CARIBBEAN WATERS, CLIFFS & CIGARS
As expected, activity at the border on the 24th of December was pretty limited, unfortunately also behind the counter. So it took the usual few hours to get all the papers and to our surprise, Honduras somehow didn’t accept our extension for the CA4’s issued in El Salvador and just gave us 30 days. As we had a few plans for Honduras this wasn’t ideal but as you’ll read below, the challenges just started.
We had no plan for the rest of the day and we were pleasantly surprised by the excellent road heading north. It is a brand new road called the “Canal Seco” (dry canal) linking the Caribbean port of Puertos Cortés with the border of El Salvador and the Pacific. Soon we arrived in Comayagua where we drove up a mountain with a small climbing area and spent Christmas Eve with a great view on the surrounding landscape.
We didn’t spend much time in the area as our goal was La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast and ultimately Roatan, the famous island off the coast of Honduras. We had a tentative booking for a freighter on the 27th so we spent some time at the coast and prepared ourselves for the stay on the island. One of the preparation activities was a thorough car wash and soon we found Mauricio with a nice concrete ramp and a team of enthusiastic employees. Ready to drive off the ramp I tried to start our Rouletout and other than an initial attempt to start, nothing happened. The first thought was that the water has shortened something but soon we realised that it had to be the starter. We gave it some love but nothing. All that was left, was to tow-start our Rouletout which first meant to roll down the ramp and the get it pulled out backwards and uphill on the main road. We managed to do that somehow with the help of several cars and people but then were blocking the traffic on the main road, standing there half diagonal without air…
We stopped a few trucks in an attempt to get air and had to build an adaptor to pressurise Rouletout again and finally a big truck on its way to Guatemala pulled us and Rouletout was back to life. What next?
We were not sure what to do, the only thing we were sure of was to not stop the engine. After some discussion we decided to head to the port and load Rouletout on the freighter for Roatan. We thought it’s gonna be a nicer place to get the starter repaired or to wait for a spare. We waited for a few hours until our freighter - the New Star - was ready to accept us and we hardly fit in between all the supplies headed for Roatan, including a couple of pigs and a few other cars. Around midnight we left La Ceiba with very rough seas, our engine running for the next 7 hours until our arrival on Roatan.
Once on Roatan we topped off our water tanks and made our way east, in direction of Camp Bay where we had planned to kite. Luckily we ran into Christian - the owner of the Kite School and local hotel - on our way towards Camp Bay and he guided us to a nice spot near the beach where we parked and - after having confirmed that we were good to stay here - stopped the engine.
What an amazing place, palm trees, white sand and turquoise waters let us forget our issues for a moment. After a while I dismantled the starter and then it was obvious - the Bendix had “exploded” and there was not much left to repair. A new one was probably the best solution which meant shipping it from Europe with the help of my nephew. With all the holidays it was clear that we are gonna spend a few weeks at this spot, but there are definitely worse places to wait for a spare…
We made friends with the local community and some of the many US-Americans living on Roatan, discovered the island with our motorbike and had a few nice kite sessions in the beautiful waters of Roatan. Unfortunately the winds were not that stable yet so that we didn’t kite as much as we had hoped for but we also had a few firsts. Launching off the boat on a tour to the other side of the island and launching our kites between the palm trees at Camp Bay lodge are just some of them.
Roatan doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of Honduras. Especially the western end of the island looks more like Miami Beach and is in the hands of US-American retirees playing golf and jet skiing through the reefs of the island. The eastern end - where we were located luckily - remains wilder and less developed but beach access is still limited by loads of private property.
We celebrated New Year with lobster, toured the neighbouring islands (including the privately owned Barbareta) and mangrove forests by boat and visited one of the first Free Private Cities in the world, La Prospera, where we were welcomed and got a private tour of this radically new concept to organize the relationship between a government and its citizens.
Elon, our local beach guy, taught us how to prepare Bread Fruit, we visited the Garífuna community in Punta Gorda, the oldest settlement on Roatan and enjoyed their music and at the same time tried to solve our visa issues with Honduras. By now it was clear that 30 days will never be enough to get the starter sorted, get back to the mainland and off to Nicaragua but despite several attempts, the only solution was to accept the fine at the border when leaving.
We met a few more travellers and after a lot of waiting our starter finally arrived and it was time to head back to the mainland. La Ceiba welcomed us with great weather and soon we left for the mountains.
Rough dirt roads took us through pine forests and finally into the capital Tegucigalpa where we wanted to climb for a few days. Erick, one of the local climbers, welcomed us at the crag and we also found a perfect place to stay so close to town. We enjoyed the great rock of Tegu and the warm-hearted climbing community that introduced us to baleadas - a Honduran delicacy - and toured the town with us, explaining the areas under control by different gangs and what you have to do to enter them (or better not).
Unfortunately our time ran out and we had to leave the Honduran mainland way too soon, but not without buying the world famous cigars, courtesy of Cuban refugees that arrived here in the 1960’s.
Due to our overstay leaving Honduras took longer than expected but after we had settled our fine we were good to continue to our net destination, Nicaragua. As always, more on that in our net blog entry.