Much to update you on since our last entry, although how many of you are actually reading this work of fiction is anyone´s guess.
We left the cool climes of Antigua 3 days ago, but not before ascending Pacaya Volcano. This is one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala, but in the hands of our local guide Fernando it held no fear. Oh how wrong we were. It turned out that Fernando had not been up the Volcano for a good month and in that time free lava flowing has a habit of changing its course. So Fernando resorted to calling out to other guides for a bit of a hand as we marched about in the clouds. To cut a long story short, he ended up taking is up approximately 5 metres to the side of a free flowing river of lava all the time smiling and giggling at how close a call it had been. Of course it´s only when at the summit do you realise that you really are in the box seat if the thing goes off. Quite a way to go if it were to happen. Anyhow, we made it safely down after toasting some marshmallows on the heat.
The next day we rose early to head over the border into Honduras. The change is immediate, people look different, sound different and the feel of each town is different. We spent the night in Copan Ruinas which is the site of the world famous Copan Ruins. Now having previously articualted my new found loathing of ruins, we instead opted to wonder around the town and indulge in some strong local coffee before heading to bed for the long day´s travel ahead. We left the hotel at 5.30am and would not arrive on the island of Utila until 7pm. Without a doubt the worst day´s travel so far and not the day for me to come down with my first illness of the trip. However, if you don´t laugh about these things they tend to get you down so it is with great fondness I look back on the day from hell. I have already vented my feelings about the dangers of the chicken bus, but fear not because at the front of this particular death trap was the sign in spanish saying ´The blood of Jesus protects this bus´. Now I hate to be spoil sport, but I´m not sure I want my public transportation protected by the blood of anyone, especially one the deities of the 5 World Religions. Sadly, it appeared the blood of Christ did not include break down cover when, 5 hours into the trip, the engine was on fire and spewing copious amounts of smoke out the rear. Cue mass disembarking off the bus onto the side of the road under the blistering Honduran Heat. We then observed the Central American Psyche at its strangest, while the rest of the holiday travellers began to become agitated and wonder how we would get out of this mess the locals just sat there going about their daily business as if nothing had happened. It seems to me that when you board a bus in Central America you will get to your destination, but you have absolutely no idea when that might be. It´s a fascinating thought and one I have no doubt will never catch on on the London Waterloo train from Teddington via Wimbledon. We are all the more demanding in England. Maybe it is the price of living or maybe we just have higher expectations.
So the scene was set for a mad scramble for space on the next bus which arrived an hour later with its own load of passengers. Once again our personal space was compromised and I got hot and sweaty with a number of locals, but not in the good way. To cap a bad day on the final leg of the trip, a motor boat over to Utila, the boat broke down 50 metres from our destination and we had to wait for another boat to tow us in. But we got there...late but safely!
People go to Utila for two things: diving and to be bitten by mosquitoes. Not diving, I chose to indulge in the latter and have hence forth allowed them to use me as the human equivalent of a pin cushion. A conservative estimate would suggest around 40 bites and if you join them all up it spells out the world ´SUCKER´. Utila is one of those strange Caribbean islands that is part of Central America, so although English is spoken, it is not uncommom to hear Spanish spoken with a West Indian lilt. Islanders are a nice bunch, but also slightly odd. They range from young dive instructors living the dream, to old American Couples who run hotels also living the dream. One sound I didn´t expect to hear was the South West London city boy drawl...but we found it. Degs as he is known should be donated to the island museum, he fits the ex-Durham University, City Banker and Clapham dwelling profile like a glove. Having left Blighty he is also living the dream by running snorkelling trips. If you shut our eyes and just listened to him it was almost like being in the Pitcher and Piano.
Anyhow must dash, me and the big Mc need to go and explore the capital. Till next time...