Honduras 2004 - The Trip So Far

JAN. 4—My travels have afforded me little time to write, which is a good thing. Now that I have a little breather, though, I'll try to summarize the past week.

From Tegucigalpa, Karla and I traveled north and met up with my old friend (and old "flame") Mayra in San Pedro Sula. The following day, the three of us traveled on to Copán, a site of ancient Mayan ruins. There, Karla hooked us up with Flavia, a friend of Karla's boss and owner of the fabulous Hacienda San Lucas B&B. Flavia helped us find lodging at the Hotel Don Udo, a new and very charming inn. The room was small, with only one queen bed for the three of us, but what better way to make the stay memorable than to share a bed with two beautiful women?

While Karla spent the day at the hotel, recuperating from her cold, Mayra and I visited the ruins of Copán, called by some "the Athens of the ancient Maya." I had seen the ruins 21 years ago, but in the intervening time, the site has changed dramatically, for better and for worse. Many new ruins have been unearthed, and the site has expanded considerably. But in an effort to protect the ruins, awnings and barriers have been erected throughout the site. This is an understandable action to take, but it also meant that many of the areas I explored and climbed upon 21 years ago were now off-limits. Nor did the photographer in me find the awnings very photogenic. And, as I also felt upon seeing the Forum in Rome, I find it hard to be impressed by ruins after seeing the largely-intact city of Pompeii.

In Copán, the sun never peeked out from behind the clouds. When we left, bound for the town of Tela on the Caribbean coast, the clouds parted not for the sun, but for the buckets of rain they'd been holding. Having spent a week on Tela's pristine beaches with the Pineda family during my last visit, I was looking forward to spending time there with them again. But the rain kept us inside for the entire time, pausing only long enough for us to make a mad dash to the restaurant for dinner.

On the 31st, the sun finally peeked out, just in time for us to head to Roatan for some relaxed island living. Karla and I left the family in Tela, where they were spending the New Year's holiday, and headed to La Ceiba, another coastal town east of Tela. With the sun finally shining, the road between the two towns was a magnificent green glow of lush jungle. In La Ceiba, Karla and I caught a flight to the islands—or should I say, we boarded our private plane. We arrived early to the airport, just as a flight was departing to pick up people in the islands. We were the only passengers on a plane that could hold 40+ people. We felt like the rich and famous, flying into an island paradise on our own plane.

In Roatan, seemingly all of Karla's friends showed up to party. With the many reunions, I receded into the background, which suited me fine. After speaking Spanish for so many days, and traveling at a brisk pace, I didn't have the energy to dance till the wee hours every night. Besides, I enjoyed myself so much more by spending my days diving the world-class coral reefs just offshore. Some of the world's best diving, at some of the world's lowest prices. On my last day, I realized it was cheaper for me to dive more: if I made five or more dives at the dive center I patronized, the price per dive dropped from $20 to $15 per dive. So four dives would have cost $80, but after I made that fifth dive, my total cost dropped to $75. And these prices included everything: equipment, boat ride, air, divemaster, the works.

Time has flown by here in Roatan. I look forward to Utila, which I'm told is much more laid back. Isn't the whole point of loafing in an island paradise to slow down the pace of life?

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