I've been reading several adventure travel books (see HOME tab) that I got for my birthday, and I've been wishing that I could be somewhere exotic this summer, whether spelunking in New Mexico, SCUBA diving in Fiji, or hiking through the Australian outback. But then I realized that I have had many wonderful travel opportunities already, and I am so grateful for those experiences. Here, I take a look at my two days in La Ceiba, Honduras where I went snorkeling and white-water rafting.
Apparently this purple "fan coral" is poisonous.
Over a year ago I went on a mission trip to Valle de Angeles, Honduras. After a week of work, we took our R&R time in La Ceiba where we spent two days and signed up for various activities (I chose snorkeling and white-water rafting). The first day we departed from our resort's beach on several rather small, perilous-looking, crusty blue boats that were to take us to some islands to go snorkeling. The hour and a half ride out was rough, but the scenes we saw were amazing. Tiny islands sprinkled the coast of Honduras, some so small that only one hut could reside there. They reminded me of Gilligan's island, or the islands portrayed in The Far Side comic series: Sand bar, several palm trees, a hut or two. We eventually reached several larger islands, one of which is the only place in the world to find the Pink Boa (or so they told us). Upon further research I now know that these are Cayos Cochinos, or Hog Islands, and are a pit stop on the way to the famous scuba site of Roatan. We stopped on one island where they showed us a video on the safety and beauty of snorkeling. We then headed back to the boats and
rode to another island where we hiked for an hour or two through the jungle looking for pink boas. after seeing several, we headed back to the beach were the boats picked us up once again to head out on our snorkeling adventure. The snorkeling was fun, but the water was rough and just swimming around was a bit difficult. I still wouldn't trade in the experience for anything. We splashed around, looking at the creepy, textured brain coral, the bright purple sea fan coral, and even a small, colorful parrot fish. Before we knew it, it was time for the long boat ride back to the the mainland. We flung our wet snorkel gear into the boat and crawled in ourselves, exhausted from our day of adventure. Although this wasn't the hight of snorkeling, it really sparked my interest and made me want to go again in a more marine-life-rich area.
Anyway, as fun as that all was, the next day my cousin, who was on the trip with me, and I decided to go for something a little more exciting and decided on white water rafting. I didn't know the name of the river or the company we went with until I recently did some google research, and found that the river we ran was Rio Cangrejal, and we went with Jungle River Lodge. They picked us up from our hotel and we drove about 45 minutes into the jungle on this cloudy, muggy day. "If it rains-- no problem!" they told us "the river is up since yesterday." It turned out that because of the rain the night before, the rapids that had been 4's and 5's were now 6's and 7's. So they told us we could run the same course twice since the lower part of the river was too dangerous. It turned out to be one of the most fun experiences I've ever done! Myself, my cousin, and a friend of ours boarded one small raft with one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He gave us a crash-course on water rescue in his strong Jamaican accent, "so if my guy here falls out, my lady here, you grab his life jacket and pull right back in!" Then he shocked us all by actually shoving one of us right out of the raft to see if we had learned anything! This ensued for several more minutes in a safe pool right beside the river, and then we
were off. Luckily, I had my trusty dic-a-pac underwater housing for my digital camera so that not a moment of the adventure was lost. I was able to keep my camera around my neck the entire time, and it stayed dry and safe inside even if it was completely submerged (this is also how I got underwater photos while snorkeling). We finished our run down the river and the boarded the old, rattletrap truck that took us back to the lodge, where we feasted on delicious (and locally grown) bananas and watermelon for lunch. During our lunch break, the lodge staff showed us a great river-jumping rock. Even though the water was cold, we were all totally soaked from our ride down the river so we gave it a try. The jump was pretty far, about thirty feet, and the river was churning beneath, but there was no way I was turning down an opportunity like this. One short prayer later I was flying through the air, down, down down into the brown, rushing waters beneath. Before I knew it, I was holding the rope and being pulled to the safety of the shore, only to jump in two more times. The rest of the day consisted of one more run down the river and then a cold, damp ride back to the hotel where we crashed that night, ready to board the plane home to the USA in the morning.
Afterthought: I decided to look up "cayos cochinos" on YouTube and look what I found! This is exactly where we were. We even stopped at the fishing village for lunch. I had no idea it was such a protected marine area to snorkel! Now I'm even more glad I took advantage of the opportunity (be patient and let it load-- it's worth it!).