After our short 8 day stay in El Salvador, we headed for Honduras where we had made plans to stay on the small Caribbean island of Utila to get our Scuba Diving Certification.
We pretty much had to cross the whole country from West to East to get there. Utila was our main destination and where we spent most of our time but on the way there and back we had great experiences.
After a long border crossing and driving 135 miles we were glad to arrive at our camp for the night and meet another couple of Overlanders from Canada; Doug and Fran Calder, Calder Escapes.
They are on the same route as us and travel just as slow. We were just in time for Happy Hour so we had a few beers at Finca Bavaria were we camped then all walk to town for dinner. Great way to be introduced to a new country!
Founded in 1526 the little town of Gracias has a population of 13,000. It was, for a brief period in the 16th century, the capital of all Spanish-conquered Central America.
Cataratas de Pulhapanzak (Pulha)
Pulha Waterfall is located in the small town of San Buenaventura near Lake de Yojoa, the largest lake in Honduras, an increasingly popular tourist destination. It’s about half way between Gracias and La Ceiba where we will be catching the ferry to Utila so it was a perfect overnight stop. Besides the waterfall, they offer beautiful cabins, a restaurant, swimming and zip lining in a lush tropical setting.
Before arriving in a new country I try to read as much about it as I can, to understand it’s history and traditions and to locate the main attractions.
While researching Honduras I read the blog of another couple of Overlanders that have inspired us: Song of the Road. Erica described a crazy Cave Tour behind a waterfall! So of course I wanted to do it! I casually told Joe about it and off we went!
OMG talk about an adrenaline rush!
Our guide Carlos started out with no conversation, in either English or Spanish, on the kilometer walk to the base of the falls.
Then he stoped, tied his shoe laces, turned around and in perfect English said: “Are you ready for this? Just follow me as close as you can!”
And it began … we started our climb through narrow passages in the huge boulders as water pummeled us from above. We reached a pool of churning water and BAM! the guide falls into it and franticly swims to the other side before being pulled over the edge! Joe looks at me and said: “I guess we’re suppose to do the same” so we did!
The beating on our heads and shoulders from the water was scary but exciting at the same time. I couldn’t stop laughing, that usually means overwhelming anxiety!!!
We continued on and arrived under a large part of the falls. Carlos told us that more than 20,000 gallons of water falls over per second, we felt every drop but it was amazing. Thinking this was it, and it was by then quite enough, Carlos looks at us and says: “want to see more?” So we continued, he told us to look down and breathe through our mouths, it just got more and more thrilling.
But what made it so crazy is that we did not have any kind of security gear, at anytime we could have just fallen or been swept away by the current!
We came out unscathed, ready for a beer or 2 and memories that will last for ever!
The tropical island of Utila is located about 18 miles from Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba where we left Silver in the secure parking lot of the Port Authority and hopped on the Utila Dream ferry.
We spent 2 weeks enjoying our Caribbean Island Paradise on the smallest of the Bay Islands group, you may have heard of Roatan which is the neighboring and more popular and bigger island.
Utila is only 11 km long and 4 km at its widest and surrounded by vast coral reefs, it is renowned as being one of the least expensive and most beautiful places for Scuba Diving Certifications and vacations.
While dining in a restaurant in Flores, Guatemala, we met an American couple who had been living in Utila for the last 25+ years. Carrell was a nurse who had started a clinic on the island and it turned out that her husband Marty was from the same area as Joe in Pennsylvania and their respective high schools were football rivals.
To make a long story short, they offered us to stay in their home in Utila while they were away. Since they have been retired they go back to the US during hurricane season. We were blown away by their generosity! 2½ months later I sent Carrell an email to see if their offer still stand and sure enough we worked out the details and agreed on a price to cover their expenses. Meeting extraordinary and inspiriing people is always the best part about traveling!
Their handyman Javier was waiting for us at the dock when we arrive and took us to the house where Delsey the housekeeper had prepared us dinner: Chicken, mash potatoes, rice, vegetables, coleslaw and a Tres Leches cake! Welcome to Paradise!
Caribbean Beach across the street and a mangrove bay in the back yard!
During our five days of classes we were pretty tired by the end of the day so we didn’t do much besides relax at the house and watch a few seasons of Downton Abbey.
During our second week we really got to enjoy our surroundings. We kayaked, snorkeled, swam, did a fun dive that was included with our certification, drove around the island on the scooter, tried a few restaurants and just took it all in trying to imagine what it would be like to live on a small island in the Caribbean.
We are for ever grateful to Carrell and Marti to have given us the opportunity to experience island life like a local in their beautiful home.
Back on the main land in La Ceiba, we got Silver from the secured parking at the Port Authority then headed for Walmart where we stock up on groceries and then met up with Doug and Fran at a Hostel 1877.
Parque Nacional Cerro Azul
We left the Caribbean coast heading towards Nicaragua. On the way we stopped for a couple of nights at Cerro Azul National Park, it rained a lot but it was nice to get cooler temperatures.
We stopped for lunch and a quick visit of the Central Plaza to see the ancient Moorish clock, dating back to around 1100AD, it originated from Spain and was donated to the City of Comayagua in 1620 by the king of Spain.
Many Overlanders drive through Honduras without even stopping. It’s possible to drive from the border of El Salvador and cross Honduras and make it to Nicaragua in one day. We’re glad we got to explore a little of this beautiful country.
Again we only met friendly people willing to help. Honduras has a very bad rap about gang violence and a very high crime rate but we can honestly say that we did not encounter any of it. We followed our rules of never driving at night and avoiding known dangerous areas.