Monday, May 13, 2013

Once Bitten

Alright.  I've been totally mauled by bugs -- probably mostly sand fleas, the little devils.

It's a hazard of tropical beaches, but they DO love me.

I'm flattered.

Finally broke out the quick-absorbing hydrocortisone gel, and have been taking Benadryl at night AND on the occasional day.

C'est la vie.

I've been up since about 5a, today.  Had to dine, pack, and catch a bus.

Humped all my luggage to the bus station, bought the ticket, and set in for a 2hr wait.

Waiting.  It's what I do.

Then, a station employee pointed to the bus just coming in, and pretty much ordered me to get on it.  I presume he was just trying to get me on an earlier (by nearly 1.5hrs) bus.

"But I already have a ticket for this other bus," I told him.  He was vigorous in his gestures.

I flinched.

I got on this other bus, and made my happy way.  Maybe 45 minutes into the trip, the ticket-checker guy came buy.

"This isn't our ticket," he said.  "It's the ticket of another company."

What ?

Oh.  Great.  I got it.  I bought a ticket for Cotraipbal, but was -- unbeknownst to me -- riding on a COTUC bus.  It wasn't marked on the curb side.  Maybe on the street side.  Who knows.....

"You're not going to make me pay (US$7.00) twice, are you ?"

Yeah.  He was.

Then he thought about it.  If I pay (US$2.00) to get to Tocoa, I can get OFF the bus at Tocoa, walk the quarter-mile down to the Cotraipbal station, and then wait for the next La Ceiba bound Cotraipbal bus (for which I've already paid).

Uh.  Okay.

That went fine.  Nothing worse than a minor travel logistics snafu.  It happens.

But the second bus was jammed full of people, and then rolled around on its longitudinal axis enough to sprawl everybody pell mell.  I mean ... it was bad.

I was seated with the largest Central American in existence (now or ever), and her child.  Kids were standing in the aisle, and sleeping with their heads on my lap and on my bag/knees.  La Sra was -- literally -- dripping fried chicken off of her -- something -- and onto me.

Another step away from vegetarianism, the hard way ;-)

People were being crammed in at every stop, and -- when asked to step to the rear of the bus -- were giggling.

So was I.

But that works, too, ya' know ?  You get where you're going, and you REALLY need to stretch when you get there.

I hopped a taxi to this place.  And it's a good one.  Immaculate, comfortable room, hot water, air conditioning (that DOES work !), a top floor restaurant and patio (breakfast included), a very friendly family that owns it, and ... a location maybe three blocks from the Central Square.

He shoots, he scores.

Okay.  It's not backpacker priced, but it's on par for the course.

And I'm just not a backpacker.  Not now.  Nuh-uh.

I dropped my bags, washed my face, and did my thing: I walked.

There is probably more pure trash in La Ceiba than anywhere I've been -- certainly on this trip.  Shocking.  A shame.  But ... there it is.

And garbage has a tendency to smell like garbage.  And some of it is organic matter.  Put that with tropical heat and ... yeah ... ripe.

This town has a bad rep for safety/danger.  I saw more than a couple of handfuls of what appeared to be hookers, drunks, addicts, and homeless people.  They didn't give me a second look.  I was slightly hurt.  I'm losing my mojo.

But it's a cool town.  It's NOT a tourist center.  It's a place where you stay to avail yourself of numerous different eco-tourism things, one or more of which I may actually do.

And a jumping off point for the Bay Islands, where I went scuba diving, lo these many years ago.

Like the other places I've been, it's got a good handful of high end (US$100-150/nt) resort-type hotels, none of which would have me.

That much is abundantly clear.

So there.

It's commercial.  Not industrial -- just commercial.

It's also big.

I spent most of my time North (on the Caribbean), East, and West of the Square, but will likely work my way South, tomorrow.  The beach -- like in Trujillo -- was empty.  That part's still weird to me.  The San Diego beaches were NEVER empty (would that they were).  Not sure what gives.

Came back to the room, in the afternoon, vigorously scratched the aforementioned bug bites, washed up again (yeah: it's hot here, too), and then did a little homework.  I wanted a nice dinner -- money (unless it was a lot of money) is no object.

I tried the Expatriates Bar.  Two SalvaVida beers, a mixed salad, and a BIG ol' plate of shrimp scampi ... uh ... followed by a New York Style Cheesecake, drenched in strawberries and associated sauce.

I think that broke the EuroDollar bank at about US$17.  Okay.  Splurge material, but ... I decided that I'm worth it.

I also felt pretty full.  That's rather foreign to me.

They had a Beatles medley playing, there.  I sang along, in my mind.  "There are places I remember....."

Yeah, but nowhere near as many as I've visited ;-)

The a/c is a Godsend, but ... now that I'm in the bed, I realize: it's blowing right on my eyes, and there's not Thing One I can do about it ... but ... shut it off.  I can probably turn it back on at bedtime. Lids make a pretty good seal.

I hope.

I'm paid here through Saturday.  I probably could have easily spent 48hrs here, and just popped onto the next place, but ... I'm slowing things down (or keeping them slow).  I'm coming off of -- what is it, now -- more than a year of being more sedentary than at any other time in my life -- the worst physical condition OF my entire life.

I'm taking it slow.  Doing absolutely nothing holds absolutely no appeal to me, but I'm going to have to make peace with it.

La Ceiba has a HUGE version of Carnival that -- in small ways -- starts this week.  Will I go ... to any of it ?  Not sure.  Just not sure.  I don't have the capacity to do much, and -- even with that fierce constraint -- I have to pick between day stuff and evening stuff, at all.

With my peepers -- particularly in foreign and often unsafe territory -- daytime just makes more sense.

Plus, I think I just turned 49.  Mardi Gras stuff -- at least after dark -- doesn't pull me very much.  Crowds: ditto.

But we shall see.

Because these are the kinds of weighty decisions with which we wrestle.


Here ... in the Lucha Libre-loving Departmento of ... The Gulag.


  1. OK, so that answered the Carnival question, probably typed before I typed it!

    Basura...que lastima.
    Besides a general level of public health/sanitation, it's hard (IMHO) to decide how much is a first-world problem -- "Why should we worry about litter/garbage when we have bigger problems?" -- vs. a "broken windows" situation where the litter increases the despondency.

    How are the beaches in terms of plastic water bottles?

  2. Yeah. I knew we crossed ideas in cyberspace :-)

    Fascinating. "Broken Windows Theory."

    Never heard of it, but was an unwitting subscriber/early adopter, when I suggested that we rehab Jeremy's bedroom, on the supposition that -- if his surroundings were nicer -- he might care about them/himself/stuff more.

    Theory ;-)

    The beaches really look pristine. It's very weird. There may be some redeemable (economically) value in plastic or glass, because I see little of that, as I walk around here. It's just ... trash.

    There may be a couple of "Carnivalitos" over the next few days. I've found a schedule (the locals say it's incorrect), and have gotten LOTS of mixed information.

    The only thing fairly certain is that The Big Carnival SHOULD be on 5/25.

    Doubt I'd stay that long, in either case.

    I'm working out some logistics for an independent tour of Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. An organized tour (because it's just me) is prohibitively and ridiculously expensive ;-)