January, 1977

Lakeside villa in Panahachel, party atmosphere and plenty of weed. Life is good. But El Mar Caribe beckons…

January, 1977. Lago Atitlan & Guatemala City. Biked to Quirigua, Puerto Barrios & Finca Del Inca; Cayuca to Brisas de Montagua; Bike to Puerto Cortes & La Cieba and mahogany launch to the fabled Isle of Roatan and Coxen Hole.

1 January Saturday: Up early for an egg breakfast and then relaxed on top of a nice little knoll overlooking the lake in the sunshine. Laid on the beach in the afternoon, working on my tan. Ate a steak for dinner and to bed early.

2 January, Sunday: Sunday, market day. Went up and bought a pair of sandals. A real good pair for $2. Laid out on the beach again. Not much to do in Panajachel but relax. Ate a pretty good Puerco dinner for $1.

3 January, Monday: Another easy day. Had a superb 50 cent breakfast at the Casas de Pays. Packed up my gear as I think manana we’ll head into the city. Relaxed a bit more and shot pool in town. Panajachel is a lot emptier now after the holidays.

4 January, Tuesday. Guatemala City: Up early to catch a bus to the City. Got the 9am Transportes Rebuli. Up, away from the Lake into the hills. Started seeing some evidence of the quake. Piles of rubble, cracks across ornate facades of old churches and everywhere building and rebuilding. Must have been something.

Pulled into the City around 1.30pm. Hit a bank to cash a Travellers Check and then went to the Pensione Meza, a place recommended to me, and checked in. Walked around for a bit, excellent pastries here, as well as expensive bars. Manana I hit the consulates.

5 January, Wednesday. Up early. The Pensione Meza comes complete with meals: Oatmeal, frijoles & rolls. Not bad, considering the price. Directly after I hopped on my bike and rode eight kms to the Houran Consulate. Took an hour to get a 30-day visa. Found a New York Times, only a day old, in a bookstore. Lots of good bookstores and pastry shops here in Guatemala City.

Pedaled back downtown to the Panamanian Consulate where I got a four-year visa in five minutes. Then to the Colombian one, but it was closed. By then it was time for lunch back at the Meza: soup, rice and hamburger(?).

I’d heard that I needed a couple of pictures in order to get my visa for Colombia so I had four pictures taken for $1.75. Two minute service. I then headed back to the Colombian Embassy but, alas, still closed. More running around to Nicaragua, which had moved. Took in a lousy flick, but a nice theatre. Back to the Meza for spaghetti, cauliflower and fruit salad, muy sabrosa. Just hung out after supper, reading and writing.

6 January, Thursday. Up early for my free breakfast. Then I hopped a bus to hunt down the Costa Rican consulate. After a few false leads I cornered it on the fourth floor of an apartment building in someone’s (I presume the Costa Rica Consul’s) home. Anyway they took my passport and said I would get it back, plus visa, manana. So much for other visas today.

Since I was somewhat near Aurora Park I walked over to see the National Museums. The Fine Art Museum was very interesting, some good paintings, but nothing real special. The Archaeological Museum was closed, earthquake damage. The Natural History Museum was pretty poor. Some nice stuffed snakes and sea shells, but very poorly displayed.

Back via bus to the Pensione Meza for lunch. After rice and some sort of burger I headed to the mercado. Not much there but I did see fried lizard for sale, a first. Wandered around, finally hitting a pretty good monster flick. After I stopped by an antique store and bought a small Olmec-style jade figurine for $10. There was some nice stuff there. I am very pleased with my piece. Back to the Meza for supper and another easy evening.

7 January, Friday. Breakfast early at the Meza. First errand: smallpox vaccination and Health Certificate. No sweat. Then the #14 bus to the Costa Rican Consulate where I picked up my passport con 30-day visa. A quick walk to Zone 10 brought me to the Nicaraguan visa office where I had to pay two Quetzals for 30 days. That gave me all of Central America. I tried to get a Colombian visa, but they said I needed a ticket first.

Walked around a bit after luch back at the Meza. Visited the National Palace. Big murals, a small archaeological museum, fine wood panelling and carving. I saw some real old Spanish Pieces of Eight for $12 asking price. Wish I had more money to spend! Ran into a friend from Mexico after supper, just relaxed into the night.

8 January, Saturday: Lazy day. Rode 15 kms in the AM up to a banco to change money. Just relaxed in the PM, hung out at the Meza.

9 January, Sunday: Again a slow day. Spent the AM visiting the Proto-Classic archaeological site of Kamilaljuyu. Very interesting. A few mounds in various stages of excavation, showing classic Teotihuacan style. However, Guatemala City is encroaching, leaving only a few undisturbed. Relaxed in the afternoon, shot a bit of pool and played the slots.

10 January, Monday: Still here in Guatemala City, waiting for money to be sent here for a friend so he can pay me back $50. A slight interruption. Bought a neat map for $2 and a nice bag for $3.50. All wool, hand-woven. Nothing else new. Worked on my bike a bit.

11 January, Tuesday: Well, my buddy Dennis’ money came in today so I’m going to split manana. Bought some food for my trip, also some last odds and ends. Ate some great shish-kebab at a German restaurant. Assets: $482.45

12 January, Wednesday, Rio Montagua Valley: Whew, what a day. I was all packed so I left the Meza at 7.45, right after breakfast. Rode out of town, up a bridge and I was on my way. The first 40 or so kms weren’t too bad. But then…steep long hills with lots of sloppy spots due to last year’s quake. I had to walk up and walk down as my brakes quickly wore down. To top it all off I wasn’t feeling too well, upset stomach.

However, being a lucky fellow I was able to cop some rides in pick-ups, down some particularly nasty stretches, ending up on the Rio Matagua plain. Very dry here, reminding me much like southern Arizona or New Mexico. Lots of cacti.

I pedalled along till I found a nice camp site in the bush on the side of the road. Lots of (yecch) sand flies, but I think the small breeze will keep them at bay (I hope). Kilometers: 90       To date: 1115

13 January, Thursday,  Quiriqua: I woke up to a very pleasant surprise: a flay tire. Evidently, while I was pushing my bike through the bush last night I picked up a cactus spine (the same way I got my other flat). No big deal but I used up my last spare tube. A quick repair job and I was on the road by 8.30am.

As yesterday, I started out quick, doing 20 kms in the first hour. Then I started hitting the short ups and down stretches. Slowed me right down. Started to get hot. Great. I ate a cheese and cracker lunch on the side of the road at 11.

More pedaling. About 1pm I was beat. Hot, sweaty, just filthy from the road, tired from the ups and downs. Just as I was about to keel right over I crossed a bridge over the Rio Mayuelas. It sure did look inviting. Ahh, the water was divine. I washed up and then just laid on the rocks in the riverbed, letting the rushing water soothe my bod.

Reanimated, I hit the road. Passed some prime territory, notably the Rio Lobo. Pine hills, clear water, not many people, super rich farmland, looked real good. Drank my 7th refresco of the day at Dona Maria. Hope my teeth don’t rot out, but an agua fria sure hits the spot.

The last 10 kms to Quirigua were a bitch. A five km hill. A slow walk up. But then, ah, what a view. Then, zip, down I went to Los Amates where I found, of all things, a helados vendor. Muy bien. Pulled into Quirigua at 5.30, nine hours on the road, 94 kms. Whew. I had passed a sign that advertised a Hotel Royal so I rode out there. Two Quetzals a night w/ meals. Not bad.

Took a shower (ahhh) and then went to supper. Soup, rolls, fried chicken, potatoes, salad, tea, jello and a litre of ice water. I might stay here a week! This place is great. I even heard a Freddy Fender song on the radio. Manana, Las Ruinas de Quirigua. Kilometers: 94      To date:  1209

14 January, Friday, Puerto Barrios. Today was chocked full of surprises. Woke up for another great meal. Corn Flakes (Kelloggs, of course) con leche, huevos, fried bananas, café and pan. However, I was soon informed that the 2 Qs did not include meals which were appraised at 1.5 Qs each. So I had to shell out 5 Qs all up. Still a good deal, but not great. In any event, I hopped on my bike, leaving my gear in my cuarto, and headed out to the ruins.

Early morning, Quirigua. The mist from the Rio Montagua obscured the countryside as I pedalled down the earthen road to the archaeological site. I passed a few farmers driving their oxen to the fields for a day’s labor. Soon I was there, only a caretaker disturbed the stillness.

The general layout of the ceremonial center was typically Mayan: two large temple complexes separated by a broad plaza. In the plaza, now a flat grassy park, stood ten of the finest examples of Mayan stele sculptures. The mist hadn’t yet burnt off. A few rays of tropical sun penetrated the green canopy. A mystical air pervaded the whole scene.

I walked around, taking special note of the zoomorphs, or 3-D sculptures on gigantic boulders, called by some archaeologists the most complicated sculptures in the world. Quite a display. I rode back to the hotel, packed and was on my way at 10am. Whereas I was in desert yesterday, today is jungle. I passed some huge limestone cliffs, some with springs and I partook of the cold, clear agua.

Flat, with a few hills here and there. Made pretty good time. The sun was hottern’ hell and I got a slight burn on my back. Passed the exit to Peten and the Rio Dulce. At Entre Rios I passed some wild species of cannabis. Far out.

Finally pulled into Puerto Barrios at 5 pm. 290 kms on my bike in three days. Not bad. Rode down to the pier and scoped it out. What a trippy port town. Rode to a few hotels, but they were all full. As I was riding down the street I heard someone yell ‘hey Phil’. What do you know. It was my buddies Dennis and Chris from Panahachel. Far out. Chris had a house in Livingston and Dennis was staying at a hotel in town.  We drank a couple of beers and walked over to the hotel where I checked in.

Hit up a shower and then we went out for supper. Had a great steak for 1.30 Qs. After that we hit a sleazy topless (and bottomless) joint for more beers.  Went back and crashed out at the hotel. Kilometers: 105       To Date:  1314

15 January, Saturday. Livingston: Up early as the mercado across the street and here in Guatemala that spells noise. So we zipped over for a bit of shopping. I bought a plastic 5-quart canteen and a couple of platino con leches.

Went back to the hotel, packed, and walked down to the ferry to Livingston. What a trip. A 50 cent boat ride out of Puerto Barrios on an old wooden ferry loaded down with lumber, oranges, backpacks and one bicycle. Full of people: black, white and every shade in between. Along the coast we went, past little villages tucked above the palm-fringed beaches, past fishermen in their dugouts, past high mountains, ever over the western horizon. The flying fish jumped out of the way and dolphins played in the wake.

We rounded a point and I got my first glimpse of the fabled Rio Dulce and Livingston. We pulled up to the dock and a wave of humanity disembarked and walked (no cars here, mate) up the single concrete street of Livingston. We walked up to Chris’ house and stowed our gear.

Dennis and I went for a few beers and a walk about town. Real nice. Took it easy. A little later we walked down along the beach, saw lots of nice sailing canoes. Sure is nice to be back on the Mar Caribe. Ate a good shrimp dinner for $1.25 and retired early.

16 January, Sunday: Up early. Rained hard last night. We walked down the beach about five kms to a real nice set of limestone pools filled with real clear fresh water. Sure did feel nice to get clean. Lots of gringos living in shacks along the beach. This place is OK.

Spent the rest of the day drinking beer, eating, talking to other people, trying to formulate some sort of plan of action. Lots of options open…just the way I like it.

17 January, Monday, Puerto Barrios: Up early to check on some canoes to paddle up the Rio Dulce but no deal. So we decided to head back to Puerto Barrios on the 2.30 boat. Hung out around the dock in Livingston all morning, quite a scene.

Took the boat to Barrios and checked back into the Hotel Xelaju, $1.25. Ate a real good steak dinner for one Quetzal. Manana I try to bushwhack to Honduras.

18 Enero, Martes, Brisas del Montagua, Honduras: Only I, with my adventuresome spirit (or stupidity) would attempt such an expedition and, only I, with my fabled good luck, might pull such a stunt off.

Got up early at the hotel and walked over to the airport to see my friends off on their flight to Flores and Tikal. See ya later. Spaced back to the mercado and bought a little bread and cheese. Packed my bike and rode out of Puerto Barrios.

My plan, if you could call it that, was thus: I’d ride my bike to Entre Rios where my map showed a railway spur running 35 kms towards the coast. It ended approximately 15 kms (according to my map) from the Mar Caribe. I figured I could find a trail from the terminus to the coast. If not, since the track ran near the Rio Montagua, I could cop a ride with a cayuca to the mouth of the Rio and then bushwhack to the road 12 kms down the coast to Masca, Honduras.

Riding to Entre Rios was easy. I took a side road down to the tracks. Entre Rios looks like a blast from the past. I parked my bike and walked up the wooden sidewalk to the station where I watched the dispatcher take a telegraph message. As I was standing there, a kid came up and asked me where I wanted to go. I showed him on my map and he said OK. He had a ‘carra’ and he’d take me there for 5 Quetzales. OK I said, not knowing what a carra was.

Turns out a carra is a pint-sized flat car that this cat pushes down the tracks. Far-out. I threw my bike on and off we went, down past huge banana groves. Chinook, Hopi, Eskimo, all the names of fincas, or ranches. At El Chinchada, according to my map half-way there, he said that that was as far as he would go. I said I wanted to go to the end. 10 Quetzales he said. 8 I said. 9 he said. 8.5 I said. Get on, he said.

The jungles started to get thicker and the bananas started to thin out. The tracks got more and more overgrown. Soon they were completely overgrown and to continue by carra was impossible. So I paid the guy, took my bike off and pushed it along the trail where the railroad ran in earlier days.

Let me tell you, pushing a bike loaded down with gear over railroad ties ain’t easy. Supposedly it was 6 kms to Finca la Inca, figured I’d check it out. After a couple of kms the trail got quite obscure. Pushing my bike got to be a real drag. Ankle-deep mud and only wide enough for one…either me or my bike. I lost a pedal to the jungle. Soon I came to a small rio. Forded that, waist deep. A little bit further I came across an old man hacking away at the grass with his machete. He said he lived at Finca la Inca, up the trail, two kilometres. Great.

Here’s where the going really got rough. Evidently in the dim past a railroad ran through here. But all that is left was a trail corduroyed with ties. The dirt between them washed away. Bounce, jerk, wham. Took me an hour to go two kms.

Then a clearing. The Rio and on it were some cayucas. This was the landing for La Inca. Talked to the guys there and it turned out one of the cayucas was going to Honduras later on. A stroke of luck. I parked my bike, filthy from the mud, and walked with these guys to La Inca, a few houses with pigs and chickens. I met Jose, the guy with the cayuca and he said he’d take me down river and some other stuff I couldn’t understand. Sat around, drank some coffee for a while then we walked back to the Rio. Threw my bike into a gigantic dug-out canoe with a 25 horse Merc and took off.

There is a real strong current and we just flew along. The lowlands bordering El Rio contained thick, low jungle. Impenetrable. Soon it started to pour. Hard. Then harder still. After two hours we stopped at a very small riverside village. Turns out this is where Jose lives. Now I understand. We’d stay here for a couple of days then he’d take me to Masca, connected by road to Puerto Cortez. He said 10 Qs for the ride.

His village, however, is in Honduras. Far out. Another country. Ate a good supper of fish stew and tortillas. That night Jose and I helped each other learn English and Spanish. Kilometers:  21       To Date:  1335

19 January, Miercoles. Brisas del Montagua, Honduras: Up early. Spent the early AM just spacing around the riverside village. Watched some women turn corn into tortillas. Straightened my stuff out and washed my bike off. Then I helped Jose plant some cocao seedlings. Ate a lunch of beans, rice and fresh tortillas. Muy bien. A very simple life here. Mostly hung out for the rest of the day.

20 Enero, Jueves, Puerto Cortez, Honduras: What a day. Up real early. The people in the little riverside village of Brisas del Montagua are surpassed in their friendliness only by their generosity. I ate a fine desayuno of fresh tortillas and arroz and frijoles. These people don’t have much but they shared it willingly with me.

Afterwards I threw my gear in Jose’s huge cayuca and off down the Rio Montagua we went. The weather lately has been lousy and today was no exception. Coldern’ shit. Cloudy with an ever-present threat of rain. Jungles, high grass and bamboo lined each side of the Rio. Every once in a while a small thatched hut occupied a slash in the bush while one or two cayucas were beached on the mud bank. Birds were everywhere. Elegant white Herons flew off at our approach. We floated past some hunters in the reeds. ‘Tigres’ said Jose.

Soon I could hear a roar over the motor. The Mar Caribe. We rounded the final bend and there was the surf. We beached the cayuca in some reeds. I unloaded my gear while Jose and Martin, another friend, took off the Merc and the two gas cans. Jose was going to Cuyamel and Martin to Puerto Cortez. It would be too rough to motor to Masca, where we could pick up the road, so they shouldered their gear and off we went down the beach towards Masca.

After two kms we came to a little hut where a friend of Jose’s lives. They dropped off the motor there. On down the beach we walked. Soon we came to the Rio Cuyamel. There was a little outpost there with one soldier. Turns out to be another friend of Jose’s. He looked at my passport and said OK. We crossed the Rio in a cayuca.

On down we walked, fording a few semi-shallow streams. Just behind the palm trees that lined the sandy beach the mountains rose right up into the clouds. The beach was strewn with all sorts of fancily-shaped mahogany driftwood. Quite a place.

Twelve kms from the boca del rio we came to the little village of Masca. A tar road ran to Puerto Cortez. Far out. Success. I’d made it from Puerto Barrios to Puerto Cortez overland thru the bush. And they said I was crazy!

So I said Adios to Jose and Martin, hopped on my bike and set off for a quick 28 km jaunt to Puerto Cortez. Real nice road, smooth and flat. However a couple of bridges were out, evidence, I guess, of a hurricane a couple of years ago. Real nice coast.

I buzzed off the kms in no time, hitting Puerto Cortez at 3pm. Went straight to a bank and cashed $20 of Travellers Checks for 40 Lempuras, the Honduran dinero. Then to a hotel. I picked a crummy one.

I straightened my stuff out, drying it off. Went for a walking tour of town. Kind of a funky town. Lots of pool halls. Lots of big boats. Ate a good meal for 1.40 Lemps (.70 cents), not bad at all. Retired to my sleazy hotel and read and wrote a bit. Manana to Migration then rail connections to La Cieba, port gateway to Roatan.

Well, I’ve been on my trip for three months, 90 days. $437 left, I’ve spent $425, or $4.72 per day average. Not too shabby. Kilometers:   40     To date: 1375

21 January, Friday,  San Pedro Sula, Honduras: Rather a strange day, even for me who is used to strange days. Started off by waking up. Walked over to the Migration Office where I got a 90-day tourist card. No problem what-so-ever. Great. Went to el banco and changed US$50 for 100 Lemps. Toured the port city of Puerto Cortez. A real nice mercado, bought some excellent cheese for 50 centavos. Finally found the railroad station. A train left for Tela at 3pm for 2 Lemps. A good deal.

So I went back to the Hotel Formosa and packed my gear, wrote some letters and read a bit. As 3pm rolled around I rode the Silver Dawn down to the station and bought a ticket. But, alas, as I went to board the train the conductor said ‘no way.” “there must be a way,” I replied.

“Sure,” he said, “tomorrow on the freight train.” Foiled again. However, being the resourceful type, I rode down to the bus station and hopped a bus to San Pedro Sula where I was certain I could catch a bus to La Cieba. 1.5 Lemps to San Pedro.

Let me say a few words about the weather: $%@)*&&%. Just terrible. Rainy and cold. However, the road between Cortez and Sula was real interesting. But they charged me an extra Lemp for my bike. Booo.

Pulled into San Pedro around 5pm. Found out that the bus line didn’t run to La Cieba but supposedly one down the street did. So down I rode. Couldn’t find it. I don’t think I know a more frustrating activity than asking for directions. Ask 10 different people and get 10 different ways. I must have ridden around for an hour. Finally, by accident, I stumbled on to the terminal. The last bus left 10 minutes ago. Arggg. By this time I was pretty disgusted.

I rode around and found a likely looking hotel. I pushed my bike up the stairs and asked “10 Lemps,” they said. “You’re crazy,” I said. “5 Lemps,” they said. “I’ll take it.” Not a bad room. But I was still kind of upset so I went to take a shower. Wouldn’t you know it: no hot water. Ready to kill.

So I stormed out, looking for a place to eat. I’d written the day off as a total loss. Should have stayed in Cortez, taken the freight train and saved at least 5 Lemps. Oh well.

As I was walking down the street a wino said “How’s it going, friend,” in English! Far out. Got to talking and he had a whole bunch of tales of buried treasure and lost cities. Shades of B Traven. I bought him supper at a sleazy little joint…great food, though and cheap.

This guy, Ray Burke, had been all over the coast and had all sorts of neat stories. Had some good insights into Honduaran life. All in all a very interesting chap.

Well, that put me in a much better mood. I returned to my hotel and waddya know. The water was running. But still too cold for a shower.

22 January, Saturday, Coxen’s Hole, Roatan: Well hot damn. I’m sitting in the zocalo in La Cieba, the funkiest town I’ve seen so far. Pure Caribbean. 50,000 plus people. The new King Kong is playing at the flicks. A neat place.

Got up real erly, packed my gear and rode over to the bus depot. Bought my ticket to La Cieba at 8 Lemps. Also an extra 2 Lemps for my bike. That’s one Honduran custom I don’t like. Loaded my bike on top and soon we took off. The ride was interesting enough, but crowded. The little kid behind me kept pulling my hair. Lots of nice mountains, clear rivers.

Pulled into La Cieba at 10.30. Stashed my gear on the Silver Dawn and rode down to the docks. Found out that the boat to Roatan might leave around two…that is if it gets here in the first place. So I just rode around, ending up on a bench in the square eating all the goodies the vendors had.

Well, hot damn twice. I left the zocalo and hit a pretty good restaurant. Then I went back to the pier and waited for the boat. About an hour. Bought my ticket and hopped aboard. 10 Lemps plus 5 Lemps for my bike.

Real nice ride over. The boat was a 70 ft 1930s style converted pleasure boat. All Mahogany but falling apart. We cast off and left La Cieba behind. Pretty rough. The Honduran coast is fantastically beautiful. High jagged palm-covered ridges running down to white sand beaches. Just how I would imagine the Caribbean coast to be.

Felt good to have the rolling decks under me once again. Wasn’t long before Roatan appeared on the horizon. Long with hills. Looked good. Soon the clouds broke and the sun came out. All right. Making about 15 knots, the trip took three and a half hours. Pulled into an incredibly beautiful harbour right at sunset. Coxen Hole. Yippee!

Disembarked and found a sleezy joint for 4 Lemps. Ate a good rice / meat / banana / cerveza meal for 2 Lemps. Kinda walked around a bit. Things are hopping here. Sabado noche. I might be able to off El Biko for 200 Lemps. They’re a hot item here. Manana, I explore the island.

23 January, Sunday: Up early to explore the island on my bike. I rode west down the south side of the island along the shore. Real nice. Then north, over the central ridge to West End. White sand beaches, coconut palms, off-shore reefs, perfect. Lots of lobsters, I hear, fish also. I rode along the north side, simply superb. I might rent a house over there in a few days. Went past Half Moon Bay, Sandy Bay, Gibson’s Bight, the ultra-exclusive resort of St Anthony’s Key, all along a dreamlike beach. Then back over the ridge to Coxen Hole.

Relaxed a bit then rode down the south side to French Harbor, nice, but nowhere near as beautiful as the north side. Had a small spill and sliced up my left foot a bit. I’ve got a lot of open sores on both feet. No big deal, though. Returned to Coxen Hole and walked around a bit. Met some interesting characters. Ate a good supper for 1 Lemps then went to the movies. Saw a pretty good gangster flick. Yeah, I really like it here. Kilometers:  40   To Date: 1415 kms

24 January, Monday: First things first. Got up a rode down to the Correos and got three letters. One from Mark and Bill. I guess they’ll meet me in Roatan. Outtasite. Also one from Ma and Pa and one from Suzanne.

Mostly lazed around all day. Met a few people, visited a few stores, just took it easy. Bought some hand-rolled cigars and smoked one. What a trip. My first cigars. Ate a lot. I tell you, this is the life.

25 January, Tuesday. Up early to go to the Correos, but it was closed: national holiday, Ladies Day. Readjusted my brakes then buzzed down the road towards West End, looking for a place to stay on the north shore. Stopped off at a few places, but nothing. Stopped at a small stream to wash my clothes. Done. So the day’s not a complete loss.

Continued down the road to West End. A few gringo tourists there. Found a little grass shack for 10 Lemps for two weeks. All right. They have a place for a fire and it’s right near the beach. Rather primitive, but I like it. Talked to a few people.

Buzzed back to Coxen Hole and just wandered around. Ate at Maude’s, great dinner for .5 Lemps. Saw a couple of so-so flicks. Kilometers: 20     To date: 1435

26 January, Wednesday, West End, Roatan: Well all right! Rolled out of bed early and got all my gear straightened up. Went to the PO and mailed a few letters. Bought a tad of rice and some tomato paste. Left my pack with a lot of spare gear at Maude’s Hotel, stashed behind the jukebox. Then, after packing my bike I left Coxen Hole for West End.

Across the island, up over the main ridge down to Sandy Bay. Along the beach, past St Anthony’s Key. The added weight of my gear makes pedaling in the loose sand real tough. I’m forced to walk a bit. Then inland, over some ups and downs, down to West End.

Wow! The little kids had fixed up my little hut real nice. Put in a sleeping platform, a couple little benches and even a tin roof. Real nice. So I loaded my gear in. Home for a week.

Met the family who lived there, real nice. Walked down by West Bay, a beautiful white sandy beach lined with coconuts. Copped a bit of a suntan.

Moseyed on back and looked around a bit. Gathered some firewood, went to the store for a few potatoes and onions and started supper. Built me a little fire and whipped up some stew. Um, um good. As I was scarfing down, Dorado, the owner came by and we shot the shit for a while. Turns out he knows Lauderdale pretty well. He invited me out fishing manana. Cruised around a bit more then crashed out.  Kilometers: 10  To Date:  1445

The Scene: West End: West End is the ideal of a tropical paradise: deserted beaches, cool people and plenty of dope. Spent a relaxing week exploring the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle…

27 January Thursday: Up early to go fishing. Dorado has a small dory. We loaded a few lines on board and paddled down towards West Bay. Passed over the reef to the blue. Threw out the lines, but no luck. Nice sitting out there, though. Paddled back to shore, hard work.

After a while I walked down to the store and bought some eggs and cheese for lunch. But when I returned and looked for my lard to fry them all up all I could find was an empty wrapper and lots of crab tracks. Live and learn. Anyway, cooked up a dynamite meal with fried platinos for dessert. Yum.

Lazed around a bit, smoked a cigar, just took it easy. Went swimming. Went for another paddle with Dorado to help him put out another fish trap to catch bait. Walked about a bit, ending up at the soccer field where they were choosing up sides. All right. Played about an hour. All-in-all, a nice day. Walked back to my hut, shot the breeze with some friends and crashed out.

28 January, Friday: Rather a relaxing day here in West End. Slept in relatively late, 8am. Walked to the store and bought the day’s provisions. Returned to my hut and cooked a dynamite breakfast of eggs, onions and cheese, very good. Then I started cooking some red beans with onions.

Mostly hung out all afternoon, becoming very relaxed as the afternoon progressed. Gathered a bunch of firewood, talked to people just enjoyed life. Started my supper fire around sundown and cooked up my beans, later frying the mashed beans. Um, yum. Combined with fresh bread a meal not to be beat. What a life.

29 January, Saturday: Up real early to go fishing with Dorado. Again no luck. As they say, better luck next time. Water was real still and clear and we could see the reef very clearly. Relaxed a bit, ate a good supper of eggs, onions, fried platinos and home-made bread. This is the way to live.

30 January, Domingo: Another kick back day spent relaxing and enjoying myself. Met another traveller, Sally, and we went diving down West Bay in the afternoon. Very, very nice. Cooked up a dynamite supper of beans and onions. Combined with Miss Jewell’s coconut bread I have no complaints.

31 January, Monday: Typical West End day. Sunny and warm. Gathered firewood and horse-eye nuts. Cooked some dynamite (what else?) fish stew for supper. This place is nice.

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