We crossed the border into Honduras and got as far as a town called Choluteca, the fourth largest in the country. Here we stayed for a couple of nights to sort out laundry, money, food etc. There is nothing much to tell about the city, and we didn't see anything we wanted to remember with a photo, so we left happily to catch a bus to Gracias, Or so we thought. On the map Gracias is a two or three hour bus journey, but what they don't bother to tell you is that the bus goes the other way = all the way round the country to get there. So we ended up crossing Honduras in a day, finally getting to a place called Santa Rosa de Copan by nightfall. Again we stayed here a couple of nights while we replanned. We had gone past several of our proposed destinations and now we weren't sure we wanted (or had time) to retrace our steps.
However, while we were there we did mange to visit a cigar factory which was really interesting. They take you through every step of the process, from the maturing leaves, grading, rolling, wrapping in another leaf and finishing (this is a real art), adding the brand label (because actually they are all made in th same factory!!) and then the cellophane wrapping and boxes.
So the reason for grading at the early stages is to separate out the higher quality leaves for the posher cigars, and also the right size of leaves for the different sizes of cigar. Unfortunately they wouldn't let us take photos, it would have been cool to show you a cigar being made. (in case you are wondering the cigars are no longer rolled on a Honduran lady's thigh).
Tainted by our experiences of Honduras thus far we decided to cut our losses and head to the north coast from where you catch a ferry to the Bay Islands, one of my personal destinations. So of course the day we travelled north the weather broke and there were torrential rainstorms, and when we arrived we found the sea was too rough for the ferry to run. So we had a couple of days to kill in La Ceiba (another uninteresting large town) waiting for the weather to change. We decided to kill some time by going off to the jungle for a canopy tour at Jungle River Lodge on the Rio Cangrejal. Now that was fun! It included a hike in the jungle where they took us to a farm, where one of the things they grow is pineapple. I never knew how pineapples grew – yet another lesson learned! (see photo).
The Lodge sits right on the river as you can see and was a much nicer place to spend the night, lulled to sleep by the river rushing by.
The following day we were able to catch the ferry to Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands, which is a world apart from mainland Honduras. It is much more a Caribbean island, English is the language spoken most widely, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the diving and snorkelling are fantastic. We spent the first couple of days snorkelling off the beach, where I saw an eagle ray amongst other things (for non divers, this is a very exciting occurrence as they are very shy). After that I could't resist the temptation to dive, the water is just too blue and clear, the dive sites are just five minutes away, and it is pretty much the cheapest diving in the word. Not because their standards are slack either. The outfit I went with was run by Australians (no guarantee of quality I know) but everything was very slick and professional. I had three fantastic dives which, together with the snorkeling, will make Roatan one of my highlights of the trip.
Tomorrow we leave and head into Guatemala, I shall not be sorry to say goodbye to Honduras, we found it dirty, and the people completely indifferent, I should add that Les doesn't completely share my lack of love for Honduras, I think he is more prepared to put up with the lack of interest and poor quality than I am.