Tuesday, 3 January 2012

More on Honduras

Before I go onto my next adventure, I thought I should finish sharing about Honduras. I'm up to the day out mountain biking . No photos please, I had to use a canoe helmet so it wasn't pretty. Note to self, travel with ones bike helmet whenever cycling is an option.

As I shared previously, the ride up was a treat. Commentary from our guide and driver were useful in helping us to get to know the place and the people a little better. Watching from the jeep, I reflected on how different our lives were. I was watching other peoples lives while taking a break from mine. I wondered what those watching these mad tourists thought of our expedition through their lives.


Kristen and Erin joined Jo and I with Ash guiding. Well, carrying the food, waiting for us at times and buying the cokes. Coke in a battered, recycled bottle tasting deliciously old fashioned like coke used to. The road down was fun, an easy ride with a couple of uphills that had me puffing. It was fantastic to get on a bike again and be out in the wilds. The helmet didn't work so well with my glasses so that I rode without them, adding an extra challenge as I couldn't see too far in front and the big ruts looked flat until I got close so my reactions got a workout. Must get some new contacts.
Looking down the Rio
We stopped for lunch where some locals were having a wash in the river, the men showing off for the girls. The flat rock gave us a good look at the more fierce rapids on Rio Cangrejal, some that had to be bypassed in most water flows. We climbed quite high, the photo doesn't do it justice really. The view was stunning and made the climb worthwhile. Then came the next treat, a ride over the river in a cage to visit the the Women's Co-op on the other side of the river. The cage has been around a while and holds four people. We whizzed down the wire then Dona Rasario winched us to the getting off place.

As we crossed the river, another trip in a similar cage came to mind. One of our family adventures, when the kids were still trusting enough to go tramping in the New Zealand hills with us, ended up in some of us getting canoe rescued from the south bank of a fast flowing river. One of the boys winched the cage so hard it flipped off the rail leaving us stranded. Come to think of it, that was the last time they did come on adventures, I wonder why? Being canoe rescued from the wrong side of a snow fed river was a bit chilly.
Jo, Erin and Kristen in the cage
I digress, back to the Co-op. Dona Rasario, her daughter Jenny (Olvin the chef's wife), Joan and Leslie spend their days sewing, designing and making works of art with their sewing machines. Colourful appliqued quilts, wall hangings and small pieces like pot mitts. They look out over the picturesque river as they create for the local tourist market. I suspect Olvin jnr was not much help, he's about Noah's age and very cute.  I didn't get the full story but my understanding is that the Co-op was begun by Dona Rosario a few years ago to provide work and an income for the women of the valley and has been very successful. 

The ride across the river is no novelty to Olvin and his family, they do it each day often at night in Olvin's case. I was humbled that he rode so far down to the lodge, spent his day cooking for us then rode home to his family, crossing the river in the dark. The people work amazingly hard and are welcoming of the tourist operators in their communities. As we rode through Las Mangas the next day on the horses, Sylvia was greeted by all. We had the same experience when traveling with Ryan.
Dona Rosario and her wares
I bought some gifts for friends and two wonderful quilts for Noah and Eve. I intend to write them a story, with photos, to go with the quilts. I can't wait to see their faces when they see them, both are very colourful and interesting. I had to make a return trip, no money to pay for what I put aside, and Trish came too. She was very impressed with the work of these women, much more of an expert than I am in the art of applique and quilting. 

The ride up and down the valley rattled the bones a bit and I was a bit jaded after the day out in the sunshine exercising. The evening had more lovely food and I had the best appetite to enjoy it. The Baileys cheesecake was yummy, made by another person who lives in the valley. There's quite an ex pat community with the folks at Omega, Las Cascades and the other places that accommodate the adventure tourists. Las Cangrejal valley lies between the Pico Bonito and Nombre de Dios National Parks so there is plenty to keep people occupied. Jo and I skipped the 4-5 hour walk to the big waterfall the others enjoyed and chose to go horse riding with Sylvia from Omega. 

No photos from that day, it rained and we got soaked. We followed a trail up the river and ate some lychees from the tree, delicious. I'm not so good at riding horses, they're a long way off the ground and I've fallen off the odd one in the past. The horse I rode was mostly well behaved but seemed to know that I didn't know what I was doing. Sylvia is an interesting lady. She also had New Zealand connections, one name I recognised from my previous work life. Chilled and a bit sore, the coffee and banana cake back at Omega warmed us up. 

I seem to have gone on for ages, I could go on some more. The trip to Honduras was just what the doctor ordered. No internet or phones to bother us, although both were available at the lodge if you really wanted. The four days were so relaxing and enjoyable, connecting to the natural world in a way I haven't managed in ages. I was rested and relaxed when I got back home, dinner at the Italian with a nice Chianti finished the long weekend off nicely. 

I will go back to Honduras. I had a small taste and learned that there are Inca ruins throughout the country worth visiting. The next trip will be to the north, towards the Guatemalan border. Before I do, I have to learn to speak at least a little Spanish. It's a very useful language to have in this part of the world, although the dialects can vary from country to country. I'm sure I'll figure it out before I get there. 

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