Honduras

View on San Pedro Sula from behind the Coca Cola sign

View on San Pedro Sula from behind the Coca Cola sign

My trip journey to San Pedro Sula from Newark started a bit slow because there was a technical problem with the plane and they had to change the tires. So, after boarding the plane the first time, we had to leave it again and with a three hour delay, we were finally boarded again and ready to fly towards Houston. I didn’t mind the delay, since I had to pass the night at the airport in Houston anyways and this delay made the night a little shorter. It’s a mystery to me why all airport chairs have handle bars. It’s impossible to lie down across them, although there are very few people there who occupy them at night. Plus, loud TVs were playing the same thing the whole night. It was quite impossible to sleep.

At 11am the next day, I finally landed in Honduras, where a hot, tropical air greeted me as soon as I stepped off the plane. My friend Dimitri from university picked me up. He moved back here because his parents are from here and without him I’d probably never have visited the most dangerous city in the world, with 20 deaths a day. This number is not really a surprise if you see how little boys juggle balls in front of cars at red lights to perhaps gain some money. The cars drive like crazy and there are holes in every street. But apparently, you can be safe. You just need to live in the right neighborhoods, have your own car and take the expensive tourist transportation. In short, you need money.

That aside, Honduras has places that are worth visiting too. San Pedro Sula is nestled in green jungle mountains that are always covered in clouds at the top.

Coca Cola sign in the hills

Coca Cola sign in the hills

So, after I punctually arrived at San Pedro Sula airport, Dimitri was already there to pick me up. We drove to his house which is right near the school his parents opened. I had the chance to have a look at the Europaschule and even observe some German classes during the week.

In the evening, we also had the first power loss. I hoped that it would only last for a short time because there was no way I could sleep in this heat without a fan (mostly only public places have a/c). There usually was one short power loss every day.

The day after my arrival however, we already had to get up at 4am to catch a bus (15$) at 5pm and then a boat (25$) that would bring us from La Ceiba to Utila. Luckily, there are street vendors everywhere that sell all kinds of fried things and fruit, so that we didn’t have to do the trip on an empty stomach. At around noon, we arrived in Utila, where it was even hotter than on the mainland. We walked along the narrow main road where we always had to watch out that the tuktuks and motorcycles wouldn’t hit us. I thought I was back in Koh Tao, Utila looked so similar!

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It’s a pretty island with a nice coast. There are a few really small sand patches where you can hang out along the beach and go swimming but this island is also mostly for snorkeling and scuba diving.

So, that’s what we did. On the second day, we took a taxi boat out to the Cays. Now, that’s the picture of paradise islands that pops up in my head when I am daydreaming.

From beautiful dark blue water we approached Water Cay through light blue water and finally reached the white sand of the small island. There were only palm trees, a few hammocks and about 5 people on the island. I really felt like Robinson.

Snorkeling there was mediocre. There was a lot of grass and only one part with nice corals and amazing fish but therefore, that was really awesome. And since the water wasn’t even refreshing, we could stay in it all afternoon.

The next morning, we had a trip booked with Ecco Diving. Their dive shop is cool with a nice pier where you can snorkel around, sit in the shade or jump from a rope into the sea. Plus, everybody was really friendly.

We boarded a really small boat and I was glad the sea was quiet because I couldn’t imagine that small thing in big waves. The calm water was our chance to see whale sharks but unfortunately, we didn’t encounter any. After I left Utila they saw them for the following 3 days!!!

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However, we did have a few dolphins that followed us for a while on our way to the north side.

The first dive was ok. I saw a lion fish and one of the divers killed one with a spear because they are a plague here.

The second dive was really cool!!! Next to the usual variety of colorful fish, we saw stingrays, a big turtle and crabs.

The next day, I went diving again. This time, we went to a ship wreck that was down on the sand at -30m. Now I could actually use my new advanced diving license. It wasn’t as creepy as I expected it to be. I don’t think anybody had died there. It was actually rather cool because people had put props like bicycles down there to take pictures with. I saw a lobster, a big moray eel, a huge barracuda and all the other small fish.

Back on the island, I walked to the end where Coral View and Neptune hotels are located. Wow, snorkeling there was exactly like going diving, there were so many fish and corals and that as soon as you step into the water.

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Other than that, I found it too hot to do anything more during the day. There was no a/c in any places I’ve been on the island and there were so many mosquitos and sandflies that I was forced to hide out for a siesta under the fan in my room for a big part of the afternoons. In the end, I counted about 210 bites on my body. I looked as if I had a severe case of the chicken pocks :S

To crown it all, there were tarantulas (eeewww) in every hole in the wall or ground and still there were so many mosquitos.

After the sunset it was more agreeable with mosquitos and the heat. We usually went out to a bar. Cocktails were only about 3$ and smoothies 2.50 🙂

The seahorse bar was amazing. Everything is decorated with all kinds of objects. It’s like a small Park Güell.

Then, there was another cool bar that was on the water on a pier. They left a hole in the ground where you can sit around and look down into the water and watch the fish. The bars were really quiet and so was the whole island. Utila is usually a party place but now in off season we were almost the only tourists.

Lion fish

Lion fish

The last evening, we spent at our hotel because we met a couple from Chile. They were really nice and invited us to a bbq. Vladimir had slow cooked meat ALL afternoon and all we ate was meat but it was one of the most delicious steaks I’ve ever had.

Then we started an early journey back to the mainland again, where Dimitri had to go back to work and I look for more jobs.

One evening, we went to the cinema (4$ which is quite expensive for Honduras :)). It was a HUGE screen and Dimitri said that it wasn’t even the biggest.

I also could visit Dimitri’s mom’s social project in Oruga, where she had built a kindergarten and an auditorium for the community.

The grounds and facilities were very pretty and the kids extremely cute.

On my last day in Honduras, we walked up to the Coca Cola sign that hangs in the forest above the city, like the Hollywood sign in LA. Although it was just a concrete road through the forest it was quite a workout in this humidity. But at least I could stretch my legs a little before my long flights back to Switzerland.

Seahorse Café

Seahorse Café

I had to be at the airport at 10am the next day. Dimitri and his friend Hector kindly waited until I did everything I had to do (including paying 40$ departure tax) and waved once I disappeared on the escalator. I still haven’t completely realized that university will be over when I get back to Switzerland. That my friends now are in different cities all over Switzerland – or the world and that it’s time to open a new chapter again.

But first it will be SAP-Houston/Houston-Newark. A night at an airport hotel (to which my seat neighbor from the plane and her friend that picked her up, spontaneously drove me to because they wanted to make sure I got there quickly and safe at midnight. Such nice people everywhere!!) and then an evening flight to Lisbon the next day, where I’ll spend four days with my mom 🙂

Switzerland is approaching.

Boat docks in Utila

Boat docks in Utila

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Sailing in the Whitsundays

View from the Whitehaven lookout

View from the Whitehaven lookout

Between Fraser and the Whitsundays I had one night in Agnes Waters, which is next to a place called 1770. It’s a very small place but the Cool Bananas Hostel we stayed at was awesome and the beach beautiful. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day and so the hike around the 1770 headland wasn’t as beautiful as it probably could have been but the guys had a great time climbing around the rocks. When the sun came out for a moment, we took the surfboards and grabbed some free body boards and headed to the beach (it then started raining again but that doesn’t really matter when you are already in the water). The waves were perfect for beginners and I had the best time paddling around with other learners and little boys that made it look so easy. Humans weren’t the only ones on the water though. There were about a million butterflies hovering over the waves. I wished I had another night there to go surfing again the next day! Even with the green water waves, I never nose-dived 🙂 If I continued surfing now, I hope I’d actually be able to surf curves soon :).

Sailing is work!

Sailing is work!

Then, I was a bit nervous about taking the night bus to Airlie Beach. I’m never able to sleep on these buses and so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it was a bus without wifi but at least I had nice neighbors and somehow we all made it there intact the next morning. We wandered to the Nomads hostel, where most of us first took a nap for a few hours 🙂

Airlie Beach is another touristy place with a lot of shops, restaurants and bars but I found it very agreeable to stay there. You can’t swim in the ocean because of dangerous stingers but there is a beautiful lagoon around which you can perfectly relax, have a bbq and swim in the saltwater pool when you get too hot. Finally, we had really nice weather again. I even might get my sun tan back. I think I had the nicest days here since I left Perth (I had serious bad weather luck along the East coast, just not what I expected from Australia).

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The day before my Whitsunday tour, I just spent hanging around the lagoon, since I thought everybody I knew from Fraser and Noosa already departed a day before me. While I was cooking dinner in the evening, I ran into someone I already met in Rainbow Beach and we realized that we’d be on the same boat the next day. Therefore, we sat opposite each other while we had dinner and while we were talking to some people next to us, someone suddenly asked whether we were a couple. The question on its own wouldn’t be so funny but her comment after we denied that was: yes, otherwise it would have been really weird, since you are eating different things.

However, during the next three days on the boat we were eating the same thing. Did that make us a couple then :)?

Anyways, the next morning I went to check in for my boat. We only were a small group and first had to fill in the safety forms and sign the papers that we wouldn’t sue them. Then, we walked down to the pier and after first waiting at the wrong spot, we then found the correct gate. At least I wasn’t alone :). We met Michael, our dive and trip guide who made us fill in another form and then we could finally board the Samurai, our home for the next two nights. Since we were only 12 passengers (and two crew members) on a boat that usually fits 25 people (I really don’t know how that would work though), we all had a nice amount of space.

Playing around with perspectives and dimentions

Playing around with perspectives and dimentions

Then, we set out in the open sea on a beautiful day. In fact, the weather was so nice that we could only really sail without the motor for 45min in these three days. But it was a lot of fun like that too, mostly thanks to the other awesome passengers. I already miss you guys!

Our first stop was Hayman Island. The certified divers jumped into the water first and we had a nice 42min dive. Visibility was not that good but there were many fish and beautiful corals and just the feeling of floating under water reminded me again that I really should dive more.

For the rest of the afternoon, I went snorkeling, while Michael took a few other groups for an introductory dive. I saw about the same things snorkeling than during diving since everything was up in shallow water.

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Then, we our skipper drove us into a beautiful sunset and found a quiet spot to spend the night. The Samurai wasn’t supposed to be a party boat but with this group, both evenings turned into a party anyways, especially after the ‘little piggy’ game. I can’t tell you what it is, otherwise it wouldn’t be funny anymore if you one day get to play it :).

Most of the nights however, we spent just lying on the deck, looking at the amazing sky. There were soooo many stars. We could clearly see the Milky Way and there were many shooting stars. I always wished for chocolate because that was the only thing that was really missing on the boat.

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The morning was a bit critical for the stomach of a few people but luckily I could enjoy a beautiful sunrise and my breakfast without any problems. Then, we headed to Whitehaven Beach. We got off on the other side of the island, where it firstly was time for some funny pictures. Then, we walked to the stunning white beach, where we played around with the cameras some more. This beach surely was amazing! Too bad that you have to wear suits to swim in the water because of the stingers. Luckily, I didn’t see one.

After the beach, we hiked up to the view point. The view from there was even better than being at the beach itself. That was probably the most beautiful nature panorama I have ever seen. Just such a stunning mix of blue, green and white colors.

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While we were waiting for the small boat to bring us back to Samurai, no other people than Lauren and Jamie from Fraser were jumping off their boat to come on the island. Back to the boat, a nice bbq lunch awaited us. After lunch, we went snorkeling at a different spot and for the sunset we went to a sand bank in the middle of the ocean. We walked to one end of the island and after the sunset, we walked back and realized that part of the sand bank was under water now. Good that I wasn’t wearing long pants 🙂 We even saw a turtle sticking its head out of the water and a small shark.

The second night was wonderful again and luckily I was below deck already during the two minutes it suddenly started pouring out of the blue.

The next morning we went snorkeling around the sandbank but there wasn’t much to see. Visibility was pretty bad. It still was good just to be in the water and at the beach anyways. Then it unfortunately already was time to sail back to Airlie Beach. Good music, great company and beautiful weather made this trip perfect! Back at shore I started to feel a little land sick, so I preventively took a motion sickness pill. On the way to the hostel, I ran into Jamie, Lauren and Victoria and Ronnie again, who were having a bbq at the lagoon for Jamie’s birthday. They invited me to come back for the cake and so my chocolate wish actually came true :).

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In the evening, my boat group met up again for an after party. Ali had brought the Twister game and so we had some international competitions going on 🙂 It was another great evening, so that we still weren’t tired of each other after spending all this time together and therefore met up again the next day for swimming and a nice bbq dinner. Then, I sadly had to leave with the night bus to Cairns. Unbelievable, that this is already the last bus from my Greyhound pass. It was such a long list of trips and now it suddenly comes to an end. Everybody else would be stopping of at Magnetic Island and perhaps do a skydive at Mission Beach, so it will be unlikely that I’ll see them again over here 😦 I guess it’s time to meet new people again…

This time, there was wifi on the bus and I even had two seats to myself, so the time until 5.45am passed pretty quickly (which didn’t mean that I could sleep any more than on the last bus).

So far, Fraser and the Whitsundays (and surfing) really were the highlights of the East Coast. The beaches and colors of Whitehaven Beach and watching the stars from the boat at night should be something you should put on the top of your Australia list if you ever get the chance to come here.

Best Samurai group ever :)

Best Samurai group ever 🙂