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Archive for the category “Honduras”

A Long Weekend On Isla de Roatan

One of the things that I love doing is telling people about The Real Honduras. Like any country, Honduras has its challenges but too often those challenges are all people pay attention and that’s unfortunate because Honduras also has A LOT going for it — its stunning beauty is one of those things.

A few weeks ago my family and I spent a relaxing long weekend on Roatan Island, one of the Caribbean islands here in Honduras, and it’s not a stretch to call it paradise. Our family took a boat out to one of the reefs that surround Roatan and had a snorkeling adventure, some of us (the crazy ones) went parasailing, we swam a lot in the warm, clear water, did some more snorkeling at closer reefs, took sunset walks, and did a lot of relaxing. We stayed in an all inclusive resort right on the beach, Paradise Beach Hotel. If it had just been me and Eric we would have found some tiny remote spot but all inclusive makes life so easy when you’re traveling with kids — they can eat and drink to their heart’s content and they have a bit more freedom to roam the resort on their own. And I definitely didn’t hate the unlimited margaritas!  We had an amazing time and wonderful adventures! This is #therealhonduras

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Sunset walks on the beach with drinks were our nightly ritual (and, yes, our youngest is in that phase where every pic is met with a crazy face)

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My kids are a little wacky

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Nothing like sending your three most precious beings hurtling hundreds of feet into the air

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Aisleen got to go twice, once with her brothers and once with her Granny

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Roatan Island from our parasailing boat

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My boys on the beach

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I don’t even know what my kids are doing in this photo

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Our hotel

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Our last day was stormy, still gorgeous!

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Selfie with my honey

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Relaxing on the porch of our room

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Selfie with my sweet boy, who pretty much owns my heart (and he’s actually smiling instead of clowning it up!)

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Liam is just a tad bit taller than I am …

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Our awesome bartender, Jeremy

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Selfie with my beautiful girl

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This was pretty much the moment I decided I never wanted to leave

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The incredible water of Roatan

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Wacky selfie

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Leaving paradise is never easy …

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This is #therealhonduras, folks! Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise!

Cave Spiders, Headache Herbs, and Elephant Ears — Oh My!

I’ve been meaning to blog about the last trip we took to what has become our go to weekend destination, Lago Yojoa, except life kept getting in the way. But if I don’t send out family-focused blogs now and again grandparents get twitchy and nobody wants that!

Yajoa has become our go-to weekend destination — it’s only a few hours away and the roads to the lake are good. Also, why wouldn’t you want to spend as much time as possible here …

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Normally we stay at the absolutely awesome D & D Lodge but my dad was visiting so we wanted to rent a house and we snagged this one at the coffee finca next to the D & D . The house is on stilts and it was fun to feel like we were sleeping in the trees!

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There are beautiful trails in the finca, which we always enjoy exploring!

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This time we found a gorgeous blue lagoon!

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D & D offers fun excursions and we decided to take a day long hike to a cave up in the mountains. Quite some time ago, when the Peace Corps still existed in Honduras, a volunteer, together with people who live in communities in the mountains, organized a tourism co-op. Once the volunteer left, the co-op continued on and D & D works with the local guides when they have visitors who want to find a bit of adventure.

Ours began with a ride in the back of a pickup. The kids thought that was pretty much the coolest thing ever, I was only slightly terrified because what could go wrong while riding in the back of a pickup truck up steep, muddy, mountain roads, right?

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There were some spots in the road that were extra rough so we got out an hoofed it behind the truck.

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Eventually we got to the point in the road where the truck just couldn’t go so the hike began. 12977161_10154092814892766_4350789952320006940_o

Our first stop was a spot where folks gather the coffee beans and ginger they pick in the mountains. So. Much. Coffee.

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And then we started our climb up into the jungle!

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Along the way our amazing guide, Dennis, taught us about the local plants and what their different uses were. It looks like Liam isn’t too sure about the taste of this one …

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But he was totally down with the one that cures headaches!

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Dennis also picked some very yummy citrus fruit for our snack!

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And, fortified, the hike continued!

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Eventually we reached the cave, as you can see everyone was quite chuffed! Okay, just Liam, I think the others were just happy to have arrived.

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I’m going to stop here and say I love caves — when they have interior lighting and you don’t have to noticeably descend while you’re in them. As you can see, there were no lights in the cave and the reason everyone is looking down is because they were watching Dennis climb down the rickety, wooden ladder that took you deeper into the cave.

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Eric and I were more than a little nervous about our kids going down the ladder and deeper into the cave. Our youngest was gung-ho from the beginning, he tends to be rather fearless. The older two were a tad uncertain but, in the end, decided they wanted to do it. Eric and I talked it over — firmly on the side of “no” at first and then realized, why the hell are we in Honduras if we won’t let the kids go on adventures like this? So, down the ladder everyone climbed! Lago Yojoa Jan2015 100Lago Yojoa Jan2015 107Lago Yojoa Jan2015 103

We explored the main section a bit and decided it was wise to not go any deeper since we had only flashlights, but it was pretty cool to wander about, at least until Aisleen came within a hair’s breath of putting her hand on this spider

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She had been chatting away until Dennis got her attention and told her not to run her hand along the wall, which she’d been doing as she talked. Then he shined his light at the spot right in front of where her hand had been, I was certain her screams were going to cause a cave in — she and I have a spider thing and this guy was the size of Eric’s hand (he’s nearly 6’5 so you have an idea of how big the spider was).

We decided it was time to head back and have lunch so we said goodbye to the cave

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and headed down the mountain, stopping for some freshly picked bananas along the way!

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Of course, it started to rain because — jungle. But that’s what the huge leaves, called Elephant Ears among other things, are for!

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The hike ended at Dennis’ house where his lovely family hosted us for lunch. We were tired, a little muddy …

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but thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Despite the look on Ry’s face here …

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After lunch we climbed into the truck and headed back to D & D!

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The next day, before heading home, we took a morning hike through the national park down the road from D & D, where there are Lenca ruins. This is a spot we always hike when we come to Yojoa because it’s so gorgeous — also pretty cool to think about walking in the footsteps of the Lenca.

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This was a wonderful adventure for us, complete with doing something that was a bit frightening but, as we say in running, the only way to get comfortable in your discomfort zone is to spend time there! Also, we’ve decided to take advantage of the fact that Honduras is a hardship post and we, therefore, have the option to extend our assignment for a year. So we’re here for another nearly two and a half years — loads of time to find more adventures!

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The Pros and Cons of Life in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

It’s that time again — bidding season. Not for us, thank GAWD, but for many others (you have my sympathies). I know some folks love bidding season, for me whatever patina bidding season once had is gone and I just dread the researching and the waiting. And waiting. And waiting …

I’ve decided to do my Foreign Service blogger duty and write out my list of pros and cons of life in Tegucigalpa, I hope it helps folks. Plus, if I don’t blog about something besides PETA Imma lose my damn mind.

So, here is my list. I’ll start with the cons first so we finish on a high note.

The Cons of Teguc:

1. Not being able to go out on foot. This is, by far, my biggest issue with living in Teguc — to the point that I really had to scrounge around for the others because they’re so minor to me. But there is potential for violent crime and post states that going out and about on foot is a no no. This is a quality of life issue, it’s a major quality of life issue for a runner, especially since Teguc has some really nice straight aways for running and all I can do it look at them longingly while we drive past. Now, having said that, once you leave the city you are good to go — walk around (or run) to your heart’s content. I’ll write more about that in the pros section. Also, in contrast to what we’d heard before we moved here, driving at night is fine, just know where you’re going and don’t wander into areas that are not safe.

2. The security situation. Loads of narcos out there, folks, and they don’t play. But let’s keep things in perspective. Our major cities have hot spots for violent crimes, and they have all the things that cause it, and Teguc is no different. Be smart, stay out of the areas you’re not supposed to be in, practice safe driving techniques, pay attention to your OPSEC — you should be fine. I don’t dwell much on the security situation, I think folks blow it out of proportion. Bad stuff can happen no matter where you are but you choose whether or not to live in fear (which is different than just being cautious). So don’t let this prevent you bidding Teguc.

3. Traffic. It sucks. ‘Nuff said.

4. The air quality can get obscenely bad at the end of the dry season but it’s temporary so not a huge deal.

5. I’m thinking … I’m thinking …

The Pros of Teguc:

1. Post morale. While I realize this is fluid I wanted to list it here because it’s pretty awesome. Local staff are fantastic, knowledgeable, responsive, and friendly. And our Ambassador? He’s like the Old Spice guy of Ambos — you wish your Ambo was as cool as our Ambo is. Seriously.

2. Loads of fun weekend trips. There is a huge national park with lots of hiking (La Tigra), a very large park up in the hills of Teguc (El Picacho — where you can RUN), and there are beautiful colonial villages to visit (Valle de Angeles and Santa Lucia to name just two). There are also other activities I’ve heard about but not yet done, like the children’s museum, which I’m told is fantastic. Farther afield there are fun and completely manageable, even with kids, weekend trips. Our favorite so far is Lago Yajoa, where we’ve gone so many times that we have yet to visit other places because sometimes when you travel so much you just need spots that are comfy and familiar, right? We’ll branch out soon. If you do visit Yajoa, make sure to stay at the D & D Brewery and Lodge, it’s not only lots of fun but the people are some of the nicest you’ll meet and they have fantastic guides who can take you around to all the best spots in the area. D & D is also within walking (or RUNNING) distance from Lenca ruins, which are very cool to explore, and the national park they’re in is large enough that you can spend the whole day hiking. The beach is, in my opinion, too far for a weekend trip, it took us about five hours to get to Tela, but I’ve been told the beaches of El Salvador are much closer and very nice (they’re on our list).

3. Proximity to the rest of the Mayan world. The Ruta Maya is at your fingertips here, and it’s awesome! We recently took a trip to Tikal, Guatemala. It’s a long haul, it took us two days to get there, but it is so worth it. We stayed on the beautiful island of Flores, which is incredibly charming, (another hotel recommendation, Hotel Isla de Flores is inexpensive and very sweet, also has great food). We’re planning what we’re referring to as our epic adventure for this winter, where we will visit as much of the Ruta Maya as we can squeeze into a few weeks — Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

4. The Honduran people. They are warm, welcoming, and very down to earth. And they don’t mind gringos in the slightest, which is a plus. The folks I’ve met not only tolerate my awful Spanish but are very patient when I can’t seem to spit the right words out or when I look at them with that awkward deer in the headlights look I get when I don’t understand something. And they have a real pride when it comes to their country, which they should, because it’s an absolute gem.

5. Discovery School. It’s small, which is important to us, and the teachers, administration, and staff are fantastic. They’ve got an open door policy — which I appreciate because, while I’m not a helicopter mom, I do like to pop in and say hi to my babies now and again. Our kiddos are pretty scary smart and I feel that their teachers at Discovery picked up very quickly on their strengths, and they provide them with the avenues to move forward and be challenged. The teachers also recognize the areas where our kids need extra assistance (or where they’re just being a bit more lax than they should be — yea, I’m talkin’ to you, kids).

6. Bonus Pro: The cost of living and availability of stuff. You can get just about anything here and it’s relatively inexpensive. Imports are pricey, of course, but that’s to be expected. Travel is not expensive and that’s a huge bonus for a family of 5. You can make it expensive, of course, but you don’t need to pay big bucks to stay somewhere decent or to have fun while traveling.

So there you have it, my list of pros and cons. I was very hesitant to green light Honduras because of the whole “Murder Capitol of the World” headline but I am so glad that we did. We bid Honduras for the job, which we’ve never done before, but we’ve ended up loving it because it’s a fantastic country. Bid Teguc — know what its limitations are but don’t let them stand in your way because they pale in comparison to what makes this a special country.

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