Up at 06h00. I made a photocopy of the last form the policewoman wanted from yesterday and then we waited for them to open the gate to the Honduran side. All the RVs lined up one behind the other in front of the 'gate' and we were dwarfed next to them.
We were entertained by a local guy who made the most realistic array of animal noises from a big barking dog to cockerels and all sorts. He had apparently appeared on some TV programme showing off his party piece!
The Honduran side was not as complicated as we were led to think it would be. We had to pay $3 for immigration formalities, which were quite quick. The vehicle side of things was a bit frustrating and we ended up paying a sour-faced girl to do some running for us, or else we would have had to wait for someone else to arrive at 11h00 (who would do it as part of their normal job), but we felt getting to Tegucigalpa was more important, so for once we relented. The insurance cost a whopping $42 and they were very particular about checking the chassis and engine number, the latter which we could not find and Michael had to get the big manual out to see where it was located. Eventually after some cleaning of grease on the pertinent spot Michael was just able to make out the numbers (with a little bit of prompting from me with the vehicle papers on the sideline). We said our farewells to John, Bev and the rest of the group and were on our way...
We got to Tegucigalpa at about 10h30 after stopping to buy some mandarins en route.
We went in search of a 12V inverter to tide us over until we get to the USA. We were advised to try a place in town so we left Nyathi in the security of the shopping mall parking and took a taxi in to town. Michael found what he wanted, while I went and had my haircut at a local salon. We caught another collectivo taxi back with an old guy who was driving so so slowly. Then we stopped at a traffic light he fell asleep at the wheel - Michael had to whistle at him to wake him up and we watched him very closely after that, pleased to get out as soon as we could.
One of the many inventive roadside signs we see each day (this person offers a soldering and weding service)...
We made our way to Lake Yojoa, where we had access to a room to use the shower and parked Nyathi out front. We had dinner at the restaurant which was delicious grilled sea bas with rice and veg. There were loads of foreign backpackers staying there too and they were all talking animatedly among themselves and playing pool.
We read our books in the morning and lay and listened to the myriad bird calls reverberating around the tent. We strolled down to the deck to have a look at the lake, but the biting insects kept it short!
We checked out at about 11h30 and headed for the Caribbean. We stopped at a nice looking restaurant fairly near the lake called Oasi Italiano, but our reception was so indifferent, the service appalling and the prices exorbitant so we left, despite feeling very hungry.
Surprisingly we discovered just the opposite at Pizza Hut in El Progreso. The service was excellent, the food (particularly the calzone) was delicious and very good value. We continued to drive toward the coast through Tela and onto La Ceiba, passing through lots of busy, if somewhat untidy coastal villages. We could not find Hotel Senasi which the LP book said offered beach camping in Cuyamel.
Fortunately about 45 minutes after dark we stumbled upon a lovely little place just past Sambo Creek called Restaurant and Hotel Helen's. It is right next door to Hotel Canadien, but the staff were much friendlier and the place had a cosier feel to it. We met hosts Katou and Alain (from Canada, but they've lived in Honduras for years now) and they couldn't have been more accommodating. They allowed us to camp in their parking area, which is grassed, with shady trees and we also had access to clean toilets and a cold shower.
When we said we would be leaving tomorrow they encouraged us to stay a couple of days, which we thought would be great. We sat and chatted and had a few drinks with them and also met fellow travellers Peg and Jo from San Francisco. It was a wonderful way to end the day, with a late night for us after 23h00!
We had a relaxed get-up and read in bed for a while, but soon the sun got too hot. Michael spent the entire day tracing the electrical short in the rear light clusters. It was a painstakingly slow process, but eventually he isolated the problem and solved it. During the day, Michael got chatting to Ricky and his brother from Michigan and they kept giving moral support as he worked.
In the morning I went for a run along a lovely little coastal road with patches of shady trees and lots of crab holes to look out for. It was pretty hot and I was an awfully sweaty sight when I got back. I had a bracing cold shower followed by a swim and then I spent most of the day trying to catch up on diary entries. Luckily I had hand written notes each day so it made the task easier.
We had a tasty dinner of pan fried fish with rice and vegetables and of course a few beers and shandies. We spent the rest of the evening chatting to Peg and Jo and getting travel advice from them on the USA. They are leaving tomorrow, which is a pity as we really enjoyed spending time with them.
We were awake at 06h30 with all the bird calls. We decided we'd spend the day relaxing and soaking up the sun and the chilled out atmosphere. We lazily lay and read our books and then I went for a run. It was way too late at 10h00 and I got too hot! Michael and I went for a lovely long swim in the pool and then sat in the sun for a while reading our books. The we retreated to the shady hammocks and did some more reading while the sea breeze blew over us.
Lunch was served under the shade of big tree and we guzzled down our hamburger and chips and then some... Back to the hammocks and then another cooling, but exercising swim as the sun began to set. The resident turtles lazing about too...
The restaurant closed early for the night, which was probably a good thing. We retired to Nyathi and read a bit more...
I went for a run fairly early before it got too hot and then had a refreshing shower and swim. We were planning to leave this afternoon, but Michael got involved in a little more vehicle checking and I did some laundry which needed to dry, plus I washed the car mats and cleared out Nyathi's cabin area to make her all neat and clean, so we decided to relax in the afternoon and leave first thing tomorrow.
We lay in the hammocks and read our books and then had lunch under the lapa. A while later we had a long, both energetic and relaxing, swim in the pool . At dusk we went for a stroll along the beach to the local Garifuna village called Sambo Creek. Everybody was busy with end-of-day chores like chopping and collecting driftwood for fires. The sunset was beautiful and it was a lovely way to end the day.
In the evening we sat and had drinks with Katou and Alain. We showed them the website and they had a look at lots of our photos. We spent the evening chatting to them and the other guests who were also leaving tomorrow, so the place will be even quieter tomorrow...
We had a leisurely start. We went for a brisk swim, shower and then said our goodbyes. It was really sad to say farewell as they had made us feel so welcome and were very generous, not even allowing us to pay for 'parking' or using the pool - we would highly recommend a visit to anyone on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Thanks to Katou, Alain and Helen!
We stopped off at the butterfly and insect museum in La Ceiba. The entrance was just over $1 and worth every cent and more... The museum is run by teacher Robert Lehman who is both an enthusiast and an expert. The majority of specimens have been collected by him personally and he also has specimens from over 160 other countries which have been sent by other museums and enthusiasts. We were the first visitors for the day and he gave us a guided walk-through which really brought everything to life. The vast array of moths, butterflies and other creepy crawlies was incredible. The size, colours and camouflage of some of the creatures is just unbelievable. We spent an extremely pleasant two hours admiring the collection and learning so much more than we had hoped. www.hondurasbutterfly.com
En route we drove down into a river and gave Nyathi a good wash. An enterprising local (wearing the skimpiest of shorts) offered to come and help. We thought it a good idea to give him the opportunity to earn some money and then felt slightly miffed when we realised he also walked off with our bottle of detergent!
We stopped off at Pizza Hut in El Progresso again and had calzones and a tasty salad, plus we ordered two calzones to take-away. Just before nightfall we stopped at a garage to buy ice and ended up spending the night there. As usual the staff were friendly and let us use their toilets (and shower, had we wanted to, but given the state of it we politely declined). We spent the evening reading and crawled into bed for a good night's sleep.