The title was too perfect. Plus I was neighbors with Russia this winter so therefore I’m as qualified for anything as Sarah Palin is. This morning I woke up determined to find wind and took off into Honduras on my own towards Trujillo. I feel bad; I bailed on the Kiwis after saying I’d go to Roatan with them. At the same time though, the whole point of this entire adventure is to do absolutely whatever I want for one brief moment in my life. So I’m going windsurfing!
This was my first day of solo riding since my little day trip to La Bufadora way back in Ensenada, Baja. Al and I woke up early, detailed our itineraries to each other, and did some quick routine bike maintenance (wax chains, check tire pressure). He was still committed to Roatan and hoping to catch the 9:00am ferry to the island. We high fived and parted ways.
I was on the road by 8:00am heading for a place called Campamento Wind Sports 4km outside of Trujillo. That was as much information as I had. Trujillo is 100 miles down the coast from La Ceiba and it felt like more than that. The road leading to Trujillo is all paved but littered with deep potholes. Hitting a six inch deep gap in the tarmac at 70mph is asking for trouble even on a dual sport. I remembered the wobble I barely overcame back in La Ventana after hitting something similar. My front tire had enough momentum to fly right over the hole. My rear bashed the second edge and popped up and back onto the pavement just centimeters out of sync from where it should be. When two motorcycle tires are not in a direct line , the whole bike begins to violently quiver as it tries to regain the gyroscopic harmony that keeps it upright. I got lucky once back in La Ventana; I didn’t need to push it.
I took most of the ride in fourth gear but blasted like a rocket on the straightaways in fifth. About fifteen miles from town I came to a blown out bridge. I had to follow a haphazard dirt trail through a construction zone to get to the temporary ferry. The ferry was quite a sight: two canoe shaped skinny boats with a big platform strapped on top and an outboard on the back. We loaded two cars on and my bike in the front. The ride was only two or three minutes and in that time I was expected to turn my bike around. This got my nerves going. Trying to turn a 500 pound motorcycle around on a bunch of 2x10’s is difficult in the first place. Add in a rushing current. Then if I drop the machine, it very well might go right to the bottom of the river with the rest of the bridge. Somehow I managed, like usual, and when the raft pushed up on the other side I was ready to go.
Five minutes later was a major detour that led me through ten miles of dirt. I could care less at that point. I pulled into Trujillo around 11:00am and asked directions once before figuring out how to get to Campamento. At 11:30am I arrived.
As it turns out, Campamento Wind Sports is not the full-fledged windsurfing center that its website purports it to be. Instead, there’s a cabana full of gear whose owner is in Vermont and no one seems to know who’s in charge. To be fair, Chad the owner told me via email that he wouldn’t be there when I arrived. He said I could talk to the people at Tranquility Bay resort next door and that they would be able to get me on the water using his gear in the cabana. I showed up at Tranquility Bay, talked to the Canadian owners Larry and Linda, and told them I wanted to windsurf as Chad had promised.
Larry, Linda, and their son Danny were very helpful, but also completely in the dark. After an hour of trying to decide what to do, I went over to the cabana full of gear with the local windsurfing guru Dennis. Dennis knows the gear, knows Chad, and knows the wind around here. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the key to the cabana. The cabana is on Chad’s aunt’s property and the groundskeeper wouldn’t let us in until he got the ok from her. We called her. She wouldn’t let us in until she got the ok from Chad. She couldn’t get ahold of Chad. This was a classic windsurfing experience.
We walked back over to Tranquility Bay on the white sandy beach with the palms blowing in the steady wind. By my guess it was averaging around 20mph, perfect wind for a larger rig. Larry took pity on me and offered up his limited windsurfing gear for me to use. They set me up with a 100L Mistral board and a 4.5 Ezzy sail. I strapped on a harness and waded into the warm water with the rig. I thrashed around for half an hour trying to get up but the 4.5 just wasn’t big enough to pull me out of the water and start planing. There were no other sails that I could use. What a tease.
So, tonight I am staying at Tranquility Bay in the employee housing for the very modest price of $15/night. They have never gone lower than $35/night for this bed, but I think the fact that they’re from Vancouver shed light on the magnitude of my journey to get here. I’ve got one bunk in an empty dorm and a private bathroom. Not bad after spending the last two weeks sharing the hostel facilities.
Tranquility Bay is not of this world. Even though the temperature hovers over 85F degrees all day, the onshore sea breeze keeps the grounds fresh and comfortable. There are animals everywhere. A horse grazing in the lawn, two parrots sitting on top of their cage, two toucans begging for food in the awnings, and several dogs keeping watch. Best of all is Chimmy the monkey. My first experience with Chimmy he crawled up to the side of the roof, slung himself down to my level hanging from his tail, and felt my face up and down with his baby sized hands. He grabbed a lock of my hair and gave it a sniff. At that he hopped on my shoulder with his tail around my neck letting me pet him. It’s not often that an animal comes up and examines me with five fingers and perplexed eyes. It was an eerie role reversal. I stood perfectly still while he went through his motions checking me out.
Linda adopted Chimmy two years ago as a baby when the couple bought Tranquility Bay. He has since grown up on the grounds and obviously has no clue his own species. The little monkey runs around playing with the dogs, zips from tree to tree eating mangos, and then hops on my head to see what’s new. He’s quite a wild pet and the tail as a fifth appendage really makes for an interesting time handling him. He’s also a rascal. Every time I look around he’s trying to dismantle some lawn ornament. The house monkey really adds to the effect here.
Today is my third day at Tranquility Bay and I couldn’t be enjoying myself more. Yesterday we got permission to use Chad’s gear to hit the wind. We rigged two sails and grabbed two boards and then I waited for the wind. Usually the wind comes up around noon, but yesterday the rain started falling around 10:30am. The early wind died and it didn’t start coming back until much later. By 1:00pm I couldn’t wait any longer and went out with the big, low wind rig.
I don’t know if it was the wind or my depreciated skills, but I could not get the board to plane no matter what I did. Everything else was there, but the board wouldn’t lift. I was waterstarting, getting in the harness, even slipping into the foot straps. I sagged into the harness to spread my weight across the board and hiked out digging the tail fin hard into the water pointing the rig upwind. The board plowed through the water quickly, once in a while lifting half-way out but then immediately sinking back slower than I had been going originally.
Later in the day I gave the smaller rig a try to see if I could get that going. Same scenario, not enough wind. There were about three seconds where I was 95% out of the water. The wind gusted real hard right as I sank into the harness and the whole rig surged forward and popped up. For three seconds I was flying with only the tail fin keeping me grounded. I was in perfect windsurfing form with a straight back, bent knees, loose arms, hiked way out with the sail angled perfectly. I could hear the waves lapping at the nose of the board as it glossed over them. I’m a cheapskate, but those three seconds were worth the $50 rental and all the work I put in.
I didn’t have much luck beyond that. Dennis went out with me for a half hour and he wasn’t satisfied with the wind either. We both could go out and come back, but neither of us could get moving. As the afternoon wore on I finally decided to store the gear and hope for better wind in the next few days. That afternoon I went into town to get online. T-Bay hasn’t had internet since I arrived because the competition cut their service provider’s fiber optic lines. I guess that’s how it works here.
With the dismal wind performance I had considered packing up and meeting up with everyone else on Roatan. That is until I got Al’s message that said it cost him $185 round trip for the ferry. I got rid of that notion quick. When I got back to Tranquility Bay Danny, the 24 year-old from Vancouver whose parents own T-Bay, invited me to a local bar with some friends for the evening. We went out and had a great time.
I didn’t even try to surf yesterday. Around noon a truck pulled up take me and Danny and a few others into town for Trujillo’s biggest carnival of the year. From 1:00pm until 3:30am we soaked in all the sights and noises under the power of liquid courage. It was a hot day with intermittent showers. There was a parade, a lot of fireworks, and then a seven-block party until dawn. The craziest thing I’ve seen all trip was a Honduran who rigged up a wooden A-frame that he carried on his back. It had roman candles strapped to it pointing in every direction. He lit the wick and started running around the town center with the bombs shooting out in every direction; into the buildings, cars, and crowd. All the while the kids chased him around dodging flack and laughing the whole time.
It was a pretty crazy night considering how tranquil this place normally is. Trujillo is the beach where Columbus first landed on the mainland Americas. The inside joke around here is that when he left, he told everyone not to do anything until he came back. They haven’t since. Everyone expects growth here soon, though. There are a lot of gringos building up resorts preparing for a tourism boom. As well, they are building a port that will take in cruise ships in the coming years. I’ll be here in Trujillo tonight again and then probably make my way back towards La Ceiba to catch Alex and the girls when they come back from the island.
Until then, I’ll be enjoying post card paradise a little longer. I’ve given up on wind; the water is placid today. Oh well, Hood River will be there when I get back. A big hug goes out to my buddy Ryan after his rough weekend. Much love Ryan!