A part of the enjoyment of travelling for me has always been meeting and forging friendships with fellow travellers on the road.
Here’s some of the people (and animals) I’ve had the good fortune to hang out with recently, and ring in the New Year on the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
Canadian Leah, outside the Banana Republic hostel in La Ceiba. I love meeting people who have a real passion in their life - and in this case, it was skateboarding. Aside from being an unusually warm, open person, Leah's also a gymnast, breakdancer, and used to work in London as a bike messenger.
With her shock of blond hair and tattooed body (arms, knuckles, belly, legs), she cut quite a look - it was interesting to see how the local Ladino men reacted to her. And as a Star Wars fan, I appreciated the play-on-words tattooed on her neck: Princess Slaya.
New Yorker Eric, who I first met at Mayapedal a few months ago. We spent a great New Year on the island of Utila, catching the sunsets out at the harbour and philosophising about life...
In party mode.
Along with fellow Maya Pedalist Julian from Austria, pictured clutching the goliath (1.75L) bottle of Nicaraguan rum. A rare moment of pensive contemplation from the Viennese.
Generally, Julian looks much more like this...
The consequence of such revelry: sitting out a tender head at our 6 dollar hangout, the Loma Vista.
I spent the first few days in Utila at Blueberry Hill. I first stayed here some 16 years ago, as a young backpacker as yet uninitiated to the joys of bike travel. Norma and her ninety year old husband welcomed me back with a warm hug, and treated me to a slice of her finest yucca cake. I told them I always remembered the catchphrase 'Norma and Will, on Blueberry Hill.' 'Like music to my ears,' she said.
Ingrid, from Guatemala was diving on Utila, and never failed to surprise us with her zest for life. As we tucked into lobster baleadas (for a bargain $2 a piece), we gleaned snippets of her exploits: living in the forest in Guatemala, running the London and New York Marathons, and seeing Pink Floyd live in the seventies.
Over in Roatan. Nancy, from Santa Fe: acupuncturist, yoga teacher, thai masseuse and a mean baker of flourless, chocolate chip/peanut butter cookies. A cool combo indeed.
Here she is in action.
And me, developing my new style of teeth brushing.
Hanging out in Coxen hole with a local from Roatan, who spoke English, Spanish and Miskito, the language of the Mosquito Coast. (photo Nancy Crowell)
The Bay Islands: Caribbean on a budget. I dove in its waters and saw a magnificent spotted eagle ray glide past, and a turtle munch on sea sponge.
West Bay, Roatan. The friendly guards at the gates of one of the developments let us in round the back, onto an almost deserted expanse of white sand and crystal clear waters.
I miss animals and like to befriend the locals. Here's one of the many creatures living at the Loma Vista Guesthouse, Utila.
Though I preferred this one, who snuck into my room for some attention and a nap.
I especially liked her awkwardly gangly legs.
And another resident of the Loma Vista.
Unusual sleeping habits in Chillies' Guesthouse, on the island of Roatan.