That evening we familiarised ourselves with the surroundings and went exploring. There was a 'tame' Scarlet Macaw called Nacho who was free to roam the grounds. He kept us all entertained he would always say Hola back to us as we walked by.
His demeanor became slowly more aggressive to us as the holiday progressed, I think perhaps he was getting fed up with having to reply to us every time one of the kids shouted Hola at him. On the last day he just shouted what I assume was various obscenities in Spanish, or it could have just been him squawking in delight at our departure.
All the staff at the Villas Pico Bonito were lovely, friendly and attentive. It has made me realise however that we ought to perhaps learn some basic Spanish - Jonny knew more than us.
On the first night we ate at the restaurant, the food is very well cooked, but is a fairly basic menu, the steak was fantastic though. Whilst there we sank a couple of strong cocktails - margaritas for me and sangria for Kim. After we'd got the kids to bed at around 8.15pm, we were ready for a party night of gin and tonics, beers and card games on the balcony. By 8.45pm we were in bed, shattered. There is something about being outdoors which just has that effect on us.
Saturday morning, we were brought from our slumber by the bird's morning chorus. I really couldn't get enough of the view from the balcony. Beautiful.
Kim had already spotted several Toucans the previous evening, so it was down to Jonny and I to go exploring to find some wildlife.
We were lucky enough to find a tiny hummingbird nest, the egg was no bigger than a jellybean. Later the Mummy bird came back to continue looking after her clutch.
We spent the day hanging around the villas, in and out of the infinity pool, paddling in the river, going on little trails to see what we could find, and generally just relaxing and enjoying the surroundings.
We'd booked a tour via La Moskuitia Ecoaventuras on the Sunday which we were eagerly anticipating, a chance to see monkeys and all manner of wildlife on a little motorboat so another early night was had. That bottle of gin we bought was looking woefully full still.
Up at the crack of dawn (who isn't with two kids under five?!), we were picked up by our guide Robert in what can only be described as a 1980's 4x4. Honestly it was stripped bare inside, no seatbelts, an inch of dust over every facet, but at the same time we had complete assurance in knowing this beast of a vehicle had done this journey hundreds of times.
It took us over an hour to get to our destination - the last remaining train in Honduras. This train line was once used for the exporting of bananas and coconuts, but the environmental damage on the countryside (and wildlife) was so much that it was stopped 20 years previously. Now it's used to ferry people up to the next 'village' and back again. The train meandered slowly, stopping once or twice whilst the driver jumped off to remove debris from the line. It was a very interesting journey as we got to see some of the local houses and of course the wildlife and scenery were top notch.
Another 40 minutes and we were at our next destination, a tiny village with a rickety dock and an even more rickety boat for us to enjoy. As we were coming to expect, health and safety weren't priority, whilst life jackets were provided, they were adult size only. Oh well, at least Kim and I were safe (joke!).
Armed with a couple of sets of binoculars and our camera, we progressed towards the mangroves in the hope of seeing monkeys, parrots and manatees. Our first exposure to wildlife were some black vultures, a huge hawk and then we saw some very cute long nosed bats sleeping on a tree.
The heat was pretty fierce, so it was a relief when the boat went down into a few shady channels to look for monkeys. As the trip went on, the guide (and us) began to consider the possibility of not seeing any monkeys. Managing Jonny's expectations on this were tricky as he'd been so excited about seeing them.
After a while Tess started to run out of steam and was now flat out on the floor of the boat, shaded from the sun with the spare life jackets. Typically, it was five minutes later when we finally caught a glimpse of a family of Howler monkeys. Unfortunately they don't really pose for the camera, so what we managed to take were shots of monkey bottoms, arms, legs and finally a face (obscured by the trees).
After a couple of hours on the boat and satisfied that we'd seen the monkeys (we'd given up hope of seeing any parrots and manatees sometime earlier!), we headed back towards the dodgy dock. A quick stop for freshly picked pineapple, then the train turned up for our return leg.
We got back to the car in record time, it was then that Robert admitted he didn't actually have any keys for the car, but he "knew a way to start the car without keys", I just had to push the car to get it going. Luckily a couple of friendly locals turned up and between the four of us and a lot of pushing, the aging beast awoke with a cough and splutter and we could load up and return home.
Once we got back to the villas, we spent the afternoon lazing by the pool and supping ice tea. Delightful!
Now it turns out that Tess has a phobia of frogs - who knew! We do recall her awaking from a nightmare a few months ago screaming about frogs, but we'd forgotten about it. So, as we were eating our last dinner at the restaurant with Tess running around like a loony, we were shocked to attention by an ear piercing scream.
There was indeed a small frog in the vicinity. Tess is quite the charmer, she had all of the guests and staff eating out of her hands. The pretty face, bright blue eyes, red hair, pale complexion and charismatic personality are obvious reasons why. Within seconds of the scream, we were joined by anxious bystanders, eager to find out what could possibly have caused our daughter so much anguish - a jaguar perhaps, a snake? Nope just a little frog.
After several tense minutes, she'd calmed down, we were able to return to our margaritas thankfully. Then the frog's big brother turned up and all hell broke loose!
The excitement of the day was too much for us all, so we headed back to the lodge. The gin remained unopened, and we headed for bed.
The end of the vacation already sadly, the last morning was spent appreciating the surroundings for the last time and then Juan the taxi driver picked us up and took us to the airport - all the while telling us all about his ex-wife's escapades.
La Ceiba airport is not geared towards international departures unfortunately, there was a lot of hanging around before we got through security. There's also a hefty $40 tax per person thrown on top which meant an extra $160 for us! Finally we get through immigration and with two hours until the flight still, we realise there's not actually any food available once you've passed security. Turns out though, you can just wander back through security to get your sandwich (no drinks though) and then come back through security again. Slightly tiresome, but let's not complain. The flight was delayed an hour or so, but the kids were well behaved.
Overall we had a fantastic experience out there, such a beautiful country with huge potential. Obviously there is the crime which is a big downside, but only you can be the judge of whether the risk outweighs the benefit of this amazing place.