Category Archives: Travel

Utila – Roatan – Tegucigalpa – Leon – OH MY!

It’s been a mental few days! Our Paddys Day bender was a hoot, didn’t end up seeing any whale sharks due to all the boats having left by the time we sorted the flights out, instead we had a gorgeous day on the beach with our new friends Laird and Bonita who kindly lent us their snorkelling gear so we could a least get in the water and try to touch some animals. Retired back to the hotel to get changed and ended up drinking rum on the balcony with more awesome Canadians until Susan transformed into Mandible who demanded we headed down to Skid Row to do the Guifity shot challenge. Which we did. Can’t remember much else apart from riding around the island on a scooter and some fat american trying to kiss both of us.

The next day (Jill’s birthday) started with hideous hangovers at 7am when we had to leg it down to catch the boat to Roatan, where we met MORE great Canadians (Audrey and Janine) whose arms didn’t take much bending to persuade to join us in a mender on the boat ride, which Susan spent the best part of hanging over the side trying not to vom.

We ended up having a hoot on Roatan with the lasses and after sitting drinking and giggling for a couple of hours in the bar (Susan was miraculously revived by a margarita, after poopooing a variety of other boozes in favour of a nap). Roatan was absolutely stunning and we were glad we got to spend an afternoon here with the most amazing company (we had so many funny things in common with the girls and they were totally our sisters from other misters). We were all well topped up so wandered the five yards to the beach to have a dip and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming about, eating road barbecue and  snoozing under a palm tree until unfortunately it was time to taxi to the airport. Roatan airport is so tiny it makes Teeside look like LAX  and we were dismayed to find when we got through security (which was less secure than the flipping BUS had been!) that there was NEE BAR there! We had got there really early so it was an anxious hour to wait without boozes. Our plane to Tegucigalpa was also really wee and the flight over the mountains and rainforest was gut-wrenchingly beautiful.

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A slight hiccup on route from El Salvador to Utila, Honduras

Well, we’ve had a logistical nightmare of a couple of days but can confirm that we are in Honduras and still alive. Our sunrise hike to the highest point in Parc Nationale Impossible was amazing (although we both nearly died – we were gutted we didn’t have time for the full day hike but are now glad we didn’t do it as it would have taken twice as long due to us having to stop every 10 minutes to have our hearts restarted), saw the sun come up over the volcanoes and the view was incredible – you could see as far as Antigua in one direction, Honduras in another and the Pacific in the other. Irene (the legendary Manolo’s lovely little Swiss missus) made us coffee on the fire in their little mountain cabin and set us up some hammocks and blankets to get cosy and enjoy the view. After the company we we’re hoping to book a shuttle from Santa Ana to Copan with refused to answer the phone or emails (until THIS MORNING!) we decided to head back onto the chicken buses to take a ‘slightly’ less direct route. The duck was especially sad to see us leave, and kept trying to grab us by the shorts on the way out.
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Into The Wild – Flores, Guatemala to Tacuba, El Salvador

We had no trouble having a nice nice t night bus sleep after a couple of Bill’s complimentary Gallos (and not having partaken in any special white stuff at a dubious ranch) and as requested, the driver woke us up when we got to Rio Hondo. We got off the bus and looked around and there was NOTHING there. It was pitch black, there was a shop but it was closed, and we were going on the vague internet rumours of a collectivo stopping there that went to the El Salvador border. We sat on the floor and opened a beer each, and smiled and acknowledged the two men that were pacing around with machine guns.

Susan went for a wander in search of a toilet and managed to find a little cafe that was (astonishingly, at 4 am in the middle of nowhere) still open, and luckily we succeeded in scraping together the couple of quetzals they were charging to use the facilities each. Jill returned from her toilet trip jubilant – “Haway! This minibus is going to the border!”. There was a collectivo parked outside the cafe, and Jill had approached the gaggle of people hanging around asking “Frontera El Salvador?” that was greeted with nods. Yay! Escape from Rio Hondo accomplished! There were only two seats left on the bus (and we had to pay with our emergency US dollars having still not located a cash point!)- Susan had to squeeze in the back between two blokes and Jill sat on the seat in front next to a couple of young lads. We opened another couple of beers to toast our departure. Jill ended up chatting to the lads as they spoke a bit of English, and were mainly telling her how much they both love white girls and that “your eyes are beautiful” and “your hair is so pretty” despite a) her being old enough to be their mother b) her eyes were as bloodshot and puffy as you would expect at 4 am and her hair looked like it had been chewed by a dog and c) the Pickwick Papers. In the meantime, Susan had dozed off, spilling her beer all over the sleeping man next to her and was nonchalantly trying to dry him off with her Delta blanket without waking him up.
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In which your two girls commit crimes (but not cards) against humanity – Tikal, Guatemala

It will come as no surprise to you, that we had quite a nice lie in until about 10am and missed the last bus to Tikal, so decided to have a wander around Flores and get some breakfast and hopefully happen upon some kind of tour company that could get us there that day. We walked along the lakeside and the only place we could find with a breakfast menu was the unimaginatively named “Bill’s Place”. We ordered traditional breakfast (Jill getting very excited about the accompanying Guatemalan tortillas, freshly made and kept warm in a basket wrapped in hot tea towels, bringing back fond mammories of her previous adventures in these parts) and a couple of Gallos. Bill himself, a domineering but friendly American ex-pat, came and introduced himself (breaking the ice by scrounging our cigarettes as he was supposed to have quit), poured himself a breakfast scotch and joined us on our table. We mentioned we’d just come from Caye Caulker and he told us that he’d wanted to open a bar there, but they’d wanted a million US dollars for a tiny tumbledown hut on the beach and he was having none of it, so opted for Flores instead. He’d ran bars all over the shop, in Jamaica, Cuba, and Belmopan in Belize, which was quite an impressive feat, especially since he spoke NO SPANISH. He came across as quite ignorant in this respect, barking his requests to the Guatemalan girls behind the bar in English but they were obviously quite used to this and usually laughed at him before going about their business.Conveniently, the bar lead through into a tour office that opened onto the main street, that was also owned by Bill, and after hearing of our plan to visit Tikal he shouted through to the lady to come through and talk to us and within 10 minutes we’d got ourselves booked on a shuttle to Tikal and back, entry to the ruins and tickets for our planned night bus to Rio Hondo (from where we would continue on to El Salvador). We were a bit reluctant to resort to a tour company sorting our stuff out, but it was a weight off our minds to know that our onward journey was all booked and taken care of, so we could enjoy Tikal without the stress of worrying about having to sort it all out once we got back. So we happily supped on a few cold beers and Susan got to touch a really cute dag.
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Our own bodies turn against us, so fo course we head to the jungle! – Flores, Guatemala.

We woke up the next day fuzzy headed, with skin like pork crackling from the sun, and immediately wrote off the original plan of catching the 9am water taxi to Belize City. We had to pay the hostel bill and had spent all our money the previous, so staggered to the ATM (via a shop for breakfast mender beers) in the roasting sun, covered from head to toe in loose fitting clothes and sunblock and looking like typical middle aged British women abroad (Susan: “I think this is the first time I’ve EVER dressed my age!”). The ATM was in one of those little rooms where you have to swipe your card to get in, and once we got inside we realised that it was AIR CONDITIONED which felt amazing on our poor sunburned bodies, so decided to hang around in there enjoying the cool air, chatting and enjoying our beers, occasionally having to step out to let people in to use the cash point.

Once we felt sufficiently chilled, we headed back to the hostel to pay the bill, and the little Swedish girl kindly offered to give us a lift to the boat landing on her little golf buggy (the island was too small to have cars and these were the only transport). We got there just as the boat was leaving, so as the next one wasn’t for another hour the obvious course of action was to find a bar on the beach with wifi, have a few beers and check the times of the shuttle from Belize City to Flores while we waited for the next one. We told this to the bloke on the table next to us (who had broken the ice by telling us that we should come back later in the year for the Lobster festival, as Susan (being the pinker of the two of us) could be “the Lobster Queen”), to which he responded “Why are you rushing around girls! Go slow! Enjoy our island!”. “Go Slow” is indeed the motto on Caye Caulker and it obviously rubbed off on us sat in the beach bar, as the next boat came and went, and the next one…until we finally got on the 2pm one.
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Ow Pet, Dint Stand on me Fish Chart, oooo-ooooh!! Paradise Pirate Island – Caye Caulker, Belize

On the 10th March (Susan’s birthday) we woke up as bright and early as we know  how (i.e. about 9am) and realised that we had no idea where the office of the snorkelling place we’d decided on was. Somewhere in between the ATM and the restaurant the previous night, we’d spoken to a woman in a little window selling snorkelling trips and agreed to turn up the next day but alas we’d forgotten where it was, and for all it was a tiny island which pretty much only had one main road and a few back streets, it might as well have been a sprawling labyrinthine metropolis for all our drunken recollection amounted to. So instead, we went to the little hut on the beach near our hostel, “Raggamuffin Tours“, which was pretty much the same deal for the day’s snorkelling. We were handed our masks. snorkels and flippers and headed out to the jetty in search of our boat – “The Ragga Man”.

“The Ragga Man” himself, was Captain Caveman – a jovial Caribbean bloke, who welcomed us aboard along with the other 10 or so passengers, and introduced us to his first mate Chilo (a young latino bloke, with an excellent line in belly dancing). It was a lovely warm, but slightly overcast day and as soon as the sails went up, we were cruising across the sea enjoying the beers we’d had the foresight to buy from the shop earlier (to the envy of the other passengers who hadn’t thought on). Susan mentioned it was her birthday, and another girl on the boat piped up saying that it was her birthday too, so we gave her one of our beers and Captain Caveman lead the whole boat singing them a joyful happy birthday.
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Kayaking Mishaps in Search of a Nice Loose Pub on the Lake of Seven Colours – Bacalar, Mexico to Caye Caulker, Belize

We woke up in our lovely eco-cabana in the park next to Lake Bacalar (Scott Bakula) and found a couple of bottles of Sol in our bags to drink for breakfast as we sat out on our little patio and admired our beautiful surroundings in the daylight. Having arrived late the previous night we hadn’t appreciated all the lovely flowers and trees in the park!

Rejuvenated by the first beer of the day, we wandered down to the lake to take advantage of the free kayaks and spent a hilarious couple of hours paddling about ineffectively on the lake, trying to find somewhere along the shore that looked like a bar where we could get some beers and brunch. Unfortunately we were in quite a remote location so our quest was futile and everywhere that looked like it might be a bar turned out to be someone’s house once we got close up. There was a hilarious incident when investigating one of said potential pubby looking chains we attempted to moor our kayaks and disembark, Susan first, who promptly slipped on the algae covered landing ramp and ended up soaked to her waist much to Jill’s amusement. This amusement was short-lived though, as cocky in her knowledge that the ramp was slippy and she was going to watch her footing and not go the same way, she managed to slip regardless, fall to her knees and then slide backwards down the ramp scraping all the skin off her knees and ending up neck deep in the lake.

We got back to the eco-park and wandered back to the terrace, soaking wet, to have a few post-boat adventure beers and touch the resident dog before ordering our taxi to Chetumal. Jill went to have a cigarette, only to find that despite her thinking she was clever and sealing them in a zip-loc bag in her dress pocket for the lake, all she had was a pouch of wet tobacco and mushed up paper and had to buy some more from the man on reception.

We got to the water taxi terminal and paid our (quite preposterous) “exit fee” to get out of Mexico (after lots of running around in search of an ATM in which to take out said funds), and ended up sitting having a few beers, chatting with a lovely Belizian couple at a little kiosk by the landing point that was playing some quality 80s pop classics. We had to line up our bags on the jetty, where the customs men with their sniffer dogs wandered up and down inspecting them. The dogs were quite interested in one of the bags, and us and the Belizian couple were whispering “ooooh someone’s got something they shouldn’t!” and watched intently as it was revealed that the bag in question actually belonged to the driver of the boat and the substance that had interested the dogs was actually his packed lunch.

We went straight for the vacant back seat of the boat, and realised our error as soon as we started moving as we were getting the brunt of bouncing off the waves and neither of us had the foresight to wear a sports bra. We had a quick stop to change boats at Ambergris Caye (the largest and most popular of the Belize islands) just as the sun was going down, and grabbed a quick beer and a sandwich at the kiosk on the jetty before resuming our voyage to Caye Caullker in a tiny little dark boat.

Our chosen hostel (Yuma’s House) was fully occupied, so we had a quick margarita at a bar on the beach (where we didn’t linger as it was full of pretentious America Spring Breakers) before heading off up the one road on the island to try and find somewhere else to stay. Every hostel we tried was also fully booked and we spent a good while trudging up and down the island. Every time we passed the one policeman on the island (who was hanging around his little police hut next to the beach, with his kids playing around next to him) he kept asking if we’d found anywhere yet and telling us that we could stay at his house if we were stuck! Several other locals we repeatedly passed made similar kind offers and we were completely taken aback at how lovely and generous they all were!

We randomly bumped into a slightly tipsy cockney bloke stumbling along, who on being informed of our plight made it his mission to find us somewhere to stay. He had been wandering about the street in a quandry, having allegedly lost $20 from his wallet and was terrified of going home and breaking this news to his weightlifting Belizian wife (although from the state of him, we deduced that he must have just spent it all in the pub). He came up with the goods though, and found us a lovely little ramshackle place off the main road, run by a lovely big dreadlocked rasta bloke and his cute Swedish girlfriend. We repaid the favour by offering to take him out for something to eat, which he declined but said he’d come and have a drink with us and recommended a good restaurant that did the best “conch” on the island. The restaurant/bar he took us to was amazing – they had SWINGS instead of seats to sit at the table on, massive dirt cheap margaritas and the food was gorgeous. Jill had the endorsed conch which was lovely (kind of rubbery texture like calamari and very tasty). We sat and chatted over several rounds of drinks, the cockney bloke (sorry we can’t remember his name!) had us in kinks regaling us with tales of his adventures in South America, the highlight being when him and his mate told someone in a bar in Columbia that they wanted to buy some coke. in response to which the barman made a phone call and shortly afterwards a blacked out limo came to pick them up and took them to a mansion in the mountains, where the resident drug baron was eager to sell them several kilos. The lads, having only originally meant that they wanted to buy a couple of grams for themselves, were absolutely shitting themselves and managed bluff their way through it by saying they wanted a few grams to try to make sure that it was good stuff before they committed to buying the lot. So they were dispatched in the limo with several grams of free cocaine and returned to the bar. And promptly took the lot and left the country the next day. “And that ladies, is why I can never go back to Columbia.”

We bid him farewell and retired to our tumbledown hostel for a nice nice t nice sleep, as we wanted to be fresh the next day for our planned snorkelling adventure.

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