From Gracias, Honduras, where we had our first long streak of bad travel luck, we continued on through Honduras and found better luck ahead! We had a long drive through green hills and mountains to our next destination. We stopped in the town of La Esperanza stretch our legs, have coffee and do a little sightseeing. Little towns off the tourist route are often the most charming, and this one was no exception.
We spent a few nights near the Lago de Yojoa at D&D Brewery. The brewery is a hostel and restaurant as well and has cheap and easy camping. The area nearby has hikes and activities, but unfortunately the brewery part of the location was a bummer. We took full advantage of fast internet to catch up on some chores (taxes, boo!) and did a hike through the jungle to a beautiful viewpoint above the lake. On our way up, we were sweating so much we could have sworn we’d gone up 500m. In reality it was probably closer to 200m (if that). Heat and humidity in this region is no joke!
Enough with the jungle, it’s time for the beach! We made plans to be in Utila and go diving with Yolanda again, so we packed up and took 2 days to head that way. We spent one night on the beach in Tela, where we didn’t do anything other than hang out in the pool and sweat in turn. The next day we caught the afternoon boat to Utila. The best way to describe this boat is a vomit rocket. We knew something was wrong when the staff was handing out barf bags before we had even taken off. The catamaran is new and nice, but the direction of travel to Utila has you hitting the waves sideways. And this afternoon the waves were big. As soon as we left the harbor, the boat was rocking and crashing and splashing side to side. The waves hit the side of the boat and block your view of outside, so the usual trick of picking a point on the horizon was nearly impossible. The only choice was sit back and hold tight for an hour.
Once we pulled into Utila Harbor – ah, scuba divers paradise! Dive shops as far as you can see. Utila is one of the best places to go Scuba dive in the Caribbean. The mesoamerican reef system stretches down here and there are about 80 dive sites off the island. We decided to do our Advanced Open Water certification here since the prices are great. Our course was a lot of fun – on top of the deep dive and navigation required dives, we went on a wreck dive, peak buoyancy dive (where we did tricks like circus divers) and a chaotic night dive. After our 5 required dives, we got 2 free Fun Dives with the shop. And Rachel was having such a good time, she tacked 2 more dives on top of that!
We didn’t take any pictures except some GoPro films but one of our fellow divers sent us the following pictures, thanks Lorenz!
The other side to Utila is the party island side. Which, if you know us, is not our scene. However we really enjoyed the cheap diving, good beer and good food. We saw lots of animals on the dives: Eagle Ray, tons of parrot fish, angel fish, nurse shark, dolphins (from the boat), two boat wrecks taken over with marine life, and so much beautiful coral.
Back on the mainland of Honduras, we backtracked our route quite a bit and visited a few spots we passed on the way up. Cerro Azul National Park had a beautiful and well maintained trail through the cloud forest and 5 types hummingbirds hanging out around the lodge. From there we went to Pulhapanzak waterfalls, Cuevas del Taulabe (cool caves), and finally covering new territory in the colonial town of Comayagua.
One of our favorite things about Honduras were the National Parks and the well maintained trails. We headed up into another cloud forest, La Tigra, to do some more hiking. The trail was a very pleasant, not too steep route to waterfalls. We have both missed these kinds of trails so much! The last highlight was our visit to the village of Valle de Angeles, just below the National Park.
Our last night we stayed in a hostel near the border of Nicaragua to prepare for our border crossing in the morning. The previous months, civil unrest in Nicaragua has made it a bit dangerous and difficult to travel through. We made plans to meet two other vehicles and caravan together to Costa Rica.