Island Hop

Snorkle

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Making friends in Nueva Armenia

The bus stopped, and we got out. During the walk to the place where we were staying, I noticed that the coastal town of Nueva Armenia felt very Caribbean because everyone was very dark-skinned and spoke Spanish. When we reached the hotel, we were shown around. It was a pretty rough place. A bucket was needed to flush the toilet, and the shower was a cold bucket shower (but it was so warm, it didn’t really matter). I still had a good time. I played cards with a couple kids, and we shared a delicious fried chicken (No, not a Chicken Fried, a fried chicken*). It was a perfect night.

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Found a conch shell snorkeling

When we woke up, we took a boat to Chachahuate, a teeny tiny island completely covered in huts, with barely any breathing space. That village belonged to the Garifuna people, a mix between a group of West Africans who had never been enslaved and the Carib indigenous tribe. On the first day, I had some fun. I swam a little, and found a conch shell. However, we didn’t exactly feel very comfortable there, so we left early.

Chachahuate
Town of Chachahuate, in the Cayos Cuchinos

We really hit a home run with our plan B. No, not the band**.  We had an amazing time on Roatan. We went to a village called Punta Gorda – which translates to “Fat Point”. This village was also Garifuna. There, they have a festival every Sunday. At the festival, they dance a very unique dance called the Punta. It’s basically just a ton of butt shaking. It’s also very, very fast. I tried but in less than a minute, I had to stop because my abdomen was killing me.

We also snorkeled. My favorite fish was a long and skinny fish that was a about three to five feet long and possibly half a foot around.

Finally, we watched the sunset on the beach. It was so beautiful, I called it “The Tropical Lights”. A spectacular way to end RTW1!***

*Say “Loolz” in he comments below if you laughed. Say “Wacka Wacka Wacka” if you didn’t get the joke
**Read the following if you didn’t get the joke: Shabadadoo!
***If you don’t know yet, we’ll be going around the world again. The second trip will consist of Europe, Southern (not just South) Africa, and South America

Crazy Copan

A recreation of what one of the temples looked like
A recreation of what one of the temples looked like
Royal Living Quarters
Royal Living Quarters

I scrambled onto the old rock wall and looked down. There, right in front of me, was the residential zone, where the Kings of Copan had lived. We were in the ruins of Copan, and the majority of the ancient city was probably still hidden by jungle and earth.

Copan is an ancient Maya city. It was very important – especially during its peak in the early 9th century, when it contained about 20,000 people. Along with Palenque in Mexico and Tikal in Guatemala, Copan was one of the most important Maya settlements to have ever existed.

Ball Court
Ball Court

We learned a ton. One of the most interesting things we learned is about human sacrifice. People would play a soccer-like game. They were organized into two teams. The goal was to hit macaw heads that were carved in various places around the pit. This scored a point; the number may vary. Whichever team had the most points at the end of the match was the winner. The captain of the winning team would be taken away and never seen again.

Sacrificial Stone
Sacrificial Stone

He laid on his back on an altar carved like a turtle. Then his head was cut off. His heart was placed in a ditch made for hearts, still beating. The blood would pour out of the cracks in the rock and was collected in seashells. Then it was poured on a piece of paper that was then burned. This was an offering to the gods – to bring rain during a drought, to bring a good harvest, etc.It was considered an honor to be sacrificed to the gods. I, though, would try to lose to spare my life.

On top of that, the Mayans thought that after death, the soul would begin a dangerous journey through the underworld to paradise, thus being reborn. So they buried their kings and nobles in fetal position.

In the tunnel, next to the original wall of one of the temples
In the tunnel, next to the original wall of one of the temples
A view of a tunnel
A view of a tunnel

One of my favorite parts was the tunnels. From the heart of the ruins, they ran three miles into the countryside. They hadn’t been dug by the Mayans. Archaeologists had built them to show the underground parts of various temples. We could only go in a small fraction of the tunnels, but they were still amazing. We saw the mask of the sun god, the detailed, colorful carving of a macaw head, and much, much more.

After we got out of the tunnels, we were shown the true ground level, which was 25 feet below the ground level in the city of Copan, and five feet above the water table. There, it was easy to see the five layers of the ruins. However, there had been 16 kings. Why weren’t there 16 layers? Well, because only some of the kings built whole new layers. During king #14’s rule, he decided that he wouldn’t build on top of the previous king’s work, which was normally how the city developed. Everyone else after him followed his example, leaving king #13’s work shown to the world.

Copan was gorgeous. If you ever get a chance to go, you should.

Mayo Papaquayo

Macaw

Majetic Macaw
Scarlet Macaw

The beautiful, green birds were very noisy. The males, unlike the females, had a little bit of red on their wings. We were at Macaw Mountain, a place where birds were rehabilitated and possibly released back into the wild . Right afterwards, we saw the macaws. They were beautiful! They were majestic. One of them even dropped a feather. It would be perfect to make a pen out of it.

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Toucan

Next, we saw the green macaws. One, previously abused, wanted to attack us. Another one was curious. We also saw toucans. The difference between males and females was obvious: the males had massive beaks, while the females’ beaks were much smaller. We also saw some owls. One cage contained some Great Horned Owls. Disappointingly, they were a smaller subspecies than the ones that we were used to. Another five very small, brown owls.

Owl
The baby owl was curious

Near the cage, on a post and chained in place, was a baby owl, even smaller. His huge pupils took up most of his eyes. He was chained up so that he could get some exercise while not walking off to dangerous places. His wings had been clipped by the previous owners. However, his wings had only been clipped once. We saw some macaws that had been separated from the others. These former pets had been kept outside, but the previous owners had clipped their wings over and over again. Well, by the time they’d escaped, having clipped wings was natural to them. The mutilated their own wings. They would also chase around other birds and try to mutilate their wings. If their victim was caught, it wouldn’t fly.

Lastly, we saw the showcase birds. I got to take pictures with macaws. What a way to end our time at Macaw Mountain Rehab Center!

Honduran Adventures

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Left, right, left, right. It was very hard kayaking up the river, because the current was so strong. I simply couldn’t do it. I had to strap my kayak to mom’s. Once we got to the lake, however, I was kayaking around and swimming. We had to race back to the docking point, because it got dark very fast. I liked that trip.

LizardAlso around Lake Yojoa, we hiked to a mountain with two humps. It was called “Cerro Las Nalgas”, which translates to “The Butt Cheek Mountain”. That’s funny! It was a long and tough hike that was very steep. Your legs would collapse on the way up and you would fly off the mountain on the way down. We, of course, were way too overpowered for that. Hahaha. I do have to admit, though, that I nearly fell off the mountain several times. The other hike we did was much easier. It was in a protected coffee plantation/nature reserve . There was a hotel in the middle of the reserve, which had a swimming pool. The reserve also had the remnants of ruins of the stadium where they played a game like soccer hidden below the earth. While exploring, we saw some really funny lizards with thin crests above their heads. They ran on two legs, with the other two flailing about in midair. I found them hilarious. Who couldn’t?

Don’t assume we didn’t have anything to do at the hotel. I swam in the pool, but it was icy cold, so I couldn’t stay in very long. Dad taught us a new game. In this game, there were no jokers. We each got 17 cards. Whoever started could play whatever card they wanted, as long as it wasn’t a spade. The other players had to play a card in the matching suit. Whoever had the highest card won the book. Then they put down a card from their hand. Pretty simple. Although, if someone was to run out of a suit, they had to put down a spade. If there was a king and queen of hearts with a two of spades, the player who had put down the spade would win. How is that possible? Well, spades are like jokers. The only thing that can beat a spade is a higher spade. Thus, the ace of spades is unstoppable. We played for hours. What a way to end our time at Lake Yojoa!

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A great time with part of our family!

Honduras is full of magical, memorable experiences. One of these experiences was when we had a vacation with Tío Alberto, or “Uncle Beto”. We were going to a town called Amapala, on an island called Isla del Tigre. We were going because Tío Beto’s son, Albertito, had to run in a marathon on the island. Things didn’t go as planned, though. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the place that Beto normally stayed at. Although, we did get a nice hotel with a swimming pool. We did explore the island. The short trip was really more like a road trip – an enjoyable one, though.

Tegus Togetherness

Three Generations
Three Generations – My Dad, Great Grandfather, and myself
The 16th Century Church in Santa Lucia
The 16th Century Church in Santa Lucia

We didn’t do much in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. It was mainly about being together with family. One day, though, we went to a beautiful village close to Tegus called Santa Lucia. We’d been there before, when I was a baby. My parents talked about how much it had changed. We also saw a church there. It was beautiful.

Another day, the whole family got together, and my great-grandfather was talking about his grandparents, his parents, and his childhood. About 75 years ago, my great-grandpa’s aunt’s dog was used to carry messages . Sometimes, the messenger dogs would travel very long distances. But there was something very special about that dog. The family would crank on the music, and that dog – and only that dog – would dance like a human. Also, the aunt could talk to lots of animals, even snakes. It is very funny to imagine.

At the Museum of Honduran Identity
At the Museum of Honduran Identity

On almost our last day in Tegucigalpa, we saw an art museum. It wasn’t just an art museum, because it also contained a fascinating history of the country. Like all other Latin American countries in the Cold War, it had a terrible dictatorship supported by the U.S, just because it wasn’t Communist. Also, there was a horrible display to educate the public of a local problem that was simply terrible: the killing of women for simply being women. It was a series of sculptures of women that had hands instead of heads. Basically, they had no voice. Each woman had a sign in Sign Language on the hand on their neck. There were lots of paintings, too my favorite painting was a replica of graffiti. It looked like something I would have drawn. It was an animation of a DJ in a spacesuit. Nothing cooler than a DJ astronaut!

Packing Preparation for Perfect Panama

James in Panama SuitcaseI had to go through all my stuff and I only had one giant suitcase to put it in. That was all I could take to Panama because we are selling almost everything and traveling  to five continents for ten months. I packed most of  my stuffed animals, some books, one board game, and ten cars. I also packed a starter truck. It was very hard. One of my stuffed animals wouldn’t fit, and I couldn’t pack any more cars. I didn’t have room for anything else. I wish I had more room. But I  am still grateful for the stuff I do have. Now I realize how lucky I am. Even if it doesn’t feel like much, I know that there are some kids in the world with not even an eighth of that. I packed the most important stuff, so I am happy.