Seven Stories from a Honduran Semana Santa

Seven Stories from a Honduran Semana Santa

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IMG_0825By Ky Ventura

I take vacation very seriously. My generous time-off schedule is the main perk of the teaching profession. That’s why Spring Break often finds me hopping the border with my backpack and lady love. This year’s conquest: the jungles, beaches and reefs of Honduras’ North Coast, where I learned seven nuggets of travel wisdom (and one very important tale of what not to do).

1. Raft Guides are the Most Adorable People: If you are looking for someone to explain, entertain, and delight you, find a local outdoor enthusiast. Raft guides are superior because they come with corny and comforting jokes, exceptional upper body strength, foolish courage, and a love of nature. While on the Rio Cangrejal, this awesome dude Hiro showed me a spider that walks on water, a plant that makes soap suds, and a rock that looks like a whale face. Then he flipped us out of the raft and giggled his face off.

2. Una Sola Cuenta: This phrase, meaning “Only one check,” was like a subtle nod to our gay couple status in a country that is not so fond of the gays. People said it to me (since my lady takes care of the French/Italian/looking hot in our relationship) with a smile, and I would smile back and say, “Obvi una sola cuenta!” And then we’d share some Tres Leches Cake and they’d think we were adorable and wish they, too, were lesbians. “Una Sola Cuenta Para Siempre!”

3. Locals on Vacay: Semana Santa, a.k.a. Holy Week, a.k.a. the week before Easter, is a vacation time for Latin Americans from Mexico to Panama. The Hondurans were on spring break and they took it seriously. Pickup trucks loaded with families, young couples on romantic island retreats, grandmothers waiting to pinch the cheeks of their nietos, bros with coolers full of beer…packing the roads and ferries and beaches. The people watching was fantastic, and we got to join the generally festive atmosphere.

IMG_10304. Dive Boats Take Hitchhikers: Diving is cool if you aren’t afraid of 20 meters of water over your head and a mysterious illness called The Bends. This trip was a low-budget snorkel expedition and Utila’s reefs are perfectly accessible to the surface skimmer. Plus, I’m a cheapskate. So when I learned that 100 lempiras (five bucks) would get me a 3-4 hour tour of two different spots, plus the chance to banter with the boat captain and dive masters, I was in. Parrotfish, trumpetfish, angelfish, loads of coral and anemone – all within earshot of the boat’s reggaeton soundtrack.

5. Parrots on Shoulders: Not all expats are kooky, and not all kooky people are expats, but this guy was. Sitting at the bar in our jungle lodge was an Oklahoman with an honest to god parrot on his shoulder. It was the parrot’s first time out, and he was kind of shy with strangers and prone to bite, so I didn’t get to take a selfie with the bird, but I did get to learn all about the lime exporting trade. Fascinating.

6. Fresh Grilled Fish + Beer = Facestuffage. The best part of being on an island? The fresh seafood. A restaurant that is only open three days a week and boasts a rotating menu of local fish and shrimp cooked over a backyard barbecue is my idea of a five-star meal. Wash it down with a pair of local Salva Vidas (translation: Life Saver) and you have wooed me. Una sola cuenta, por supuesto.

7. VIP Balconies: One of my favorite parts of gaycay is reading, sunning, and doing very little else. When my room happened to come with two private decks, the upper of which included a view over the island to the sea, I wasn’t complaining. I was carrying my pillows up there and taking in the sun in the decadent privacy of my very own VIP Porch. Gaycay points to me.

IMG_1044And a cautionary tale…EVERYTHING is closed on Good Friday. Ferries, buses, restaurants – everything. So, let’s say you planned to leave Utila on a Friday morning ferry and then take a bus back to San Pedro Sula. Thursday morning, you’re casually reading the guidebook when you notice a tiny, tiny little note indicating the ferries may be on an alternate schedule. Instead of a relaxing two days on the beach, you’re in for a sprint to the dock, last-minute ticket buying, franticly packing, emergency super-sketchy hostel booking and relatively sleepless night, overpriced van ride, and an absence of meal options, not to mention the odd and unsettling stop at the prostitute bar. You’re probably way too savvy for this to happen to you, but I am not. I guess that’s why they call it a Lesventure.

 Originally posted by Out Abroad.

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