BAREFOOT in the JUNGLEBy H. G. Nowak (Barefoot Man)
It is hard to imagine that in almost the equivalent time it takes me to drive from Breakers to Georgetown then find a parking spot on a typical weekday I can hop aboard a Cayman Airways jet and be white water rafting through the jungled cliffs of Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras. Just recently the enticing US$ 172.00 round trip was just too hard to turn down.
You could call it a second honeymoon or our craving for solitude or a combination of both, no matter, my wife and I packed our hiking shoes and sunscreen for a weekend jaunt to top all the adventures I’ve been lucky enough to experience in my life time.
Thirty minutes after leaving La Ceiba international airport we were greeted at the entrance of Las Cascadas Lodge by friendly staff and a generous helping of “holas”. They opened the huge wooden gate and there before me was Bali, Bora-Bora and the Amazon all fused into one breathtaking spectacle. It was beyond expectation – just for a moment I thought I was at the cinema watching Jurassic Park in 3 D - minus the dinosaurs.
The Cascades Lodge is the Ritz of Ecolodges; their huge property is encircled by five amazing waterfalls that cascade down the mountainside. Each fall has its own natural swimming pool where you can float in gin-clear, cool mountain water as an assortment of rare birds entertain you with chirps and tweets. Not to be out done, white faced monkeys casually swing amongst the hanging vines.
Watching these mischievous primates is an alluring sight; it takes me back in time to my childhood days when Johnny (Tarzan) Weissmuller was my hero. Now here I am a grown man and much like in the dreamy movie sets, I am with my own Jane (better known as my wife) bathing in a lagoon of fresh water as leaves from the rain forest confetti around us. She places a flower in her hair; I drool with mischievous thoughts...
During our stay at Cascades Lodge all meals were carefully prepared by Olvin the lodge’s private chef who specializes in seafood, steaks, curries, and local cuisine of all sorts. During dinner every corner of the small lounge and dining area is illuminated by candles and colourful spotlights beam through waterfalls. Sleep is easy in the large rooms with canopy beds. With no computer, cell phone or traffic, the sound of the gurgling stream and waterfall are mesmerizing; I am hypnotized into an eight hour siesta.
It wasn't a rooster, it was the song of a toucan that woke us the following morning. After a breakfast of fresh fruit, passion juice and jelly filled tortillas we trekked for 20 minutes to an amazing 40 foot cascade of three falls. The place is magical, a fairytale one hour from bustling Georgetown.
General Manager Ryan Thims and his girlfriend Maggie go the extra mile that makes La Cascadas Lodge such a special place. From the fresh tropical flowers in your bathroom to the 660 raked, well manicured steps that lead to the upper falls, Ryan and Maggie ensure that you have the next best thing to the Garden of Eden. In fact had this been the Garden of Eden all I can say is that Adam and Eve were foolish to give it all up for an apple.
When full the Lodge caters to no more than eight guests. They have a tiled swimming pool which almost seems superfluous considering there are three natural pools just below the waterfalls. If you need TV the lounge area has a flat screen and large selection of DVD movies. If you need the internet , bring your laptop or internet phone –but why in paradise ? The well stocked bar is always open on an honour system, just jot down your selection in the tally book.
At Las Cascadas Lodge personal service is awe-inspiring, for example no meticulous time schedule for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just give Chef Olvin the plan and he’ll have your cuisine ready for you whenever you like. Packed lunches are available for hikes or picnics. Here, hidden in the tropical forest there is never a boring moment, unless you want it that way. Ryan can arrange white water rafting, zip-lining or horseback riding. If you are a bird watcher there are some 700 species to choose from so binoculars are suggested.
On our second day my wife went riding through jungle trails on a docile young gelding, I chose the less adventurous activity of rock diving. Like some undisciplined teenager on spring break I awkwardly climbed the boulders and dove into the flowing pools of the pristine Cangrejal River.
Quickly exhausted I lit up a fine Honduran cigar and submerged my calloused feet in the river’s edge. Small toothless carp fish rewarded me with a free pedicure. They nibble the dead skin off your heel and tickle the toes. WOW this is all too much.
Over a dinner of curried lobster, plantain and candlelight I ask my wife about her day. For a moment she gazed off into the forest, then said – “If you ever find yourself in the dog house, if you ever do something really stupid and get yourself in big trouble in our household – just bring me to Las Cascadas Lodge and I’ll forgive you.
For more information on Las Cascadas Lodge contact Fiona at Fiona@travelproscayman.com or check their site at lascascadaslodge.com