Everyone seems to skip Honduras, or just goes to one of the islands and then legs it to Leon. I was going to be one of these people until I realized you had to wake up at 5 to get the 6am ferry and then a shuttle that wouldn’t arrive in leon till 1 am, so decided to change my plans. The group (minus Daniel and Sarah who were on a romantic get away) decided to head to La Ceiba and spend 2 nights there. We had heard there was good white water rafting so thought we should give it ago, plus the hostel was so comfortable none of us wanted to leave (hot water and Air Con! Hostel 1877).
Rachael and Jules sat out on the rafting as they weren’t feeling too well (Jules had this horrible rash (we think chikungunya/ chickenjuliets but really could have been anything as she never got tested #ZIKA) plus was still recovering from her 2 day bender) but we still had Richard and James who we had met diving and Connor, this huge american guy that Mark new from San Juan del Sur making us a group of 8. We got picked up in the oldest beat up Landcruiser who’s door didn’t even shut properly! After a bumpy ride through the jungle we were at the starting point for the rafting. We were given some brief instructions and a quick little practice run (that we sucked at) and then we were off down the river. We had a girls boat (Katie, Niamh, Erin and Me) and a boys boat (James, Richard and Mark) with Conor in his own inflatable kayak thing.
The crew ready to go rafting!!
It was so much fun! Niamh (I now know how to spell her name) in particular was so funny! She is so goofy and could never hear the instructions so was always a step or so behind. Katie decided she would be a better/louder captain so took over in the instruction department. We thankfully never fell out (except for when the boys pulled us out and then flipped our boat) and no one got hurt which is always a plus.
Niamh trying desperately to stay in the boat
It was time for the group to disperse so after an amazing family dinner cooked by Rach we all made our seperate plans. James and Richard were getting a shuttle to Leon, Jules and Niamh were staying in la ceiba and the rest of us were off to this brewery their dive instructor had told them about. Through Rach’s expert skills we managed to get there using taxis and local buses for half the price of the shuttle. It actually wasn’t even hard and probably took the exact same amount of time. The brewery was in the middle of the jungle near a lake. We never actually saw the lake until we were leaving. D&D brewery was awesome! The beer was delicious and they even had cider plus the accomidation was really comfy (there were no bunk beds thank god!).
After a night of drinking we all piled into a taxi to go and explore a near by waterfall. This waterfall was huge, and apparently you could do tours behind it. Katie and Erin were trying to reign in their spending so decided to skip the tour. I kinda thought it was just going to be a casual stroll along a path into a cave behind the waterfall but it was so much more!! This was extreme waterfall climbing. We had to jump off rocks into pools of water and then climb up the other side. At one point you couldn’t see anything and just had to cling onto this rope and follow it blindly. It was so much fun!! We did loose some sunnies but it was well worth it! A must do if you are in Honduras.
Group shot under the waterfall
I had my first bed bug experience and it was horrendous! We were staying at bigfoot hostel in Antigua as el hostel was fully booked. I was woken up in the middle of the night to a bug crawling on my shoulder. I wasn’t sure if it was a bed bug or not as I didn’t seem to have any bites. I found a few more and killed them and tried to convince myslef they weren’t bed bugs to go back asleep. In the morning I asked Whitney if she was getting bitten too and she was covered in bites! Mine took 24hrs to come up but I was totally covered. They were so itchy and I just felt grose. We quickly changed hostels for our last night in antigua and tried to recover! I am now paranoid about bed bugs!!
World’s biggest bed bugs!
It was time to say goodbye to Whitney as I was off to Utila for a music festival and diving and she was off to Rio for the Olympics. I had heard about this music festival from an Irish chick named Sally that was staying in our Dorm in Antigua. Apparently it was a 24 hr rave on a small island. I imagined it to be something like the full moon party in thailand. I had a feeling Mark and Daniel (the guys I had met in Mexico City) would be going as it seemed right up their ally.
Thankfully everyone I knew had the same ideas and were all going to the same dive shop, Altons. I booked 10 fun dives which included 5 nights accomidation for $US325. As soon as I arrived I ran into Mark and Daniel who were traveling with 6 girls (Rachel, Jules, Sarah, Erin, Katy amd Neev (spelt differently as she’s Irish) and Sally and all her friends (Nicola x 2, Ruth and Marren (also all irish)). They were all awesome and loved to party!
It took 2 days before I was able to start diving as tropical storm Earl decided to pay a visit. I think it turned into a cyclone by the time it hit Belize but we just got the tail end of it so it wasn’t too bad. Just a lot of wind and rain which made for a really boring day! Thankfully it passed pretty quickly and we were able to start diving the next day.
The diving in Utila was good. Not great and not the best place I have ever been but good. The reef seemed pretty healthy and there were lots of fish but we never saw anything amazing on any of the dives. We did a ship wrek dive that was pretty cool but again not the greatest one I have been on.
Some squid chilling in the ocean
Best picture I got of the reef
The time had finally come! Sunjam!!! The festival started at 12pm but everyone assured us that no one would be there that early. We decided to go on the boat from the dive centre that left around 9pm. The boat ride took forever! After what felt like an hour we were finaly at the island. It wasn’t anywhere near as big as the full moon party. Someone said that they sold 1300 tickets so I guess that’s roughly how many people were there but it didn’t seem packed by any means. It was a proper rave. I thought it might be house music to start with but it was full techo/trance music the entire time. To start with it was fine but by the end of the night it felt like we had been listening to the same song all night. We partied till the sun came up. The festival kept going till 12pm but we left around 6:30 as I couldn’t stay up any longer. Mark and Daniel’s crew went to the after party the next day on the beach but I couldn’t rally enough to go. Plus I had to dive the next morning…
*Cameras aren’t allowed at sunjam so I don’t have any pictures of the night (while saying this I saw loads of people with cameras… wouldn’t have been hard to sneak one in.)
I don’t know what it is about Central America but it feels like it is full of female backpackers! Don’t get me wrong I love that girls are getting out there and traveling but where did all the boys go? The ratio seems to be 70% girls 30% boys! Its never great having such an uneven balance… I need to get out of this estrogen filled country and find some guys!! I do realise I sound like a boy crazed 15 year old but I don’t care!!
After 3 days and a massage I had finally recovered from the hell that was acatenango! We were in San Something on lake Atitlan staying at las iguanas hostel. It was a pretty chilled out hippie hostel. There wasn’t much to the town besides the hostel and then a school and a few houses up a massive hill. Our room had no power and didn’t really have walls. I thought we were going to be eaten alive by mosquitos but it was really cold so it didn’t end up being a problem.
It was one of these hostels that had communal dinners every night and yoga in the morning (I never joined in on the yoga…). On our first full day at the lake we signed up for a weaving class. It was only supposed to be for a few hours as we were only making a belt. The class was up in town in a local womans house. It was awesome! Mainly just to see how they lived and to realise how frikin hard it was to make even just a simple belt with weaving! We were there with 2 girls from America called Alison and Mindy. Alison was this awesome lady that taught english to spanish immigrants in Chicago. She was histerical and terrible at weaving. The class ended up taking way longer then expected, as we all sucked and constantly needed help. In the end we all gave up as our backs were killing us and I was right next to the fire/oven so I was roasting! Thankfully the teacher finished off our belts for us and brought them to the hostel the next day.
Not too sure about this weaving….
Weaving was way harder then it looks!
Sunday was market day in ChiChi (it has a longer name that I have no idea how to spell but everyone calls it chichi) and wr had been wanting to go since we had heard about it in flores. We decided to take the chicken buses as everyone kept going on about them and we weren’t willing to try it out for a longer journey. Chicken buses are the public transport throughout central america and are old American school busses that have all been on an episode of pimp my ride. It was insanely uncomfortable. We had to get 3 buses to get from the lake to ChiChi. They cram 3 people on those tiny seats so you are basically sitting in the aisle. I don’t know why but central american roads are packed with speed bumps which are so unnecessary as the roads are crap. You will be going up the side of a mountain at 10 km/hr and there will be a speed bump. Speed bumps on a chicken bus are awful!! To top it off on our 3rd bus we had a live infomercial. I’m still not sure what this guy was selling but apparently it was some tablet that fixed everything. It gave you energy, and helped with memory and prevented aging. It really didn’t seem like anyone was paying attention and Alison and I were pulling the piss out of it the whole time. Finaly after what seemed like a lifetime he handed the magic pills oit for everyone to look at and then people started buying them! We couldn’t belive it. Granted we didn’t understand most of what he was saying but it seemed like a massive joke but the people on the bus were loving it! In total the trip took us over an hour. I’m not sure how much money we saved but it was definitely an experience.
Cramed on the chicken bus
The market itself was amazing! I was in retail heaven. It was everything I love. All boho tapestry things. I could have bought at least 50 bags. Thankfully I didn’t bring my card so I was limited to the cash I had otherwise I think I would have bought everything! I ended up buying a funky jacket, a dress and a wall tapestry thing. All in all it was a sucessful day 🙂
One of the amazing market stalls
We probably could have spent another day on the lake and checked out some other little villages around the place but we decided to head back to antigua as I had it in my head that I needed to leave soon for utila. The lake was absolutely stunning though and an awesome place to relax .
Sunset on the lake
We had heard that semuc champey was closed due to protests but was supposed to be opening the day we got there. We jumped in our shitty shuttle and set off on what was supposed to be an 8 hour journey* (they don’t really have night buses in central america as things are apparently close together but you always are in the bus for a min of 8 hours).
We were all settled in and everyone had popped their sleeping pills and were about 4 hours into our journey when we hit a road block. We were about 2 hours away from Coban and there was a protest going on. I’m still not really sure what it was about but someone said it was to do with the hospitals not being open but who knows where they heard that from. I didn’t really care what it was about I just wanted to get where I was going. No one had any idea how long we were going to be stuck there for. We all settled in for a long, hot uncomfortable wait. In total we were on the side of the road for 3 hours and the 8 hour bus trip took 14 hours!!
Entertaining the kids with snapchat filters while stuck in the protest…
After all of that the hostel we wanted to stay in was apparently full so we just jumped in a truck going to some other hostel hoping they had rooms. Sometimes travelling can be really shit!
Thankfully the hostel ended up being quite nice and cheap and was right on the river. Unfortunately semuc champey was still closed due to another set of protests (this time protesting that the town wasn’t getting any money from the tourism). As it wasn’t open we really didn’tget up to much here. We went tubing down the river which was really fun but the rest of the time we mainly spent bumming by the river.
Drinking beer and tubing down the river!
*The rule I follow for all buses in central and south america is:
Less then 10 hrs = add 1-2 hours
10 – 15hrs = add 2-3 hours
Greater then 15hrs = give up predicting and settle in for a shit day!
After 3 weeks at the beach I was well and truely over sunbathing and swimming so I decided to ditch Belize and head straight to Guatemala. It was a long trip, around 12 hours with 2 boarder crossings. I was heading to the small island called flores. We were staying in an awesome hostel called Los Amigos. I made friends with a girl on the bus who was also from Perth called Whitney. She was travelling for an indefinite period through Central and South America. (Whitney’s favourite words: English: literally, Spanish: Perfecto! These words are said at least 15 times a day min).
We really didn’t get up to much on the first day. Just had a wander around town and a but of an admin day (laundry and planning). The hostel had awesome food so we ended up eating there most days.
It’s my birthday!! Birthdays abroad are either a big thing or not when you are travelling. As I hadn’t been traveling with anyone for a long time it was just a normal day. We decided to go and check out the ruins in Tikal. Acording to everyone these were a must see! We weren’t off to a great start. They loaded us into a tiny van with no aircon and then after 5 mins of driving stopped on the side of the road for 15 mins leaving us to pool in our own sweat. We made another 2 pointless stops in what was supposed to be a 1.5 hr bus trip.
Whitney and me in Tikal
To say I wasnt in the best of moods at the start of the tour would be a massive understatement. After what felt like a lifetime of fucking about we finaly got to start our tour. We had opted for the sunset tour as we really weren’t keen to wake up for the sunrise. I probably should have done the math but (our tour started at 12 and it was a sunset tour…) but I didn’t so I didn’t realise it was going to be a 5 hour tour!! Our guide ment well and was really passionate about archiology but as a guide he sucked. Every other word was “you see” which got extremely annoying plus he didn’t tell us any of the exciting stuff. Instead of going into all the stories about who lived there and sacrafices and indoor plumbing he went on and on about how the pyramids were excavated and rebuilt and how to interperate some tomb stone. It was completely lost on all of us. We were hot and tired and so hungry by the end of it. The ruins were amazing and there were hardly any people there but my memory of the place is a bit jaded…
Watching the sunset on the Lake in flores (better then the on at Tikal)
I was finally away from the highly touristic coast of the Yucatan. I was in a small lakeside town called Bacalar. It was beautiful! My hostel was right on the lake and had its own little jetty that you could swim off or just lie in a hammock. Our dorm room was right on the lake so was nice a cool as there was always a steady breeze.
The jetty at our hostel
It was a place you never wanted to leave and really didn’t do much. There were afew girls in my room that had been there for a week and had no intentions of leaving and a bunch of people came back after just a few days of being away.
I really didn’t get up to much here. The most adventurous thing we did was hire a kayak and paddled to the other side of the lake. I was with a girl from melb named Sarah. It was way harder then we thought. My shoulders were burning and no matter how hard we tried we struggled to stay in a straight line on the way back. We did manage to find a place that seemed very popular with the locals where you could rub “mineral rich” mud on you. It stank!! Interestingly Sarah doesn’t have a sence of smell so it really didn’t bother her. I don’t know if it did anything for our skin but at least it was fun!
Kayaking on the lake
Woooo stinky mud!
I really could have satyed here for weeks but managed to pull myself away after 3 nights as I felt I had been chilling for a bit too long and need to get my butt back on the road!
After making a small fortune in flighr vouchers ($US1400), thankyou Delta! I was back in beautiful mexico!! I was meeting Nick in Playa del Carmen so after a quick stop in Cancun I was off on a shuttle to Playa.
Nick insisted on staying in a private room, being the princess he is, so we managed to find one in a hostel. Best of both worlds. I really had no interest in going to Playa as it is just a massive tourist trap (think Kuta Bali) but that’s where Nick wanted to go and I thought it would be fun to hang out with him for a few days.
We started off with a tour to Tulum. This is where I wanted to stay as it has amazing beaches and is a pretty chilled out place full of backpackers. Alas it wasn’t to be (I could have gone after Nick left but by then I was all beached out…). We started off at the ruins. These are peobably the least impressive ruins but in the best location; and you know what they say… location, location, location! These Myans must have been loaded! It was insanely hot and overcrowded so that also detracted from the apeal maling these my least favorite ruins.
It was then off for a quick pit stop at the beach to cool off and highlight how crap the Playa beach was, then off to the grand Cynote. The Yucatan is basically all limestone and therefore riddeled with sink holes that they call Cynotes. They are full of fresh water and are like giant caves and tunnels you can swim through. They were pretty cool. There is an option to go diving there but we didn’t do that… I might do it if I end up going back there.
The Grand Cynote
Finally it was time to go swimming with the whale sharks!! I had been waiting for weeks to go as I knew Nick would want to do it (such a nice friend). After a lot of fucking about picking people up, we were off on the boat to go and find them! I have no idea how they manage to find them every day. It felt like we were in the middle of no where. Then suddenly on the horizon we saw hundreds of boats! They must have found them!! For the amount of boats there you would think that the water would be packed with tourists trying to get close to them but there were so many whale sharks that it was only ever you and your partner swimming with the shark at one time. They swam quite fast but you could keep up with them for your allocated time. It was pretty amazing and definitely worth the money ($US120)!
Our last day together was spent on the worst snorkling tours I have been on. We were thinking about going diving in Cozumel but decided we didn’t want to spend the money (and if th snorkling is anything to go by we made the right choice). I was a little toured out so wasn’t paying much attention when we were booking it, plus the ferry was about to leave so we kinda made a rush decision. The snorkling was shit!! We went to 3 spts where there was no coral and hardly any fish. Was such a waste of money! Nick and I were so annoyed but really we should have looked into it more…
That night Nick had a date with a guy he met off grinder so I had the night to myself. Oriana and Robert were coming down from Cancun and we were going to have a crazy night out. They were supposed to be in playa at around 9:30 so I was ready to go and waiting. I should have known better. I got a txt at 9 and they hadn’t even left Cancun!! They eventually arrived at 11:30! I was almost asleep. We finaly made it out around midnight. It ended up being an awesome night out!! We were up patying till 5:30. Eventually I managed to drag the girls home and Robert had to get on a bus back to Cancun as he was going on a tour to chichanitza (can’t spell) at 7am!