he drives towards the ranch. He makes a detour along the way and drives part way up a mountain and stops at a coffee and cardamom plantation and explains to us (in Spanish) about them.

We then continue on to a rather nice estate house where two women make us a lovely lunch, but once again no English. We keep being told about this guy, Carlos, but we have no idea who Carlos is.

After lunch, we have no idea what we're supposed to do, so we just sit and walk around the house and yard for over an hour, until someone tells us otherwise.

At this point, I'm a bit upset. I didn't pay $145 for this. No direction, no english, a crap "tour" of coffee and cardamom plantation, no running water and a kinda run down guest house. This was rated most excellent on TripAdvisor and in my mind I'm already formulating my very unflattering review of this piece of crap place.

After over an hour of hanging around, another guy comes along and introduces himself as Carlos with perfect english. He says "Let's go ride some horses!" He then laughs, saying when he heard it was a father and his son, he was expecting a younger guy with his 10 year old son. Haha.

Anyway, after meeting Carlos, everything changes. He's very friendly and personable, huge smile on his face. It ends up the woman who served us lunch was his mother. He apologized for the "no running water" situation at the guest house, apparently the town is having water supply problems at the moment. And Carlos usually picks his clients up in Copan himself, but it was his father's 76th birthday yesterday in a town 6 hours away, so he was late getting back from that, hence the mini-bus that picked us up.

Carlos takes us to the stables where the horses are all saddled up and ready to go. We mount them and take them around a large open area for a few minutes, then "vamos"...let's go! We did a 2-3 hour tour of the ranch, paste coffee plantations, through wide open cattle and horse fields, through forests and streams. We stopped in a field where Carlos explains that a horse is not well. The horse is 25 years old (they live between 20-30 years). The horse is very skinny, laying down in the field, barely able to move. As Carlos was out of town, he hasn't seen the horse in a couple of days and was dismayed to see it in the condition it's in and was a bit upset with the ranch hands for not taking care of it. He told them to go back and get water and food and get the horse to eat and drink, as he doesn't feel the horse is ready to die yet. After they leave, Carlos told us that it's a lot of work for the ranch hands to deal with a dying horse. They'd rather just leave a dying horse to die, but Carlos has a soft spot in his heart for horses and wants to do something for the horse. He told us if the horse makes it through the night, he'll have them put the horse on an I.V. drip tomorrow.

The ride is pretty amazing, actually! It was nice that it wasn't just a trail ride along predefined trails and we could take our horses out for a gallop too. My horse (Princessa) was being a "bitch" (Carlos' words), seeming to be anxious and full of energy and cutting off dad's horse and stuff, finally Carlos asks me to take Princessa for a bit of a run, burn off some of that extra energy she has.

Agro-tourism is the term Carlos uses for what he does, runs a ranch and coffee/cardamom plantation along with tourism. He needs to diversify, as coffee prices can fluctuate. He took the ranch over from his grandpa and dad, his brothers went in a different direction (one is a doctor, the other one was more interested in getting a business education and going to the big city). His sister still has a small stake and has many horses at the ranch, however.

About 5:30, back to our rooms to get our swim trunks and we headed to the natural hot springs.

The hot springs were super nice, naturally coming out of the side a mountain. They have developed the area very nicely, with probably two dozen small pools scattered around, all of varying temperatures, amongst the forest. Very nice indeed. There are also a couple of larger pools that they have for swimming or soaking (not unlike Radium, for example), but everyone soaks in the small jungle pools.

When Carlos was showing us around the hot springs, he told us numerous times not to touch certain parts of the springs, as it's very, very hot, almost boiling, stay in the man made pools, as they're temperature controlled. Shortly after Carlos left us, the next thing I hear is "Owe! That's hot! I think I burned myself." Just after Carlos told us not to stick body parts RIGHT THERE, dad thrust his whole hand RIGHT THERE. I said to him, "Did you not just hear Carlos tell us NOT to touch that?" He replied with two excuses, 1) he didn't think it'd be that hot, and 2)...I forget, but whatever, he was warned numerous times in perfect english, so it's his own fault!

As it started to get dark, we showered up and headed back to the guest house for supper, which was amazing!

Everyone left bout 8:30, and dad and I had the whole guest house to ourselves.

Remember all the spiders with a reflective "eye" on them in the grass, when we shone our light into the grass. Pretty cool.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Zip"ping Over the Canopy

We went for breakfast around 8:00, then headed to the tour operator and booked the zipline and Macau Mountain tour for today. She called them up and they were here in 10 minutes picking us up. When we got out to the zipline area, there were four US military guys, stationed in Honduras, there doing it as well.

The zipline was awesome!!! It's supposedly one of the longest ziplines in the world, comprising 16 ziplines over the forest and valley's outside of Copan. There are two ziplines that together are 1km in length. So much fun!

After that was a tour of Macau Mountain, a bird sanctuary with lots of macaus, parrots, some owls and hawks and a couple of toucans. This was good to. They release macaus back into the wild as well, along with education of the locals on preservation.

Back to the hotel and worked on journal.

Mid afternoon, we went to Jim's Pizza and shared a pizza.

Back at the hotel, I ordered Rosetta Stone Online edition to better learn Spanish.

Cloud buildup today, we heard some thunder and saw some sheet lightning in the evening, but no rain or storms over us.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Butterflies and pools

Up around 7:00am. It's hard to sleep late in the heat and when you're going to bed at 9:00pm every night. It seems much warmer this morning.

In third world countries you can't generally put toilet paper in the toilet, it has to go into a basket beside the toilet. During his morning routine (after I'd done my morning business), dad dropped his toothpaste into the poopy toilet paper bin. Haha.

Met up with Theresa for breakfast, and then dad and I walked to the butterfly house (Enchanted Wings). It was a bit underwhelming compared to other butterfly enclosures I've been too.

After that, headed to the tour operator to book the ranch trip with Finco el Cisne. We have to go on Monday, so another day in Copan Ruinas is fine.

We had a pineapple orange shake at ViaVia restaurant, then I went shopping at some of the street vendors. I bought a big bag of amazing plums for 20 lempira, about $1 CDN!

Dad had an afternoon nap, falling asleep in a hammock on the rooftop of our hotel, snoring really loudly. The girl (8 years old or so) who lives in the house came up and was laughing at him and his snoring, it was pretty funny.

Mid afternoon we went for lunch. I had a massive plate of chicken alfredo pasta. Back to the hotel and we went to the rooftop pool along with a couple of other backpackers, a girl from England and a guy from Australia. They have both been travelling for about 9 months, with a few more months to go. Makes me jealous!

Around 7:00pm, we went back to ViaVia, dad had supper and I had a brownie and ice cream as we listened to Duane play guitar and sing. Duane was the Canadian guy who's now operating the Genesis Art Centre for Honduran children.

Back to the room and went to bed about 10:30.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Copan Archaeological Site (aka "What To Do When Your Guide is Dying")

I got up shortly before 7:00am, we went for breakfast, then walked the short 15 minute walk to the Copan Archaeological site. 300 lempira each to get in and we decided to hire a guide for 500 lempira as well. We first went to a residential area, a new part opened up to tourists only about a year ago. Guides usually don't take tourists there, as evidenced by the complete fact that we were the only ones there. It's still being excavated, and you can still find pieces of pottery and obsidian lying in the dirt that were used by the Mayan's all those centuries ago. The guide kept pulling pottery bits or sharp bits of obsidian from the ground to show us. He pulled one out and was quite taken aback with it. He remarked that it was a good one, cleaned it off and then showed us. It still had paint designs on it.

He then took us to the main site, which was very spectacular. It's considered the Paris of the Maya because the art and sculptures are the best of all the Maya sites, even though the buildings are not as grand as Chichen Itza or Tikal (but still impressive).

Our guide was awesome and really knew his stuff it appeared.  As we were touring the main area, a woman we had seen at breakfast asked if she could join our tour and share the cost of the guide, which was fine with us. Her name is Theresa and she's from Portland, Oregon.

A bit later, the guide was sitting on a wall ledge, perhaps 4 feet off the ground, telling us about the area we were in. We got up to take some pictures, and as we walked away I heard some grunts and groans and then a thud. I turned around to see our guide laying on the ground on his side not moving. I initially thought he had fallen and broken a leg or arm, but we all went running to him and he was not moving, maybe slightly twitching. My dad thought he was having a heart attack, and that crossed my mind as well. We didn't know what to do, as we thought he was dying. Me and Theresa started yelling for help and another guide with a group of tourists walked over, not showing any alarm or rush and almost seemed annoyed that we'd disturbed his tour. He said he's fine and walked away! WTF? By this time, our guide was starting to move around on the ground again, albeit very confused and for some reason, seemed really keen on getting his right shoe off (which we did for him). He kept trying to get up, but we didn't think he was ready yet. He took his time and was back on his feet a few minutes later like nothing happened. I guess he can be prone to seizures and the other guides must know this, but for us it was a very scary experience.

What would have happened if he'd had an attack at the edge of one of the high walls or at the top of a stone staircase? He could've easily fallen and killed or severly hurt himself. Crazy.

After the tour, the three of us went for lunch at the cafeteria. We invited Theresa to join us tomorrow to the butterfly house and Macau Mountain bird sanctuary.

After lunch, she headed back to town and dad and I did the museum, a must see if you're ever here.

In Copan, newer generations of Maya have built over top of older Maya sites. Usually older Maya sites would be destroyed and newer buildings built on top. However at Copan archaeologists were shocked to find a completey intact shrine (called Rosalila) underneath one of the pyramids, when they were tunneling. Unfortunately, these tunnels are not for tourists, only for archaeologists, but they have built a full size replica of the Rosalila in the museum. In fact, archaeologists are finding even other building and burial shrines underneath Rosalila now! It's all very amazing!

Dad and I headed back to town and did journal updates. As I was writing, I started laughing to myself, imagining what my mom would have done if she was here and her guide collapsed.

We wandered around town and went to the a place for supper. We also decided to do a 3 day, 2 night ranch experience at Finca El Cisne before heading to Nicaragua. Rated very highly on TripAdvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g292022-d805128-Reviews-Finca_el_Cisne-Copan_Copan_Department.html)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Off to Copan Ruinas

Up at 4:15, taxi picked us up at 4:40am and had a quick trip to the Hedman Alas bus terminal. Got there about 4:50, and we had to wait 10 minutes for it to open at 5:00am.

The bus trip to San Pedro Sula, where we switched to another bus to Copan Ruinas. Remember dad being all concerned about our bags at San Pedro Sula.

Got to Copan Runias about 2:00 and walked 300m or so from the bus station to La Posada de Belssy, up a steep hill with our backpacks on. No problem for me, but dad needed a rest half way up. Nice hotel, small rooms, for $18/night. After getting settled, we went to Jim's Pizza as dad was craving pizza. Kids selling corn husk dolls kept bothering us and wouldn't leave us alone. It's very low tourist season here, so I imaging people are hurting.

After lunch we walked around Copan Ruinas some more. Copan Ruinas is a small town with narrow cobblestone streets and lots of restaurants, hotels, shops, etc., all catering to tourists. It's also very hilly. After wandering around, we went back to the hotel and relaxed. I didn't get much sleep last night, so I'm pretty tired.

Around 7:00 we walked around town looking for a place to have a drink, but everything was dead. We ended up finding a place right beside our hotel that was packed full of tourists. There was a fundraiser happening for Genesis Art School, a place setup by a Canadian where children in grades 4-8 can experience and learn the arts (something the public school system does not provide), from painting and drawing to dance and acting in plays. It's free for children in grades 4-8. Duane, the guy running Genesis, is full of energy. (http://duanesguitar.wix.com/genesis/artschool)

We had a beer there then back to the hotel. I tried to read for a bit, but couldn't keep my eyes open.

Remember the church bells ringing between 6 and 7pm, calling everyone to the 7:00pm mass.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bumming Around Tegucigalpa

No big plans today. Dad sharted his bed last night.

We had breakfast and then I booked us bus tickets to Copan Ruinas for tomorrow at 5:45am.

We then walked down to Parque Central and toured the Galeria Nacional De Arte, 40 lempira each, then decided to take a taxi to the Multiplaza Mall, a huge mall like any you'd find in any western city. We had lunch at the food court, then walked around the mall.

Took a taxi back to Parque Central and back to the room. Sat around doing journal updates and learning Spanish on my phone with Android apps.

About 6:00, headed to the pizza place Tracy and I went to but made a wrong turn and discovered a while new street of first class restaurants, including a jazz club. We picked one of them, dad ordered a grilled chicken but ended up getting a huge plate of shrimp which cost 100 lempira more. Amazingly he ate all the shrimp! Western prices, though.

Another story from last night, after we got attacked by the prostitute, dad tripped and feel down quite hard. Drunkard. He was fine, just a bruise on one hand.

Back to the room shortly after 7, paid up and didn't do much for the rest of the night. We have a 5:45am bus tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tracy going home, Dad arriving and almost getting robbed

Up at 6:00am, Tracy packed. We both got travellers diahrea. We had breakfast and waited around. Linda Vista arranged a taxi for her at 8:00am, her two weeks are finished and she's heading back to Canada.

I sent Tracy off on her own in a taxi and hung around the B&B waiting for dad. He arrived about 1:30 and he got settled into our room.

We took a walk up the small touristy area near us and had an expensive lunch at an Italian restaurant and a couple of beers. The waiter was very friendly, very broken English, and he was trying to help us speak Spanish and probably trying to learn a but more English as well.

Dad wanted ice cream after that, so we headed towards Parque Central where there are a bunch of ice cream shops. We had a McFlurry from McDonalds (sorry Tracy!) and checked out a few of the sites.

After hanging out there for a bit, we came back to the room and I made a plan for where to head next, up to Copan Ruinas.

A bit later in the evening we headed to the Angry Beaver pub for a few beers and the place was busy! There are three little pubs in the building, all were open, had patio tables and chairs out and everything was packed. The wife of the Canadian recognized me and got us a place to sit outside, then she came and sat with us for a while, talking and helping us with our Spanish as well.

We headed home after 10:00pm and we got accosted by a prostitute. She crossed the road, talking to us, I just kept saying No, No over and over, then she went for dad. I turned around and she had her hands all over him, trying to get into his pockets. I went back and started pushing her away. She grabbed harder and grabbed my arm and scratched me a bit with her fingernails. I kept pushing harder, then she finally left.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Tegucigalpa

Up at 6:30, packed, had breakfast, paid our bill and got a taxi to the airport (Omega had arranged the taxi ahead of time). We paid only $80 each for the flight,

La Ceiba has a smallish airport, we were very early and so just sat around.

The flight was only 30 minutes long on a prop. plane.

Tegus airport is quite nice, we walked outside expecting to get inundated with taxi drivers, but that didn't happen. We had to wait a few minutes before one noticed us. He knew Linda Vista B&B and took us there. It's a beautiful B&B tucked away in a safer area of Tegus.

Tracy and me went for a walk to find an Asian place for lunch, but it appears to no longer exist (or Lonely Planet map was wrong). Then we tried for the Fine London Pub, but it no longer exists, instead another pub/restaurant  is in it's place, so we ate there. This little area we're at is a small touristy area, hotels, a casino, cafe's restaurants and pubs, etc.

After lunch, kept walking around this little area and we came across the Angry Beaver Pub, an angry beaver draped in a Canadian flag. How awesome finding a Canadian pub in Tegucigalpa.

We then walked to Parque Central (Plaza Morazan), about 15 minute walk from us and saw a bunch of the old parks and cathedrals and markets there. The old downtown area is very pedestrian friendly, pedestrian only streets. Lots and lots of activity and people about, but we weren't bothered too much. Quite a few beggars as well.

Around 4:30, we back to the room and vegged for a couple of hours, then went to an Italian pizza place for supper (very good!), then to the Angry Beaver pub. The guy who owns it is from Toronto, he didn't have enough money to retire in Canada so moved to Honduras, fell in love with a local (who actually looks and talks like a Thai ladyboy) and opened up this pub about a year ago, after being on Roatan for a few years.

Back home around 10:00pm and to bed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jungle Trek Day 3

Up early, shortly after 6:00am. I had to poop really bad. Tracy did to.

Tracy and I hiked to the bathroom area together and pooped together. How romantic.

Packed up camp around 8:30 and back to Omega around noonish. We stopped at the national park office on the way down for 30 minutes, I thought we were waiting for a pickup from Omega tours, but after 30 minutes, we donned our backpacks again and walked back to the lodge. Lots of people hanging out at the lodge this afternoon.

I jumped in the pool, then showered and wrote in my journal.

Just a 2 minute walk down the road from Omega is a B&B run by a woman (Karen) from Saskatchewan. She's been in Honduras for 20 years, bought a big piece of land, built a very nice B&B (Casa Cangrejal, http://www.casacangrejal.com/index.html) and that's what she does now. She's got no one staying at her place right now so she comes up to Omega and visits. Later in the afternoon we headed to her place, she showed us around and I went on a short hike on her property to try and do some bird watching, but to no avail. She was saying that the lodges here (owned by foreigners) try to do a lot for the local villages up and down the valley. Toys, supplies, repairing schools, and what have you.

Headed back to Omega for supper. Around 8:30, went back to Karen's place, as the Omega rafting guide, a guy from New Zealand was going to be there and we were going to play some pool. They were not around though, so I used their internet for a bit, then we headed back to Omega and chatted up the bartender girl. She's in her early 20's, from Tegucigalpa and being a bartender at Omega is her second job. She's very intelligent and wants to go to university tto study law, but she probably won't get that opportunity, as I guess her dad won't allow her to.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jungle Trek Day 2

Up whenever (all I know is it was light out), had a simple breakfast, then we headed on a day hike. Amazing jungle, we stopped at a remote waterfall/swimming hole for lunch and a swim for an hour or more. As I was climbing up part of the waterfall, I put my hand on a rock to hoist myself up, and felt something squishy under my hand. I lifted my hand up and there was a frog or toad there, kind of camoflouged with the rock. He didn't move, I thought maybe I killed him, so grabbed a leave and poked him and he hopped away. Then I was hoping that he wasn't poisonous!

This day trek involved no paths much of the time, our guide needed to use his machete to hack away at the forest to clear a path for parts of it. I was imagining what it would have been like for the first explorers.

We were gone for maybe 3-4 hours on the hike, once we got back, Tracy and me went to go to the shower waterfall to wash away the sweat and along the path near the waterfall a big green snake, perhaps 2-3 feet long was blocking our way. We had no idea if it was poisonous or not, so decided to just rince off in the stream instead of trying to cross paths with the snake. The snake just sat there in the spray of the waterfall for quite a while, his head up, before finally meandering his way back into the jungle. He wasn't too concerned with us.

Supper was an amazing pasta dish with lots of bacon on it. So delicious. Wow.

After supper, it's pitch black and we start seeing glimpses of light through the jungle. I just thought it was those insects with the glowing eyes at first, but after watching them for a bit, we started to realize it was flashlights. The guides seemed to be kind of concerned, talking to each other, then one of them got on their mobile and called someone (Omega tours, I think) for quite a while.

I kinda figured it was lost hikers, but Tracy thought it was drug dealers or other questionable folks of ill repute. She was a bit concerned, but I told her even if it is, there's not much we can do, we pretty much stuck where we are. Finally our guides headed off into the jungle to investigate and a few minutes later they came back carrying backpacks. It was a group of 7 or 8 locals from La Ceiba who got lost or didn't go very fast and lost track of time. 4 girls, including 3 fat chicks trying to make their way through steep jungle and many of them didn't even have flashlights. That's a disaster waiting to happen. To give you an idea of how out of their element the girls seemed to be, they needed help stepping across a <12-inch stream. One guy on each side holding her hand so she can get across. Holy crap. There's not much room for tents and this group had 3 big tents, so they comandeered the area where our guides were cooking and sleeping. I think our guides knew one or two of the other hikers as well. We found out the next morning that many of the hikers spoke perfect english as well, as we were chatting with them the following morning.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jungle Trek Day 1

Up whenever and had breakfast. Met our guides, they speak no english.

It was a 15 minute truck ride to the start of the hike.

Super difficult hike. It started by fjording the Rio Cangrejal river (about waist deep), then a short hike in the jungle to a waterfall and a swimming hole, which was pretty cold but cool.

The rest of the hike was very hard, up and up and up, steep up, grabbing into tree roots or trees or rocks to pull yourself up. And talk about sweat. Both Tracy and me have not ever sweated so much before, flowing off of us in the humidity of the jungle. And the trail was barely visible, if you didn't have guides you'd have no idea how to get there.

We got up in record time, they say it;s 4-4.5 hours up. When we made it to the camp site, I checked the time, it was 12:15, so like 3 hours. The camping area is at the top of a huge waterfall. It's a very small camping area, not much room for many people. They setup our tent on a little tent area and setup a big tarp where they will sleep under and do the cooking.

A few minutes back from the camping area is the toilet area, a small clearing in the jungle where you dig a hole with a small shovel, do your business, then cover it back up. Just past that is another waterfall that you can stand under and shower. Amazingly beautiful and thick jungle and steep cliff walls all around.

During the afternoon the guides disappeared, scrounging the forest for dead wood for a fire. They were gone for probably an hour. Other than admire the beauty of the jungle, there's not much to do and you certainly can't explore, you'd easily get lost and would need a machete at that to hack through the jungle. So we read a lot!

As it started to get dark, the guides started up a fire, getting ready to cook. Then we started seeing these insects that I assumed were fireflies. A closer look showed that they had two glowing "eyes", some green, some orange, fluttering around the jungle. It was sooo cool. One of them landed on a guide and he picked it up and showed it to us. Two bright glowing eyes on the head. They fly around for an hour or so after dusk, then they go away for the night.

Supper was amazing. Chicken fajita's, whole chicken legs (large ones) done up right over the fire, with some salsa and wraps, most amazing trek supper I've had ever. We also hauled up some rum, so Tracy and I had some of the that and shared some with our guides.

I also ate termites for the first time. On the way up, the guide showed us a termite mound, and he ate some so I tried them to.

Even though they didn't speak english, he could always get his point across, so we got along fine.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Omega Jungle Lodge

Up early (5:30), the first boat to La Ceiba leaves at 6:20.

When we got to the dock at La Ceiba there was a taxi driver there holding up am Omega tours sign. Sweet.

It was about a 30 minute drive up the Rio Cangrejal to the lodge. We're the only ones at the lodge.

Super nice lodge. Creek feed pool. Lots of outside tables and bar, outdoor shower. It's run by a German couple, Sylvia and Udu.

After getting into our room, we had breakfast and then did a 1.5 hour jungle hike from the lodge.

Power was out most of the day, which Sylvia said is common.

We really didn't do anything today, hung around, read, ate.

We start our 3 day trek tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Lazy Day on Utila

Up around 8:00, we have no plans today. We were hoping to do the water cave.

We went for breakfast and then just started walking. We found the dirt road leading to Pumpkin Hill, the highest point on the island, so walked that way. It's near the northern coast, so walked to the shoreline. Remember all the garbage washed up on shore on the mostly uninhabited north shore of the island. Mostly plastic and just confirms my decision to try and remove plastic from as much of my life as possible.

We tried to find a path leading up Pumpkin Hill but couldn't. Oh well.

Headed back to town, had lunch, then walked to Bando Beach, a small private beach area someone made, as Utila was not blessed with sand beaches. 60 lempira per person. We hung out in the shade for the afternoon. The guy that operates the beach, an American, has some parrots there as well. One of them bit me when I tried to get him to go on my shoulder.

One of the small resorts along the road to the beach had a tame monkey as well.

We went to Rehab, a bar and restaurant for supper.

This morning I had sent an email to Omega tours, a jungle eco-lodge and our next stop, asking for a pickup at La Ceiba dock tomorrow morning. No reply from them, I hope they have someone waiting there.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Whale Sharks Galore

Up at 6:30 to be at the whale shark & oceanic research centre (WSORC) for 7:15. Me and Tracy and another couple are paid customers, then a bunch of volunteers are coming as well. We left at 8:00am.

On the way to the area where whare sharks are spotted, we saw a pod of dolphins.

There were no whale shark sightings yesterday, but there was the day before.

We looked around for a long time. Our first catch was a plastic chair partially covered in barnacles that we hauled on board. Next was a huge plastic bag filled with garbage, it was also hauled on board.

Things were not looking good, we'd been out for probably over an hour and I thought we were heading back when we spotted two boats who were tracking a whale shark. There are regulations in place regarding number of boats and number of swimmers allowed in the water at once, so we waited back until the other boats left, then started tracking the whale shark.

To track, the captain of the boat looks for "boils" on the surface of the ocean, which are thousands of fish jumping out of the water as the shark feeds. Once the captain gets close, he can see the whale shark near the surface, then guides the boat near, then screams at everyone to get in the water, it's close!

The first jump was spectacular! I went in and immediately, less than 3 metres away, this >25 foot whale shark swam past, right in front of my face. I'm sure I was inside the 3 metre "do not enter" zone (stay a minimum of 3 metres away from the shark, 4 metres near the tail, as the tail could break your bones!) The shark then dove down and we all climbed back on board.

The second jump, we missed her, she was gone by the time we entered the water.

Poor Tracy, she's never snorkeled before, never been in the ocean before, so she was very anxioux and nervous about this. She missed the first jump and freaked a bit on the second jump. Fortunately, our main guide, LB, took Tracy aside and, with the help of a floatie device around her waist, tried to show her how to properly use the equipment.

Another jump, I was first in the water and swam along side of her (the whale shark), about 12 feet away, for about 30 seconds before she went down. AWESOME!!!!

Meanwhile, Tracy is still getting lessons on snorkelling.

We had some other jumps where we saw the whale shark from a distance as well. The volunteers, some of them that have been there for months and months, said these are the best jumps they'd ever had.

On another jump, most of the snorkelers were back on the boat, but me and LB were still in the water just getting ready to climb on board when the captain starts screaming "Behind you, behind you!". Both LB and me look back and there she was, right behind us, coming up to take a look at us (not feed), as there's no fish around. She got a look at us, then turned away and dove down. Amazing.

By this time, we were having such great jumps that the dive centre associated with WSORC has asked us to stay out and track the shark so they can get another boat out with more people that want to snorkel. We're sure getting our money's worth, as normally they'd had called it a day by now. The crew and volunteers were blown away.

The best jump happened later, Tracy felt she was ready to give it a go. Everyone else had gone into the water, me and Tracy were last. I pulled my mask down, put my head under and the whale shark was swimming directly at Tracy and I, just metres away. Whale sharks can't see directly in front of them, so they told us in the quick training session if you're in front, swim to the side she it can see you. I started swimming to one side, and he saw me and swerved a bit, directly at Tracy still. I turned my head to look. The whale shark was about 1 metre away when Tracy got her mask under water and did she get a surprise! She was startled, the shark was right there. Tracy immediately tried to start swimming away, and I'm sure her fin hit the shark in the face, and it turned and went down. LB immediately went to Tracy's rescue to make sure she was alright. We have a picture and a video of Tracy almost getting eaten alive by this whale shark. Back on the boat, everyone was laughing and talking about Tracy's close encounter with the shark kind. That definitely did not follow regulation!

We kept following the boils byt stopped doing jumps, waiting and waiting for the other boat to arrive. It finally came with 10 people. Our captain laughed when he saw one of them, she's been trying to see whale sharks for weeks, but everytime she comes out, they never find any. She's probably thinking this is her chance!! They all swam to our boat and then us 4 transferred to the other boat (it was a small speed boat) in huge swells, a bit scary.

We got back about 2:00pm and will meet back at the dive shop at 5:00 for a debriefing and to look at everyone's photo's.

Tracy and me went for lunch, then back to the dive centre at 4:00 and hung out.

Everyone showed up at 5:00 and we found out that the 10 people that came out to replace us on the boat struck out. Hahaha. No whale shark sightings after we left. We got soooo lucky!

We looked at the pictures and video, discovering that someone got a picture of Tracy almost getting eaten, but better yet, there's video of it!

As it got dark, we walked onto the dock of the dive shop. There's a dock light there and eagle rays like to come in in the night and swim around the light. We saw a few.

Went back inside and woman who works the bar started chatting us up. She's a local, born and raised on Utila. She loves to talk politics, growing up on the island, the waste of people now, how the island has changed, etc., etc., etc.

We talked for about 2 hours, then to bed about 9:30.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Iguana's and Lagoon Kayaking

Up about 7:00am, went for breakfast then to the Whale Shark & Oceanic Research Centre (WSORC) to see about doing a whale shark tour, where you go out and try to find whale sharks and snorkel with them. It wasn't open yet, so we walked to the iguana research centre and got a tour from Sharon, a British born Indian. The iguana research centre is run completely by volunteers. After the tour, she even took us up to the water tower where you can see around the whole island. Much of the island is swamp and mangrove.

After that, walked back to WSORC to inquire about boat trips. They need a minimum of 5 people, so we signed up to go to tomorrow. We're the first two to sign up.

We went shopping for shorts for Tracy, then hung around a cafe and a had a smoothie.

In the afternoon, we walked to the lagoon and rented a kayak and kayaked part way up the lagoon channel that runs between the north and south coasts of the island. Very nice mangrove forests the whole way. Got lots of sun, got a sunburn on my face and legs.

Started walking back to town, stopped at WSORC and two more people had signed up. Woohoo! Only one more. It's a dream of mine to swim with whale sharks, the biggest shark in the ocean. They said they will send an email later letting us know if the tour will go ahead or not.

Back to town, showered (cold water) and went for another smoothie, then to El Picante, a Mexican restaurant, for supper. Super delicious.

Did nothing special tonight. We did an email from the whale shark and oceanic research centre indicating that the boat tour will go ahead tomorrow. Yippee!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

To Utila

Up at 7:00am and took a taxi to the wharf a short distance outside of town and got boat tickets to Utila. All the backpackers came out of the woodwork, a whole bunch showing up at the pier to head to the Roatan or Utila. Just under 500 lempira for a ticket.

Boat trip was about one hour.

When we arrived, lots of people handing out fliers and brochures to various dive shops around Utila.

We chose the Bird of Paradise Hotel, right at the main intersection. $7/night/person. Can't argue with that price! We booked for 3 nights.

Sunday most things are closed on Utila, so we walked all over to see where everything was.

After supper, we went bar hopping to a few bars along the ocean front.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

La Ceiba

Up early to pack and get breakfast from the guest house. They're so friendly here at the guest house (Dos Molinos, I think?). The hostel guy took us to the bus terminal at 9:00am and we got bus tickets to La Ceiba, about a 4 hour bus trip.

Tracy is quite entranced with the way people live here, so different than what we're used to in Canada (or any western, developed country).

At La Ceiba, we got a taxi to Parque Central, but he took us to his friends hotel, he probably gets a commission if we stay there. We didn't like it, not a great location, so we had him take us to a hotel near Parque Central (Hotel Iberia). It's a bit expensive, but oh well, only for one night.

We walked around downtown and went to talk to a jungle tour company, but she only spoke Spanish, so that was all for naught.

Went to Expatriate's Bar and Grill for supper. They served massive amounts of food, holy crap. After supper, we walked around some more as it was getting dark, including going to the beach. So horrible at the beach, so dirty, everything run down, lots of questionable locals hanging out there. The pier wasn't even a pier, it went way out into the water, but was just a bunch of pieces of wood laid out on top of posts in the water.

We went the hotel restaurant for a couple of drinks. They had really hot peppers sitting in a jar on the table, I told Tracy I'd buy her a dress or shorts if she ate one. She did it, her mouth was burning for about 30 minutes after that and she had the burning ring of fire the next morning.

In Honduras, I've never seen so many armed people. They are all over, including armed guards at restaurants. It's common to see people walking around own with a machine gun or a revolver at their hip or a riding a bike with a massive machete. It's all quite bizarre.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Off to Honduras

Got up about 6:30, went for breakfast and waited with Terri and Joe until 8:30, when our ride to the airport came.

We got our bags checked and went through security and had a bite to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

We had an uneventful flight to San Salvador, where we had a 2 hour layover before our flight to San Pedro Sula.

The flight from San Salvador to San Pedro Sula was on a prop. plane. I've never really flown in one of those before (other than really small single engine ones). Talk about noisy!

The guy from Los Molinos guest house picked us up at the airport and took us to the guest house. This is Tracy's first time in a third-world country, it's a shock to her to see how most of the world lives. Infrastructure decaying, there was an old woman in the parking lot of the airport begging, Tracy didn't know what was doing until after, she clued in, she couldn't believe it. Rundown houses and buildings, garbage and trash everywhere, stray dogs and cats everywhere.

After getting into our room, we walked to the mall near the guest house, which of course is like any mall in any city, all the typical American stores. We had trouble finding a bank machine that would accept our bank card, but finally found one. Tracy was getting a bit freaked out not being able to get money. We went across the street from the mall to a pizza and chicken place (Pollo King) and had a pizza for supper, then back to the guest house. They spoke no english and our Spanish was quite limited, but we did manage to get what we wanted.

We got back about 7:00pm, and San Pedro Sula was recently ranked the most dangerous city in the world and there's nothing to do. Tracy started going through her backpack and discovered that her shampoo container broke and shampoo all over her small backpack. Sucks but what can you do.

I'm presently sitting in the front room of the guest house typing these journal entries, Tracy is upstairs watching TV, trying to learn Spanish by watching the Spanish subtitles on American televisions programs.

Tomorrow we're heading off to La Ceiba on the northern coast of Honduras.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Wedding

Tracy and I got up around 7:30 and we walked along the beach for a bit then went swimming. The waves were huge, crashing down, it was fun. This was Tracy's first time swimming in an ocean and being on a beach.

We went for breakfast with Terry and Joe, then Tracy and I went back to the beach.

At 11:30 we had to meet up with the airport transport dude to let him know what time to pick us up tomorrow. Our flight leaves at 12:10pm.

We went for lunch and Carlos, a guy who works for the hotel, helping to do entertainment, came and asked us if he could sit and eat with us. We obliged. We talked about his job and he went fishing to see if Tracy was single or not. Haha. He works 6 days a week at the hotel, 12 hours a day. Crazy. Tracy asked him if he had a wife or girlfriend, and he said no, he has no time, he's always working. Tracy feels kind of bad about even being at the resort, being waited on hand and foot by these overworked people who are really just like us in Canada, except we were born into a country where people don't have to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and can have a life outside of work.

We spent the afternoon getting rolled around in the surf. I did learn how to effectively drain my sinuses of water, though. I bent over to do up my velcro on my sandals and water started running, like an open faucet, out of my nose onto the hallway floor. Cool!

Early in the afternoon it started to get cloudy and windy, and as the afternoon went on, it got more windy and more cloudy. The wedding is to take place at 5:00, so the hotel setup the wedding area on the beach earlier in the afternoon. Around 4:30, rain was threatening and it was getting darker and Terri and Joe had to make the decision to move the wedding indoors. It's very rare for rain this time of year on Cancun, the hotel staff were quite surprised.

The wedding was moved to an upstairs, open-air, covered restaurant. They laid out fake (or dead) starfish, making an aisle for the wedding party to walk up. Tracy was Terri's maid of honor. There was only 6 of us at the wedding, myself, Tracy, Joe's mother and her husband (who came over from Ireland), Joe's sister and her daughter. Tracy was the only one from Terri's side of the family.

As Tracy came up the stairs to the aisle, she wasn't watching where she was going and walked on one of the starfish and nearly did a face plant. Haha, it was awesome.

I took lots of pictures and it was a short ceremony, about 15 minutes, then about 45 minutes of pictures. The rain stopped during the ceremony, so they decided to take more pictures out on the beach.

Supper was at one of the fancy restaurants at the resort,a 5-course meal and was delicious. One of the courses was tomato soup with a cream base, and Tracy blurted out for everyone to hear, "This soup is so delicious, I'm gonna get the shits later." Joe and her sister started howling.

Joe's mom and her husband (Joe's stepdad) are awesome. Very Irish, red, red hair, and the husband has a pretty heavy accent. He's 70 years old, but looks and acts like he's 50. Same with Joe's mom. Interesting story, Joe's mom and real dad are divorced, and the guy that she's currenty married to was her first boyfriend, like 50 years ago. And now, 50 years later, they got back together (both of them being divorced).

Tracy and me went to bed around 9:30.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Off to Central America

Off on another trip! This trip has a quick stop in Cancun for Tracy's sisters wedding, then to Honduras and Nicaragua.

Our flight left Calgary at around 6:30, so Tracy and I were up early, about 2:30am to get ready. Heading to the airport was a pain in the ass. The city had northbound Deerfoot shut down at Southland Drive, so we took Blackfoot north to Glenmore, then tried to get on Deerfoot, but that was all blocked off. So over to Barlow, and north until it ended, and the ramp to Deerfoot was STILL blocked off up there. We took some other random roads, slowly heading north, finally managed to get on Deerfoot and make our way to the airport.
We flew United Airlines from Calgary to Houston, had a short layover there, then Houston to Cancun. United sucks, you have to pay to use their entertainment system, so new tv or anything for us!

Once at Cancun, we paid for a shuttle to the hotel, Viva Wyndham Maya, about 1 hour south of Cancun. Expensive shuttle, $112US for both of us, but that included a pickup back to the airport on May 3.

We arrived at the hotel about 5. When we checked in, Terri and Joe (Tracy's sister and her almost husband) had left a message at the front desk for us, so after putting our stuff in our room, we went to their room.

They showed us around the resort. It's all inclusive, so food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are to be found everywhere. We had supper at one of the buffet restaurants.

It was really windy and cloudy and was getting more cloudy and windy as the evening went on. Tracy and Terri did "girl stuff" for a while and me and Joe say on some beach chairs in the wind and dark. I was getting soo tired, after only about 3 hours of sleep the night before. Tracy and me went to bed around 9:00pm.

Around midnight, a huge storm hit. Thunder and lightening like you wouldn't believe, and torrents and torrents of rain. I got up and watched it for a while from our main floor balcony. As I was going back to bed, I noticed our floor was all yet. The rain was coming through the concrete and into our room. Tracy and me got all our bags and everything off of the floor to prevent them from getting wet. After a while the rain subsided and we slept again.