School finally ended and it’s time for summer vacation! I hopped on a bus with Sierra to Tegucigalpa, then met up with Hunter in San Pedro Sula later that night- I had talked him into coming down and going backpacking with me for a week. We stayed at the Tamarindo hostel in San Pedro Sula, and then took a bus to the the ancient Mayan ruins in Copan. It is in the highlands so the weather was beautiful. It was a challenge getting around and understanding everyone with our limited Spanish, but not too bad. We spent a lovely couple of days at Copan and learned a lot, and got to climb all over the Mayan temples. It was really cool to be in the midst of these ruins, reading the hieroglyphic writing, thinking about people who lived there hundreds of years earlier. We stayed in the lovely Iguana Azul, a bargain at just $15 a night for the two of us.
We took the bus back to the north of Honduras, and went to Pico Bonito National Park, where we went white-water rafting. A great time! Scary at times, but so lovely. Our guide was fantastic and the water was awesome. We stayed at a little “jungle river” lodge. Wonderful food, good weather, and an amazing vista to look at each day- green trees, blue skies, mountains in the background, and a river running right next to our lodge, complete with a “swimming pool” and a “hot tub” area. The second day we went back on the river, and went “canyoning”- where you put on a life vest and helmet, and do the same route as in a raft or kayak but you just float yourself down! A few bumps and scrapes- not sure I would recommend that one again, but we both survived.
After a couple of days in the jungle, we were ready for some beach action. We took a ferry to the little island of Utila, home of 15 dive shops and a million (somewhat ragged) backpackers. We got the world’s crappiest room (hey, it was $8 a night for the two of us!) and prepared to drink ourselves silly and snorkel for three days. Mmm, mmm. We rented a scooter and explored the island, we snorkeled, we went diving, we went to bars, went to an all you can eat barbecue, and watched fire dancers. At last it was time to leave Utila and head to another island, Roatan. We didn’t want to have to take two ferries again, so we hired a sailboat and had the captain sail us over to Roatan! It was a rough crossing, as there was very little wind, and we both had terrible hangovers, but we did make it across. We both got a bit sunburned on the way, though.
Finally we were in Roatan, one of Honduras’ famed Bay Islands. The scenery was astounding and the white sand beaches were great- marred only by the sand flies. Clear blue water, blue skies, but hot hot hot. We spent our time snorkeling some more, walking the beaches, and exploring various beach bars. Had some great Argentinian food (yum, they had chimichurri sauce for our steaks!) and had a lovely little cabin to stay in at the Posada Arco Iris.
Alas, Hunter had to go back to work, and managed to change his flight as to stay in Roatan an extra day and then fly straight from there to Houston and Dallas. I left the same morning, and after a long bus ride, arrived in Copan again. I stayed the night, enjoying some time with some backpackers there (relishing the cool weather, as it had been terribly hot on the coast) and then crossed over into Guatemala. After a looooong bus ride (definitely the worst day of my trip) I arrived at the little island of Flores and stayed the night. Arriving on this beautiful island in the middle of a lake definitely helped soothe some of my irritations and frustrations from the 8 hour bus ride- during most of which I had stood up- I had had to endure that day.
Early the next morning, I hopped on a shuttle bus to Tikal, another ancient Mayan city, and a place I have dreamed about going to for years. The inspiration of my trip, really. I spent a whole day walking around the city of Tikal, amazed at the heights of the ancient temples, learning the history from our guide, and climbing all around everything. They have these giant, absolutely giant, temples that you climb to the top and see for miles around. It is so strange to see these temples literally just sticking up out of the jungle there. Definitely a sight worth seeing. I was sad to leave, but I had to catch a bus to Belize that evening!
A short two hours later, I arrived in the town of San Ignacio, and found a place to stay. Everyone was super helpful and friendly here, and I got all signed up for the ATM cave, a place Chris had gone to the year before and recommended to me. The next day my small group of 8 hopped in a van and went on an all day excursion to this cave that houses the pottery and skeletons of Mayans, dating back to 800 AD. You feel such a sense of history as you are walking through there, with a head lamp, knowing that this is a place that not many people have been able to see. You even have to swim into the entrance of the cave!
After my day of spelunking, I took a bus to the capital of Belize. It was time for my flight home, and by this time I was ready to get out of my backpacking clothes, take a good bath, and go home to see my friends and family in Arlington. But what a great trip I had- a once in a lifetime experience for sure! Thank you to Hunter, to Sierra, to Alecia, Kathleen, and Kristen, to Chris, and everyone else who made my trip possible.