Guanaja, Honduras – Day 7 (Friday)

Finally getting used to the time change…………., so I slept in a little (until 8:00AM).

We’ve cooked eggs every morning with a little spice to them, which is a great way to start the day. The Honduran coffee still is the best yet, so we make a pot every morning.

Today, we will be snorkeling in the morning, but not sure where yet. We will probably be on the North side of the island, since our plan is to eat at Bo’s, which is a little house on the end of a dock. Last time we watched the sunset from there and it was spectacular. This year, we will eat lunch there and change into some hiking clothes and then hike up to the falls. We failed last time because we were not prepared to do hiking, but this year both of us are prepared. I have bandaids on my toes where the fins rubbed my feet the first day, but I think I can do this.

Again, we’ve asked Derick to come by at 9:30AM to pick us up.

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Guanaja, Honduras – Day 6 (Thursday)

We woke up to a thin layer of clouds this morning, but still a beautiful day in Guanaja. We would be back to snorkeling today and Derick promised us a deeper area to snorkel. We will make our usual PB&J, cut up some mangoes and set out at the usual time. I filled the hummingbird feeder again this morning and they were all over me as I put it back outside.

The new air conditioning in the house makes sleeping much easier. The sunrise is very early here — around 4:30AM, so we closed the outside shutters so that the sunlight wouldn’t wake us quite so early. I forgot to tell you that yesterday I saw a long green snake out on the patio. He did not look poisonous, so I went outside to take a picture of him. He raised his head and looked right at me, then slithered off at a quick pace. I forget how fast those things are. I think I should be a little more careful. On the next picture, our house is the one below the two colorful casitas on the right hand side of Mi Casa Too, which is the largest building on the top end. You can barely see the roof of our house.

After reading about Guanaja, I was surprised that the Guanaja reefs are party of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that is second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Apparently, it was heavily damaged after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, but it seems that it has recovered quite a bit. The Cay is known as the Venice of Honduras, but I would not compare it to Venice, Italy. It is teeming with people shopping, playing soccer and generally enjoying life.

Today was a wonderful day for snorkeling — no wind, quiet seas and a tiny bit of cloud cover. The water was warm. We started on Long Reef which is toward the West End Pointe. It is called Long Reef because it is so long (duh). We then motored around the western part of the island and snorkeled on the Stormore Reef and then around Wellmont Bay and the Blue Rock, then in an area between Michael Rock and Dena Beach. Cindy saw a shark that I didn’t see and an eel. I saw a puffer fish 🐡 and we both saw a nice sized barracuda. Derick was snorkeling with us when he pointed out several cool fish, including two calamari fish, an ink fish, the puffer fish and the barracuda. He poked a small lobster🦞 from it’s hiding place. He speared a small fish to feed to the barracuda and it raced over when Derick threw it towards the barracuda, but he didn’t eat it. We think he must have already had lunch. The bright blue at the bottom of these pictures is the boat and I am taking a picture of the water from the boat. You can see how clear the water is, how smooth the water is and how the sun rays penetrate the water.gfs

We snorkeled around awhile, then I realized I was really tired, so we headed back to the anchored boat and came home via the store to pick up some supplies.

The plan is to take a shower, have a cocktail or two, and then head up to Mi Casa Too.

Guanaja, Honduras – Day 5 (Wednesday)

Today is the day we picked to not do much of anything. Derick came by to pick us up and we boated over to Graham’s Island. It is much like Key West, but without the people. Our server told us that they had six guests there. When you arrive, you get off on the dock and sea turtles, fish and sting rays greet you in the outdoor pen where sea water washes through the fences. There are some casitas right on the beach with swings and tables on the beach in front of them. They have beach chairs, tables and chairs, a restaurant, an outdoor shower with a conch shell as a shower head and hammocks strung in between the trees. They have a macaw and some parrots in cages that love the almonds that you can pick off the trees to feed them. It is fascinating to watch them peel off the skin to get to the almonds.

We lounged around in the chairs and did some swimming in between pina coladas. We did a little reading and swam some more. Then we had some lunch in the outdoor restaurant and swam some more. We then showered outdoors and changed into some street clothes (at least street for Guanaja).

We had another pina colada and Derick picked us up and took us to Savannah Bight, where he dropped us off and a taxi driver with a tuk-tuk picked us up. Anita was our driver and she gave us a little history of the island and Savannah Bight. We discussed the history of the Maya there, as well as Hurricane Mitch. Anita drove us across the island to meet Derick on the other side (Mangrove Bight), taking us into areas we had never been. She was very nice and dropped us off at Barnacles, where we met Derick and the Bobbie you see in the picture below (the bird). We had some homemade lemonade and a huge dish full of fish, shrimp, crab fritters, mango and salad. The fish was cooked to perfection.

We decided to head back home. The water was like a sheet of glass and the sunset was magnificent. We arrived home at a little after dusk to walk up the long hill to the house, but we knew Cuba libres would await us.

Guanaja, Honduras – Day 4 (Tuesday)

Today was so full, that I really didn’t have any time to write about it. As we wait for Derick (our guide), I writing my recollections of the day.

We left the house about 10:00AM to go snorkeling. We drove out to an island they call Southwest Cay. Along the way we stopped off to see a structure that we remembered from our last time here — “the igloo”. It is being renovated and looked great. They also had added a caretaker’s house.

Then we motored on over to the island to do some snorkeling.

It was our best day yet. We dropped out of the boat into some surprisingly cooler water. The water was clear and smooth with just a little current. We floated with the current around the reef and enjoyed schools of fantastic fish — larger than what we had seen earlier. There were these incredible black thin fish with neon blue lining their fins. That was the largest school of fish, but others would join in the school and then peel off, then rejoin. It was fascinating to watch them. We followed the school for awhile and then found we were swimming against the current. It was particularly easy as Derick would align the boat so that we had a North Star to follow. It made it much easier.

We finished about 1:00 and then came in to eat.

This is a picture of our lunch spot. We enjoyed our PB&J sandwiches again, but I had also cut up some mangoes right off the tree and we ate those. As we were eating Cindy noticed an urchin in the water. Derick scooped him up, cleaned him off and posed for this picture.

We were tired, so we swam around while drinking our beers. Actually we stood in the water, while we drunk our beers. It was a relaxing time.

We needed to get back to get cleaned up to meet Lisa, who was going to show us around the neighborhood. We met her at the dock and she took us around a small sand road to show us some of the local homes and gardens. It is very rustic, but also very beautiful away from the water. After a couple of hours, we ended up at Hans’ again, so we drank a German beer in his tiki hut on the dock. We were going to eat there again with Lisa and Shawny, but Derick told us about a restaurant on the Key called Sea Watch. He picked us up about 7:30 and drove us in complete darkness to the Key. I must say, it was pretty darn interesting and a little bit frightening to be speeding across the water in complete darkness. We made it, though.

We walked through the streets of the Key to a very small restaurant that served us lobster, lion fish and some sort of other fish that looked like tilapia, but must have tasted much better. Then we headed back home — again in complete darkness. It was nice to know we had a trusted driver, as otherwise, I’d be completely afraid. I wish I’d taken more pictures today, but sometimes it’s just a matter of seeing so many things, that you just forget to get out the camera.

Guanaja, Honduras – Day 3, Monday (Memorial Day)

I slept better last night, once I had the a/c adjusted and woke up around 6:00AM (8:00AM Atlanta time). Sunrise here actually starts a little after 4:00AM. I had closed the shutters on the outside of my room and it helped quite a bit. I washed my face and made coffee and headed out to the porch.

I had taken in the hummingbird feeder last night, so the bats would not finish it off and took it outside once again. I drank coffee on the porch, but found it too humid to stay out long. I also had gotten a few mosquito bites last night (yes, I am taking malaria medication). This morning, we have two new sailboats in the harbor; hence, the picture. Look hard and you will see them. We’ll have to get out to the mango trees early today before the neighbor ladies come, so we can get some fresh mangoes.

Today, Derick will be picking us up to take us snorkeling.

We stopped by the dive shop to pick up some booties, as the fins were rubbing my feet too much. We then stopped by to pick up some ice and a smaller ice chest for our beer. We exchanged the bug spray.

We motored over the other side of the island, but along the way met a man, who was fishing for sardines. He was expert at throwing the net.

Then we went to the southern part of the island near Mangrove Bight, where Derick dropped us off for some snorkeling. He told us we might see some sharks, but we didn’t. We saw a barracuda and some wonderful tropical fish. – some large and some small. We saw conchs and the beautiful reef. We snorkeled for quite a while and got into a little trouble on the reef, but were able to swim out of it. We then motioned him in to pick us up. We decided it was time to see George and Ginger’s place (the people we had met at Lisa’s on Saturday night). We motored on over there and docked the boat. We sat on the dock and ate our PB&Js and cookies and drank a beer. Then we walked up the path to Clearwater Paradise, where we met Jim sitting on the porch. The view was spectacular.

George fixed us some Cuba libres and showed us around. The rooms were air conditioned and nice. He provides a a full package, including air fare from Roatan or San Pedro Sula and will even walk the most timid divers through a course to get PADI certified. It sounds like he is a good baby-sitter. We hung out for awhile and headed back home late in the day to get ready to have German pizza at Han’s place.

Derick took us to Hans’ place and when we got on the dock, we realized he had built his restaurant on the dock. It was covered in something like a tiki hut with the picnic tables on the dock. It was very festive. Hans was not there, but a Jamaican woman, Lydia, took care of us. We enjoyed a red and white pizza. We think we like the red the best. I forgot to take a picture. In any event we enjoyed the company and the pizza, then headed back home under the brightest starts I have ever seen. It seems that you can even see the Milky Way. You can’t really, but it seems you can.

Adventure awaits tomorrow.

Guanaja, Honduras – Day 2, Sunday

I slept well last night after a tiring trip in. Honduran coffee this morning was a welcome reminder of where I am, as well as the owls and birds. We are 2 hours behind Georgia time, so I was up early, making coffee and just sitting on the front porch. The heat and humidity after a blessed night in a/c was a shock to the system, but I quickly adapted, just so I could greet the day with the birds.

Marvick, our guide for the day, came by early to pick us up. Like so many sports, it took us awhile to get going, trying to remember everything to bring. We made pb&j to take with us for lunch and the always necessary water. Marvick took us to the north side of the island to Michael’s Rock, where there is a nice white sand beach, and dropped us off for snorkeling. The water was perfectly warm with currents of cold water occasionally. We saw schools of neon tetra and what I believe were zebra fish and the most beautiful tropical fish – so many, that no one could name them all. Blue ones, yellow ones, black ones, striped ones, long ones and short ones. The reef was covered in fans, brain coral and other types of coral, tubes, etc. once we came around the rock, the water was too choppy and hard to make any progress. We decided to swim back and just take our time. We took off our snorkels and fins and just swam for awhile.

It was time for lunch, so we ate our sandwiches while we rocked on the boat. Then we decided that a short day for the first day would be good, so we headed back home. We dropped off at a small store and bought some more provisions, including extra sugar to make hummingbird food.

After taking a shower, we relaxed at the house with some cuba libres . We made hummingbird food and set it out on the porch. The hooks from before were removed, so we had to hang it up in front of the steps to the porch. We’d have to remember not to knock it down when we leave the house. Within just a short time, we had hummingbirds at the feeder. They looked nearly black in the waning sunlight. Mosquitos started to come out and the bug spray that we’d bought at the store was not spraying, so we came in.

Later in the evening, we walked up the hill to eat at Mi Casa Too. This time we had fried conch fritters, which were divine. After we finished eating, Lisa came by to talk with us. They also had a hummingbird feeder, but the bats were attracted to it. We enjoyed watching them flit back and forth with the feeder, sometimes even coming inside the restaurant. Lisa said she would take us up to the swimming hole, which I believe is at the top of the hill. We also learned something from Shawny, her husband. The little town we’d been calling Binaca is actually called “the Key” by locals. We’ll have to adjust our reference.

Guanaja, Honduras Day 1

The flight from Atlanta International Airport was easy, but the airport was not. I have never seen it as crowded as it was today. I almost considered rearranging my bags to not check it in, but my friend, Cindy, was still in route and had to check hers. She arrived with a racing heart and was able to talk her way into another line that was much shorter. We checked our bags and went to security, which was not bad at all.

We arrived in Roatan with a 2 hour layover, so we checked our bags into Lanhsa Airlines and went to the bar to have a beer and pizza. We ordered a local beer, which was good and a slice of pizza each, then went to the gate. We boarded the 19 passenger flight and flew to LaCeiba (which took about 20 minutes) for a 20 minute layover, then back again on the same plane for another 20 minute fight, which took us to Guanaja. Marvick and his cousin, Benjamin, met us at the “airport”, a one room airport, and we walked across the dock to the boat. Getting down to the boat from the dock was interesting to say the least. Suffice it to say that I have gotten much older since my last trip here.

We arrived at the house and realized we needed some provisions — rum for sure, so Marvick and Benjamin took us to Banaca, a very small town built mostly on stilts, to the local grocery store and vegetable store. We headed back to the house with our provisions and relaxed in some air conditioning, which is new to the house. Then we headed up the hill to the Mi Casa Too restaurant. Shrimp was the order of the day and we enjoyed that. We met some nice people while there and spoke with Lisa and Shawny (sp?), then back down the hill to our much cooler house.

Scandinavia – Day 12 – Tuesday, June 12, 2018

It was much cooler this morning and we left our hostel early, so that in the event we had difficulties at the train station, we would not be too late. We googled our walk to the station to make sure that we didn’t make any wrong turns and it actually seemed to be a little closer than when we first arrived in Copenhagen. We got to the station an hour before our train was to leave, hoping to have breakfast and coffee, and went straight to the ticket machines. Unfortunately, the machine would not take my credit card for some reason, so we had to go to the ticket office. There was a long line ahead of us, so we waited and waited and waited. We finally got to the head of the line and had no trouble whatsoever getting a ticket; however, our preferred train was to leave in 5 minutes. We went straight to the platform and then boarded the train 2 minutes later.

We made a couple of stops in Denmark, one of which was the airport, so now we know that the airport is on the Northeastern coast of Denmark and East of the city towards Sweden. I’m not sure why I didn’t know that. In any event the train moved swiftly across to Sweden, some underground (water) and some above ground across the bridge. We arrived around 10:30AM and two immigration ladies met us before we could take the escalator up from the platform. We showed our passports and were asked about 10 questions, while the immigration lady looked through our passports. I don’t remember anyone ever looking so thoroughly through the stamps in my passport, but I suppose they were looking for odd stamps. Then we were allowed passage and got on the escalator. Ingela and Frida met us at the top of the escalator and hugs were exchanged all around.

We had gotten off at Hyllie, which was the first stop in Sweden, and Ingela drove us down to Skanor, which is on the most southern tip of Sweden. We had to stop for a drawbridge, while a few boats went through, and then were once again on our way. The trip took about 35 minutes and Ingela told us much about this area of Sweden, including commentary when she was a girl and her children were small.

We arrived at the house and it was a beautiful beach home, totally remodeled, as it was an older home. There was paving throughout the neighborhood, but also pea gravel on many of the side streets. We were shown our cute little room with 2 beds and were treated to Swedish coffee and then lunch outside. Then we went out for a bike ride, remembering that I had not ridden a bike in 50 years, except for a little in Provence about 20 years ago. Shannon and I both were a little shaky at first, but just like they say — if you have ever ridden a bike, you won’t forget. We biked around the area on wonderful little pea gravel paths that were about 5 feet wide along the shoreline called the Skaneleden Trail. This trail is over 1,000 km long (2,825 miles). We arrived at a very prestigious golf course with a lot of beach frontage and got off the bikes to stroll around the golf course. The course was beautiful, except that it was very apparent that they had not had rain in a long time. The grass crunched as you walked on it.

We also stopped at a great lighthouse on the island called the Lighthouse of Falsterbo. It was completed in 1796. It is the oldest known beacon/lighthouse site in Scandinavia. We walked to the beach and the water was surprisingly warm. Ingela had said 70 degrees, but it seemed warmer. It may have been because there were no waves (and no tides) and that there was a little pool formed. We came back to the house and I was invited for a swim at the docks. The day had become significantly cooler, so I declined. Ingela had stopped off at the store and bought groceries, so that Shannon could have her favorite meal — spaghetti. Frida and I took showers and then we later sat down for a wonderful spaghetti meal with salad and then homemade ice cream with fresh strawberries that they had picked the day before. We had retired to the living room and watched some television and talked. Then it was off to bed for some much needed sleep.

Scandinavia – Day 11 – Monday, June 11, 2018

We slept in just a little and then decided we’d have breakfast and then go to the Changing of the Guards at Amalienborg Palace. We also decided since we had a fair amount of time that we would ride the bus. We purchased tickets online, which was a mistake, and tried to find the right bus stop. We waited and waited at what we thought was a bus stop and we saw no busses, except across the street, which was the wrong direction. We finally gave up and walked around to see if we could find a different bus stop, as the one we were in kept scrolling that there was no information about the next bus. Finally, enough time had passed, so we decided we’d just take a taxi, so we wouldn’t miss it.

The 15 minute taxi ride was expensive, but we made it there in plenty of time and decided with the extra time that we would go inside of the Marble Church, which we had seen yesterday. Yes, it was a beautiful church inside and out, but we have seen many beautiful churches in Europe, so we just say in the pews and read about the church until it was time for the Changing of the Guards.

Like many of the tourists there, we did not know from which way they would arrive. Everyone was out in the courtyard waiting and the policemen there had everyone line up along a marking in the stones on the ground, so that the Guards could enter. Shannon had a front row seat and we watched as a woman went over the line to take pictures and was scolded by one of the policemen. He really made it funny and no one was offended. We all laughed. We waited for just a few minutes and sure enough, the Guards marked in with perfect precision. They had marched from the Rosenberg Castle, which was a 30 minute march for them. There was little ceremony about it, as there was no monarchy in residence apparently. We had read that when a monarch is in residence that there is a band. Afterward, we knew we had to be across town for a “free” tour, so we headed back via GPS. We have had a little trouble with GPS in Copenhagen and we really did have a tough time finding our way back. It took us longer than expected because there is a lot of construction going on in the city and the GPS routed us all over the place. We finally arrived 30 minutes before the tour, stopped off at McDonald’s to get Shannon some French fries and a McFlurry, then stopped at an outdoor cafe so I could have a Smorrebrod, which is a Danish open-faced sandwich. Mine had soft-boiled eggs, shrimp and quite a bit of mayonnaise on it, along with lettuce, on a very dark piece of bread. It was delicious and I finished just in time for the tour.

James from the UK did the tour and he was very good. The tour lasted about 90 minutes and he packed in a lot of information and history about Copenhagen and Denmark in general. I highly recommend doing this. As a matter of fact, we did see the Guards walking from the Parliament and they had a drummer playing with them and I believe I remember flutes. Is this called a fife and drum??? We learned that probably some monarch must have been in Parliament that day. The tour was called the Classic Tour. There is another tour that is 3 hours, but we had seen much of what they were going to show in that tour. We ended the tour at an open air market and stopped off for coke, wine and a chocolate croissant, which we have grown quite fond of.

As we were sitting, I looked into a taxi app and the cost was not outrageous, so we ordered a taxi. It would not accept my credit card, but said we could pay with cash. When the driver arrived 2 minutes later, he said that the system was down and he could take my credit card. The problem occurred when we got to the end of the trip and he asked for my credit card. He ran it on his own and input 50% more than the cost of the trip and then wanted me to sign the receipt. I did not and argued with him about it, but to no avail. The card had already been swiped. I wrote the taxi company with my complaint and took a picture of the amount with my phone as verification. THe taxi app that I used was taxi.eu, so be sure that you pay up front, if you use this app or you could have trouble.

We got to our room and I had messages from one of my past students, Sara Rywe, to have dinner. We met her at a cute Mexican Restaurant called Barburrito. The food was good, but the company was the best!!! We could have stayed there all night, but they had the table reserved for 7:30, so we had to leave. Sara had ridden her bike, so she walked the bike back to our hotel with us. We wanted one last picture with her, so we asked one of the guys outside the hostel if he would take our picture. He flatly said no, which was a bit of a surprise. We asked another guy out there and he agreed. As is typical, he took the picture way to far away, so we did a selfie.

We got into our room and started packing for our move to Malmo, Sweden tomorrow.

Scandinavia – Day 10 – June 10, 2018

We decided to take a taxi to the airport, since the tram thing seemed a little. Implicated and the cobblestone roads were hard on our luggage. It was extremely expensive as taxis go, but well worth the money. We had downloaded an app called “NorgesTaxi” and precooked our taxi, much like Uber, but a reputable taxi company. The driver was there 10 minutes early and I already knew what the price was. He drove very well and carefully and we were there in 20 minutes. We had already checked in online, but when we arrived there were no humans to take your bags or help you in any way. We were able to scan the phone with the QReader and get our boarding passes and luggage tags. We put the luggage tags on our luggage and then took our luggage to a conveyor belt. The bags were weighed and apparently passé because the bags were whisked away. We hoped we had put on all the stickers correctly.

We walked to our gate and waited for our flight, which left on time. We arrived in Copenhagen on time, picked up our bags and went to the arrivals door where my previous student, Freja Vluff, was waiting for us. The line for a ticket for the train was very long, so she just used her card and we took the short trip into town. Our room was not ready, so we stored our luggage in lockers and followed Freja around for about 4 hours, seeing nearly everything in the city. We finally parted and we checked into our room. The check-in process was also nearly humanless. We entered our information and printed out our room keys, retrieved our luggage and went up to our room. Again, our room is a little strange. We are in a hostel, but we have a family room with 6 beds, a shower room and a toilet room. The beds are bunk beds and are very comfortable. We are using the extra beds for our luggage. It is all very clean and neat.