La Ceiba and White Water Rafting
09 March 2009 | La Ceiba, Roatan
We motor sailed the 40 miles from Roatan to mainland Honduras and more specifically to La Ceiba, which is the 3rd largest city in Honduras. We tied up at La Ceiba Shipyard since there is not really an option of anchoring anywhere. The shipyard is one of the largest in Central America but has a few dock spots. It certainly is not a fancy place and all day we listen to the sounds of a working shipyard but it is meeting our needs.
La Ceiba is interesting a fair amount of the people speak English. United Fruit Company (now Dole) used to have a large presence here which is why English is used here. Our first collectivo ride (ride share taxi basically) into town we shared with a 6 year old boy who proudly boasted 'I speak English' when we got into the cab. He did indeed speak excellent English and for the next 15 minutes tested Kent and I on our Spanish from his Grade 1 school books where we matched up Spanish words to pictures. He was a pretty good teacher!
While in La Ceiba we are having some engine work done, but will spare everyone the boring details. In addition, with only a few months left of our adventure we are crossing things off our list and getting the boat ready for sale. Anyone out there want a fantastic cruising sailboat? Seriously, Hiatus is for sale.
All work and no play do not make for much fun so over the weekend we headed out of town to the Rio Cangrejal for a day of white water rafting. This large river acts as a boundary for Pico Bonito National Park (Pretty Peak NP) so the area is quite beautiful and remote. We realized it had been quite a few months since we had seen such a green lush landscape.
So we sign up for white water rafting and are excited to find out that we will be going through Class I-V rapids on the trip. So it is not your typical Deschutes River (in Eastern Oregon) rafting trip where you load a cooler full of beverages and float downriver all day. The first thing our guide asks us do is put on our life jacket and helmet and to jump in the water, swim to the middle of the river where the current is strongest and assume the downriver position (head up, legs straight in front of you pointed downriver). He explains that the current will carry you over a small rapid and you are to catch a line thrown from another guide and pull yourself to the shore. Oh yeah, and keep your mouth closed he adds. Although we each pass, I managed to drink about a liter of river water (guess my mouth was not all the way closed) and Kent lost his watch - the current ripped the velcro band off his wrist.
Our second task our guide tells us is practicing performing a rescue of a fellow boat member. He explains the process and then tells Kent to jump out of the boat. Kent asks if he is kidding or serious and then is told once again to jump out of the boat. Kent is then pulled back into the boat by his seatmate, Victor who cannot weigh more than 120 lbs. Victor had quite the disadvantage of having to haul in twice his weight but he did it very swiftly. Kent then rescues Victor, our guide rescues me and I rescue our guide. Finally we practice our paddle strokes and point the raft downriver!
The first half of the trip is pretty exciting, Class III-V rapids for the most part with a lot of drops. We were constantly being tossed about with huge amounts of cold water hitting us from the rapids and enjoying every minute of it. At the halfway point we stopped for a break and jumped off some rocks, it was not a huge drop (maybe 30 ft) but still a big enough of a drop to make you stand at the edge and give it some thought. The second half of our trip was a bit tamer with Class I-III rapids which gave us an opportunity to really look around and admire the scenery. On the last stretch our instructor warned us as we were approaching the last rapid that the boat 'might' flip. The rapid was pretty tame and neither Kent nor I really understood how the boat could possibly flip going through it. Well, we flipped. Or I should say that we were flipped by our guide. Basically we got through the first part of the rapid, he steered the boat around and it got sucked in (nose first) to the bottom of a small deep drop off, swamping the boat, sucking it into the rapid and ejecting all of us within seconds. Had he not warned us that we 'might' flip there would have been some panicking. We both popped up to the surface a few seconds later than we would have preferred and got a small taste of just how powerful the smallest of rapids can be.
The company we booked the rafting trip through offers a free night at their lodge with any tour and while the room we were given was far from desirable (we would have preferred a tent and sleeping bag) the scenery, people and general vibe of the lodge was too much to pass up. That evening we hung out at the lodge, enjoyed a nice dinner, had a few beverages and just enjoyed the beauty of where we were. We headed back to La Ceiba and our boat the following morning.
As for our next destination, we just have not made up our minds yet. Stay tuned.
Sorry, no pics while rafting so we will share this one of a colorful parrot that lives at the lodge we stayed at.