Sunday, May 30, 2010

A not so perfect storm...

A brief update to say I am still alive and kicking despite the lack of communication for the last while. A proper update will have to wait until I have electricity and internet back at the Lodge. Here´s what´s new:

A few days ago (Tuesday maybe) we got hit by a major storm which flooded the lodge. Living in a place with solar panels, we rely heavily on sunlight to stay powered. Driving rain does not produce a lot of sunlight, so we lost power. When we lost power, we lost our ability to pump water from the well. So, until yesterday, we had no solar lights, no electricity, and no running water. We also had next to no dry beds. When we weren´t racing around trying to protect ourselves, our belongings and the lodge, we spent time crammed into the storage closet, which was the only dry space big enough for everyone. Fortunately, the cabins stayed fairly dry so everyone crammed into those to sleep.

We found out on Friday that down the coast of Nicaragua, the storm had been classified as a tropical storm and people were being evacuated. People in Poneloya, the town across from the island, spent their days huddled around radios waiting for news of whether we were going to get hit harder or get some relief but of course, we had no such access to information. Fortunately, the storm subsided and yesterday a generator arrived, giving us running water again. Also in the realm of good news, the fridge and stove run on gas, which we had, so were were still able to eat. And keep the beer cold, which some people considered very important :)

Today, the rain pretty much stopped and although it was overcast, it was hot and I now have a brilliantly red face from having actually stepped outside. Alas.

I have been meaning to write in detail about Surfing Turtle Lodge and our turtle conservation project, but that will have to wait for another time. For now, news of my well-being will have to suffice!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Islands of Paradise

When I last left you, I was on the hunt for a snorkel and mask in Utila. Having found what I was looking for, experience duly tucked under my belt (metaphorically speaking, of course), Sam and I decided it was time to move on from Utila.

Our original idea was to catch a sailboat to Roatan, another island in the Bay Islands, the day after we arrived in Utila, but it turned out that Captain Vern wasn't sailing that next day. We ended up staying a few days longer in Utila, since we were enjoying our stay at Rubi's Inn, so when we were ready to go, we were happy that Captain Vern had space available on his catamaran. I've spent very little time on sailboats, aside from searching them when I was a customs inspector, so was quite excited about the trip. We were exceptionally fortunate, as it turns out, because due to a war between a new tour company and the ferry company, Captain Vern was being put out of business and we caught his last sail between the islands.

The trip was incredible. I'm not sure how big the boat was, maybe 30 feet, beautiful catamaran and the weather was perfect. I didn't get the perfect picture, as Vern kept the engine running due to our fellow passengers having a flight to catch (seriously, people, when on a timeline, why take a sailboat? sheesh). But the sails were up, the Caribbean was that shade of blue that exists nowhere else on the planet, and I spent a great deal of time learning how to stand up and move around without falling over. I managed to drink most of a cup of coffee, with very little spillage, and eat a plate of bacon and eggs. I call the trip successful.

We arrived at Roatan at 11ish in the morning. Vern docks at a hotel in the West End of Roatan, a popular destination for divers and beach-goers, and got us a great rate at the hotel. We had a room right on the beach, facing west, so we saw a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, they were booked for the next several nights, so we moved to a place called Seagrape Plantation Resort, which was more expensive but absolutely perfect. Our cabin was also waterfront, with a "yard" of dead coral (it seems that the ocean just stopped rising that high, leaving behind lots of coral reef), and a sidewalk that extended right into the reef in the sea. We rented snorkel gear and spent time each day investigating the incredible sea life and coral reef right off our doorstep. I am hooked on snorkelling and think that one day soon I might have to take the plunge (so to speak) and try scuba diving. One day, I went out with the dive boat at Seagrape and snorkelled while others were diving, getting an even better view. I saw a sea turtle! It was fantastic.

Roatan is quite different from Utila. It's got better beaches, but is waaaayyy more expensive. It does, however, have the perfect beer cozies, and we are now the proud owners of neoprene wetsuits for our beer cans. They are tie dyed in bright, pyschedelic colours. I loved Roatan and think that for those looking for a relaxed, beach vacation, it's a great place to go. Utila is smaller, with fewer beaches, but is internationally renowned for its scuba diving schools, as it's quite inexpensive. You can learn to dive, accommodation included, for $250 for a 4 or 5 day course. There are dorm-style hostels in Utila for $4 per night. Our first night was a $12 per night ($6 each) hotel room with fan and private bathroom, the other nights $25 for a much nicer room, compared to $60 at Seagrape.

We caught a flight from Roatan to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, on Tuesday morning, and made our way to Los Brasiles, a small island off Ponteloya, near Leon, in Nicaragua, arriving Wednesday night. We are staying at the small eco-resort owned by a friend of Sam's, Surfing Turtle Lodge ( We will be here for a few days more, I think, and I will save my post about the lodge till we are ready to leave, as I want to a) have a full experience to write about, because I think this is a place worth writing about, and b) go swimming now.

Surf's up... catch ya later.