On the Road (Again)
After I posted that last blog entry, I spent a couple more days in Tegucigalpa fixing up things and finishing my service. I meant to leave the city Friday in the afternoon, but a miscalculation related to opening my bank account forced me to stay one more night. Apparently, when you deposit money in the bank (and sometimes when you open a new account) those funds are not available the same day. I put ALL of my cash into my account and then got an ATM card, expecting to take a small amount of funds out later that day to get me to Siguatepeque. I ended up broke and stuck in Tegucigalpa, and I had to bum off my site replacement, the newly-sworn-in volunteer Elizabeth to get a hotel room and survive the evening. Hilarious. I will be able to pay her back when I visit my site with Sam, at least.
That wasn't the last of my bank troubles. This morning I was getting money out of an ATM here in La Ceiba so I could head out to the city of Tela, and the damn machine ate my card. This time I got the cash at least, but I most likely will have to stay here another day while I wait for a technician to go fix the ATM in the afternoon. I've already been in La Ceiba for three days and would like to move on, but I don't feel inclined to get too upset about it, because I know very well worse things could happen.
Since I got to La Ceiba late on Monday, I mostly spent that evening settling in. I was tired out from nights staying up late and hanging out with friends in Tegus, so I went to bed early and got up late on Sunday. I meant to try and get out and see some of the national parky stuff around here, but absolutely everything was closed and I couldn't really get any information about where I might want to go. So I just hung around La Ceiba; walked out on the pier, learned the town, went to see an awful movie (Evan Almighty), and took it easy. Just after noon I wandered into a really beautiful park off the center of town in the property of the Standard Fruit Company which is still based here, albeit in the hands of Hondurans these days. There are large fields of pineapples, bananas, and african palm all around belonging to them. I talked to a guy hanging around one of the buildings and he told me that the brand we see in the states for this fruit is Dole. So when you eat a banana with the Dole sticker in the U.S., it may come from here.
Yesterday, I finally did manage to make it out of La Ceiba and went hiking on a trail in Parque Nacional Pico Bonito. I did a lot of asking around and it seems that for the most part, there really aren't hardly any hiking options for this park. Most tourists go out to the Río Cangrejal to raft, or just stay at a lodge up at the base of the park, but even these two focal points don't really have any trails. There is just the one I went on, which was apparently built by a USAID project. It was short but very sweet, passing two significant waterfalls, several nice places to swim, and going through some really nice elevated-canopy rainforest. I was there all by myself, probably because it was obvious all morning that the weather was going to be bad.... and it was. I got absolutely poured on, but somehow even that made the experience more fun. I stood on a rock at the edge of the river and watched it slowly rise during the storm. Unfortunately, I forgot the stupid camera. D'oh!
While the sights around La Ceiba, and Honduras in general are not too shabby at all, I think my favorite thing about travelling in this country is the openness and friendliness of the people. On Sunday, when I got out of the movie theatre I found that the streets were totally flooded from the heavy rainstorm that had fallen while I was inside. I had to cross a part of the road with over a foot of water in it, and to avoid getting my tennis shoes soaked, I started walking myself along the side of a chain link fence that ran next to the road. About halfway down it, a guy on a motorcycle pulled up alongside me and offered me a ride to the other side, which I accepted with delight. This kind of thing is not uncommon around here. I wish we could learn not to be so afraid of each other in the USA so people would be more open to such random acts of kindness.