Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lake Yojoa

Every vacation is much needed, but for some reason Honduras' Independence Day couldn't have come at a better time. Sarah, Kristin, Jenna and I decided to go to Lake Yojoa, which is located in the center of Honduras.
As with most things in Honduras nothing is easy. So getting to Lake Yojoa was...shocker not an easy task.

One of our Honduran friends recommended we take the 4:30 a.m. mini-van to La Esperanza, get on a bus to Siguatepeque, then take another mini-van to La Gauma, and then take a taxi to our hostel in Los Naranjos. Nothing is easy in Honduras.

So I should have realized that there was something in the air when I got up that Thursday morning at 3:45 to catch the 4:30 a.m. mini-van to Lake Yojoa. I got on the bus and immediately got myself a window seat. I have developed a severe case of car sickness since living out here. Small mini-vans are the absolute worst for me. They are jam-packed with people, the roads are really bumpy and curvy and it makes for the perfect scenario of misery. So as I mind my own business on this mini-van and attempt to sleep after I took a Dramamine, my seat neighbor figures out that I speak English. My hopes of sleeping through the misery are immediately shattered.

Maya is a 5'2, 70 year old woman from Israel. She has got the thickest Israeli accent, topped with smokers breathe and the raspy voice that comes with years of smoking. She has officially become my seat partner for our lovely trip. I spend the next 4 hours listening to Maya tell her life story. Now under normal circumstances, I might have enjoyed listening to a woman who has been to more countries than I can fathom traveling to in my lifetime, been in the Israeli army and has been a psychologist for over 40 years. But it was 4:30 a.m., I had taken a Dramamine and all I wanted to do was forget that I was on a windy road that makes me miserable. No such luck though.

As Maya and I chat I realize she is traveling alone and meeting us was a bit of a blessing for her. Due to her lack of Spanish speaking skills, she has been taken advantage of and all she wanted was to enjoy her time in Honduras. So before I know it Maya is tagging along on our trip, even talking about staying in our same hostel. I am pretty sure when the other girls realized that she was tagging along they wanted to kill me. Here we are on the beginning of our "relaxing vacation" and we now have a fifth wheel. So I tried to make light of the situation and view Maya as a lesson in caring for others, especially ones who are traveling alone. 

After an exhausting morning of traveling we finally arrive at our hostel, the D & D Brewery. Yes I said brewery, with American Beer. A few years ago an American was traveling through Honduras and could not find any brewerys in the entire country. So he packed up his stuff and moved down to Los Naranjos to open the first brewery. He recently sold it to another American, Bobby Durrette, who gave us a bit of American culture down here. 

Day one at the brewery was spent chillin out by the water, drinking some amazing brewed beer, eating a delicious cheeseburger and chatting with new friends. It was a good way to end the madness that had begun at 3:45 that morning.

 The Canal near our hostel that connects to Lake Yojoa. 

Unfortunately for us day 2 started out on the wrong foot. Jenna’s phone rang at 7 a.m. which was our first indication that something was up. It was one of the other teachers calling to tell us our house had been broken in to. Of course our minds start racing: Is Esperanza ok? Did they break into both upstairs and downstairs? What was taken? The list of questions went on. Luckily for us, Esperanza was apparently going crazy all night long. 

According to our neighbor who was taking care of her, she said Esperanza barked like a maniac all night. Luckily, Esperanza was unhurt in the robbery. So at first glance it seemed like nothing had been taken, but we discovered later that 300 Lempiras, a camera and a cell phone had been taken. They failed to steal my computer, phone and 1,000 Lempiras, which were easily accessible, if the robber had any sense (my hiding spots: computer under the pillow, money in my jeans pocket and phone in my makeup bag). We would later discover who robbed us. But we will save that for another blog ;)

 So drama put on the back burner we decided to go to Pulhapanzak waterfall. We had heard you could walk behind the waterfall and into these caves. An idea the girls and I were not sold on immediately. But after seeing how awesome the falls were, we decided it was worth it.  

We had to descend this huge hill to get to the bottom of the falls and the closer we got the louder and more intense the water got. As we started to climb these mossy rocks, the tour guide jumps off this mini-cliff into the water. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a death defying act or just our tour guide being a complete idiot. After he climbs back up he asks us if we want to jump as well. We all looked at him, like get a clue buddy we aren’t that crazy. But we came to a smaller pool of water that we did decided to jump into. It was the equivalent of jumping off a diving board, nothing crazy but was a must do for the experience. 

After jumping into the pool our guide pulls my hand to get out of the pool so we can climb down these rocks to get behind the waterfall and into the cave. At this point my contacts are burning because the amount of water splashing around me is outrageous. I can barely see or hear. It was a little intense, but I hadn’t even begun to realize how intense it was going to be. The guide has gotten all 4 of us girls to this point on the rocks and he is about to lead us behind the waterfall. When all of a sudden he grabs my hand and leads me blind, under the waterfall and behind it. Here I was standing behind this waterfall alone. I had about every emotion running through me. It was an unforgettable moment. After a few seconds he leads the rest of my friends under the waterfall to where I am standing. It was great seeing everyone's face after coming through the waterfall.

Next he leads us to this cave, which you have to crawl through this hole that is about 4 feet by 4 feet. Sarah takes one look at it and starts to freak out. She is telling me she can’t do it. So it took me a minute to convince her that it was going to be just fine. We finally both crawl through to discover this cave is so small that the five of us barely fit in it. But it was pretty cool. We took a minute to enjoy and then we had to go through the intense process again to get back out from behind the waterdall. As we start to climb down to go under the waterfall, I have the overwhelming feeling of panic. I knew how intense it was getting through the waterfall and I wasn’t sure I could go through it again. I looked at Sarah and told her I needed a minute. So we went back on to the rock and now it was her turn to talk me into. I just didn’t want to wander into the waterfall with my eyes closed and no sense of direction. So the guide comes back and gets us, which made me feel so much better. Even though this guy was a little crazy, he at least knew where he was going. 

After we get though the water we make the hike back up and out of the waterfall. Each one of us laughing at the intense time we just had. Before we had hiked behind it, we had heard that not very many people actually go behind the waterfall because it is so intense and scary. Now we understood why, it was intense. But we had managed to do it. It was something that felt like one of those life moments that you are so scared doing it, but afterwards you are so thankful you did.

So as we walked back to the main road to catch a bus back to the hostel, the police drive by. We were feeling high after our intense adrenaline rush, that we asked the police for a ride. They gladly obliged. I mean who wouldn’t want 4 Gringas riding in the back of their truck? I can’t say that I have ever been in the back of a police car/truck, so I was glad that my only experience was not due to any criminal activity.

I look a little silly but I managed to capture all of us in the picture as well as the truck filled with guys passing us. Immediately after they passed us they were hollering at us. 

That night we were blessed once again with good food, great beer and a fun game of Apples to Apples.

The great part of staying in a hostel that is small is getting to know the people that work there. So on Saturday, Bobby and Anthony, the owner and manager, invited us to a regatta on the lake. We got to hang out with the most white people we have seen since we have been here. There is a large group of English and Americans that live near Lake Yojoa. 

Big bummer though we didn’t get to see any boats race because a massive storm came through. But it was nice to chat with some fellow Gringos.

On our way to the lake for the regatta. Our first time in a car since we have been down here in Honduras. It was a weird feeling. hahaha

The storm that rolled in which stopped the regatta. 

Our last night in Los Naranjos was spent like the previous ones. We had to get up early the next morning to head home.

Our last night at the D & D

It was sad that our vacation had come to an end, but it was an amazing vacation. 

But no Honduran vacation is complete without a little yoga breathing due to an insanely packet mini-van:

Nos Vemos!

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