Thursday, 22 December 2011

Las Cascadas - The waterfalls



The very large waterfall that cascades down the slippery rocks is spectacular. It begins high up and has several points where it pools on a ledge then tumbles down again to the next level. We had drinks on the level above the lodge, up the steps and over the bridge. The next level is a walk up steeper steps, through the rainforest to an lovely clearing and a multi branched waterfall. The photos don't do it justice really. My camera and I nearly ended up in the pond, the rocks were very slippery and with the high canopy above filtering the sun, I suspect it's always like that.

More on Honduras soon. Next stop is Cuba I think, smoking giant Cuban cigars while welcoming 2012 seems like a very good idea to me. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Honduras - Las Cascades

Honduras seems to have happened a life time ago, funny how we come back to our lives after a trip away and the busyness kicks in. I intended to write much about the lovely time we had there, now seems as good a time as any. Sleep is not happening, possibly because I'm excited about my next two trips. One possibly back to Honduras and the other a trek to Australia and New Zealand in February. I took wise advice and booked a longer trip than I had originally planned, a three city journey in the southern hemisphere.

Back to Honduras. The trip happened suddenly, decisions made to go and then working late the night before so I was free to enjoy my time off. I neglected to take out money thinking that I could stock up at the airport when I arrived. Not wise it seems. Luckily Jo was more organised and generous enough to share her US dollars. We didn't need much as it turned out because it was all inclusive at the Las Cascadas Lodge. Ryan picked us up at the airport, along with Babs and Simon from George Town and their friends Trish and Roland from Canada. It was full house at Las Cascades with the six of us.

We rattled our way up the Cangrejal River valley, the road pot holed and slushy from recent rains, with Ryan's commentary about the area he so obviously loves. The road reminded me of some I had travelled in New Zealand. A narrow valley with lush vegetation and the tumbling river alongside. The forest was different, tropical rain forest with cocoa trees and banana palms. The big gates of the Lodge swung open, we had arrived.

The lodge is nestled beneath the high canopy and fits into the rain forest with it's thatched roof, stone exterior and warm timbers inside. The lodge is open to the outside with netting walls so there was the feeling of being close to nature. Our room was right by the waterfall, a soothing noise to sleep to. After a short rest, it was all action. Off to Omega Lodge just up the road to go white water rafting. The photos are in a previous post. Allan the Irishman was our guide, he had previously lived in Rotorua and guided on the Huka Falls. Rumour has it that he has the Huka tattooed on his back.

White water rafting is fun, wet and chilly but tons of excitement. The section of the Cangrejal we rafted is mostly rated 3 and 4 so challenging without being too tough for beginners. Being able to paddle dragon boat style possibly helped. Erin from GoErinGo was in our group along with Kristen. It was interesting talking to Erin, she's had a few adventures in the past months and a lifestyle I aspire to. Maybe after this contract. Before rafting we ate spaghetti, a rafting ritual. It was delicious, as was the homemade bread served with it.

Wet and tired we returned to the luxury of a hot shower at the Lodge and talk of our adventures on the river. I was so tired I chilled with my book. Dinner at Las Cascades is a special treat. Six people for dinner, a chef who discussed the meal with us first and lovely staff serving. What more could we ask for. Olvin and his team Maira and Miriam provided us with wonderful food made from local ingredients. They treated us to the very best food and service, all with a smile. The bar was also well stocked.

Ryan and Maggie helped us plan the next day's adventure over one of Maggie's special cocktails. I got to choose, mountain biking was the plan. A trip up the valley to Yaruka in a jeep then riding back down through the villages. The drive up was spectacular, the ride down and up and then down again and up once more before going down was special. Ash was our guide, Erin and Kirsten joined us too. More about that in my next post. For now, here is a photo of the Las Cascades crew and the lodge.

Miriam, Olvin and Maria with Ryan at the back

The gathering place

Our room is to the left 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Honduras - White water fun

Keeping in control
Rafting is fun. It's funny, I come from one of the  top rafting countries and I hadn't experienced this until I went to Honduras and enjoyed Rio Cangrejal. I couldn't believe that our guide and our host had both guided in New Zealand. In fact, many of the people we met had New Zealand connections. It's a small world and others understood my accent for a change. It was a bit chilly, not nearly as chilly as New Zealand waters thankfully. Here's a collections of photos taken by one of the canoeists that joined us.  
                                           
                                                     Smile for the camera

Beautiful countryside

Down we go!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bruised a little

It's been an interesting week so far. Heaps to do while feeling a little bruised. Racing on Sunday on the 22s got a little hectic, 18 plus knots of wind kicking up some good swells. A quick gibe to get out of the way of another caused the fore deck, that would be me, to have a little mishap. Getting squished a little, hanging on as we began to broach then making it to hike on the rail. The bruised are impressive, especially when I'm a hard one to bruise. The one on my bicep made my colleagues gasp, they didn't see the ones on my legs.

What a fantastic day out though. We got to see the dolphin, swum towards us as we watched in wonder and maybe squealed a little. He looked up and then went under the boat, amazing to see him weaving through the fleet. Others had tales too. I've learnt heaps about sailing from my friends who invite me to take part on their boats. This weekend it was Pete and Marie. We got talking about sailing and I remembered my long held dream of sailing around the Mediterranean. That suddenly seemed possible, the how to sail course is on the to do list. Marie and I also made a plan to get the diving course done in the new year. Not a bad couple of resolutions.

Today I worked with Fiona at the travel place to arrange my trip home for Noah's birthday. It's a tall ask to plan a trip from here to Brisbane on to Aotearoa back to Melbourne and then back to Cayman. Lots of different legs to see all the family and friends. Fiona was up to the challenge, after all I did help her to choose a dress for a wedding, and I'm reviewing the options tonight. Can't wait to see everyone, especially the two newest family members. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Another quick story

One of my lovely friends and colleague Carol was in Toronto a week or so ago for a course. She was wandering the city, probably looking up as you do in a big city, and a car pulled up to the kerb. She watched two women get out of the car, looking very excited. Imagine her surprise when one smiled at her, gave her a chocolate and wished her happy 40th anniversary. As Carol wondered, the lady told her it was the UAE's 40th anniversary. Imagine her surprise when Carol told her that she worked with someone who used to live there. So Carol resisted the urge to eat the beautifully packaged, with a bow, chocolate and brought it home for me. It has pride of place in my fridge at the moment and I smile whenever I see it.
Happy 40th to all my Emirati friends!

You know when....


Caitriona Ni Fhiannachta, a friend of a friend on Facebook published this.

You know you've been living too long in the Arabian Gulf when
:

  • You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat
  • When phrases like 'potato peeler', 'dish washer', and 'fly killer' are no longer household items but are actually job titles
  • 
You need a sweater when it cools down to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • You expect everyone (over 4 years old) to own a mobile phone
  • Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the maid
  • You believe that speed limits are only advisory.
  • You expect all police to drive BMWs or Mercedes
  • You believe that the definition of a nanosecond is the time interval between the time the light turns green and the time that the guy behind you begins to blow his horn
  • You can't buy anything without asking for a discount
  • You expect all stores to stay open till midnight
  • You make left turns from the far right lane
  • You send friends a map instead of your address
  • You think it perfectly normal to have a picnic in the middle of a roundabout at 11pm
  • You know exactly how much alcohol allowance you have left for the month
  • You never say Saturday instead of Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday
  • You accept that there is no point in asking why you are not allowed to do something
  • When you expect queues to be 1 person deep and 40 people wide 
  • You realize that the black and white stripes in the road are not a zebra crossing, just bait to get tourists into the firing line 
  • You carry 12 passport size photos around with you just in case
  • You overtake a police car at 130 km/h. And don’t worry about it
  • A problem with your car AC or horn is more serious to you than a problem with the brakes
All so very true and made me smile. It reminded me of my original, very similar list I published here. I also miss many of these things. I could also included:
  • You can negotiate a roundabout at speed while talking on the phone and drinking very hot Adnoc coffee
  • The policeman about to ticket you asks if you are married, offers himself as a husband and you consider it for a split second
  • You don't wear a watch because you tell the time by the call to prayer 
  • You think you are under dressed when your elbows are showing
  • You lose count of the kids coming out of the Toyota Landcruiser at the school gate
I'm sure there must be more, some comments from Gulf residents please so we can add to the list. I suspect Ask Ali might enjoy this list. 


Apologies!

Sorry folks, I will write about Honduras before it becomes a distant memory. There will also be photos. For now I'm working long hours with little head space for writing. That will settle soon. The curriculum we have written will be out in use, the professional development will be over for the year and I'll have a nice time catching up next week when most are on holiday. So until then, keep checking and I'll keep working on writing some entries, promise.
A little piece of home in the Honduras rain forest

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Honduras

What a fantastic weekend, fun and adventure, exploration and enjoying the best company. I'm a little tired to write tonight, not sure why after all that relaxation, so here's a photo from the garden at Las Cascadas Lodge to enjoy. Stories and photos of waterfalls, horses, bikes and white water rafting will follow, promise.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Honduras here I come!

Time off work, done; tickets booked, done; hotel, sorted; bags, not yet packed. I'm off to Honduras with Jo early Friday morning, I'm so excited. It will be my first trip to South America, the first of many I suspect. There are a few places where I can fly direct from Grand Cayman, La Ceiba is one of those. An hour or so in the air, a thirty minute drive and we're here.




Four days of activities and relaxation, just what I need. I'm taking my camera of course and a small happy snappy for the adventure shots. Not sure I'd like to take my camera white water rafting, especially given my recent water adventures. I can't wait to get back on a mountain bike, off road, through the rain forest and up hills more substantial than I've seen in a while. Watch this space for more. Best I get the packing done, what does one wear in a rain forest retreat?