September 17, 2009
It’s Thursday afternoon and I think I’m in a bit of denial that the end of the week has already arrived… I am feeling ready though to get back home and see my friends and students.
We (Brenda, Emily, and I) all took an air conditioned bus to Tela, Honduras, a coastal quaint little town. All kinds of people got on and off the bus at different cities on the way to sell us fruit, pizza, refrescos, or pirated DVDs. I saw some of the worst poverty I’ve seen since I arrived in Honduras. Teeny tiny little tin huts with a tin roof. I had a strong desire to just hop off the bus and learn about these people. I want to converse with them and hear about their history. You can see on the old women’s faces that they have weathered a lot. Rough shoeless feet and dark dried out faces from the sun create a smiling face that is very intriguing to me. What do they know about life that they can teach me?
Unfortunately, it is not a safe desire of mine so I will look on with interest and smile when we make eye contact. They smile back and probably make assumptions about me as I am about them. That will be all we have to go off of because of the gap of large differences that seem impossible for us to cross over.
Anyway, once we arrived in Tela we got a taxi quickly, before we even had time to worry about getting a taxi to take us to Gran Central, our hotel for the week. Our taxi took us to see a place where a school bus had gone over the ditch and had its hind end in the air. The school buses here are not used for children but are made into the city buses that take people around the city so it was not kids and the taxi driver assured me no one was hurt but it sure didn’t look like a good situation. Anyway, then he turned around and brought us back in the direction of our hotel.
All the reservations worked out at the hotel so we were able to quickly get into our room and get settled. The Gran Central is a beautiful little corner building in Tela. It is owned by a French couple so all the directions around the hotel are in Spanish, English, and French. It’s a great place to stay, feels very clean and when all three of us split up the cost its cheap too! We are only about four blocks from the ocean. On Tuesday we went out to eat at a typical coast restaurant with lots of yummy seafood available. I had shrimp in a garlic butter sauce, it was awesome. The ocean in the city is dirty, very dirty It was still gorgeous because it’s the ocean but it smells like sewage and you had to dodge lots of garbage to get into the water. Emily and I took turns in the water because we could not leave our things on the beach alone. People were constantly trying to sell us things.
The Garifuna tribes here sell all things coconut. Coconut jewelry and coconut bread are the mainstays. Big curvy beautiful dark women carry Rubbermaid buckets on their head full of bread to sell. “pan de coco, pan de coco?” When you say no then they ask “queres unos trencitas? Trencitas?” And again I replied no. This is an occurrence that happens about every twenty – thirty minutes. I enjoyed an encounter I had while Emily was swimming (lucky girl)with a Garifuna man named Benjamin. He seemed to know a lot about his own culture and how they arrived here and such. He was teaching me some of his native Garifuna language and telling me about how I should send my prayers out to the sea because it will deliver it to God for me. I thought that was a beautiful idea, and I have always felt very spiritual around water. I’m thankful for his idea about this; it has given me a lot to think about while we stay in this coastal town. He also made some off color passes at me which I promptly replied that I would like to rest now and once I gave the hint he left me alone.
We went to dinner at a place called Maya Vista that is high up on a hill and has different levels in a huge beautiful tree. It felt like another giant tree house! We went at night when it was already dark but I think we are going to go today before it gets dark so we can really enjoy the view of the ocean. It was a delicious meal. We headed to bed on Tuesday night at about nine. I’m getting more and more used to going to bed early. It cracks me up every night but I’m still so thankful.
Wednesday morning I slept in till about 9:30 while Brenda and Emily went to get breakfast and read in the hotel room. I just love the fact that I can sleep for 12 ½ hours. It’s a gift! Anyway, Brenda asked about a place we could go to enjoy the beach that wasn’t as dirty or dangerous feeling. We ended up taking a taxi to a place called the Ensenada. The taxi first drove us to a Garifuna village called Ensenada and after being brave and telling him he was crazy for driving us all the way out there and using my Spanish he realized he couldn’t screw us over like that. He drove us to the right resort then and only charged us what he would from the beginning.
La Ensenada was a resort with a huge swimming pool, a pool bar, and on the ocean lounge chairs, hammocks and a security guard! We had a delicious lunch buffet there that was also included in the price to visit for the day. It was just what we needed. We didn’t have to feel pushed around by sales people and we could relax and really enjoy the beautiful ocean. The water was much cleaner and there was less trash. It seems that Hondurans are lazy when it comes to picking up their garbage but hardly even noticeable at this resort after Tuesdays experience. I had only imagined I would ever be at a place like this for my honeymoon. I have never experienced feeling like such a princess. I feel like part of an exclusive club of people now that I know what it is like to be a client of a high end resort… wonderful!
We wanted to try an Italian place called Mamma Mia in the little town of Tela for dinner but when we got there at about 7:15 pm they had already closed for the evening. We walked to another restaurant, the one we went to when we first arrived and the owner saw us and opened up her doors again for us. We had another great meal together with great conversation. Our walk home was a little more nerve-racking and made us feel less safe. We have decided that today we will be home and back in our hotel room before it gets very late.
Today we got up early and headed to a little tour building called Garifulna Tours. We had already signed up for a tour that was to leave at 7:45 am. On the way I stopped into a little bakery and had a roll filled with ham and cheese, it was piping hot and delicious! We hopped on a bus from there that took us to a little inlet where we got on a boat. It took us about thirty/forty minutes to arrive at the national park called Punto de Sal. (For you Spanish speakers it is not where they harvest salt but rather point of exit from Tela. Sal being short for salida). The splash of ocean salt water on your face while going about forty miles per hour in a boat in HONDURAS is a pretty amazing feeling! We hopped off the boat in a little inlet where we started our hike through beautiful jungle. We saw lots of little crab holes, which I were assured were crab holes and not casas de culebras (snakes). I did see a couple crabs that were about as big as one of my hands but I don’t think I was as scared of them as I would be of a huge snake. Anyway we also saw huge spiders with beautiful webs reflecting in the sunlight between the trees. We were eaten alive by mosquitos, it really didn’t matter that I had loaded myself up with half a bottle of bug spray before we got into the jungle. The mosquitos there make camping at Vanburen state park feel like a luxury trip. Anyway, I only got a couple bites; they were really biting some of the other women. The coolest thing we saw though on our hike was the Howler monkeys. Our guide would make the howling sounds, sort of like the song, “who let the dogs out… WHO WHO WHO…” and the monkeys would answer back… every time! It was so cool. I have some pictures and video that will be on my picassa site for you all to see!
After the hike the boat met us in a different area of the peninsula and we all hopped back on to head toward the beach where we were going to swim. We were all given snorkeling gear and we went snorkeling! Wow what an amazing experience! I saw some beautiful coral and plants that were dancing in unison with the ocean. It was gorgeous. I wanted to sink myself down to the bottom and dance with them though as I tried to move myself as they were I realized my body was unable to flow like they did. I moved slowly and quietly and started to see fish. It was so interesting; it seems as if people who scuba dive and found the best kept secret. It is a beautiful unknown world under the water. I once got caught up in a school of yellow and black striped fish and that freaked me out a little bit. After a little self pep talk though I was fine and continued on. Then, I was finding more crevices and dark places where the fish like to hide. I stayed in one spot to watch closely and out came a glowing neon blue black fish. As I thought about how it glowed like that I got a little more nervous but again calmed down quickly. What a beautiful way to rejoice in God’s creativity! The most important thing I learned about snorkeling though is to put sunscreen on the back of your legs. I floated for about an hour and hadn’t put sunscreen on the back of my legs. By the time I got back to the boat to my sunscreen it was too late
After snorkeling we got back in the boat and headed to a Garifuna village where they made us lunch and we got to spend a couple hours on the beach. It was a rustic cabana community where I felt as if I had slipped into the posters people put in their college dorm rooms hammocks and all! For lunch we had rice and beans, fried plantains, and a whole fried fish! And when I say whole… I mean whole! I was really surprised and a little nervous at first but the meat of the fish was delicious! Everything tasted so wonderful and really added to the experience. At about two o’clock we took the boat back to Tela another forty minute ride and now I am sitting in the air conditioning of our hotel room thinking about what a wonderful trip this has been. It has been exactly what I needed to put teaching back into perspective and get a break from the stress of starting something new. I feel rejuvenated and eager to see the teachers and students and get back to work.
I’m very appreciative of Emily because she started sending emails to hotels to make a plan for us and to do the tour we did today. If it hadn’t been for her planning I would be sitting around the apartment wishing I had somewhere cool to go. Thanks Emily!
Well we are going to head to dinner now I believe. Thanks for reading about all my adventures this trip! It was very fun to relive them all!