Backpacking is full of surprises and adventures. Below is a list of the top things we’ve seen, experienced and accomplished in the month of August. They’re not on our ‘To Do List’ anymore, this is the ‘To Done List’.
1. First music town.
We’ve met a lot of musicians over the past 5 months, in all sorts of spots – street performers, local teachers giving lessons to travellers, hostel common areas, open mic nights and scheduled performances at many, many bars. However, it wasn’t until Antigua, Guatemala that we felt we had found a true music town. Where bars promote their in-house talent days in advance and your night out location is determined by where your favourite band is playing. We LOVED Antigua (our livers and our wallets, however, did not have such a great time there). Listen to some of the music we recorded in Antigua here.
2. First castle.
To be truthful, when we arrived in Rio Dulce, Guatemala we didn’t even know a castle was there. Thankfully, we were directed to it by a local man. We fit 3 of us on a small, tippy, 2 man kayak and paddled across the river for some castle sight-seeing. The Castillo de San Felipe has been so many different things, from army barracks to a jail, and now a tourist attraction. Perched on a bend in the river, it looks like something right out of Game Of Thrones.
3. First hot water waterfall.
A phenomenon neither of us has experienced before, the Finca El Paradiso are hot waterfalls that plunge into a cold natural pool. You can even swim to a little nook behind the falls for a full on steam facial. Topping off this very spa-like day was a full body covering of white mud from the nearby river – this mud is supposed to be great for your skin (or so they say). We just had fun covering ourselves in it, then jumping in the hot water springs to clean off.
4. First (unintentional) white water rafting river. Without a raft.
Near Gutamala’s Rio Dulce is Boqoron, a huge canyon of white limestone walls, giant hanging stalactites and a quick moving riving. As we rode the boat into the canyon we were in awe with the giant scale of the place. Arriving to a blockade of boulders, the boat couldn’t go any further, but the best sights were still farther up ahead. Time to swim. Against the current. Through multiple rapids and large rocks. Though the swim was tough at points, the views were definitely worth it. The swim back, with the current, was a lot quicker. We body boarded, although without the aid of an actual board, over the rapids and back to our boat in no time, only swallowing a fraction of water and kicking just a few rocks along the way. Great day!
5. Country #4 (of this trip): Honduras!
We were able to pass over the border from Guatemala to Honduras quite simply, with only one bribe request that was dropped as soon as we asked for a receipt. The border patrol agent then said to me, in perfect English, “Sorry I don’t know what you’re saying when you ask for a receipt. I don’t speak any English.” Ha! Well ’tis the way of borders I suppose. We took a jam packed mini van to the tiny town of Copan and dug into a dinner of the Honduran signature dish: Baleadas.
6. Macaw madness.
After visiting the larger-than-expected Copan Mayan ruins, we headed into the hills of Macaw Mountain, a bird sanctuary for all the colourful birds of Honduras. Due to poaching and habitat destruction, the Macaws, Toucans and Parrots of Central America are becoming extinct, and quickly. This rehabilitation centre takes in injured birds or those donated by owners who realize they aren’t meant for domesticity. Birds are then bred and any well flying babies are released to the wild. These birds really need much more room to fly than can be provided in a home, and poaching results in many more dead birds than lives ones arriving to the black market. Please don’t buy large birds as pets.