So many things have happened since my last update, I’m not even sure where to start!
The last time I updated was my birthday which was a pretty calm and quiet day since I hadn’t told anyone in the office when my birthday is and Elvis had to work that night. I did come home to find 2 vases of flowers, a card and cake, though, so that was nice.
The next weekend Elvis had to get fingerprinted for another job, so we got up early that morning and drove to the only police station in Maryland that does fingerprinting on Saturdays. We had decided earlier that week that we would plan to stay out there the rest of the day, so we went to a local park called Gilbert Run. There is a small lake out there which we took a paddle boat on and then hiked around. It was a small park, but quite nice. There weren’t many people there, so it was pretty enjoyable. On the way to the police station we had spotted a mini golf course, so we decided to stop there on the way back. It was a no-frills kind of course (except for the flowers planted around the edges), but there weren’t any major obstacles or anything, but it was still fun. Afterwards, Elvis decided he wanted to try his hand at the batting cages and he actually did quite well which is impressive for someone who has never picked up a baseball bat before. That night we had a cookout in the backyard with his future brother in law which was nice, too.
Sunday was a much calmer day with 2 soccer games and a visit to an ice cream place. Mmmm. I ❤ ice cream.
The next week is kind of a blur. I don’t really remember what happened until Saturday which was Elvis’ birthday. Mom and Colleen came down to drop off Margaret. Matthew and Megan also joined us for lunch – Elvis’ favorite carne adobada. After everyone except for Margaret left, we went for a walk around the lake, got Rita’s and played lots of Mario Kart. We left eeeaaaarrrrllllyyy on Sunday morning – think 2 am – to go to the airport and fly to La Ceiba, Honduras.
We were greeted upon arrival by my colleague, Michael. He took us to his place for a quick bite before heading to his friend Oscar’s place. Oscar
has an awesome waterfall on his property where we went swimming – a perfect way to refresh after 3 flights and long waiting times in as many airports. (You can see pictures of the waterfall and the rest of the trip here.)
Margaret and I in front of Oscar's waterfall.
I was excited knowing that I was going to be on the beach in the Caribbean for a week since normally my job takes me to the middle of the rainforest. We were able to swim in the sea every single day and in the pools as well. There were soooo many sand dollars in the sea, it was pretty cool!
The workshop part of the week went quite well. All of the participants seemed pleased with their experiences, though there are some things I will change the next time around.
On Wednesday we took a field trip to the buffer zone of a National Park called Pico Bonito (beautiful peak). They are mountains very close to the beach, though it seemed to take forever and a day to get there. One of our partners is working on a reforestation/carbon project there and the participants went to learn how to measure trees and then quantify how much carbon they contain. There were some really pretty views along the way which made the trip worthwhile.
view en route to Pico Bonito
Friday I snuck out of the workshop for a bit to take Margaret kayaking in the sea. It was hard work since the waves were fairly strong, but it was fun. Plus, the continental shelf there is so long, we knew if we fell out of the kayaks, we would still be able to touch land. That night there was a cultural presentation by a garifuna community. The garifunas are descendants of Africans who arrived to Central America in the 1600s on slave ships. The ships sank and they settled on the Caribbean island of San Vicente. They maintained their culture including language (though now infused with Spanish and other Caribbean languages) and make a living as fishermen.
This was a good introduction to the culture for us because on Saturday we made our way out to the Cayos Cochinos (Pig Cays/Keys) where the garifuna population is concentrated. Before arriving to the islands, however, we went snorkeling in the Mesoamerican Reef – the second largest barrier reef in the world. We saw sooo many different fish in colors that you never thought existed in nature. There were also a lot of small jellyfish which were very annoying. Margaret and I were the only two who planned to stay in the village that night, which was fun. We went snorkeling two more times, took a hike to watch the sunset, and ate a lot of fish before we returned to the mainland on Sunday afternoon.
Margaret and I on Cayo Menor.
On Monday we went white water rafting in the Rio Cangrejal, just outside of La Ceiba. The rapids were class II and III when we went through because it hadn’t rained in a few days. The first half of the trip involved going through some small waterfalls which was a lot of fun (and we never were knocked out of the raft), but the second half of the trip was much calmer (unfortunately).
After rafting we went zip lining (canopy as they call it in Spanish). The course that we did consisted of 8 zip lines pretty much in a row, the last of which is 660 ft long. There was a little bit of hiking involved which was fine for me (though Margaret was a little bored with the explanation of the medicinal plants). We also visited a spot where they raise tilapia for fresh dinners at the hostel across the river.
Margaret and I part way through the zip lines.
Tuesday we made a stop in at the Butterfly Museum in La Ceiba before heading to the airport. We were able to hold a live tarantula, rhino beetle and Hercules beetle and then admired the many different species of pinned butterflies and beetles that Robert, the owner, has collected over the years. They were really beautiful.
Me and the tarantula.
From there we flew to El Salvador where we had about 20 hours before our next flight. A friend of a friend picked us up at the airport and took us to San Salvador, the capital city which is about 45 minutes away from the airport. After checking into our hotel, we went to an El Salvadorian buffet for dinner which was delicious. The next morning, he picked us up and took us downtown. We saw the National Cathedral which is gorgeous and the crypt where Archbishop Oscar Romero was buried. Romero was a priest who spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture at a time when his government was violating basic human rights. He was assassinated while giving a mass in 1980 – just before the Civil War began in El Salvador. Over 250,000 people showed up to his funeral during which shots rang out and small grenades were thrown, killing between 30 and 50 people. He is a somewhat controversial figure in El Salvadorian history, however.
National Cathedral in El Salvador
We also drove past some pretty interesting monuments honoring the revolution, the constitution, war heroes, and a guy who tried to unite Central America as one country in the 1800s.
From there we went to the artisan market which was pretty cool. We bought a few different souvenirs before heading to the National Anthropological Museum. The museum includes artifacts from pre-Colombian
the smaller pieces in the front are pre-Colombian whistles.
civilizations including the Pipil tribe (which I had never heard about before) up to current day. They also had an Incan mummy and. It was really interesting and I would love to go back sometime when they are finished remodeling the two halls that were under construction.
That evening we flew back to DC and arrived safely at home. I took yesterday off to relax and reset my brain and body before another whirlwind few weeks – Philip’s play (Man of La Mancha) this weekend, Matthew’s knee surgery on Tuesday, and Grange Fair next weekend!
To see the rest of the pictures, visit my Picasa site.