Sunday, April 8, 2007

Adventures in Transit - Honduras

Happy Easter!

We are now in, after some crazy transit situations, in Marcala, Honduras. Let us tell you our tale.
It all began in Copan de las Ruinas on Saturday morning at 6am, with our destination being Perquin, El Salvador, or at least La Esperenza, Honduras. That first bus ride wasn´t too bad - through the mountains, a few pukey people, but not us, so it was all good! This bus took us to La Entrada, a kind of transportation hub.
Here we paired off with two people from Vancouver and hopped into a mini-bus which would take us to Santa Rita de Copan. That ride was unevetnful.
Upon arrival we immediatley got on a big, crowded bus headed to Gracias. Lee was making sure the bags were put underneath properly with the driver and ticket guy, but they were out there for a really long time. Turns out the bus door closed and they couldn´t get back in! So, after a rough start we were off. This bus was really crowded, and every now and then you´d hear a little animal peep. The woman beside us had two colourful, baby birds - parrots maybe- that she was feeding. Funny looking, noisey little things. Another guy had a little puppy... cute.
In Gracias we had to take a little three-wheeler taxi to a bridge near the edge of the city. There we got on a cozy mini bus (Lee was all snuggled up with some local guy - very cute!) towards San Juan.
San Juan is in the mountains. San Juan is isolated. San Juan is full of drunks. San Jaun is sketcho. San Juan had no buses scheduled for us to leave. So, we learnt how to Honduran-hitchhike in San Juan. We ended up waiting for half an hour before a big, cattle truck pulled up and people were jumping out the back crate. In our nervous, broken Spanish we asked where they were going. Magic word! La Esperenza! We hopped in the truck with about seven locals and hit the road. The road, as it turns out, is not so much a road as a cliff-gripping, dirt/rock, isolated path. We had heard it wasn´t a very good road.. but that wasn´t a very accurate description. With nothing much to hang on to, and the only thing offering any consolation being the only semi-nervous locals, a long ride to say the least. Roads seemed to dissapear because they were so steep, one of the drivers stalled on most uphills and so we would stop, roll backwards a bit and then lurch up the hill. The sun went away, it got cold, little over cast, and the ride continued: Pretty much forever. We eventually did arrive in La Esperenza, and the three of us couldn´t be more thrilled at being out, the prospect of food, shower and toilet!!

We spent the night there and caught an 11am bus out to Marcala, where we are now. It wasn´t a bad road compared to yesterday´s and it eventually met up with a PAVED HIGHWAY!! Yay! (It was an exciting time for us).

The plan, if it works, is arriving (finally) in Perquin tomorrow.

It´s been an interesting Easter Weekend for us, hope all of you had a great one!

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Hello Everyone!!

So we have taken a while to give an update... our bad :) Actually, we were in the Baye Islands and the internet was really expensive there and then other things just didn´t work out.. anyways, here´s an update! (Sorry if there are some mistakes we can´t get rid of.. it´s a Spanish keyboard)

We left Belize on Saturday afternoon, after a slow start in Dangringa we boarded a smallish boat to cross the sea. That didn´t go well - big puke fest. Weee! Mostly on the part of Sarah (2) and Lee (1). That was super. Nancy (0) offered no comfort and would not look - only way she didn´t puke, not to say she wasn´t REALLY close!
But we made it. So we eventually found a mini bus to San Pedro, and then a big bus to La Ceiba, which is on the coast and the host of all ferries to the Baye Islands. Spent a night in La Ceiba, indulged ourselves with some American fast food (hadn´t seen Wendy´s or Pizza Hut since Canada!) Then we boarded the second ferry trip.... thought it would be better because the boat was bigger but... not so much. Sarah (1) (again) and Nancy (0) very, very close and Lee (0) did alright (jerk).
Anywho.. we made it to the super Roatan, the biggest of the Baye Islands. We stayed in a yucky place the first night but the second and third we had a nice cabin with a shared kitchen and stuff. The beaches were really great - we rented ATVs the second day so we could explore the island a little more. There is a huge, beautiful picture-esque beach there. And, it´s so close to the reef, Sarah and Nancy snorkeled and saw some really amazing fish, got lost in the coral a bit... way better than anything in Belize!! Miss it already!
The way back, all three of us being anxious about the upcoming pukefest #3, we all requested and took some sea sick pills and passed out for the ride back. No puking. Yay!
We bused our way back to San Pedro Sula, had some food, got a place to stay... and today, if there´s buses running, we´ll head out to Copan. Since it´s Semena Santa (Easter holidays) everything´s been shut down... no good. We´ll see where we end up.

So, that´s the general update, we hope everything is well back home,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hopkins and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Hello Everyone!

This past weekend Sarah, Steph, Lee and I headed back to Hopkins for some good relaxation by the sea. It ended up working out really well because we went back to the same place as last time, Jeanie's Jungle Resort by the Sea. She was going to put us in a building she's working on and intends for budget travellers, which would cost about $7.50 Am per person, which is the same rate as you would pay to pitch a tent on her property. But, then she wasn't sure that she felt the building was really ready so she put us in one of her nice cabins that go for about $100 Am per night at the $7.50 rate! Yay!
We ate at a couple local places, saw some drumming, swam in the super nice water.. we had hoped to go kayaking but it was pretty rough out on Saturday so no such luck.
Here's a shot of Lee reading on the beach: pretty much all we did for most of Friday and Saturday.

Then we also strolled up the beach towards the fancy resorts. We ended up getting a drink at this pool and sea side bar that is in the centre of all these super fancy villas for sale. So we watched the rich people wander around as we lazed about in their pool and on their comfy pool chairs.
Sunday morning we got up bright and early and headed out in a local's car (for a small fee) to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Apparently they have a bunch of jaguars in the area, other jungle creatures and stuff.. mostly we just saw bugs and jungle. But that's cool too :-) We ran into some birders, on a bird watching competition who politely hushed us because we were making too much noise in the jungle.. they were pretty intense, have all the gear: mosquito jungle hat thing, chair, various binoculars, safari pants with matching shirt... We did all agree that with the amount of time they put into searching it would be pretty rewarding to spot some cool bird like a toucan.
Here's a couple pictures of us there, so you can get an idea of what the jungle flora and fauna looks like...

We walked about four trails during our morning at Cockscomb. One went up to this little waterfall. No one else was there so we were able to relax, wade in the water and just enjoy it.
Here we are - little photo op of us to keep the parents back home happy. We're still alive and well!That's all for now folks, hope all is well,

Monday, March 5, 2007

San Pedro

Hello Everyone!

This weekend we headed out (finally) to the Cayes. We took a water taxi from Belize City - here's a shot of Steph, Lee and Sarah waiting by the harbour. All the sailboats in the background are a classic shot of Belize city.The taxi ride in was a little over an hour long. Almost the entire time there seemed to be this white line in the distance. Turns out it's the barrier reef! There are big waves where the water meets the coral because it's so shallow. Pictures never do what you're seeing justice, but here's what it looked like.

We were in San Pedro to visit a former volunteer Kate and her local boyfriend, Bigs. Bigs works at a Dive shop and Kate has some friends so we had the hook-ups! We got snorkel gear on Saturday for $5 Am each and set out on a friend's boat. We did two stops: Tuffy's Canyon and Dos Cocos. The water was pretty rough so we had to be careful but either way it was really cool - and now we can say we've snorkeled the second biggest barrier reef in the world! Yay!
That night we went to Sarah and Will's (An American girl and local guy) place and had a BBQ - homemade tortillas, fresh snapper - yummy! It was an all-round great weekend by the sea. Here's our smiling faces - Lee can't keep his eyes open for pictures - but big smiles!!

Love to all,

Monday, February 26, 2007

Meet some Kiddies!

Since we spend most of our time working with children here, we thought it would be nice for you all to 'meet' them!
We are working a lot with one specific family in a village called Succotz, not far from San Ignacio. Our work with this family is not limited to their academics, but includes life skills in general.

This photo has a few of the older kids in the family. The eldest, a boy, is 14 years old. The girls beside him are 12 and 9. We are hoping that they will soon be able to help their mother in caring for the younger children in the family.
Here are a few of the younger ones. These kids are around 7, 6, and 9. The fourth little girl is from the picture above.

Here we are on the way to the clinic. The second little girl from the left is the youngest, and is actually the niece of the other kids.

Just wanted to show you all these wonderful, energetic smiling faces.
Any donations we received (in regards to literacy) have gone straight to these children to help them to learn English, learn the alphabet, learn to read or improve their reading and math skills.
Thank you!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Guatemalan Weekend

Hello everyone!
We're back from an adventure in Guatemala. We began this weekend by heading off to the Guatemalan border, which is about a half hour away from San Ignacio. From there we bargained our way to a $5 US mini bus ride to Flores. Flores is a cute little touristy town about 2 hours from the border.
Here is a picture of the streets of Flores, Guatemala.

We spent the night in Flores, filling our time with souvenir shopping and watching CABLE! Woo Hoo! Don't we know how to travel!
Saturday morning we had a little sleep-in and headed out for breakfast at Cool Beans with the group of volunteers that we were traveling with.We arrived at Tikal late Saturday afternoon. Tikal is said to have the largest and most impressive Mayan ruins. We decided, along with the other group members, that we would not see any of the ruins on Saturday and do a Sunrise Tour on Sunday. On Sunday morning we were woken at 4:30 to do our Sunrise Tour. It was still really dark out! We hiked for about 20min until we reached the towering ruin that we were going to climb and watch the sunrise on top of. Here is a picture of the stairs.
We were on top of the temple for about an hour and a half waiting for the sun to rise. Nancy decided to take tons of pictures to make sure she got the best shots. A lot of them sucked! It was a pretty amazing feeling hearing the jungle waking, being above everything and looking at the horizon.
Here is a pic way before the sun began to rise.
Here is a good shot with the sun all the way up. You can see two other temples poking their heads out of the tall jungle trees.

Here is a picture of (from the left) Lee, Sarah and Steph on the top of the same temple we saw the sunrise on.Enjoy the rest!
Talk to you soon!
Don't forget to comment...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Placencia Weekend

For our fourth weekend in Belize we decided to travel to the village of Placencia in South Eastern Belize. As you can see, Placencia is on the Atlantic Ocean, but what you can't see is that Placencia is a very long peninsula (approx. 23 miles). The beaches there were much nicer than we had previously seen in Hopkins, but at the same time the area was very more expensive and very tourist-like.
Another interesting thing about Placencia is the sidewalk that runs through the village. The sidewalk is a separated by a pathway that acts as Placencia's main roadway. It is the world's skinniest road or something like that...
One thing about it being a touristy place - the food there was awesome! The first night (Friday) we ate at an Italian place with homemade pasta. (I'm drooling right now thinking about it!) The owners are often the servers in the restaurants. On our last night we were sharing an appetizer plate because we had pretty much no money left, but we didn't want to order right away, we just wanted to drink our waters. I was explaining the budget situation to the server - making sure it was okay to take our time with free water and she told us about her 25 year old son and his budgeting, so she said our platter included free rum punches!
So, at the request, well really based on comments from our mothers, we've included some more pictures that have us in them so that you can see us - alive and well! This is us at the Italian place; right on the waterfront.

Here's Lee lookin' particularly stylish! Selling the coke in a glass bottle!
And.. Nancy. Enjoying her Fanta... as you can see - right by the ocean. Well, maybe you can't exactly see, but it's right there behind me.

And Lee made the first big, exciting purchase this weekend! He bought his own set of tortoise shells! You may recall, the Garifuna people in Hopkins played these. Here's a shot of Lee giving it the first try!
That's all for now. Heading to Tikal next weekend with a big group.