Aug 20, 2005

Down, Down and Away!!!

As the brothers MacAllen make headway into the deeper recesses of Central America, we find more "llaves del corazon" (keys of the heart). We've paused to catch our breath, which is a good deal faster than either of us would like to admit, in Leon, Nicaragua. Leon is a lovely little town, with seemingly limited tourism, despite the warm atmosphere and plentiful accomodations. We've been here not quite a full day, and have already fallen in love, but more on that later... I have yet to finish telling of Honduras.

Feeling the need to recover for spent (not lost, no, never lost) time in Guatemala, we raced through much of Honduras. A beautiful country filled with even more beautiful people, we found the fairly advanced infrastructure of Honduras easy to move quickly through. After spending our time in the Bay Islands, we longed to spend a little while outside of the influence of white (albeit, fairly multilingual) faces. Off the beaten path brought us to Amapala, on Isla El Tigre.

First, we spent a night in San Lorenzo, a moderately wealthy pueblo in the poorest part of Honduras, at the point of the Gulf de Fonseco. The money, we understand, comes comes in in the form of small crustacia... camarones. The shrimping industry there filled our bellies well. Micah and I found lodging in a fair sized hostel, standing almost completely empty, with the tiniest rooms we've yet seen. In fairness, the room was clean, and with a good fan, which goes a long was in this oppressive heat, but the dirt from our sandals was enough to reverse that on such limited floorspace.

The tiniest room ever

Here we learned our next lesson of hotel selection... never agree to a curfew. Walk down the street, pay more, and enjoy your evening, if there is evening to be enjoyed. A ten o'clock time limit in this good Christian establishment, with night watchmen making sure you get to bed, really limits the freedom of travel! Perhaps it would have reminded us of home, had we not had such a generous, and liberal minded mother.

The next morning, we passed through the tiny fishing town of Coyolito en Route To Amapala. A short, but interesting history to this almost completely forgotten town, includes a brief stint as the capitol of Honduras, if not Central America. Now don't quote me on this, as Micah and I have deduced everything from conversations in broken spanish, and our own non-expert knowledge of Central American history. There was briefly a unified Central American Government. We believe Amapala was selected as the capitol, because of its central location, and Pacific port accomidation. The only Latin American cut from direct sea route to Amapala would be Belize, which might not have even existed yet. Following the fracture of the C.A. Government, Amapala remained the Honduran Capitol for a solid day before it was brought back to the more reasonable Tegucigalpa, which remains capitol today. you simply can't run your government out of a tiny town on a miniscule island almost as near to two other countries as it is to yours. From the peak of the mountain which is the island, one needs only turn their head from El Salvador to see Nicaragua.

Our first challenge is always to find a place to stay. We found an apartment, payed way too much, but enjoyed our own kind of private bedrooms, cable TV (which neither of us watch at home, but catch ourselves extremely greatful for on the road.), and private bathroom. We found the manual filling toilet, and manual pouring shower to be every bit as exciting as it sounds. The very occasionally running water was used to fill a cement cistern from which we bathed and flushed.

Our shower, a concrete cistern of water and a gallon bucket.  It did the trick just fine

We were excited to accomplish every (or should I say both) things to do on the island. We walked around it, day one.

Happier than pigs at sunset

And up it, day two.


Both tasks lovely, and neither simple (the trip around is 18 km, and the trail up a brutally unrelenting and seemingly endless slope), we found the company we kept to be the best part of our journey. I really recommend going to the isla, but do it with someone you love.

We hadn't slept much in days, but rather than recover from that, we thought better two replace our exhaustion with hunger. Two days of grueling exercise on an island with almost no restaurants, and only on occasional tienda offering any number of three types of chips left us empty, and week, but deeply satisfied and happy. We did, after two hours of walking the island in the morning find some breakfast. Although not the morning meal I'm accustomed to, it was delicious!

Want some fried Fish and Rice?  It was Delicious!

Apart from the strange looks we got for begging much needed coffee in the blazing heat to accompany our fish, breakfast was fantastic!

The only foreigners on the island, we suffered an onslaught of catcalls by schoolgirls and women the likes of which neither of us have ever approached. We are, as they say "guapos", and they like "to watch us walk". "Ay, mi amor!"

The evening of day one, we met up with Nelsi,

Tyler and Nelsi

a lovely young lady who helped us with our spanish and unabashedly paraded her prizes around town. She brought us to a small, and poor, but incredibly entertaining circus, that hosted an actrobat, a gymnist, the three funniest (even though I had hardly a clue what they were saying) payasos (clowns) I've ever seen, and a small squad of lovely, scantily clad dancing girls, one of whom was a man. The transvestite took an especially kind liking to me, coming up into the stands to offer me a more "intimate" dance. apparently I hadn't recieved enough attention that day! Nelsi tells me the next day "Silia" (I think thats the dancers name) was asking where the "Americans" were. Oh well, I guess I've broken hearts before.

After two days on the island, we struck out for Nicaragua. Two launchas (one broke down mid-route) a border, and five busses later, we arrived in Leon.. where our story continues...

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