Monday, June 4, 2012

The Beauty of Solo Travel

I got sucked in... I mean really sucked in.  The original plan was to leave on Tuesday, but there's something about this place called Utila that spoke to me. It kept saying..."Don't go DJ.... you can't leave yet!" So, I heeded to the call and I didn't leave until the following Sunday.

That's the beauty of solo travel.  If I want to change my plans... I can do just that. But the truth is, who could blame me? With these warm, crystal blue waters filled with thousands of species of tropical fish, rich coral reefs and other fabulous marine life, I just couldn't give it all up without a fight. And I am so glad I didn't... my fight won a sighting of that "yellow-spotted" string ray in the above photo.  So your not into diving, maybe you prefer snorkeling, kayaking, hiking or even horseback riding. My guess is there is something here for everyone. I held out hope to encounter the magnificent blue whale sharks Utila is so famous for, but my timing wasn't quite right.  It seems that they are usually spotted during September and October or from March to April. Oh well, such is life.

But there is truly something in the air (or water) that draws you in and makes you not want to leave this place.  Over and over I heard stories from residents who came for a visit and never left. With all the comforts of home, this idyllic spot is the perfect combination of party town and diving haven.  Not being much of a party person in my older age, I opted for the more soothing diving haven.  And if sports is your thing, there are quite a few places to enjoy them.  My favorite place to do just that turned out to be "the best dive in town..." a little place amply named... Skid Row.  More than just a cool place to kick back with a cold beer and watch the game, the cuisine was simple, but indeed quite yummy.  Everything from a slammin' calzone and pizza, to taco salads and fajita style burritos that knock your socks off, you'll find many menu items to satisfy a craving for great food.  Absolutely, a great place to meet locals, and it's owner Ryan ended up being a really cool dude, despite the fact that he is rooting for the Oklahoma City Thunder to win against my San Antonio Spurs in the NBA semi-finals.  We'll just see about that Ryan! Spurs are back at home for game five, and are gonna give them Thunder..."Some Nasty For Sure!"

With my birthday arriving this week, I kinda felt the need for a little love.  I couldn't think of a better spot to celebrate, than in the quaint colonial town of Copan Ruinas Most come for the Mayan Ruins that are within walking distance from the city's central park, but that's huge mistake.  This tranquil little spot sports an excellent collection of bars, restaurants and attractions too.  From the ultra fabulous Hacienda San Lucas with its romantic countryside eco-friendly setting, to the hypnotic Enchanted Wings Butterfly and Nature Center filled with it's amazing butterflies and 150 different species colorful orchids, you are sure to find something to strike your fancy.  If that isn't enough, try your hand at a two hour sunrise hike, horseback riding, birdwatching or even challenge yourself to a week of Spanish lessons.  There are two schools located here that have gotten great reviews, but my favorite is Guacamaya Spanish School During my one month stay in August 2011, Enrique ran a fabulous school and the teachers were all top notch, including my own maestra, Senora Delmey, who watched over me with the loving kindness of my own mother. Once again, my choice of residence is the ever so fabulous Via-Via. Quaint, with only five rooms, all with private baths, free wifi, superior vegetarian menu (with optional meat selections) awesome beer selections and movie nights for the equivalent of $1 each, this place is definitely a winner. Perhaps I'll spend my birthday at the very cool Macaw Mountain and Bird Reserve, before heading out for drinks with friends to Wine Barcito (yes, there is even a wine bar here) perhaps  ending the evening with movie night.  Tonight's showing... Chronicle. I'm told its a sci-fi flick about three high school friends who make some incredible discovery that gives them super powers that spin their lives out of control. Sounds marginal at best, but who knows what the evening will bring.

 I'll plant myself here through Sunday morning when then I am off to Nicaragua... and this time for real!

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