After our afternoon of zipping through the jungle, Dona and I caught a local bus for the last few kilometers from El Paraiso to Omoa. One of my friends on the Rio said it was his favorite place along the Honduran coast, and that they had thought of building a place there. He described it as a laid-back, not yet spoiled place. We had read that Roli's Place was the best place to stay in town that wasn't real expensive, so we trudged the half mile or so through town down toward the beach until we found it. We were delighted -- clean, smoke-free rooms, pleasant surroundings, free bicycles to tool around town, birds and critters on the lawn, and hammocks to relax in. Something you might expect from a Swiss guy named Roland Gassman. We crashed, watched the Great Kiskadees on the grounds, then wandered a block down to the beach to enjoy the nice evening. I was a bit jealous looking out at a sailboat anchored in the bay, thinking that could have been us. Some other time...
| Roli's Place
|| Flower at Roli's Place
|| Flower at Roli's Place
| Omoa, Honduras
||Sailboat in Omoa's Bay||Mountains West of Omoa||Restaurants on the Beach|
The town had a nice sleepy kind of feeling, so we ambled around and hung out on the dock watching the evening wind down. There was a wrecked boat lying in the shallow water of the beach; we later learned its story, or at least one perspective on it.
On our return trip, we realized that the mountains you see to the west immediately behind town are a continuation of the coast range that rises clear up to Cusuco National Park. If you have your ducks in a row and are ambitious, I've read you can basically hike from Cusuco down to the coast. But I suspect finding your way isn't exactly easy.
|Wrecked Sparkman and Stevens||Omoa Evening|
We enjoyed the shorebirds along the beach, and spent a half hour before dinner chasing down a Basilisk outside our room trying to get a picture.
|Black Bellied Plover|| Great Kiskadee
We had an extra day or two before we had to be at Pico Bonito, and it was so pleasant in Omoa we decided to stay an extra day or two. So the next day we lazed around town. We tried to get breakfast down at the beach, but nothing down there was open for breakfast. Seemed strange for a tourist town, or a place trying to be one. We got on Roli's bikes and pedaled around town until we found a place to buy a watermelon and bananas we could slice up for breakfast outside our rooms.
We rode our bikes out to the Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa. It was built to protect the coast and shipments of silver from the mines in Tegucigalpa bound for Spain from British pirates. However, it took something like 30 to 50 years to complete, and by the time it was functional the pirates were no longer a problem. It was a pleasant morning tour, with some interesting history in the fort's museum, and like many parks in the jungle, full of flowers, birds, and lizards. But if I were pressed for time, it wouldn't be high on my list; I thought the Castillo de San Filipe on the Rio had more character and was more fun.
| Flowers at the Fort
|| Flowers at the Fort
|| Flowers at the Fort
|| Lizard at the Fort
I had a cold or something, a bit of a sore throat the night before, and a runny nose and fever during the day. I wasn't feeling too energetic, so we took an afternoon nap. Then we hopped on the bikes and rode out to the beach to the east. The beach was almost desserted, and we had a leisurely stroll up a ways. There were a few people playing in the water with their kids, and a couple of the obnoxious "water mosquitos" buzzing around, but mostly it was just a long desserted beach.
|Ocean Bike Ride||Beach||Dona on Beach||Water Mosquito|
The most prominent feature of the town area is some big round storage tanks, which we learned were for propane. The tanks are big round balls visible for miles, plus some more normal looking hotdog type tanks. A ship comes every 12 to 15 days and anchors 1.5 km offshore and pumps to fill them via a 12" plastic pipe. Trucks go from here all over Central America.
We brought Dona's "Travel Scrabble" to entertain us if necessary, so we went down to the waterfront, found a table and played for a while. We got a kick out of watching an inner-tube / water toy salesman wandering up the beach.
While heading down the beach looking for a restaurant for dinner, we ran into a guy who claimed he owned the wrecked boat that was in the water out front -- or used to be. It wasn't there any more. He claimed he came a few weeks before and anchored out. A norther came through and he dragged, and his boat got beat up pretty badly. He claimed he had been helping the locals and the Honduran Navy with other boats in trouble the previous few weeks, but when he got in trouble the Honduran Navy wouldn't help him. The boat was about to sink so he ran it up on the beach. Then the Navy got on his case and were going to arrest him, or something like that. Anyway, the boat was being stripped by the locals, and he couldn't get whatever was wrong fixed. He pulled the engines and sold them. I don't know what of that to believe, but it's a reminder of what can happen if you aren't careful and you sail to a place on the Honduran coast which has no real protection as a harbour and the weather turns sour. You want to be anchored far enough out, and make sure you have good solid hooks in; or else head out to sea.
We had difficulty finding a different place to have dinner, but eventually found a place that said they would serve us... No menu, just whatever they had, and it took forever to arrive. We had one plastic fork between us, and the food wasn't anything to write home about. But they were trying really hard to please. We finally decided they didn't actually have a kitchen, and probably got the food (and the fork) from next door, because when we asked for another fork it was a long time before it arrived. They were playing music on a boom box and we got up and danced and everyone cheered and clapped.
|Propane Storage Facility||Water Toy Salesman||Beach Dinner|
The next day we walked back up to the highway, crossed it, and up a small creek to some cascades. We splashed up the rocks a ways but Dona slipped and cut her ankle. We washed it and taped it shut, and on the way back passed a small clinic. We talked about going in and having them look at it, but for some dumb reason we didn't.
When we got back to Roli's Place there were fireworks going off. A young German couple was going to be in the room next to us, but the next thing I knew Roli came fuming over and chewed them out for complaining about him not accepting Guatemalan coins for payment. He told them they weren't welcome and to get out. They tried to apologize but he wasn't interested, wouldn't even let them into the room to collect their stuff, just went in and threw it out, all the while complaining about them smoking. There were no smoking signs everywhere, so that's justifiable, but it was a great demonstration of lousy people skills on everyone's part.
We had a nice quiet night and a good nights sleep, then headed off to the bus for La Ceiba the next morning.