Friday, May 15, 2009
The trouble with Tela.
Why were we in Tela? Good question. Well the beach for one. Supposedly Tela had a nice beach which Utila (despite being a Caribbean island) didn’t. And also because it was one last opportunity to catch some of the Garifuna culture that we’d so far missed in every other city since Belize. After our exposure to a sleepy and kinda scary town last night, we weren’t hopeful. But a town that looks crap at night can be completely different once the sun is out.
So when the street noise woke us up (no double glazing on the windows here) we were happy. It meant life and people and action. But just in case I sent out some emails to places in La Ceiba and to a few diving schools in Utila in preparation for a quick escape.. Then we headed out to see if Tela was indeed better in the daylight.
Well there were definitely more people – in fact it was packed but it still felt like slim pickings. We headed to the one recommended place in the guide book for breakfast and hoped it was still open. It was and it was where we found the Aussie couple from the cabbie shakedown the night before. They had found a room and for half the price of ours but admitted it was definitely not worth it. And they were not feeling the love for Tela either. Good thing they were only staying a couple of nights before they had to go and catch their flight to Chile where they were heading for the the ski season. We wished them good luck and then headed out to find some of that stuff we were in Tela to see.
We followed the map to the Garifuna museum. Or where the Garifuna museum was supposed to be. That’s right. For the third time in the third city in the third country, the Garifuna museum wasn’t just closed – it wasn’t there. It appears that the Garifuna culture has died out on the Caribbean coast or at least any interest in it. We now believe that Garifuna translates into “invisible” in English. To make our walk out here worthwhile, we took some photos of the river which was chocked full of greenery as opposed to water.
Okay so next on our list of things to do was the beach. Now that should still be there, unless global warming had buried it underwater. It was already 36 degrees and about 80% humidity so we could use a dip in the ocean. But first we needed a blast of air conditioning in the hotel room. We really weren’t used to this heat. Of course by the time we left the hotel, the clouds had come out. And the weather went from super sunny to super cloudy.
But at least the beach was still there (photo above). Although it doubles as the boat launch for the town so it’s not the cleanest looking place. Despite this there was hardly anyone out. And in about 30 minutes we figured out why. It started to rain. Actually it started to pour. I guess the rainy season had finally begun. Adrian decided to stay out in the ocean while I sought shelter under a palm tree with all our clothes. That worked for a few minutes and then the rain began to pour down the trees. It took me another 20 minutes to convince Adrian to get out of the water and only when I let him know his book was getting soaked. The rain let up a bit and we headed back to the hotel. Adrian decided to walk, or rather wade, through the streets barefoot, figuring that they’d be mostly clean thanks to the downpour. I was a little less convinced and kept an eye out for glass and other unpleasantness.
Tela was not particularly pretty. The people weren’t particularly friendly. And the costs were way too high. Luckily there were some emails waiting for us when we got back. One scuba school sent a really helpful and friendly reply to all my questions about getting equipment to fit me as well as to calm my fears about diving. So I decided to go with them. I couldn’t remember if they were the one recommended by my scuba diving virtual friend Cindi (of bubbles and bugs – Hi Cindi) recommended but they were the first to respond and were very enthusiastic. With all good news comes bad news, the only response I received for a hotel in La Ceiba was for $50/night. Sure the air conditioning would be nice but our budget only allowed for so many nights of it. But La Ceiba is only 90 minutes away from Tela so we would have plenty of time to get there and find a cheaper room on foot. So I armed myself with a list of cheap options and marked their location on our crappy Lonely Planet Map. Tomorrow we’d leave Tela and hopefully all our troubles behind.