We’re standing on the terrace of our bungalow high in the mountains of Honduras, gazing at the moon, listening to the river rushing by and the various insects chirruping, contemplating what has been the most amazing day.
It started when Carlos picked us up from our hostel in Copan this morning and drove us an hour up a muddy unmade road to his finca. We passed a bus wedged in the mud on its way down. Carlos grows coffee, cardamom and vegetables and keeps cattle and horses. He is charming and friendly and speaks perfect English so we can ask all the questions we’ve been wondering about. When we arrived at the finca he introduced as to Irma, who helps with the guests. She’s lovely too. Then we were shown our room. It’s in a bungalow with about four other rooms and a big communal area but we’re the only ones staying at the moment so we’ve got all this space to ourselves. It’s sooo peaceful. There’s a long verandah with two hammocks and it’s surrounded by an amazing display of trees, many of them carrying exotic flowers or fruit. The whole place is verdant and the river runs quite fast just behind the bungalow.
We then went to the kitchen/dining area, a thatched open air space with a wood fired oven, for a snack of homegrown bananas, pomelo and pineapple prepared by Irma. Bananas here come in all sizes and grades of ripeness, all of which are sweet and delicious and they don’t go overripe. Carlos is full of enthusiasm for showing his visitors the finca and the systems they use here. We got back in the pick up for a short drive to the main farm and the horses. Anyone who knows me will know that one of the last places you would expect to find me is on a horse. But I did it; and I loved it! Carlos showed us how to hold the reins with one hand with the other placed jauntily on the thigh, and how to stop, start, go left and right and off we went. Into the mountains with shade grown coffee, teak trees, brightly coloured birds and butterflies. It was magical. The horse was so calm and responsive it all seemed very easy. By the end of the ride I realised my knees were suffering, especially when trotting, and when I got off I had no feeling below about hip level. But, surprisingly, it soon went off and we will be back on the horses tomorrow.
We then went back to the bungalow to the best meal we have had in Central America: homemade tortilla (i.e. the corn is dried, milled into flour, and then made into tortillas, not just made with flour and water!), cheese made from milk from Carlos’s cows, homegrown local vegetables, tender beef and homemade chilli sauce. All washed down with homemade tamarind juice. Wonderful!
After lunch we gathered our swim suits and towels and headed off to the local hot springs. The water comes out of the ground at ninety degrees C so there are places where you have to be careful not to touch it. It then cascades down the mountainside through various pools and waterfalls, cooling as it goes, so you can sit in comfort, admire the forest wildlife sights and sounds and also have a mud bath, waterfall massage and open air sauna where I could happily have sat all day. At the bottom was a huge, warm swimming pool with a cascade for your neck and shoulders. It was magical, tranquil, amazing and we had the place to ourselves. When we got to the bottom Carlos was waiting to bring us back for dinner. He left us with Irma and will be back tomorrow to show us more of the farm. We rocked in the hammocks while Irma made us chicken, quesdillas, salad and homemade lemonade.
We’ve now had a game of chess in which I succeeded in forcing Sean to a draw after a long run of painful defeats and we’re sitting writing by candle light. There’s no one else here now and it’s been the perfect day.