The continuation of Latin American adventure

Last time, our two heroes. Alone, in the wilds of central Honduras, were faced with a life or death decision…

stay on beer or switch to rum and coke.

What would they do? Who would they turn to? And so the adventure continues…

With so much riding on the choice they did the only sensible thing, ordered another two beers and considered their options.

After seeing some pretty impressive Mayan ruins, Joz and I decided to head for Tela on the Caribbean coast. We jumped on the bus and were on our way. I sat back and watched my fellow traveller’s throw their non-biodegradable rubbish out of the windows as we drove. This is a favourite pastime in Latin America, they love it. As Joel noted it would make Roy and HG proud to see the kiddies getting involved at a young age.

Things were going along smashingly until we hit San Pedro Sula, where we had to change buses. We walked to the other bus terminal and asked which bus went to Tela, one of the guys looked at us for a moment and then began yelling at us in super quick Spanish. One minute he was yelling at us and pushing us on to a bus and the next he was shaking his head and dragging us away from the bus. Then some other guys came and joined in the fun. It was a good old fashioned let’s fuck with the stupid Gringos session. We were confused and frightened. The two of us walked ten meters down the street and held an impromptu executive discussion, it was decided by majority that we head to La Ceiba instead, because it was easier. So we caught the bus to La Ceiba.

The next day we got up early and caught the ferry to the Bay Island of Utilia. Which is one of the coolest places on earth. They only have electricity for a couple of hours a day, three year old kids ride four-wheelers up and down the one dirt road at 60 kph, all the bars are on jetties and have no toilets so everybody just pisses off the side. But what stands out most of all is the extent of inbreeding among the locals. I don’t know if it is the Agent Orange from all the US Vietnam vets that live there or what, but it is amazing.

Utilia also has some fantastic diving, Joel went to hire some snorkeling gear and asked about hiring me a spear gun. For this he was kicked out of the shop, damn scuba hippies, all I wanted to do was slaughter some innocent fish and eat them.

After a couple of days we caught the ferry back to the mainland. We decided to give getting Tela another crack. Getting there was almost too easy. My Lonely Planet guidebook had given Tela a big wrap – something about a day trip to cool native villages and a lagoon full of monkeys. We headed out to take a look at this natural wonder. Stupid Lonely Planet, the villages were just the same as all the others and we saw no monkeys.

Tune in again next week to Survivor: Central America. When Rees learns of the Joel’s sordid past and his failed sex change attempt. How will this affect the morale of the tribe?

Guatemala, the land of disappointment

Looking back on our two weeks in Guatemala reminds me of the history of the St Kilda football club, one disappointment after another. We arrived in Guatemala City from the Mexican border – 6 hrs, 150km, everybody from infants to the elderly trying to sell you something, rubbish dumps in the middle of towns and suicidal bus drivers – the usual.

Guatemala City made downtown LA look like the MCG on grand final day (ok it wasn’t that bad but it was a bit of a rat-hole). We had a bit of a poke around then headed for Antigua, beautiful colonial architecture and home to countless language schools. Things were looking up… or so I thought. Joel and I had enrolled in for a week of Spanish School. After 25 hours of intensive study, I was positive at the very least I would be able to conduct international business in Spanish and woo the ladies like Liberace.

Oh, how I was mistaken, as far as I can tell there is no international business in Central America, Liberace was gay and I still struggle saying ‘gracis’ and ‘por favor’. During my first day of schooling, I developed a fever leaving me quite sick. I don’t know what was more disappointing, being bed-ridden for more than a week or the fact that I had pneumonia. I was in Central America for Christ’s sake, if I was going to be sick I wanted it to be with something cool like Malaria or Typhoid. Not pneumonia, only pensioners get pneumonia.

I was getting better and the weekend beckoned. We decided to do a half-day trip to Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano near Antigua. Now I don’t know about you guys but when I hear active volcano, I think “Liquid hot magma”.  Not quite while we were there, we got a long walk, some sulphur smelling smoke and some lukewarm pebbles.

The next day was National Independence Day. All of the locals had been talking it up, we had heard rumours that the drunkest person at the festivities got to chase people in the crowd wearing nothing but a paper-mashie bulls head with lit fireworks strapped to it. Joz and I agreed our attire was inappropriate for such a momentous occasion so we headed for the local op-shop. We picked up suits for Q$20 (about A$5). Mine, a three-piece pin-striped ripper. We were pumped and ready to go but all we found was a couple of families enjoying “quite time” with some crappy plastic flags, not a drunken bull-man in sight.  We ended up at some trivia night in one of the local pubs (Team Dick Toggs came a disappointing second). All the bars closed at 8pm and we walked home, disappointed once again.

Like the Australian Cricket Board’s stance with Mark Waugh, we thought that we would give Guatemala one more shot to prove itself at the highest level, so we headed to Panajachel on Lago de Atilian. It is a massive mountain lake surrounded my volcanos. It was very beautiful, but once again I couldn’t help but feeling a little let down. You would think that a 126 sq km lake would have some kind of man-eating mythical creature that had been sighted in it but never caught.

We left the lake yesterday and we are now in Honduras. Forgive the whiny, cynical tone of this post, I was sick. Guatemala was great and I would definitely recommend a visit. That said, I think I will have a more enjoyable time in Honduras, beer is half the price and we have already seen a cross-eyed cat.

Two Australian Gringo’s Mexican adventure

After our time in Oceanside Jozza and I arrived in Tijuana full of hope, of better times to come. Armed with Joel’s 1973 Mexican Lonely Planet and all the Spanish that you can pick up from a Speedy Gonzalez cartoon, we headed south.

About twelve hours into our first twenty-four hour bus ride we pulled to halt at a military checkpoint. It was about 2am and the nice man with an M16 made us have a go on the traffic light machine. It was great; I got the green light meaning that I got to keep going. Joel got the red light, so he got a full cavity search.

We got to Los Mochis and had a bit of a look around. Local’s friendly, beer not as cheap as you would think. Took the Copper Canyon railway to Creel. Where we held an international language convention with three nature love’n Germans, a couple of French girls, a homeless hippy from Brazil, a fucking nutcase from Slovenia and the two boys from the bush. As you would suspect English won out.

In Creel we had out first Tequila in a Mexican redneck bar, tried to impress the locals by doing them as Stuntman shots, a sniff of the salt, the shot, and a squirt of lemon juice in the eye later and we were looked at like fucking loco Gringo’s.

From Creel we embarked on a 30hr train/bus trip to Puerto Vallarto, Joel had a great time playing pirates while I slept. There we raced other buses on cobblestone streets, paid too much for beer and did some snorkelling. By this time my Spanish was picking up, I could now say ‘No, Gracis’ instead of ‘No’, much to the delight of the locals.

Headed from here to Zihuatenjo, which is a cool little fishing village, great markets and beaches, not an international tourist mecca yet. There we met some Canandian hippies. They were in perfect harmony with nature and their spiritual inner selves despite the fact that Ron still drove some Toyota sportscar that got half a mile to the gallon.

After a couple of days there we headed for the boarder and onto Guatemala. Our Mexican adventure was over. The country hadn’t seen such good times since the ’68 Olympics. The best thing about Mexico is that no matter where you go or what you do, two Mexican dudes with kick arse moustaches wearing white cowboy hats will be sitting on a rock or a roof watching your every move.