Thursday, September 27, 2007


Well I am in the small town of Gracias, Honduras. I left the Bay Islands on Monday and made a 13 hour bus ride here. The first stop was La Ceiba where I was going to say goodbye to Michael and Marketa, two Germans I had met the week before and absolutely loved hanging out with!! We had a blast together in Utila and as we were standing at the bus terminal I was telling them my plans for heading to Gracias to climb the highest peak in Honduras (sticking with the climb the highest peak in every country theme). Marketa decided this was a great idea and soon the three of us were traveling to Gracias together, continuing our week of gut busting laughing the whole way. The ride was really long, and when we finally made it everyone was exhausted. On the last bus ride I started up a conversation with a Honduran named Rudy. He was incredibly friendly and despite the fact that I cannot understand a single person down here (Hondurans are notorious for slurring their speech, making it very difficult to understand them. AHH I miss Guatemalan Spanish) we somehow managed a descent conversation. Upon arriving in Gracias he escorted us to a cheap hotel and helped us settle into our room. Michael and Marketa immediately passed out, and so I went out with Rudy to have a couple of beers. It was so wonderful to meet a nice Honduran, the whole day the three of us kept commenting on how unfriendly everyone was and how we missed the hospitality of the Guatemalans. After a couple of beers and a nice conversation I returned to my hotel room for ten straight, uninterrupted hours of glorious sleep (Without Jeff's morning mix to wake me up. Jesse, Sybilla you guys are the only ones who will get this).

The next morning we started our quest for climbing Montaña Celaque. First we needed to find a tent and an extra sleeping bag. This was more difficult than we had imagined as once again the Lonely Planet gave horrible advice (this is really becoming quite a trend.) We eventually located both items and went shopping for supplies (which turned out to be cans of vegetables, tuna, granola, and pringles). After we had gathered everything together we struck out for Parque Nacional Celaque. It was only a 7 km hike and, as we intended to stay at the park entrance in a ¨bunkhouse¨(I would describe it as a shack) that night we were in no hurry. This was fortunate as it was about 37 C and 90% humidity. We were pretty tired when the afternoon rain finally came and drenched us. Now I have lived in Seattle for almost five years, so obviously I am no stranger to rain. Additionally, on this trip I have been in the middle of some of the worst flooding different areas of Guatemala have seen in twenty years. None of this prepared me for a downpour of this nature. Imagine someone continually pouring buckets of water on you for thirty minutes straight. We trudged up to the bunkhouse (i.e. shack) soaking wet and very thankful to be out of the rain. As I came around the corner I was shocked to see an attractive blond hair and blue eyed westerner staring back at me. She and I stared at each other for a minute, I think we were both in shock as niether of us ever expected to see anyone else out here. I mean this is A. Honduras and B. The middle of nowhere, Honduras. As is becoming another common theme on my trip she was, surprise surprise, from Germany.

After the four of us rigged up a clothes line and stripped down to our underwear (we all got to know each other very well) we sat around chatting and waiting for our clothes to dry. It quickly became apparent that this was not going to happen and so the wet clothes went back on and we set out for the house of the Park Ranger, whose mother, we were told would cook us food. Again I was surprised at the overwhelming generousity of this woman who invited us into her house and began preparing a sumptuos meal of rice, beans, eggs, tortillas, and coffee. I say house, but again remember this is Nowhere, Honduras we are talking about, so she cooked over an open fire in the middle of the 3m x 3m room and prepared a truly amazing meal that cost about $1.50. We all left stuffed and settled in for an early night.

The next morning Michael, Marketa, and I started for the summit at about 5:30. The going was slow as the trail was fairly overgrown in places and very, very steep. At around 7:00 I became convinced that we had missed a turn and were on the wrong trail, but with no map we could not verify this. At 7:30 Michael had had enough and decided to turn around and head for the town. And then there were two. Marketa and I pushed on and around 10:30 we came to the summit of whatever peak we had climbed. Looking across the valley I could see Montaña Celaque rising about another 200m above us. We stopped, ate lunch, and then in an hour and a half covered all the ground it had taken us five hours to climb that morning. We stopped back at the bunkhouse, had a swim, and decided what the hell, we might as well stay another night and enjoy some more great cooking. The second dinner was by far the best. My Spanish is rapidly improving and so we chatted with the woman, sipped coffee, ate bananas, and took a few photos, which the woman absolutely loved. IT WAS SO INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!! I wish I could explain the experience better, but unfortunately none of you will ever know...

Well, that was the abridged version, sadly I don't have the time to write it all, and you are all probably pretty bored reading about it so let me quickly sum it up. All in all it was one of the best experiences of my life. Despite not making the proper summit I got exercise, met great people, and explorted Honduras a little more. Tomorrow I head for Nicaragua, where I will enroll in another Spanich school and start some new adventures with new people (my traveling partners are returning to Guatemala). My spirits are high (though a week ago I really hated traveling and was cursing David Bonderman) and I am excited to Meet People, Go Places, and Do Things (Again, Jesse and Sybilla you are the only ones who will get this, so enjoy! Unless any of you have taken the PADI open water course lately, in which case I hope you also enjoyed that last line!).

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