Monday, February 25, 2008

A vacation without rugby?

If you are anything like me, "vacation" doesn't mean what it does to non-rugby people. More often than not, "vacation" = using your precious time off to fly somewhere for rugby, never actually see the place you are flying to, work your ass off playing/coaching/reffing/administering, and return home more in need of a real vacation than you were when you left.

Take a vacation. A real one. It will make you feel better :)

I just got back from MY ridiculously fabulous vacation in Honduras - about 1/2 mile east of Sambo Creek, which is about 15km east of La Ceiba, to be exact.

We flew into San Pedro Sula, via Atlantic City/Ft Lauderdale, after frolicking just a bit in the overprices Atlantic City Casinos. Some bummers about AC: you cant' find a craps table for less than 10 bucks, you can't drop coins into slot machines anymore, and a cheese steak costs 10 bucks.

By the time we arrived in Honduras, we seriously needed a break. We stayed at this little B&B called "the Diving Pelican", which was right on the beach. Unfortunately there's some security issues at night, so almost all the beach hotels are gated. No matter - it was still amazing.

The place was run by a couple from Texas who bought their tickets the day after Bush won the election. There is room for only 6 guests - so it was really just like staying at someone's house. The place included a "Champa" which is essentially like an outdoor bar/recroom with beer, juice, wine, and rum rum rum. It was pay as you go and dirt cheap. Seriously, in the states, our bar tab for two people for a week at the beach would have been at least 500 bucks. Instead it was about 40. Here's the Champa (right outside the gate is the ocean) ...

The first day was basically beach, beach beach. Duh! This is Playa Helen - the boats are used by the local Garafina people, who do largely subsistence fishing.

On Day 2, we took off to the jungle canopy for a zip-line tour. We were picked up by a kid who couldn't have been more than 15, on horseback, with horses for us. Now, we Americans LOVE our animals, and it was a little tough seeing the conditions down there. I had to keep reminding myself - pets really are a luxury. The horses that picked us up were clearly working ... they were quite a bit scrawnier than what we're used to, and you could really feel them sweating in the heat.

We got kitted up with our harnesses (just a climbing harness with a wheel thingee-that fits on a cable) and rode on horseback up a trail into Pico Bonito National Park. The "Canopy Tour" involved traversing the jungle canopy via a network of cables. There were 21 cables total - the longest one was over a kilometer! I would have liked to take a little more time and really learn about the local flora and fauna, but it was still pretty awesome, flying through the jungle, hundreds of feet above the ground. Though the whole experience would NEVER pass any sort of OSHA safety inspection, I never felt unsafe, even for a second.

Once we finished the zip line tour, we went back into the edge of the jungle, where there was a natural hot-spring to soak in. AMAZING!

On Day 3 we decided to go into town. La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras. It very much has the feel of many poorer southwestern towns in the US, with a constant wave of people buying and selling fruits, grains, clothing, and WWF t-shirts. We bought a bunch of souvenirs, some rum for the champa, and had a FANTASTIC dinner.

Day 4 ... SNORKELING! A young couple staying at the inn told us that the guys who run the snorkeling tour would also just drop us off at an caye (island) and leave us for the day, so thats what we did. It was breathtaking. I've been snorkeling before, but never in anywhere that was so completely saturated with life. Alas, no waterproof camera = no underwater photos, but they are seared in my brain. I don't do the diving thing, in this particular area it wouldn't have mattered so much - the water wasnt more than a few feet deep for what seemed like forever. Literally, there wasn't a place you could look that wasn't teeming with life. At first the barracudas creeped me out a little bit, but after a few moments it was clear that they intended no harm and we just enjoyed staring at each other a bit.

Now I'm by no means a tree-hugger-environmentalist type, but in this day and age I hope we are all getting a bit more sensitive about the world we live in. I couldn't help but wonder, if everyone got a chance to see how peaceful, beautiful, and full of life these pristine pockets of earth are, that we would perhaps take just a little bit better care of the planet. Of course I'm currently working for a client in a 28 story office building, in center city Philadelphia, that gives out free canned soda (we go through at least 4 cases a day on my floor alone), and doesn't recycle. Hmm.


We spent our last day at the Diving Pelican, laying around in hammocks, reading, drinking rum, swimming in the ocean, the strolled into Sambo Creek for a massive "meat platter" with beans & rice, plantains, salad, and of course beer, that cost about 10 bucks for both of us. The sunset was glorious, and then it was time to return to the states. No sooner did we get to Atlantic City, then we were ripped off by a cab driver. That's right, the bill was 23 bucks, I handed him 40, he said "let me get you change", and them promptly drove away. So much for so-called civilization.

Side note: We flew on Spirit Airlines, a discount carrier that specializes in the Carribean and Central America. I was a little worried that our plane would be held together with duct tape and rubber bands, but it was actually brand new, with roomy leather seats, and no BS. Plane fare to San Pedro Sula from Atlantic city was about $300 per person, and we left and arrived on time. I highly recommend flying with them, just go into it knowing that checked bags, even one, cost money, and even soda's cost money on board. If you put that aside, the plane, service, and flight were better than any I've recently had from any of the big name domestic carriers. I just wish they flew out of Philly. Oh well.

The jump back into rugby happened very quickly, as the day after we got home was Philly Women's annual free collegiate clinic. More on that later, for now I'll leave you with this final image....

1 Comment:

Em said...