What a great sounding word, “terremoto” – it means earthquake and we had one. A big one, magnitude 7.1.
At the time (2am) we were staying some 200km+ away in Livingston, Guatemala, and the two storey wooden structure we were sleeping in swayed in a reasonably terrifying manner. A few mild aftershocks meant we ceartainly didn’t get any more sleep from then until our 5am wakeup to continue onto Honduras and the Bay Islands.
That was a hellish day actually – primarily because of the lack of information available in the afternath of the quake. In hindsight I find it fascinating just how much misinformation people are prepared to create and spread when they’re excited about something.
We heard wild tales of collapsed bridges, canceled ferry services, devastated towns, cities, islands, and that the epicentre of the quake was in fact our intended destination; the island of Utila.
In some respects these turned out to be semi-accurate. There was indeed a collapsed bridge, although the other, primary bridge next to it was intact. We were held at the Honduran border for over an hour while they “inspected the next bridge”; i.e. waited for a bribe to get things moving again.
The epicentre was in fact quite close to Utila; around 50km off the coast. But Utila looks completely undamaged – I cannot find any trace of it at all.
Needless to say, despite all protestations to the contrary, the ferry was running as scheduled and in spite of all the delays from bad roads and bueracracy we arrived in time to catch it and arrived on the tropical paradise of Utila around 13 hours after we left that morning. Like I said; killer day.
After checking into a place with aircon and a pool, we’re in much better shape this morning. This place is wealthy, touristy and comparatively expensive, but the availability of comfort and drinkable coffee has proved too tempting to resist. We will stay a few days at least, and as the group reconvenes will look at getting some time on the private island.
Finca El Paraiso
One other highlight from Guatemala was the hot spring waterfall, Finca El Paraiso. After an hour of hellish, hot cramped-ness on the chicken bus we arrived and bathed in the scalding waters from the waterfall which emptied into a (comparatively) cool river. Definitely an amazing and unique experience.
A truly beautiful setting, we managed to enter what we call the “spa zone”, which is where after an hour or so, you come to the conclusion that you need never leave, such is the level of comfort and relaxation.
We did spend a few hours there, and would certainly have stayed another six had we not needed to relive the chicken bus nightmare (this time with heavy duty roadworks, sorry, road creation) to get back to Rio Dulce that evening. The juxtaposition of paraiso and the chicken bus probably contributes to the vividness of the memory.