Garrapatas and Uyuca

Dear all

I hope everyone is well. I certainly am not. However, I am floating. No need to worry. Let me explain.

I went to Uyuca on Sunday. It is the largest mountain the region of Francisco Morazan. It sits outside grannies house and looks stunning every morning as I wait for my lift to Casa Alianza. It is part of Valla de Zamorano and is a cloud forest. On clear days, you can see the dotted pine trees one by one on the mountain top. It looks as though they are marching up to top and jumping off the other side. They remind me of that old irritating computer game called Lemmings, where you have to create paths for the armies of lemmings across burning coal pits and the like.

I wanted a challenge. On Sunday, I thought this would be the day. I was unable to find a place to stay in Tegucigalpa on the Saturday, so I was left a bit annoyed and a bit cut off from the world as there was a big party. Also, I had to get out of grannies house. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. Danny Padgett joined me in my expedition. He is more of a computer geek/genius than Indiana Jones. He told me beforehand that he had once tried to climb it but got lost. I thought, “how could you get lost with a big spanking mountain sat in front of you?” The answer to my own question: quite easily! The way up was beautiful. At first, we battled our way through thorns. Somewhere along the way, nature wanted to get revenge on me for swiping my way through the thorny foliage with a giant stick. It did this by ripping a small hole in my favourite blue Adidas trainers. I know it is my fault for wearing them on a hike like this, but it was either those or flip-flops. I was originally going to wear shorts. That would have been suicidal. We got to a small brook, with peaceful trickling waterfalls and wonderful wildlife. Danny was busy trying to take pictures of colourful ladybirds. I was busy trying to look like Gandalf with my big stick. I called it my “peace place”. After that, the journey up was everything but “peaceful”. Danny and me followed paths up steep hills talking about all sorts and eating blackberries along the way. We made our way and climbed valiantly, sometimes slipping on pine leaves, and taking pictures of the views below and tropical plants. It was interesting how the environment changed very quickly and in stages. The first part was pine forest and thorns and slightly chilly. The second was jungle vines, very, very large pine trees, more wildlife and ghostly noises coming from the breeze through the trees. The third was back to thorns, exotic colourful flowers, palm trees, but with all sorts growing of different vegetation growing out from them, and extreme heat. I foolishly didn’t think to put on any insect repellent. I was well aware of the bloody mosquitos and I squatted whole families of them while they tried to suck my delicious “sangre Ingles”. “Muy rico,” they thought. However, it was the “garrapatas”, “ticks” in English, that I should have been squatting. They are a nightmare. They cling on to any part of you they can find and claw themselves on for dear life. I later found out that this was the season for them. The views got greater and Danny and myself got more sweatier as we had the heat to deal with as well. We then received a phone call from Roy, Danny’s dad, advising us to come back as it was 3pm, and the sun begins to set at 5pm (not many street lamps in the forests up there!). We got to a point, basically at the top but not at the point we were aiming for, and the foliage became too much. We had cuts and grazes everywhere and we were scratching our bites like demented animals. The down part was even more dangerous. I know Adidas trainers look retro and cool, but they are not suitable for Uyuca (despite what the label says), and on several occasions I went flying down hills, while ticks jumped on as I slid, a bit like meals on wheels. The vines are also very strong, coiled and thick, and can trip you up easily and send you flying again. 

We got lost. There were no paths going anywhere. We found a stream, the one we stopped off at on the way up, and followed it down the hill, although much higher up and there were lots of slippery ferns, grass and more thorns, as well as a live wasps nest which I nearly walked into when stumbling in fatigue. We were both tired, but we couldn’t help laughing at the thought of maybe meeting Ewoks and Hans Solo from Star Wars. The forest looked just like that of Return of the Jedi. Although looking back, we were hallucinating quite badly. 

It was walking along a fallen tree across a river where I fell and lost a memory card for my camera, which has the bulk of my pictures from Honduras. It is a crying shame, but I felt relieved to survive my fall with nothing broken and in one piece. The best pictures are saved on Facebook anyway, so all is not lost. I’m missing pictures of Santa Lucía, which I went to the day before (in contrast, that was a lovely relaxing day). Oh dear, I will have to go back and do the whole day again! I will write about Santa Lucía when I return. All I can say is that it is one of my favourite small towns on Earth: Morro de Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Carmona near Seville and Vallada in Valencia in Spain. I recommend all them: lush! I have another camera card for now which has the pictures of Uyuca.

On the way down, we came across a strange little creature, which was a cross between a scorpion and a huge ant. It has a curled tail but cannot sting, although it has an odor that Danny smelled. I didn’t get close enough with my camera. I’d had enough bad luck for one day. I didn’t want to get punished by nature again.

To make things worse when I got back, Tatumbla didn’t have any water. No shower. My body was crawling with ticks. Luckily, and very kindly, Lilo gave me her family’s supply of water (they went without a shower the next morning: I feel really guilty). I cleaned myself thoroughly but the mites had already done their damage. I was red from the sun and bites. They are small, red and judging from the size of the bites, their teeth are bigger than their bodies. As stated above, they cling on for dear life. I scrubbed and scrubbed but still couldn’t get them off. I found four more hiding on the backs of my calves this morning. I swore at each and every one of them as I pulled them off and crushed them “like mites”. I didn’t sleep that night and scratched and scratched (the wrong thing to do, I know, but it was just too itchy). I didn’t go to Casa Alianza on Monday. The day was spent in zombie mode. Because there was no water the night before, I was unable to wash my clothes that still might have had mites on them. Granny, for some reason, didn’t want to help me wash them yesterday. She saved it for today. I have thrown my bed clothes in as well. Today gone to the doctors, after another sleepless and itchy night. They filled me with anti-allergic drug and I feel very much at peace right now. The bites go right up my arms but, due to the wonders of medicine, they currently aren’t itching. They have also given me cream and tablets. I am about to pass out again. I am at the ICYE office, and I will be taken home soon. I have been treated to a Burger King meal. It pains me so much to say it but I loved it. Absolutely loved it. No Casa Alianza until Thursday. Doctors orders. Not loving it.

Ironically, on Friday, I was calling to the world to get me out of Tatumbla for the weekend on Facebook. It got me as far as a mountain that looked over the tiny town. I was determined to go on an adventure nonetheless. I went unprepared. I am learning very quickly to respect the wild. Nonetheless, despite my trainers, which are now in heaven, and my camera card, somewhere in a “peace place” stream in Uyuca, I am still pleased to have climbed most of it. 

I have now been told there is a set route on the other side of the mountain which as steps and guides to help you. T Y P I C A L ! ! !

I will add pictures when I have my camera handy.

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About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

6 responses to “Garrapatas and Uyuca

  • Matthew

    I’m sorry that you’re covered in bites and are drugged out of your mind until thursday, but reading your story was an absolute treat and a hallucinating trip all in once. Climbing a mountain unprepared, finding your own ‘peace place’, indulging in poisonous berries and getting absolutely lost…sounds scary and great at the same time. It means you’re living life to the fullest!

    • Nicholas Rogers

      thank you. if this is living life to the fullest, i’d rather have a quiet life. hahaha. i feel light headed still. it was like an ansethetic. i want to go back to work to be honest. hope all is well back in the land of orange. take care of jordy on queens day. the kids at casa alianza saw a picture of me and you pissed last year and they now call us “borrachos”! and me a druggie after they saw me with a sliff in my mouth. hahaha. what example am i setting?

  • Stuart Harbourne

    Surely not as scary as Shirley Park though?! I mean you would lose your camera there just in different circumstances and your trainers as well. Never forget though son you cannot shoot from there! Ha ha! Hope your feeling better!

  • mariaporque

    Es un placer poder leerte! Cuídate mucho, por favor.

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