Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kind of like the Poudre or Big T, but in Honduras...

Wow! Rafting, floating, jumping, and lounging, what a perfect couple of days at the Río Cangrejal! The river is absolutely beautiful, even though it´s just beginning rainy season and the water is low. I went out with a group yesterday, and we drove a ways up the river where we dropped off the rafts and started hiking upstream. We rand and jumped off of enormous rocks, swam across back and forth, and continued hiking. After a while, we just got in and floated back down tot he rafts, where we got in a for a fun ride. Nothing too crazy, class 3 and lower, but still really fun. I can´t get over how beautifully the rocks have been formed by the water, and it was so relaxing to lay around on the rocks and just jump right off when you got too hot.
This morning I got up early with a couple of other people and headed to the ranger station at the entrance to the Pico Bonito park. There we crossed the river on a wobbly bridge, and hiked to and hour and a half to a beautiful waterfall. There were two huge rainbows near the bottom of it and we just sat to enjoy the view for a while. On the hike we saw a green tree snake, tons of butterflies and dragonflies, and the tiniest frogs I´ve ever seen in my life (the size of my pinkie nail). Now for a sandwich with my favorite Honduran cheese, some yucca chips, and a nap with the fan as close to me as I can get it!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Carnival, Carribean, Chaos

Spent a few days in Utila, one of the bay islands in Honduras, and really enjoyed myself. I´ve loved working and volunteering so much throughout my travels, but it was nice to feel like I was really on a vacation. Took a ferry out from La Ceiba and stayed at the cheapest place on the island, which was suprisingly cleand and quiet-perfect. Spent a couple of days just hanging out walking around, eating delicious cinnamon rolls (we fell in love with a bakery that had amazing cinnamon rolls, piña cake, and banana bread), and meeting poeple. I ran into a Dutch friend from Guatemala, and a boy who played rugby with the guy my roomate in Guatemala dated-it´s a small world! Anyway, I hung out with some twins from Canada, one of whom took the diving PADI course, and we had fun meeting poeple from her school. Went to a huge BBQ one night at the school and had a blast, also went out to Tree Tanic a few times-a treehouse sort of bar that´s part of an enormous outdoor restraunt/bar area that´s all sculptures encrusted with mosaics, shells, glasswork, and all sorts of random stuff.
We also took a really nice day trip out to Pigeon Caye, where we swam out to Diamond Caye for snorkeling. It was beautiful and we saw tons of coral, sea fans, ¨donkey dung¨ sea cucumbers, balloon fish, damselfish, parrot fish, barracuda, queen angel fish, and a green moray eel. We also bought a huge barracuda fillet and cooked it up for lunch with a salad and homemade ice cream.
The nights were beautiful on the island as well, and there were so many start that we couldn´t even find constelations!
Came back to La Ceiba a couple of days ago for Carnival this weekend-which was totaly chaos. The parade was fun to watch, and all of the women´s costumes were super elaborate. We weren´t sure how we felt about the little girls dressed up to match, doing seriously raunchy dancing with the crowd going wild. There were tons of beads being thrown, lots of confetti and glitter in the air, and I even made my own mask to wear out-complete with feathers and glitter. After the parade there wasn´t a ton to do, but we walked around for hours (the twins, some friends from Xela, and the guys they were traveling with). Unfortunately, two nights ago several people were robbed in the hostel while everyone was sleeping, and then tons of people were robbed while we were out at the Carnival last night-many of the at gun point!
I´m not much of a fan of Honduras at this point and after whitewater rafting tomorrow, I plan to head down to Nicaragua. On the upside though, Honduras does have amazing ¨Baleadas.¨ They´re pretty simple, but somehow amazing-just a flour tortilla with butter, refired beans, cheese, cream, and then whatever fillings you want-my favorites are scrambled eggs and avocado.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Village Farm

Since it's been so long since I've written anything (there's just too much world to see to be sitting at a computer sometimes!), I'm just going to talk about the farm I most recently worked on. It was an organic mango, pineapple, cirtus, coconut, cocoplum, pepper, cacao, etc. farm on the coast of Belize, 8 miles north of Punta Gorda. Because it is so isolated you can only bet there by boat, and they live with no tv, no internet, one phone, a wood-burning stove (which was really fun to cook on and see bread made with), and generators that run when necesary. That part of the coast is actually a marine reserve, and I saw some fish and jellyfish, but no luck with manatees.

We entertained ourselves with reading (I read Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder, and The Bean Trees, and a book called Epitaph for a Peach), conversation, and as much time as possible out on the pier. There were a few huge thinder and lightning storms (I had no idea that there could literally be constant lightning for so many solid hours), and the sea was absolutely still aferwards. Normally though, the pier was the best place to escape the sanflies, who my friends describes as biting people into "itchy submission."

My main job on the farm was to search and destroy "God's Bush," which is a vine that is actually a parasite and smothers the cirtus and caco trees... Well, it smothers everything, but the citrus and cacao are what we're most concerned with. I have mad ladder skills from that. One morning was spent scrubbing the bottom of the boats and scraping the barnacles off, a nice excuse to squidge my feet around in the sea-sludge and enjoy the morning in the water. I also helped harvest citrus (lots of giant, orange limes), cocoplums, bilimbi (related to starfruit, so very tangy), some cacao, and tons of pepper. We spent an entire day harvesting pepper (2 big buckets worth, which is more than twice what the plants produced last year), and the next day was rainy, so we conveniently say "inside" (the cookhouse has a roof, but no walls, and a dirt floor with crab holes all over the place) cleaning the corns off of the stems. Then we spent the next few days putting it all out to dry.

And now to the most exciting part-eating, haha! First off, things like honey and brown rice come from within the toledo district, tofu and okara patties made in PG with soy from norther Honduras, and jams made on the farm. I helped harvest things for us to enjoy on the farm, many of which I never even knew existed. Bananas (which I obviously knew existed) surinam cherries, bread fruit, bread nuts. Bread fruit is basically a green fruit the size of a large cantaloupe, and is just a caarb/starch. We would boil it and sometimes eat it with salt, pepper, and slase, or add it to lentil soup, or when it was a little more ripe it was sweeter like a yam and I liked it plain. Breadnuts were the real experience though! The tree is very tall with huge leaves, and teh fruit hang all around. The fruits are a bumpy, breen ball about the sive of a small cantaloupe, and we have to wait until they fall from the tree to collect them. Then we would sit at the base of the tree and pick through their slime (slimier with more ants and maggots the older they are) to get the seeds out. They are brown seeds about the size of a fat thumb which need to be boiled and then shelled before eating. We had the largest harvest they had seen, and we cam up with some pretty creative ways to eat them (many of which, I would like to take credit for, thank you very much). We made porridge, where we mashed up the nuts with a bit of water and powdered milk, and added cinnamon, rasins, and honey. We also had them crispy with lots of spice, as a delicious curry with veggies, in a stir/fry with soy sauce and sesame seeds, in our soups, or just plain and delicious. (One other random note about food in belize/I love seaweed milkshakes!)

Now I'm in Honduras for some snorkeling, rafting, and maybe some "Carnival."