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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Up a creek in Honduras

Not in a bad sense, just literally. Saturday night we were reviewing the pros and cons of spending a whole day getting to San Lorenzo, Honduras from where we were anchored with Sailor's Run. We'd just done a long run and were looking forward to relaxing out at the islands in the Gulfo de Fonseca, but then I said, oh, let's just be wild and crazy for a change and do it. So here we sit in another mangrove estuary but this time on our own anchor and not a mooring buoy, and instead of a resort paradise there's a small town on shore.

Thinking that we needed to get to the channel entrance at the beginning of the flood tide we started out motoring at 0600, but once past Isla Meanguera we could shut the engine off and start sailing. In fact even before we got to the first ship buoy the race was on with Sailor's Run. We had a great sail following the well buoyed channel to Puerto Henecan. It reminded us so much of sailing in the Delta with the muddy green water and clearly visible shoal areas outside of the channel. The best part was that there were no power boats zooming by and throwing big wakes at us. In fact, there were no other boats at all except for Dale on the Islander Freeport 41 Parrot Bay who was waiting to lead us through the short channel from the ship turning basin at Henecan to the anchorage off of San Lorenzo. He has been living on his boat here for over a year and was happy to see our gringo faces.

Of course it was Easter Sunday and the beach was packed even though the beach in question is just a rocky, muddy shore exposed at low tide. There were a few inflatable pool toys and one toy raft but mostly people were just waist high enjoying the cool (well, 83 degree) water. We headed to Dale's favorite watering hole, Porlamar, where we met the owner, Armando, his two children, and his twin brothers. John tried two different kinds of beer, Salva Vida and Port Royal (he hated the later), but he still misses Pacifico and Victoria. I had a limonada which was very sweet and made with shaved ice, but otherwise just like a limonada. No botanas (snacks/appetizers) came with the drinks and we were starving, so we ordered hamburgers and fries since the only other choices were expensive mariscos (seafood). Dale recommends a good Chinese restaurant on the same street as the church and two ice cream stores, but he can't think of a single place serving good Honduran food.

He arranged to have Armando drive us around yesterday to get some Lempiras from an ATM, and then we checked in with Migracion and El Capitania de Puerto. There were no fees to check-in and there's only supposed to be a small fee when we check-out. We explored the indoor Mercado Municipal which seemed to have more eateries than produce stands, but maybe that was just because it was so soon after Semana Santa. There's also a small super mercado for grocery shopping, but the produce there was limited and higher priced so we're happy we stocked up in Usulutan before leaving Barillas. There's a shrimp cannery in town, a couple of large hotels, several banks, and still some Peace Corps presence (Save the Children).

Other than some dugout canoes and a very few aluminum or fiberglass larger panga type boats (still smaller than the Mexican pangas), there is very little boat traffic here. The ones without outboards paddle in and out with the tides, doing some fishing. We swing with the tides and enjoy a good breeze every afternoon. Today the wind is especially high, probably because there's a papagayo blowing, making it hotter than usual in the cabin (94 degrees and 33% humidity). Up until now we've been at about 90 degrees and in the 60's for humidity. Last night we had a brief rain shower, but not enough to clean the boat. I'm not sure three summers in the Sea of Cortez prepared us for this heat, and no one should ever complain about a summer in the Sea again! At least there the water temperature is cooler...

We were happy to find that if we aim our antenna north and amplify it with a steel bowl, we can still receive Sirius satellite radio. Even better news was hearing today that the Justice Department has approved the Sirius/XM merger and now it's up to the FCC to give the final go ahead. Even though we don't expect to receive the signal much farther south of here, we're hoping the two will merge since they each have a lot to offer.

We have to keep pinching ourselves to believe we're not in Mexico anymore. True this isn't like any place we've visited in MX, but on the other hand it doesn't feel all that different yet. We plan to explore around here for a few more days before heading on to Costa Rica.

Linda and John