Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Time at Guanaja ….. Dec 2012

23 – 28 December 2012:  Sandy Bay, Guanaja, Honduras  16.27N 85.52W
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Tiny Bonacca with Guanaja in the background, a beautiful sunny start to our stay in Honduras

PC230009 Checking In and Moving On
The lush and hilly island of Guanaja in the Bay Islands Group is sparsely populated, just a few houses at the fishing port and a handful of small properties dotted around the bays, its a sleepy place.  All the action happens on the adjacent teeny island of Bonacca, its about the size of a postage stamp, the shops, cafes, markets, bank and official offices are all squeezed in here, along with the housing for the population of over 8,000.  It reminded us of some of  the overcrowded villages in the San Blas, where houses were built millimetres apart and not an inch of the island was unused. But it was a quirky little place, well kept and clean, most of the buildings were on stilts, canals dissected some of the pathways – the locals were very friendly and welcoming. PC230006

Our arrival ashore to check into Honduras timed perfectly with the unloading of the supply boat from the mainland.  Hand pushed laden carts and trolleys were going in all directions, the paths (no roads) were awash with street vendors selling all manor of things in the build up to Christmas,  there was a real buzz.  We relaxed over lunch while the produce all got unpacked then we hit the fruit and vegetable stalls.  This was the best selection and quality of produce we had seen since Santa Marta in Colombia….. just left Panama for dead.  Our nomadic life requires us to grab whatever fresh produce is available locally, and sometimes the quality is not great,  so we get very excited when faced with a reasonable selection that has not already gone limp or rotten!!. 

At anchor off the town had us feeling like we were a centrepiece on a roundabout.  All manor of small craft were whizzing past us in various directions, ferrying people and goods to unknown destinations.  PC230027After an overnight passage we always need to catch up on sleep, so our small flotilla of 5 new arrivals relocated a couple of miles away to the very picturesque, peaceful and well protected anchorage of Sandy Bay.  Pine trees lined the hills right to the waters edge; a few timber homes built on poles nestled between them, the occasional palm added a touch of the tropics but at first glance we would have easily said we were back in New Zealand anchored in an inlet in our very own Bay of Islands – all we needed was to hear tui’s or bellbirds to complete the picture.

Hiking – Honduran Style 
We took the opportunity to get some serious exercise one day and joined IB and Rebecca off Passport and Gar off My Way to do a hike up and over the island to one of the beaches on the Northeast coast.  Gar has been living around these parts a while and knew the island like the back of his hand, just as well as the path signs soon disappeared, as did the track in certain places!  It was 3 1/2 hours steady uphill climbing, luckily there was plenty of tree cover as it was another stunner of a day.  The views from the top across to neighbouring Roatan were excellent but the mainland lay hidden behind an invisible mist.
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Down to the Beach for a Well Earned RestPC230042
The half hour descent to sea level was short but steep, my legs feeling like jelly at the bottom.  The reward was a pristine white sandy beach and the shacky Green Flash Restaurant built on stilts over the waters edge, magic – time for some very well deserved lunch and a quick siesta.  It was a great day out and not only did we get some much needed exercise we also got to see so much of the island by foot and then completed it with a water taxi boat trip back via a cove that Christopher Columbus sailed into on his 4th voyage to the New World when he discovered Guanaja, then we transited a canal dug through the mangrove swampland on the island back to our side.  We were home on the boats just in time for a cooling dip, shower and happy hour – phew, big day.

And So This is Christmas …..
Has it really been a whole year since we had last Christmas in the Cape Verde Islands, one day before departing on our Atlantic Crossing and heading for the Caribbean.  So many miles have gone under the keel since then, oceans and seas crossed and now we have ended up for this Christmas in Honduras, who would have thought!  I wonder where next Christmas will be?

There was no rest for skipper Christmas morning though, the dinghy outboard had developed a fuel leak overnight so it was fixing that instead of playing with new toys before we went ashore for lunch.  Manati Restaurant in the bay organised a Christmas Lunch, they supplied two huge bar-b-qued turkeys. Members of the expat community and all cruising boats were welcome and we all took a main course side dish and a dessert.  It was another gorgeous day and a great time was had by all.
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 Christmas Day 2012 – Mark, Amanda: Lindy and Barry off Samarang: Nicky and Phil off Ajaya
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**********Feliz Navidad**********

For more info on arrival procedure, waypoints and the anchorages click here to view our Cruising Info Blog

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