Muse by David Teitsma

My attempt to understand and be understood.

As I finish writing my journal of my time in Honduras, I will be posting to my general blog instead of my Honduras specific blog. Eventually, I will migrate the Honduras blog here.

My time in Honduras was filled with many exciting, adventurous and humbling moments. I have tried to boil them down to just times that really stand out in my memory here is the first one I’m going to talk about.

My best memory of the spring was spelunking the Talgua Caves in Catacamas. I did write about it here. It was an amazing weekend and I’m glad that I went!

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For Semana Santa (Spring Break) a group of us went to Guatemala and the bay island of Utila. We took a first class bus from Tegucigalpa and traveled through El Salavador to Guatemala City. This double-decker bus was wonderfully plush and we were quick enough that we took the seats in the front of the upper deck where we had one huge window in front of us to look at everything that passed. It was fun to watch everything. The bus was so tall that several times it seemed like we would lose our heads when we went under a low bridge. In the middle the road there were people on strike wearing black clothes and black masks (I don’t remember exactly but I think they were on strike). The amazing view from the bus was one highlight of the trip.

0504 Honduras -- Semana Santa -- Matt

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After a day of traveling we arrived in Antigua, Guatemala. Josh had a friend in the area that found a apartment that we could rent for a few days short of a week. This saved us money and supplied us with a kitchen to make meals.

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Antigua, a small city, still has very old buildings and decorations. So we spent a lot of time just walking and taking in the flavor of the area. As we got close to Good Friday, we watched as the locals created carpets in the street out of colored wood shavings late Thursday night. This is a common practice over all of Central America, however Antigua is the best known city for the beautiful and number of their carpets.

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For the weekend there are many different ‘parade’ that reenact the trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Hundred of people participate in each parade with full clothing of soldiers, mourners, and lots of other characters. Each parade also has massive and heavy floats that are carried by dozens of people. Luckily our apartment was right along the way of the parade route. I found it interesting that several people with each float carried twenty foot poles which they used to push up the power lines so that the floats could clear them. So much happened that I couldn’t begin to write all that happened however here is a great description of the week and the traditions.

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There was a lot of work that goes into this week, with thousands of thousands all participating somehow. Also there are thousands of tourists that come just for this week, causing the population of the city to double or quadruple, I don’t remember the details.

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0504 Honduras -- Semana Santa -- Becky (4)

We also took a day and hiked up Pacaya Volcano. At first we hiked through rainforest type of area, which was tiring but not to difficult. Then we reached a top of the ridge where the trail leveled off and exposed the volcano. It was literally just a huge mountain of black rock, there was no vegetation or ridges. The area was clouded with a haze. We reached a sign that warned about the dangerous gas and that we weren’t allowed to proceed further. The guide told us that it currently was too dangerous to go further and that we wouldn’t be able to go. Meanwhile, my classmates tried to decide if we should just go for it, especially Matt who needs to get to the top of everything that he sees. After several minutes the guide decided that we all could go. I’m not sure if he serious wasn’t going to take us up, or if he was trying to be dramatic.

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The climb was worse than a sand dune. As we got closer we saw that the volcano edges were big pieces of igneous rock. Even though a path had been forged by thousands of tourists creating more of a dirt path, we it was still steep, tiring, and slippery. After a lot of slow climbing we reached the top were we could see red lava spewing out of the summit that solidified into black rock before it landed. We were far enough away that we were safe, but after such a hard climb it was amazing to be standing on a volcano, were we looked down and just saw a black rock and clouds. Truly beautiful and stunning.

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From Antigua, we headed to the bay island of Utila in Honduras. We took a small van where I got the jump seat, an uncomfortable seat that was small and yield no cushion of support. Fortunately after a break, we rotated seats and someone took the seat instead. The van dropped us off at La Ceiba were we stayed the night, and took a boat to Utila the next morning. I remember being frustrated by trying to take taxis but being constantly lied to about costs and hotels.

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Utila is one of the less commercialized bay islands, especially compared to Roatan, a cruise ship port. Once on the island we walked the main street and found a nice hotel at the very end that was reasonable and in a good location. True to Caribbean style the atmosphere was laid back and slow. It was close to a huge beach and had a restaurant out on the dock that overlooked the island. I believe the first day we relaxed on the beach, swimming and sunning. Our first night after dark, we had dinner at this restaurant where after a few minutes power went out on the whole island. A few minutes later they came out with flashlights and we ate in the dark when the power returned.

During the day while walking down the road we saw hundreds of holes in the ground but didn’t think much of it. At night we saw that these were crab dens where crabs would come out at night and try to catch their prey. We saw so many crabs running about.

Bethany, Becky, Matt, and I rented bikes and explored the island. Only a small part of the island is inhabited, thus there were not many places to bike. We did bike to the airstrip (it was fun biking on the airstrip) on the other side of the island and walked the rocky beach looking at many strange intriguing creatures and rocks. The girls went back and then me and Matt left later as it was getting dark. On the way, we noticed an interesting pillar of rock that we decided to climb. It was fairly tall and bats flew out of it, but there were lots of places to grab holds.

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We also rented kayaks and snorkeling equipment and spent a day snorkeling. Just off the beach by our hotel there was amazing coral reefs. Unfortunately many people had touched the coral so it was dying. The island is split in half by a manmade stream surrounded by mangroves. At the right time of the tide, you can cross the island to the uninhabited ocean side. After several hours of snorkeling we decided to go to the other side. It was fun crossing, but it was very shallow and narrow at some points. We saw many crabs on the roots of the mangroves scurrying around.

On the other side of the island it seemed like we were on our own private island bay. We snorkeled around the plentiful coral, however the number of fish and beautiful colors were better on the other side of the island. It was amazing and beautiful; an island paradise. Crossing the island back to our hotel was challenging as we had to paddle upwind across a small lake. The wind was relentless, and did not allow us breaks. My arms were sore quickly but we stuck to the task.

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One of the bars had a sign that they served tapas, Spanish appetizers. So I went and asked a bartender where they served tapas, and I got several strange looks and someone at the bar stated that if I paid enough money that they would here. I tried to clarify and ask again if they knew where, but they didn’t know what I was talking about. Not until I started biking back and tried to sort out my confusion by telling Matt the story did I understand what happened. Well, I’ll just say that a tapas bar sounds a lot like another type of bar!

After several days on the island we made our way back to Tegucigalpa by coach bus. The return trip on the boat was wet from the ways splashing up, however we were accompanied by several dolphins strafing us. The bus trip brought us by endless plantations of bananas and pineapple.

0503 Honduras -- Abby in Utila (14)

What an amazing week that brought us from a city full of tradition and heritage to a relaxing bay island full of beauty.

I have more pictures of my time in Honduras here, and a special set just for this trip.