11 January 2003 - Sun, and then more rain
So yesterday, I woke up and the sun was out! It was a beautiful Caribbean day; warm, sunny, not too humid. I took a great photo of sunset, and spent the afternoon walking the beach, But then it rained again last night, cleared up today, and then rained heavily this evening. Oh well.
My back is much better, even though it's not 100%. There is a class starting tomorrow, so I plan to join that class on Monday, to finally learn how to dive. Then, I need to head back to my bike and start heading south. Hopefully my paperwork will be in order with the director of customs in Puerto Cortes.
Tonight, there is a big party at Coco Loco, the local watering hole. Apparently they have a real dj, who grew up here, but generally works on Roatan, the more touristy of the Bay Islands. He is apparently good, so we'll see. Hopefully the rain will stop, otherwise the party could get wet, as there isn't much under roof seating or dancing at Coco Loco. We'll see.
07 January 2003 - Rain, rain, rain and back
So, my back still hurts, but it's getting better.. It is worst when I wake up in the morning, but once I get it moving it improves greatly. Hopefully it will be all better soon, so I can start up with my dive class again.
In the meantime, I am rather bored and very sick of rain. It has rained more in the last five days here than anywhere I have ever been. It seems to be raining as hard as it can, then you hear it pick up some. We were planning to go out last night, but ended up spending the night playing cards because it was raining so hard. And of course, my only rain jacket is my Dianese moto jacket, and that's back with my bike in Omoa. On the good side, I did win 25 limpiras from Adi last night, doubling my money. Hopefully the rain will stop and my back will improve, I need to do something.
05 January 2003 - My run of luck continues..
So, I had to drop out of my diving class because I threw my back out.. I was unable to really move at all for a day, and the last few days I've been able to move slowly.. It's getting better, and once I'm back to nearly full strength, I'll join back into a class and continue.
Adi and I did move into a new house yesterday, nice little cabin with a view across the beach and bay.. I'll post pictures sometime.
And on that note, Internet time here on Utila is very expensive and very slow, so pictures of my time here will probably not be posted until I get off the island.
01 January 2003 - Honduras
So, getting the paperwork for my bike became impossible.. I spent an entire day from 8:00 until 5:30 trying to get it done. Turns out the border I came into is really small, so I had to go to a nearby port. Problem was, then I had to go through the entire process for importation of cargo ships. I paid someone to help me, but we ran out of time, even after sprinting through the streets of Puerto Cortes in full motorcycle gear, and racing through the streets on the bike with a big fat Honduran guy on the back. I was pouring sweat and basically laughing the entire time. It was a little stressful and really quite comical. When I failed to complete it before the office closed, I complained to Hector Castenello, the head of customs in Puerto Cortes. He agreed that the system was stupid, and he is supposed to complete the paperwork for me. Problem is, I had to leave the next morning to get to Utila for New Year's, so I told him I would be back in a week or two to get the paperwork.. We'll see if he has it, if not, I'm sort of screwed.
Anyway, the next morning I woke up at 5am, got on the 5:45 bus to Puerto Cortes, connected to the 7am bus to La Ceiba, and caught a 12:00 flight to Utila. Cheapest airfare ever, only about $20 for the flight. My bike has been left behind at Roli's place in Omoa.
I caught up with Adi and spent the night partying at his dive school, where I started PADI class yesterday.. By Sunday, I will be a certified open water diver, with dives to 60ft under my belt. At the party, which was on the dive school's two story dock, we watched huge eagle rays swim around us in the shallow water.. They were about four feet wide and 8 feet long with tail.. Amazing creatures and just feet away. And at New Year's, a bunch of people had fireworks all over the bay, and those that didn't just unloaded the guns into the air.. a very special Central American New Year's!
Today is a day off from class, then we start again tomorrow morning, and start diving tomorrow afternoon.. Yee hah.
29 December 2002 - Bienvenidos a Honduras
So, I managed to break away from the Finca today, no thanks to the group there.. They were practically begging me to stay, as there are four parties in the next week there. But I snuck off and made it out of Guatemala, in large part due to Roberto's letter stating my bike was broken and I was stuck there for a month.. That smoothed over the border crossing, and I didn't have to pay any fine or bribe anyone..
Getting into Honduras was another thing.. The customs office was closed, as I crossed in a very small town on a dirt road, and it was Sunday. So currently I am in Honduras illegally.. Tomorrow morning I have to ride about 20 miles to Puerto Cortes and get legally into Honduras. Then I come back here to Omoa, where I will leave my bike and journey by bus and boat to Utila. The customs thing will put me a day behind schedule, but I should still make it to Utila for New Year's...
28 December 2002 - Back in Guatemala
I finally made it back to Guatemala. Arrived last night at about 10pm, after a long day trip. Damn near missed my connecting flight from Miami because the first flight was late, then, for some reason, I had to go through security again to catch the connecting flight. But I made it.
Woke up this morning, organized myself, and took off. Headed to Finca Ixobel to see my friends and drop of some stuff. It rained a lot... I was pretty soaked by the time I got here. However, it is good to see everyone here, and I had a chance to change transmission fluid, check oil, and add some air to my tires. Tomorrow I am off to Roli's in Omoa, Honduras, where hopefully I will leave the bike and head to the island of Utila. Internet is apparently very expensive on Utila, so I probably will not be able to post my diving pictures until I leave there. But the photos should be good, I got a new underwater case for my camera for Christmas (thanks M&D).
26 December 2002 - Snowplowing..
Had to bail out the new city slicker neighbors this morning. Went over with the old man's snow blower and cleared their driveway. Then we went down and dug out the buried snowplow and finally got that out. Check out the videos for something a little different.
Back to Guate tomorrow!
25 December 2002 - Merry Christmas!
Seems odd, but it is snowing like hell right now.. They expect at least a foot. So far there is at least 8 inches. And in a few days I'll be on Utila meeting Adi and learning how to dive... in the beautiful warm Caribbean.
We just spent an hour trying to get the neighbor and her snowplow unstuck. Her husband normally plows, but he was trapped in Florida because the local airport was closed, so his wife was out. She got stuck and we tried to pull her out, but were unsuccessful as both trucks we had were on crappy tires. Oh well.
Anyway, I hope everyone out there has a great day today, wherever you might be..
22 December 2002 - Regresar a Estados Unidos
Got to the airport in Guatemala this morning, and had my trials. First, the Wackenhut security guy couldn't allow my transmission, so I had to wait for a rep of American Airlines. They finally showed up, took one look, and said nope. I reasoned with the nice lady, and she called someone. Talked for a while in Spanish, then hung up, turned to me, and said no again. I calmly reasoned with her again, asked where it said I couldn't bring a transmission with some oil on it, but none leaking. She explained that with the pressure of the altitude, somehow more oil would be produced and leak all over the place. I disagreed. She got on the phone again, talked some more, then told me that it could go but that Miami would not receive it...due to all the oil spilling everywhere. I said fine, at least then it would get to Miami.
Then the next hurdle was the exit immigration from Guatemala. See, they only give 30 days for vehicles brought into the country, and I brought my bike in over 6 weeks ago, and was attempting to leave without it. I calmly explained in bad Spanish that 'mi moto este muerto', then showed pictures of the bike when I had the transmission out on my camera. I'm not sure if the nice lady was enthralled by my camera, horrified by my Spanish, or just confused, but she let me go.
I'm now on the plane after transferring in Miami. Very weird to be back in the States. I have not used US money in a while.. had to go to the ATM to get some so I could eat.
Anyway, reflections on the last six weeks (a little long...):
One, I think I'm getting old. In the last 14 months I've suffered through a sprained ankle, very hurt shoulder, separated ribs, cactus needle in my hand, sprained wrist, broken big toe, tonsil inflammation and resulting surgery, and various other bumps and bruises. This never used to happen, so I have to assume, after celebrating my 32nd birthday a few weeks back, that I am now old. Oh well. What's that old saying? You're only as old as you feel, only as old as you act, only as old as the women you date... I don't know, but what the hell, I'm having the time of my life, and I am happy to do it now, with a few years of experience under my belt... Better late than never.
Two, Guatemala is awesome. I am already thinking about coming back here to work for a month or two when my trip is finished. The people here, both locals and travelers, are great. And the beauty is unparalleled, from the 10,000 foot volcanoes to the colonial towns, from the Caribbean beaches to the temples of Tikal. I have no bad experiences in Guatemala, and enjoyed my time immensely, even if it was supposed to be around 10 days and turned into 45...
Three, I have survived the challenges so far. One of my concerns going into this trip was what would happen if I broke down in the middle of nowhere and had to speak Spanish to the local populace in order to get myself out of trouble. I wasn't sure how that would go. Well, been there, done that. Piece of cake. My comfort level traveling alone in foreign countries not speaking the language has improved immensely. I am now completely comfortable traveling, not worried about breaking down, getting robbed, whatever. I am now free to enjoy the fruits of travel, meet and connect with amazing and interesting people, see incredible beauty in people, the land, architecture, and wildlife. Yee hah!
21 December 2002 - Antigua
So, I'm back in Antigua, feels comfortable.. I know where I am, I know where everything is. Finished up some Christmas shopping, arranged for a ride to the airport, now I got to pack up.
Oh yeah, and I loaded more videos.. More still to come once I hit the states.
By the way, here are the lyrics for the song George and Pablo wrote, with my poor translation. See the videos for the questionable singing.
Se me rompio la moto en Guatemala (I broke my motorcycle in Guatemala)
Y termine en la Finca tres semanas (and stopped at the Finca for three weeks)
Con mi tecnologia tome muchas (with my technology I took many)
fotos de lo que pasaba (photos that were incredible)
Tuvimos en la aguada Olimpiadas (We had the water Olympics)
Vueltitas, toboganing y cucharas (somersaults, sliding, and spoon walks)
y Robb se puso a verga (and Robb was drinking)
y bailando en el techo (and danced on the roof)
20 December 2002 - Leaving the Finca
So, I finally got the bike totally together and took it for a test ride yesterday. All was good, so I decided to leave this morning. But first, we had to have a big old blowout to see me off. Robert the manager cooked a special dinner for the staff (and me).. Excellent chicken chimichanga type things... Thanks Robert, muey delicioso. Then we headed off to the bar for the night's festivities. I had heard rumors going around that Pablo, George and Rocio had something planned.. Turns out they had a whole song and dance number worked out with costumes and lyrics that they wrote to go with a favorite song.. All about me! I'll post the lyrics later, as well as the videos! They are very funny, particularly because even though they rehearsed several times, they couldn't quite get the song and the dance part together.. So there are several videos of just dancing and some yelling, and some videos of just singing.. Thanks George, Pablo, and Rocio.. A night to remember.
Today I got up, packed up the last few things and took off. The ride was easy, except for getting a touch lost at dusk during rush hour in Guatemala City, with the whole city either trying to get home or going shopping.. Took me a bit to find my way through, but I finally made it and got back to Gladys' house (my Spanish teacher) at about 7pm. I am leaving my bike here while I head to New Hampshire for Christmas.. I'm also staying here for the next two nights before I leave.
Thanks again to the crowd at Finca Ixobel.. I'll hopefully see you again soon.
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