With some regrets we left Hotelito Perdido and caught the lancha to Livingstone. We’d booked ourselves onto a ferry the day before (as our hike ended in Livingstone) but we still had a while to wait around before the ferry arrived. The ferry was quite exciting. We were in the front row of seats and the weather was quite unsettled. We could hear thunder and see lightening in the distance. The sea was rough and the ferry was leaping across the waves, landing with a massive thump. Cushions? Who needs Cushions? This ferry was a boat with room for a dozen or so people. We were sore for days or, in Ashley’s case, weeks. I thought all the luggage was going to bounce overboard. It was… exciting.
We arrived in Punta Gorda in the middle of a serious rainstorm. We were soaked to the skin within a block but found refuge in a friendly hotel – Grace’s Hotel and Restaurant. Our room was around the back and, whilst not luxurious it was adequate, quiet and secure.
Punta Gorda is a small town and there is not a lot to do there. A couple of bars and we ended up eating in the hotel both nights. Excellent home cooking.
The main reason we stayed there was to visit Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. Lubaantun is famous for the finding of the crystal skull, serendipitously on her seventeenth birthday, by the daughter of the archaeologist from the British Museum. In her lifetime she would not allow it to be examined but, after her death it was found, by the Smithsonian institute, to bear marks of high speed machine carving. Almost certainly a fake but a damned good story lies behind it. It is a lovely, tranquil place to spend a few hours.
Public transport between Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit is a bit difficult to work out but a local family helped us get on the right bus, and shared their lunch with us.
Nim Li Punit is thought to have been a largely ceremonial site and it has some amazing stellae, most of which reside in its museum. Again, we had the place pretty much to ourselves and were able to wander around undisturbed by other tourists. It seems that we didn’t get a great many good photographs of either of those sites but one of the things that interests me about the photos we do have are the trees. So different from anything we are used to seeing in the Old World.
and a lovely ball court from Nimli Puit. We do like ball courts. There are several on this site.
After Copan we took a series of buses to Rio Dulce. It is, I think, impossible to describe the beauty of Rio Dulce. It was hard enough to get good photographs. We spent the first night in a lodge called ‘Kangaroo’. This failed to impress. It was set up for tourists, expelled sewage straight into the river and was generally tacky. We got the lancha up to Hotelito Perdido the next morning. We’ve been to Hotelito Perdido before. I would love to go there again. It is incredibly tranquil. The situation is sensational and it’s run mostly by volunteers who work for the privilege of staying there. The meals are all vegetarian and it is, I guess, a bit newagey for some tastes, but I love it there.
What did we do? Well we took out a kayak on the first day and managed not to sink it. We had no particular destination, we just paddled up and down the river, enjoying the views and the birdwatching. The river is full of fish and herons of many sorts. There are also pelicans, Montezuma’s Oropendola, some frigate birds, flycatchers of many sorts, banded kingfishers…. it’s quite a long list.
We booked a jungle hike for the second day but it was cancelled due to a great deal of rain. Proving that it’s called rainforest for a reason. We took the kayak out again when the rain cleared. The third day we hiked to Livingstone. A sort of medium difficulty hike but very interesting. A boat bought us back to the hotel.
Mostly, though, we just lay around the jungle lodge, enjoying the view, lazing in a hammock and reading. The dog is called Rasta and he likes canoes.
Given the problems of getting a bus from San Ignacio back into Guatemala, we decided to take the ferry instead. This involved most of a day on a couple of buses. First up to Belize City then down to Punto Gorda. I may have mentioned this before but Belize buses are not comfortable. They are old USA school buses which are retired. They have very little by way of upholstery or legroom. But they get where they are going and, from time to time, people come on board to sell you plantain crisps, fruit, other good stuff and to entertain you (or to sell you snake oil which is entertaining in its own way).
We didn’t explore Punto Gorda. We rushed off to get the ferry to Porto Barrios. Porto Barrios is a thriving port town but not very tourist-friendly. It’s Guatemala’s only Caribbean port and all the pineapples go through there. Most tourists go straight through to Livingstone but we had been on buses the whole day and the last ferry to Livingstone had already gone. The passport office was closed when we got there. People told us we could get our passports stamped in the morning but it turned out the lady had just taken a cigarette break and we were able to do the formalities (such as they were). There is not much choice of hotel or restaurants in Porto Barrios but we found adequate places. The meal was, actually, quite good and the hotel felt secure, though we were kept awake much of the night by the sound of heavy rain on a corrugated iron roof.
The next day was spent on buses again. This time we got caught in traffic (we think there must have been an accident) on a narrow road but, eventually we got through to the border with Honduras. The Honduran border was very high tech – we had our fingerprints and iris pictures taken. We checked into our very pleasant hotel in good time to shower and go out for dinner.
Copan was, of course, the reason we went to Honduras. We walked to the site – it’s an interesting walk with a certain amount of wildlife to see along the way. The site is, of course, incredibly impressive.
As you walk into the site, you are immediately aware of the Macaws. There are many of them. The result of a very successful breeding programme. The intention is to release but… I think that part of the work is going more slowly. Whatever, you have to run the gauntlet of these beautiful but very noisy creatures before you can relax in the wonderful architecture and art of Copan.