Oops I've let this get way behind again, I'll have to through each day to remember what I've done.
17th: Travel day, 4.30am start, we took a van from Antigua across the border into Honduras to the town of Copan Ruinas, home of the Copan ruins. I've got a new group now of 13 girls, including the tour leader. We arrived around lunch time and a trip to the ruins was planned for the afternoon. Hearing that it was similar to places I've already seen and not feeling well enough to walk around in the hot sun, I decided not to go to the ruins and instead went, with my friend Krista, to visit Macaw Mountain, a bird sanctuary nearby. It was a cute bird park and we got a chance to hold some macaws including a great green, which is a variety I hadn't seen before.
18th: Another long travel day this time by bus then ferry to reach Roatan Island. We arrived in time for dinner and left arranging activities for the morning.
19th: Roatan is very popular for diving and snorkelling but having done a lot of that in Caye Caulker I decided to go inland, again with Krista, to a park called Gumbalimba, described as 'pirates, birds and monkeys of the Caribbean'. It turned out to be quite a touristy resort type place set up for cruise ships which visit the island. A group of them was ahead of us on the zip line canopy tour we did, with one very drunk 55 year old acting like a little kid. The zip line was good though, it was cool to see macaws in the trees as we went through. Left us with sore abs for days afterwards, wouldn't have thought it was that much of a workout. After the zip line we wandered around the park where they had a pirate swing bridge and caves with some artefacts and info about the pirates which used to use the island, an aviary section where we got to hold another macaw, and a monkey area where we had white faced capuchins sit on our shoulders. The monkeys were mostly free to go into the trees but when they were young they were tied up to train them to come down and spend time with tourists for food rewards. Didn't really like seeing them tied up. We finished the trip with a swim in the pool.
20th: Relaxing day on the island, slept in, wandered around town and spent some time on the beach.
21st: Ferry back to mainland and full day travel to our overnight stop in Tegucigalpa.
22nd: Travel day crossing border and arriving mid-afternoon in Granada, Nicaragua. Organised activities for the next two days before going out for dinner.
23rd: In the morning I took a bus with a couple of the other girls to the nearby town of Masaya where there is a big artisan market. It took a while and a few stops to ask for directions before we found the market but once we got there it was good, I spent a couple of hours shopping before bussing back to Granada to get ready for the evenings activity. A van took a few of us with a guide to Volcan Masaya where we were able to drive right to the top and look into it's smoking active crater. There was a limit for time spent near the crater cos the gases coming out of it are quite toxic, we were coughing just breathing them for a short time. It could also erupt at any time as happened in 2001 and 2008. After coming away from the active crater we took a walk around the dormant ones to watch the sun set over the smoking one. Once it was dark we drove to a view point where we could see a faint glow of lava reflecting from a hole and hear it roaring beneath the ground. Another short drive brought us to some caves formed by solidified lava. You could see how the lava had cooled and gone hard while it was dripping and different patterns from how it had been flowing. At the entrance to another cave we just sat outside in the dark while bats flew out around us, it seemed like there was an endless colony, they just kept coming. We tried to take photos, quite hard in the dark but some came out ok and bats looked really cool in the camera flashes.
24th: Early start for a jungle hike at the bottom of Volcan Mombacho, near the edge of Lake Nicaragua. We took a boat to the start point then our guide took us through the jungle pointing out different birds, lizards, squirrels and plants. There was an area where a hot spring from the volcano made the lake water hot and algae turned it bright green, Then we climbed up higher to see a plantain plantation and returned to our start point where we had coconut water straight from the shell. From the boat going back we saw howler monkeys in the trees. Returning to town we planned to just relax and wander for the afternoon. Plans changed when Krista and I were walking up a street and a guy on a bike rode past and snatched her camera right out of her hand breaking it off the cord around her wrist. Of course there was nothing we could do, by the time I realised what had happened he was gone. We went back to the hotel, found our tour leader and went to the police station to make a report. They took it quite seriously, even going out driving around the streets with us to try and identify the guy, but there was no way we could. By the time we were done there most of the afternoon was gone so we went and had smoothies finished up the jobs we had planned and got some dinner.
25th: Granada was so sticky and hot it was hard to move without breaking a sweat, and so hard to sleep in the stuffy hotel rooms. Today we've crossed to Ometepe Island on Lake Granada and it seems cooler here but I think it might get worse going into Costa Rica and Panama. I hope not though!
Today I went on a cultural tour of Ometepe Island. We saw petro glyphs that old tribes carved into rocks, and some stone statues. We visited a colony of monkeys and a lagoon on the island then after lunch finished at Ojo de Agua, a pool of natural spring water with volcanic minerals which are supposed to be good for your skin. Tomorrow will be a very long day with a 5am start and a border crossing to Costa Rica.
So far I am loving Costa Rica. After a big travel day, with a border crossing that went much more quickly than we were warned it usually does, we arrived in Monteverde, a small town in the cloud forest. As the border crossing went so smoothly we had time to sort activities for the evening. I went on a night walk in the forest and saw sleeping birds, including the turquoise crested motmot, national bird of Nicaragua, a massive stick insect, a couple of really poisonous snakes, a tarantula, coati mundi, a kinkajou, and two sloths, very excited to see sloths!
This morning I made a quick trip to the Ranario (frog pond) and butterfly house. I was in a bit of a hurry but I had a really good guide who took me around, pointed everything out and gave me lots of information about the butterflies and the frogs. I fell in love with frogs especially the tiny bright coloured ones, so cute, and the little glass frogs with transparent skin, you can see their insides.
I made it back to my hotel in time to meet my transfer to Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. I ended up with a guide all to myself as no one else booked the tour at that time so it was really nice to just wander through the forest seeing what there was to see. It's been unusually dry up there, not raining or cloudy, it was bright and sunny today, and the forest is drying out. It's hard to see the usual wildlife cos they are all in hiding. I still saw a lot of birds though, all sorts of little cute ones, and I was so lucky to see the resplendent quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala and most desired sighting in this forest. So I managed to see the two animals I really wanted on my two hikes, the sloths and the quetzal.
This evening I went back to the Ranario to see the frogs at night. This time I walked on my own and I was just ahead of a group with a guide. After I pointed the frogs out to the guide a few times he asked if I wanted a job cos I was managing to find them all. If only I could stay and play with frogs for a while but tomorrow we move on again to La Fortuna. I've got high expectations for this stop, lets hope it's as good as it sounds!