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Trip Report Honduras & Roatan

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Honduras trip report

Copan  Ruinas is like a smaller version of Antigua in Guatemala, which makes sense since it is so close to the Guatemalan border.  We spent 9 nights there since we were doing some medical work in the area, but 2-3 nights would  be plenty.  

The ruins are best to visit first thing in the morning when it is peaceful, good light, and no rain.  The museum located at the ruins contains all the  best sculptures that were removed from the ruins to protect them from the elements and is definately worth a visit.  The entrance to the ruins as a group of scarlet Macaws that fly back and forth along the pathway you walk to get to the ruins and its quite an experience if you have not seen and heard these birds before.  The Mayan ruins of Copan are worth seeing because of the intricate carvings. I had not seen that anywhere else before in Guatemala or Mexico.

On another day we took a tour with Carlos the owner of the Finca del Cicene coffee plantation.  This experience far surpassed my expectations and I had already been on two other coffee plantation tours in Guatemala and Costa Rica that I thought were quite good, but this one was different and better primarily because it was a personal experience.  It began with a short walk around the guesthouse where they grow several other things like cardamom, cacao, and various fruits and vegetables.  They are very proud of the fact that they grow more than just coffee there and consider it a true organic farm where they even ranch some cattle for the milk and meat.  Then we sat down and had a cup of coffee.  Next we spent 3 hours on a horseback ride through out the plantation with gorgeous views of the surrounding valley and hillsides.  I was nervous about riding the horse because the last time I did so in a central american country I was nearly bucked off 3 times, but this experience was great. My horse Luna was very responsive and sweet.  During the ride we tasted some of the fruits growing there like pineapple and starfruit right off the trees.  The plantation is organic so they don't use any pesticides.  Then we went back to the main house where we were fixed a wonderful lunch of Tarro root pancakes with honey and ginger (like potato pancakes), watercress salad with fresh cheese from the farm, corn tortillas, roast beef in a savory stew sauce, mashed potatoes, yucca, and squash.  We drank rosa de jamaica tea which is to die for. This was a very memorable and tasty meal, not only because of the food, but because we felt like welcome guests in their home.  After lunch we relaxed on the porch in the hammock (truly the most comfortable one I have ever laid in) and enjoyed their dogs.  Then we proceeded to take a tour of the area where the coffee cherries are processed.  Carlos did a great job explaining the process and how it is all water driven in order to conserve energy.  They also just opened up their own small hydro electric plant and the farm now sells energy back to the electric company.  Later that afternoon we were taken to the local hot springs, where they have done a great job creating several small pools that mix the water from the hot spring with rain water to create pools of various temperatures and a few special spa type areas for a self service mud application, stone foot massage, and waterfall neck and shoulder massage.  They also have some massage huts, but we didn't time for that and the rain comes every afternoon there beginning in June so we got rained out after an hour.  Its a great experience in the jungle.  All in all this was the best day I had in Copan and one not to be missed!

For dinner one night we went to Hacienda San Lucas.  For $28 we had a prefix 4 course meal that was superb, in aa beautiful setting on a hilltop overlooking the river and the town of copan ruinas.  The grounds are beautifully set with flowering plants, antiques, and small candles or kerosene lanterns everywhere.  A very romantic spot.  It is a lodge as well, and had my hubbie been with me I believe we would have enjoyed staying there.  A taxi (tuk tuk) from town costs about 50 lempiras one way ($2.50) per person.  

Off to Roatan

We stayed at Infinity Bay for the first 5 days and rented our 1 bedroom on VRBO rather than through the resort as it was cheaper, but then the resort offered a 50% off deal for summer so it may have been more in the end.  Infinity Bay has the largest pool on the island, long with several small waterfalls, a bridge and an infinty edge overlooking the beach and the ocean.  The rooms were nice, lots of marble and travertine tile, and fairly firm yet comfortable beds.  Our 1 bedroom had two full bathrooms and two decks.  They say the water is safe to drink, but never gave details about what purification system they used, so we used our steripen (uv light) to purify all water we drank from the tap.  Food at the bar/outdoor cafe was hit or miss and definitely more expensive than other places in West Bay.  The curry chicken salad on pineapple with banana bread was great and so was the ceviche, but the burger and nachos were pretty bad.  Service was not all that fast or friendly, but it may be in part a cultural thing of the Garifaunas that I struggled to understand.  The staff were constantly giving each other a hard time and often appeared grumpy.  The friendliest person we met was the security guard we spent 15 minutes talking to while waiting for the shuttle. Wireless Internet was limited in the room but better on the deck.

West bay has a great beach with good snorkeling the further out from shore you go.  There are other activities there like banana boat rides and kayaks, and paddle-boards (standing on a large surfboard and paddling with an oar).  There is often a live band to be found playing somewhere along West Bay, so we found little need to go to the West End for nightly entertainment (unless you want a discotec).   

The best places we ate in West Bay were Celest's and Bite on the Beach.  Also good service at both places.  We went to the Lighthouse in the West End on another occasion, but was not impressed.    We also ate at the Vintage Pearl, which was pretty good.  They had meat selections not found elsewhere and of course the best wine selection on the island (which is very limited and not that great in quality everywhere else we went.)  Cool Beans the coffee bar on the main road behind Bananarama was pretty good too and there is a market there that has a fairly large variety of goods I didn't see in any other markets in the rest of my time in Honduras.  

The last three days on Roatan we spent at Barefoot Cay.  The resort is very small and quiet.  Hardy knew anyone else was there except for dinner time.  Every meal was great and the wine was a small step up from anything we found at other restraunts with the exception of the Vintage Pearl.  The loft rooms are a good size with their own kitchens and the resort has free wireless that seems to work well everywhere.  I am typing this by the pool at the moment.  The views from the lofts are great and it is hardly any inconvenience not to be on the actual key as the small barge that transports you across in 30 seconds is staffed 24 hours a day.  We splurged on a couples massage and the spa staff are very good.  The snorkeling at Barefoot is ok, but can be rough on some days since it sits on the windy side of the island.  Upside to the wind is little if any sand flies compared to west bay. They do have a huge 5 foot barracuda under the palapa and we did see a few varieties of fish including some large jacks and squid, so it was still worth the time.  We went out with one of the dive boats out to the other side of the island for a half day of snorkeling (2 sites for $30 per person).    The barefoot divers crew were very friendly and mostly from places other than Roatan.  The friendly service all around is what makes Barefoot Cay great and I was glad that we ended our trip here as it will leave me with fond memories of Roatan.  

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