Saturday, October 1, 2011

Honduran Vacation

Liz and I had an amazing opportunity to take a short 4 day 3 night trip to Isla del Tigre (“Tiger Island”) and experience a truly authentic Honduran vacation.  In other words, hardly any gringos go to vacation at this island.  The occasion was for the Honduran independence day, so we had Thursday and Friday off of school.
Isla del Tigre

We drove down with some other teachers who have vehicles.  On the way, we stopped at a cool restaurant that had a zoo out back.  After looking at the exotic animals (my favorite was the puma which growled at me), we had an amazing breakfast.  The beans tasted out of this world!  Of course, Liz wouldn’t touch it.

We finally arrived at the dock where we would take a ferry to the island.  The view was stunning.  The ride was pretty fun too.  Liz and I (along with Luke & Ruth Holtrop) looked extremely out of place.  It was so obvious that we had no idea where we were going (still not sure where we had made reservations), a random person walked up to us and spoke in perfect English.  Praise the Lord!  It turned out she was from Atlanta, GA.  We never saw her the rest of the trip. 

She got us set up in our hotel.  While this place was not a 5 star hotel by any means, it was surprisingly clean.  But the best thing about it was the A/C.  Once I could figure out how to run it, our room was cold.  After all, they don’t have much use of comforters in Central America, so the paper thin sheet didn’t do much for body heat.  We also had our own patio complete with some plastic tables and chairs as well as two hammocks. 

The view from our room was pretty cool as well.  After living at the beach for 4 years, it was a nice change to look out over the ocean and see more islands rather than the vast expanse of an endless ocean.  Our hotel also had a great restaurant (more about that later).  It was also the hub for much of the commerce and taxi service.  So when the sun came up, the noise came up too.  But I was used to getting up at sun-up.  It made it a wonderful time to get some coffee from the restaurant below and read. 
The view from our hotel door

The restaurant (our hotel is behind it)

Taxi Service

Our first day there, we went to a nearby beach.  That was the first time we rode in a tuk-tuk (mini-taxi). The 4 of us (plus driver) squeezed in and got down the road.  The beach was fairly secluded, except for the random donkeys.  They didn’t bother us very much though.  More families started showing up, and after wading in the heated water in that bay, we decided to leave after 2 hours of warmth from sun or water. 

Our first night there, we ate at the restaurant.  It was a larger menu than I expected.  The fish was advertised in small, medium, large, and very large (in Espanol of course).  Both Luke and I were a bit timid about trying the fish, so I went with the carne meal while Ruth and Liz got a chicken sandwich.  Luke opted for the fried chicken.  Everyone enjoyed the food, but the best was yet to come. 

The next day, we visited playa de grande (“long beach”) where the other 6 teachers were staying.  That beach was a bit busier.  It even attracted jelly fish, which we saw about 5 (the kids enjoyed pulling them out of the water).  The beach also had a cool cave that if you were daring enough, you could swim through to the light at the end of the tunnel.  That is, if the bats didn’t swarm you.  We cracked open a coconut to try the local fruit.  Not a huge fan.  Luke and I got the chance to fish a little bit off of a pier of some an extremely nice Honduran family whose daughter is an alumna of our school.  We have an open invitation to return whenever we want.  We didn’t have any luck with the fishing, though Luke got a few bites.  I snagged the rig I was using, so I swam out (during high tide) to try to loosen it.  My effort was to no avail.  I felt bad returning his rod without a rig.  But he didn’t mind too much. 

Leaving that beach was an adventure.  We wanted to stay for the sunset since it faced east.  The rain clouds started to approach as it was getting dark, and we could not find a tuk-tuk‼!  Eventually, our hero Michael (name???), came to our rescue and took us back to our hotel.  Since we were famished, Luke and I decided to be bold and try the fish.  How I wish I would have done that a day earlier.  We got the medium fish (which came with fried plantain slices) for $5‼!  It filled me up and then some.  And the flavor was absolutely mouth-watering.  I knew what I was getting the next night.  Liz was somewhat sickened by the fact that the fish still retained its head.  But I loved it.  It was fried in some way.  When you finished the first side, you flipped it over and ate the other.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

The last full day on the island, we decided to go to new beach – play de negra (“black beach”).  This was my favorite of all.  You could see parts of El Salvador and Nicaragua from this one place.  The beach was smaller, but the water was much more refreshing.  Although, we had to run off some dogs that wanted to sniff our stuff.  They weren’t the only ones confused about our practice of laying out on the beach.  People in Central America prefer to be lighter skinned because those darker skinned people are clearly not as rich since they must work outside.  Therefore, to stay cool and to stay light, people always remain in the shade.  And there we are, rolling out 4 towels and laying in the sunlight trying to get darker.  Oh the irony. 
We visited the main city of the island, Amapala.  It was a quaint place complete with a large Catholic church and ice cream shop.  We met a man named Bob who spoke fairly good English and tried to give us a tour.  He expected to be paid for taking us to places we already knew their locations.  Since we didn’t ask for his help nor did we need it, we decided to just leave and go back.  I hope Bob understands.
Riding in a taxi to the city.

A bad storm was coming so we decided to head home.

In the taxi :-)

The last night was spent at the restaurant where we saw our new friends dancing and partying.  They were enjoying themselves.  But the real party was the first night we arrived since it was their independence day.  The fish was better the second night (and a bit larger than before).  Luke and Ruth introduced ucker to Liz and me.  We taught them how to play hearts.  Of course Luke, who is similar to Liz, has no real desire to play games.  So that was fun just to watch them both dread the enthusiasm of Ruth and me. 

Our last dinner at the restaurant.
We never knew what animals were going to join us for dinner.
Liz's dinner the last night.  It was delicious chicken!
The return trip was a bit more crowded on the ferry.  But it was still nice.  We made it home, and I was ready to go back (mainly for the fish!).  The island doesn’t have much to do besides beaching and eating.  But if you are adventurous and enjoying hiking, the island has a 20km road going around the island that would make for a great bike ride.  The island is actually an inactive volcano that takes about 3 hours to hike to the top.  Using Google maps 3-D, I wish I would have made the climb.  I guess there is always next vacation.  For my outdoorsy friends who are looking for an authentic Honduran vacation, I highly recommend Isla del Tigre!  But don’t stay longer than 3 nights, or you’ll get fat off of the fish!


Anonymous said...

Awesome post. The fish plate looks good. We just got done being in a missions conference at Bethel Baptist Church. Liz I got to meet your parents and a some other family too. Take care and keep taking pictures. They look amazing.

The Roberts Six said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! Nathan likes eating whole fish, too! It's really neat to watch your adventures in Honduras!