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Ryan’s Great Adventures
Volume 1: Mon Apr 15, 2002
I'm sending this to everyone in my online address book many people have expressed an interest in hearing about my Great Adventures in Central America. However, in the event that you do NOT want to hear more about my trip (understandable, since you'll probably be green with envy! *wink*), let me know and I'll take you off the list. Or if you want it sent to a different e-mail address. And feel free to forward the e-mail to anyone I may have missed due to lack of an e-mail address on my part.
And, for those who may not have heard yet, I'm currently in Central America and will be for the next four or so months. Sometimes, a friend slips through the cracks where I thought I told them about this trip but it turns out I did not. Sorry!
Before I start on my Central American adventures, I'd like to tell you a few things about my West Coast adventuring. I left Portland April 1st, and decided to drive down Highway 101 from Lincoln City to Los Angeles. I've never traveled most of that route, and this was a great opportunity to do so! So I took my time driving down (about a week) picking up and hiding letterboxes all along the way.
However, there are a couple of things you should know if you want to follow in my footsteps:
- When a parking lot has signs up that say, "No overnight camping", that also includes sleeping in your car. And the fine policemen of Bandon, Oregon, will wake you up at 2:30 in the morning to tell you this. However, they will continue to let you sleep as long as you don't have any arrest warrants or such stuff out on you.
- There is a city ordinance in Newark, California, that prohibits sleeping in your car within the city limits. The fine policemen of the city will wake you up with a bright light in your eyes at midnight to inform you of this, but again, as long as everything checks out okay, they won't make you leave.
- I lost my front license plate somewhere between Bandon, Oregon, and Newark, California. If you happen to be driving down Highway 101 and find an Oregon license plate (one that's not attached to any car) with XFL 310 on it, it's MINE! =)
Now, onto Honduras....
My flight left LAX in the early morning hours of April 11th. The flight to San Pedro Sula was pretty typical. At San Pedro is where things started to get interesting.
For some bizarre reason, the waiting area for all domestic flights is at the same place. It's like being at the Portland Airport and there's only one gate for the entire airport. You've really got to pay attention to what the flight you're getting on, or you can really go astray.
At last, my flight was called, and I tromped out to the small, turbo-prop plane. I think it might have been built during WWII. I kicked the wheel and no parts fell off, though, so I figured it was safe enough. =) They herd you onto this plane like cattle. Much like Southwest does, in fact. Except without the cute flight attendants. (Or even ugly ones for that matter.)
After a short hop over to La Ceiba, I exited onto the tarmac. For some bizarre reason, they herded us through a door labeled "International Arrivals" despite being on a domestic flight. I picked up my bags. And didn't know what to do. I was told someone from the Spanish language school I signed up for would be waiting for me, but I couldn't find anyone holding a sign saying "Ryan" or "gringo" or anything. With some help from one of the locals that spoke English, I called the school. It turns out I arrived a couple of hours earlier than I was supposed to. Which was news to me, because the ticket for the flight I was on wasn't actually clear enough to see when it was supposed to arrive. Or even when it was supposed to leave, for that matter. In fact, the only thing I could read on the ticket was the airline I was supposed to ride on.
Anyhow, one of the Spanish teachers drove out to pick me up in a taxi, and dropped me off at a hotel which is where I proceeded to spend the rest of the day. I was tired, smelly, and hot. And my room had an air conditioner.
Speaking of which, I never did figure out how to turn that darned contraption off. I saw the guy that worked there turn it on in some matter, but I was unable to repeat those steps in reverse. After a couple of hours, it was getting quite cold, and I put on a jacket. =)
The next morning, I was woken with a knock on my door. There was a phone call for me in the lobby. (My room had no telephone.) So I tromped down to the lobby in my socks to answer the phone. It was Rafiel from the school, saying one of the teachers was going to drop by to give me a walking tour of the town and take me to the school.
The walking tour wasn't much to brag about. Visited a couple of parks. One with an alligator and dozens of turtles laying around in a cage. And finally we ended up at the school where I was introduced to the other students—all eight of them. Or so. I didn't really count. And they spoke English! AND without an accent! It's a great feeling to be surrounded by people as ignorant of the local area and language as myself. =)
Later in the day I moved into the house of a local family which is where I'll be staying during my time in La Ceiba. (Pronounced La Say-ba.) As it turns out, two other students are staying in the same house, and a third one lives two houses down. So the four of us have been seeing a lot of each other.
The next day, Saturday, I headed out to Pico Bonito National Park. Beautiful place! Saw some strange animals I didn't recognize. One stopping point along the trail was at a nice waterfall, and most of us jumped into the water (much needed after hiking through the hot and humid climate of Honduras) and played around in it. You could swim through the waterfall to a small cove hidden behind it.
The rest of the hike was uneventful. The bugs weren't nearly as bad as I expected. No worse than what you'd find hiking around in Oregon.
And, did you know that pineapples grow out of the ground? Okay, maybe I'm more ignorant than I thought, I was sure pineapples grew on trees. They've got a lot of pineapples going out here, and I didn't see a single one of them on a tree. The only reason I even admit this piece of ignorance was because I wasn't the only person not to know this little factoid, and I'm sure some of you folks didn't either. =)
Later that night I headed off with my two roommates to a small eatery in downtown La Ceiba. A real hole-in-the-wall kind of place. I never did learn the name of the place, because it wasn't up anywhere. The place had all of about four tables, playing vinal records with Spanish musica, and the family that runs the place trying to communicate with us in Spanish. It was great. It really was. I loved it. And besides the three of us, there wasn't a gringo in sight.
The menu did have one item on it titled "Huevos de Toro". Now I don't speak much Spanish, but I was pretty sure that meant "Eggs of Bull". I also may not have known pineapples grow out of the ground, but I was PRETTY sure bulls did not lay eggs. So I asked about it and was told they were bull balls. Yep, testicles. What could I do? I had to order them—just to say I ate a bull testicle! Where in the US can you order bull testicles for three bucks? This chance may not come again! =) I thought it tasted much like steak, once you get the thought out of your head: "I'm eating a freakin' TESTICLE!"
Hey, I came to Central America to see new places, try new things. Can't accuse me of not doing my duty! =)
After finishing dinner, one of my companions (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) says, "I wanna see a naked girl before I leave." This was his last night in town, and he wanted to go to a strip club. I've never been to a strip club before, but I thought two things: (1) I really don't want to go wondering around La Ceiba by myself at ten o'clock at night just yet, and (2) I did want to try new things while I was out here!
So off the three of us went in search of a strip club. We were frisked quite thoroughly before entering, entered, and took our seats. I ordered a Coke. My compadres ordered beers. And would you believe it, they actually have girls STRIP in the place. I know, it's a strip club, but I still had some small part of my brain thinking, "This isn't REALLY going to happen." I'd also like to note, I've seen a lot of cute looking girls walking around town, but apparently none of them worked as strippers.
Another surprise (to an ignorant fool like me) was that you would not BELIEVE the lap dances you can get for about three bucks. I think they're illegal in most states. And while I was up for trying some new things while I was out here, I'd like to remind everyone of three things: (1) none of the cute girls seem to work as strippers, (2) I was drinking Coke so I still knew it, and (3) I could see some of the guys whose laps they were in previously. I passed.
Finally we wondered back to our place at around 1:30 in the morning.
Sunday, yesterday, was pretty uneventful. I walked into town (about a 20 minute walk from where I'm staying) to learn that darned near everything was closed except for a couple of places to buy a drink. Oh, and the Pizza Huts, Wendys, and Burger Kings were open too. Strangely, I've seen no McDonalds, which surprises me since all of my other international travels have always shown an abundance of that evil company.
I walked back to my place and laid down. It was really too hot and humid to do anything anyhow. Suddenly, the stereotype of the "lazy Mexican" made a whole lot more sense. They aren't lazy. They're just too darned hot to do anything but sit there and drink!
Which brings me up to today. I just finished my first Spanish class, but I'll save that story for another day....
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