Friday, May 22, 2009


So we're in Isla Mujeres now. We left San Pedro, Belize last Friday bound for Key West, but diverted here to avoid a potential tropical storm north of Cuba. You may notice a trend with this - on trips of more than 500 miles we're only 2 for 5 at hitting our intended destination on the first try. We're always at the mercy of weather. Still, this is a pretty nice place to be stuck for a bit - beautiful water and beaches, lots of good cheap food and drink and, miracle of miracles, good internet on the boat.

Previously on...

Lizz's last post left off right after the departure of my friend Scott and my enemy the Dengue Fever. After a couple of rough weeks Lizz and I were ready to get moving north and enjoy some of Belize along the way. With our target US-return date of June 1st looming, we wanted to try to see as much as we could. We had already decided to skip Mexico and focus on Belize, and so after fueling and watering in Placencia we set out for Belize's remote offshore atolls.

Caveat Emptor

For those of you not familiar with cruising, a cruising guide is a book that contains crucial information relevant for anyone traveling the area by boat. Information on anchoring, clearing in/out, chart details for harbors and dangers, etc. This is critical information even in places where general information is easy to come by and chart data is good - like the United States. When you're outside the country and chart data is poor, the cruising guide becomes your lifeline. Cruising guides are almost always written by cruisers who appreciate this fact, and they are generally quite good.

So it was with not a little dismay that we began to note some problems with our cruising guide to Belize. Islands were the wrong shape and size, waypoints weren't quite in the right place. Things were roughly correct, but coupled with the terrible quality of our chart data we were constantly on our toes. Unfortunately, we were about to find out just how bad the cruising guide really was.

We were headed into the Turneffe Islands, a large atoll with a fringing reef and hundreds of islands inside. Much of the atoll is too shallow for most cruising boats, but according to our cruising guide the entire southern section is navigable and can be accessed via two routes - a pass through the reef with minimum depths of 10 ft at low tide, and a channel in from the back with plenty of water for boats that draw up to 5' (Cielo draws 4'8", but we call it 5' to be safe). The text of the guide was specific, and reiterated what the chartlet showed. Conditions were moderate, so we planned to head in the reef pass and then out the back channel if conditions were rougher when we departed in a couple days.

We approached the pass in perfect light and at mid-tide, went right up the middle, yet the depths seemed a little low. The pass is only about 50 yards wide, with waves breaking on the reef on either side, so there was no room for error. Still, the guide is current and the authors claim to have sounded this pass only a year ago. Coral doesn't grow fast, so it's not like things change much during one year in this part of the world. By this point, we're past the point of no return - you can't turn a 40 ft cruising boat around in a 50 yard wide pass with breakers on either side - so we're going in one way or another. In the middle of the pass the depth sounder read 7.5', and at the bottom of the next wave Cielo hit the bottom. Not hard, just kissed it, and then we were through. No harm done to the boat, a lot of harm to my nerves, and it meant one thing for certain - we weren't going to be able to get back out this pass unless conditions were incredibly calm. We were a little shaken (remember, this is our house we're driving around out here), but not overly concerned since we knew we could go out the back channel. Or so we thought.

The next day we started heading toward the back channel. We had to cross a wide bar that our cruising guide authors insisted had 6' of water at low tide, but we couldn't find the 6'. We kept slowly nosing Cielo towards the bar, only to see the depths drop and Cielo kiss the bottom. Time after time we tried, no luck. Finally we called the folks at the lodge on the island over the VHF radio. They said, yes, you should be able to get over that bar. Just go a bit further west and you'll be fine. We tried it, and ran aground. With 25 knots of wind pushing us onto the shoal, we were stuck. The nice folks from the lodge came out with a launch to try to pull us off, no luck. We spent the rest of the day trying to get Cielo free, to no avail. The best we were able to do was punch a hole in our new dinghy while setting an anchor to keep Cielo from being driven further onto the shoal. Tired and exhausted, we finally resigned ourselves to spending the night stuck on the shoal and waiting for the next high tide in the morning.

By morning Cielo was floating free again, and we were ready to get the heck out of there. We called the nice folks at the lodge again, and they generously offered to send a launch out to guide us over the bar at high tide. As we followed the launch along the bar, they indicated we should begin our turn and head over the bar. Cielo's depth sounder strongly disagreed. I figured the folks on the launch knew this water as well as anyone, gritted my teeth, and began the turn. The depth dropped and Cielo came to a full stop, once again aground. Only this time we were even harder aground, and at high tide no less. Not good. This was going to require more drastic measures. The folks on the launch took one of our halyards (the lines that pull the sails up to the top of the mast), tied another long line to it, and then used the 200HP launch to pull Cielo down by the masthead until she was heeled so far over that we were floating and free. Lizz and I drove Cielo off the shoal at a 35 degree angle, heeled so far that the starboard side deck wash awash.

Though we were happy to be free and moving again, we weren't looking forward to spending a week or more sitting in the lagoon waiting for conditions to calm enough for us to get back out the dangerous reef pass we had come in. Fortunately for us, the folks at the lodge had different plans. While we were still heeled over at 35 degrees, they began gesturing wildly that we should turn left - over the shoal again. They proceeded to escort us, line still attached to the masthead, over the shoal and out the back channel - a distance of almost 3 miles. Cielo looked like she hadn't had her V8 in years, but it worked like a charm!

Caye Caulker

Finally free of the Turneffe Islands, we sailed back inside Belize's barrier reef and made a beeline for Caye Caulker. Still a bit gun (or ground) shy from the previous days, we found the shallow water inside the northern reef a bit nerve-wracking. We spent the majority of the 35 mile sail moving at 7 knots in water less than 7 feet deep. The water was so shallow that, at those speeds, Cielo's turbulence kicked up a trail of mud behind us that was miles long. Caye Caulker and San Pedro, a bit further north, were a welcome change after the week's adventures. Calm anchorages, easy access to stores, restaurants, and internet, and all with a relaxing pace and atmosphere. It was a great place to cap off our season before heading home to the US. Or so we thought.

Only 24 hours after leaving San Pedro headed for the US, our weather forecast became quite uncertain due to the potential tropical storm, so it turned out we wouldn't be skipping Mexico after all. After a week in Isla Mujeres and with the low pressure system safely drifting toward the US Gulf Coast, we will be leaving today to head directly to Miami. With any luck, our next post will be from lovely South Beach, our new home for a while.

Posted by: Kevin

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Belize is a beautiful country, with crystal clear water for snorkeling and diving, hundreds of white sand islands to explore and great sailing (relatively consistent trade winds but little seas because of the protective barrier reef that runs along most of the country). While we've thoroughly enjoyed all of these aspects of Belize, we've also had some other experiences here that have made our visit memorable, but not so much in a good way.


Belize was a sight for sore eyes...sore, because they'd been stinging from the sweat that had been incessantly dripping into them for the last week that we were back in the Rio Dulce after our travels inland. As soon as we cleared customs in Guatemala and headed out of Livingston, we were once again able to enjoy anchoring out in cooling sea breezes and swimming off the side of the boat in the clear blue water of the Caribbean Sea, as opposed to the murky waters of the Rio Dulce.

Traveling with our new friends from South Africa, Tamara and Warren, we spent our first few days in Belize enjoying some really fantastic snorkeling, while visiting a different set of islands along the southern part of the country each day. Our best day of snorkeling included spotting two sting rays (one of which was a spotted eagle ray, which are relatively rare) and our first nurse shark. Yes, I spotted a shark, which honestly, scared the crap out of me, even when I learned that nurse sharks are generally more scared of people that we are of them, and also have rounded, rather than sharp teeth. Plus they pretty much sleep all the time. Still, I imagine it’d hurt like hell if one decided to bite you. We capped off our visit with Tam and Warren in Placencia and said good-bye to them over a truly sumptuous dinner at a funky French restaurant that could have competed in quality and style with any number of great restaurants elsewhere.

Old friend, New ailment

The next evening, our newest guest arrived, this time, a friend of Kevin’s from high school and college. Kevin and Scott hadn’t seen each other in nearly two years, but picked up right where they left off over numerous happy hour rum and cokes. It was no surprise then that Kevin woke up the next day with a pounding head ache and a feeling of general malaise…it seemed pretty clear that he was suffering from a cheap rum hangover, so we had no reason to reconsider our plan to head out of Placencia, a town on the mainland, to visit some of the islands lining Belize’s coast.

That evening, after a great day of sailing, we arrived in Cary Cay. Kevin still felt lousy, so we decided to start him on some antibiotics, figuring that he was fighting some leftover Guatemalan germs that we could blast with drugs. The next morning, Kevin thought that the antibiotics were starting to work and would surely start to work better soon so we decided to sail another 10 miles northeast to the Pelican Cays, a deserted set of mangrove islands near the edge of the barrier reef. At one point, I suggested that perhaps we should select an inhabited island, in case Kevin got sicker, but I was assured that it wouldn't be a problem. Of course it was.

Monday night we consulted our on-board medical guide, “Where There is No Doctor” to figure out what could possibly be wrong since Kevin continues to get worse, and is now contending with a fever that seems to spike and break at irregular intervals. The list of potential ailments includes hepatitis, malaria, Dengue fever and meningitis, none of which sounds particularly appealing. Since Kevin can put his head between his knees, which our book tells us is a good test for meningitis; we rule it out (with much relief) and focus on the remainder of the list. Given what we know about Guatemala, we figure that Kevin likely has malaria and begin to treat him, as our book suggests, with massive doses of chloroquine. If you have ever taken chloroquine for travels to malaria-prone regions, you can image the impact that 5 weeks worth of doses in 48 hours can have on a person. Highlights included projectile vomiting, hallucinations, and generally feeling like you want to die – some treatment!

By some miracle of technology, we manage to get a cell signal from Scott’s phone on Tuesday morning, and make what must have been $50 worth of phone calls to the US. We are fortunate in my family to have two doctors (my father and brother) and a nurse practitioner (my step-mom) and finally manage to get my brother on the phone. He confirms the likelihood of our diagnosis and tells us that 1) Kevin may get worse before he gets better (awesome) and 2) that if his fever continues, we’d better get him to a doctor. We consider sailing back to Placencia on Tuesday, but are thwarted by the weather. We really need decent sunlight to navigate through the many coral heads that litter our route back to Placencia, and the skies remain cloudy for the rest of the day.

One hell of a day

On Wednesday morning, Kevin still feels terrible, and we have no choice but to promote me to captain (yikes) for the nearly 20 mile sail back to Placencia. After two years of living aboard Cielo, you’d figure this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’ve never actually been completely in charge of the boat and considering we have crappy charts, less than ideal light and many shallow spots to contend with, I don’t really feel like I have the most favorable conditions for my debut. After a bit of a struggle getting the anchor up, Scott and I are able to successfully motor-sail back to the mainland in just under three hours and have the boat anchored down in Placencia by 11:00 a.m.

Thankful to have arrived in one piece, we set about getting Kevin to the health clinic in town, but arrive only to find that the clinic doctor is away in the town of Dangriga, an hour’s drive (or two hour bus ride) away. The nurse who sees Kevin recommends that we get him to the hospital as soon as possible and indicates that there’s a bus leaving in a few hours that will get us there by late afternoon. Even in good health, bus rides through Central America can take quite a toll, so we immediately begin looking for another option. Fortunately, we run into one of the women who works at the Placencia tourist office and explain our situation. She springs into action, calling the airport to reserve two seats on the next plane to Dangriga and flagging down a friend on the street who can drive us to the airport. Within 15 minutes we are sitting at the airport, tickets in hand, waiting for our 20 minute flight for Dangriga to depart. As we’re waiting for the plane, we catch a glimpse of CNN news on the waiting room television and learn of Mexico’s swine flu epidemic. As the other passengers watch the story and then catch a glimpse of Kevin’s frighteningly sickly appearance, they quickly change seats, leaving us the waiting room all to ourselves.

Finally, we board the plane and endure a terrifying flight in a tiny tin can during which time, I begin to look as pale and sweaty as Kevin. Thankfully, the flight is short, and 30 minutes after take off, we’ve not only landed, but have taken the taxi they had waiting for us and have arrived at the public hospital in Dangriga. Apparently, swine flu is the major concern of the day and Kevin and all those coming into contact with him are masked up within 30 seconds of our arrival. Amazingly, Kevin doesn’t have to wait at all for care, and is immediately given a bed and his first bag (of four) IV fluids. However, though we’re happy to be at the hospital, Kevin is still in terrible pain and other than taking some blood to have a malaria test done, he’s not getting any further care. I ask the nurse to give him something for the terrible pain in his head and she gives him a butt shot of some sort of painkiller that does absolutely nothing. 20 minutes later, he’s still groaning and is also becoming agitated as he begins to feel like there’s something desperately wrong with him, and there’s no one at the hospital able to give him the care that he needs. Taking matters into my own hands, I flag down the attending physician and explain to him that 1) Kevin is in debilitating pain and 2) he is making it worse by freaking out cause he thinks he’s going to die, so could he please have some more drugs, and this time, perhaps ones that include a sedative as well? About an hour later, once the nurse is able to locate the key to the locked cabinet where the strong drugs are kept, Kevin finally gets the meds that he needs. His headache begins to feel manageable and evidently the sedative begins to work, as his whole body begins to tingle and he stops worrying aloud that something is “seriously, seriously wrong”. I begin to wonder if I could convince them to sedate me as well.

By this time, it’s nearly 5:00 in the evening, and we’re informed that Kevin’s malaria test has come back negative, but that they’d like to get him tested for Dengue fever, which they’re unable to do from the hospital. So, they take more blood and set about the process of getting it sent out for testing. Around 6:00 I go out to use the phone to call Scott and give him an update, but when I return, Kevin has been moved.

“He’s been admitted” I’m told by an orderly and he offers to take me to the “male ward” where Kevin is now laid up in a bed in close proximity to four fellows who are looking mighty sick and more than a little contagious. I soon learn that the doctor was unable to get the Dengue test sent out, so he’s suggesting that Kevin stay overnight so that they can take more blood and try and get him tested the following day. At this point though, Kevin is starting to feel human from all of the IV fluids and pain meds, and we decide that it may be more comfortable for him back on Cielo, rather than in the Petri dish that is the room in which he’s been located. I go outside to find out about transportation back to Placencia, only to find out that the last bus and plane left shortly after 5:00, and that we are in fact stuck in Dangriga until the following morning. Not cool at all.

It is at this point that I lose it, realizing that we have to spend the night in a place that provides no towels or toilet paper or tooth brushes—all things that I’d really like access to if I am going to be forced to sleep over. I call Scott to let him know that we won’t be able to make it home, when it occurs to me that if there’s anyone who can finagle a way to get us home that night, it’ll be Scott. I explain the problem and when I call him back 20 minutes later, he’s on his way with a cab driver who’s agreed to drive from Placencia to pick us up. I should also mention at this point that our decision to leave the hospital was based on the fact that 1) We’d already treated Kevin with a full course of malaria meds, so if that’s what it’d been, it was gone, or nearly so and 2) that if he had Dengue, there’s nothing that the hospital could do that we couldn’t since there isn’t a cure for it, and since for pain, they weren’t able to give him anything stronger than Tylenol in the main ward—we had stronger pain killers on board.

Scott arrives by 8:30 and Kevin is permitted to sign himself out of the hospital, though it’s clear that the nurses on duty think we should stay. I head to the front desk to find out how much we owe for his day at the hospital that included four IV bags, two pain injections, a set of X-rays and overall, very attentive care. I’m told that we don’t owe anything. Kind of makes bringing your own toilet paper not such a big deal.

Bumps Along the Road to Recovery

Kevin has been feeling much better now for about a week now, though he did suffer a short relapse of fever and hallucinations the night after we got back from the hospital. And after talking with my dad and with some folks from Guatemala who told us that Dengue was on the rise there, we’re pretty sure that’s what he had. We were finally able to leave Placencia and enjoy great sailing and snorkeling with Scott before he flew out last Monday and for the past few days, Kevin have been anchored off of Cay Caulker with flat calm water, internet access from the boat, and plenty to do ashore….which is a good thing after the calamity we experienced traveling up to Cay Caulker..but I’ll let Kevin give you the details in the next entry….

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Catching Up

This post was first drafted on our last day in the Rio Dulce area of Guatemala, more than 3 weeks ago. We didn't manage to get it posted before we left, so it is more than a little delayed. We've covered a lot of ground since then, some of it painful and all of it interesting, so hopefully the next two posts will get everyone caught up. Also, the pictures from the previous post are now posted to the "photos" section of the site....

Antigua, Guatemala

Until reaching Antigua, what we'd seen of Guatemala consisted of the slightly run down, hot and dusty towns of Flores and Fronteras, so we were pretty thrilled upon reaching Antigua. We'd heard it was a cool town, but weren't prepared for the cobbled streets, ethnic restaurants, bars, cafes, and general European feel to the city. Not to mention the mercifully cool weather. After the insane temperatures of Rio and Flores, the 50 degree nights of the Western Highlands of Guatemala felt like heaven!

Antigua is the original Capital city of Guatemala, and still would be were it not for the unfortunate geological fact of being surrounded by volcanoes. Apparently its forefathers weren't the most fore thinking, if you get our drift. While in Antigua we hiked the nearby Pacaya volcano, the most active volcano in Central America. The hike would have been easy, except I had been crippled by less-than-vigilant dietary habits over the previous few days. Nevertheless, I was motivated by the fact that Pacaya had experienced a significant eruption the night before, and fresh lava flows beckoned. Unfortunately, our group dawdled a bit too much on the way to the top, and the park rangers caught us from behind and prevented us from climbing to the very top. "Too dangerous", they claimed. Prudes. My dreams of poking my walking stick into molten lava dashed, we were forced to admire the lava flows from more than a 100 yards away while roasting marshmallows over the ground. Stand still in one spot too long and the ground would melt your shoes. It was like being miniature people in a large gas grill!

Back to School

After Antigua we headed to Xela, even higher up in the Western Highlands, for a week of language school. We chose Xela for its lack of English speakers, knowing it would force us to use nothing but Spanish. It was a nice idea, but how incredibly exhausting! We enjoyed 5 hours per day of one-on-one instruction, materials, three meals a day, and a home-stay with a local family for the grand total of $140 per person for the whole week. Hard to beat that kind of educational bargain. Of course, there were a few minor inconveniences, like the bathroom that lacked a light, and hot water! Still, it was an experience we wouldn't trade for anything.

While we were in Xela, Semana Santa (Holy Week) was in progress. The streets were completely shut down and filled with Alfombras (religious iconography painted on the street like a carpet with dyed sawdust) and parades reenacting the crucifixion of Jesus. For those of you who haven't been to Central America recently, Jesus is big there. It was quite a production.

After our week of language school, we decided to try to soothe our incessant stomach ailments with a trip to the hot sulfur springs of Fuentes Georginas. Wow are these puppies hot. The hottest jacuzzi on the planet is tepid bath water compared to these suckers! Of course, we had to share them with about 300 of our closest Guatemalan friends, all of whom decided to pee in the water judging by the infection I got in a cut on my toe. Still, it was a beautiful and refreshing experience.

Relaxing on Lake Atitlan

We capped off our inland Guatemala travels with a few days in beautiful lake Atitlan. We splurged on our nicest hotel experience in Guatemala (a whopping US$25/night), ate wonderful meals, enjoyed one of the coolest bars on the planet (Zoo La), and kayaked about the lake. Thinking we'd get soft if we didn't do something active, we decided to hike up the San Pedro volcano on Easter Day. Three hours to the top, we were told, a lovely hike with great views. Three hours my ass. Lizz and myself, relatively fresh off a half-marathon, were joined by two 6'2" Germans and a 6'4" Australian who had just run a 60 mile (yes, 60 MILE) race. We all nearly died. Turns out the 3 hour "hike" was over 3000 feet of vertical, damn near straight up, and all at altitude. It took us almost four hours to reach the top, and I think it cost me a lung. At one point Lizz asked that we leave her to die. I don't know who makes it in three hours, but I know everyone in our group would like to meet these people, and would love to know what planet they are from.

Back to the Rio, off to Belize

After a juanty 8 hour chicken bus ride we were back in balmy (searing) Rio Dulce. While we had a great time in Guatemala, we were both ecstatic to get back to white sand and clear water. Our new friends Warren and Tam joined us as we cleared out of Guatemala and headed up through the southern cays of Belize's barrier reef. We were on our way to Plancencia to meet my friend Scott, and we had absolutely no idea of the adventures that awaited us. Lizz will fill you in on those details shortly.....

posted by: Kevin

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Perfect Vacation

Guest Blog Author: Lee Boykoff

It has been several weeks since Lizz & Kevin last posted, so I figured now would be an appropriate time to share the highlights of our week on Cielo in early March.

After an unsuccesful attempt to meet-up with L&K in Martinique in March of '08, Petra and I used our credit on American Airlines to book a trip in March '09 from New York to Roatan, Honduras. Given that the Beach Boys failed to mention any of The Bay Islands in the 1988 classic "Kokomo," and that my skin complexion is one shade lighter than Conan O'Brien, you can imagine what a supreme expert I was on Carribbean geography before booking the trip. Despite my naivite, that voice inside my head still thought it was "too good to be true" when we scored round-trip tickets from New York to San Pedro Sula for $250 (including tax). Well, you get what you pay for- After a 12 hours journey that included 4 flights (New York > Miami > San Pedro Sula > La Ceiba > Roatan) and a dual engine prop plane from the early 70s that was literally held together by Duct tape, we finally arrived in tropical paradise. It wasn't until early the next morning when we saw a 747 landing on the island that we realized Continental Airlines offered weekly 4.5 hour non-stop service between Newark and Roatan. Oops.

With that minor inconvenience out of the way, every other aspect of our trip was amazing. Petra and I had never spent an extended period of time on a boat. Rather than detail the chronology of each major event on our trip, we'd like to share 10 insights with you about life on Cielo, in the Bay Islands, with two of our favorite people on the planet:

1. The Bay Islands are an absolutely phenomenal place to vacation. Of the roughly 420 million islands that Lizz and Kevin have visited over the previous two years, they ranked The Bay Islands at the very top of their list... in a tie with the frequently mentioned Dominica. Now at the time we were there, L&K had yet to experience the legendary chicken buses of Guatemala... so it's possible that their rankings have since changed.

What set the Bay Islands apart from other islands in the Caribbean? Well of course there were white sandy beaches, picteresque sunsets, crystal clear ocean water, tropical beverages and rooftop bars playing Bob Marley... but that's really standard in that part of the world. What's really unique about The Bay Islands is its offering of world-class scuba diving and snorkeling in a region that is undeveloped, uncrowded, unpretentious and in many ways still undiscovered. The locals (and even the tourists) are friendly and laid back, and the culture is an interesting blend of Carribbean, Latin and British. A truly perfect escape from New York City!

2. We ate like kings. While Kevin has retained his title of master fisherman and outdoor grilling champion, Lizz has evolved into a gourmet chef. Seriously! One big trip to the local supermarket with 2-3 visits to the fruit stand on the corner was all we needed to keep Cielo fully stocked. With Lizz as our culinary captain and Petra as sous chef, we devoured multi-course lunches and dinners all week long.

3. Kevin has now officially surpassed MacGyver as the most resourceful person/character on the planet. In only 7 days, he narrowly averted 4 different crises: (a) A fierce late-night wind storm dragged the fully anchored Cielo (and all of the boats around us) 50+ feet from our original position, causing Kevin to sprint out of bed, reposition, and re-anchor in total darkness at 2am, (b) I awoke one morning to what looked like a 5th grade science project gone awry. Our water maker had broke (was Cielo in labor?) and Kevin reconfigured the desalinator using a rubber band, some chewing gum, and a warped copy of Air Supply's Greatest Hits on vinyl (no one had listened to the album in the last 15 years anyway), (c) In Cayos Cochinos we were forced to anchor the boat to a mooring... that was 20 feet underwater with no line. Kevin dove down to the bottom of the ocean to secure Cielo and emerged 7 minutes later just as David Blaine had arrive to ensure that his world record for holding one's breath under water would be not be broken, (d) Most impressively, one of our anchor chain's got knotted and completely stuck in the pipe that feeds it from the interior of the bow to the top side of the boat. To get the knot out of the line, Kevin had to wedge himself through the 2'x2' hatch in the forward head to completely disassemble the piping. Of course several of the nuts and bolts had been stripped, so the process required kevin to pull out his blow torch, soldering iron, a jackhammer, two backhoes, and an excavator. When that failed, he used is bare hands... which after a few scrapes, cuts, bruises and four letter words did the trick.

4. After living in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, our week on Cielo actually felt spacious. With two cabins and two heads on the boat, there wasn't a single time in our 7 day trip in which Petra and I felt cramped. Amazing!

5. Honduras + Boat = Most affordable tropical vacation ever! We spent almost no money. While the Bay Islands are more developed than most places in the third world, mainland Honduras is very much a developing country. Accordingly, the U.S. dollar goes a long way when converted to Honduran Lempira. With no lodging expenses (thanks to Cielo), no car rental required (thanks to the dingy), food from the grocery store, and $1 beers at the local bars, we may have spent less money on our vacation than we would have at home in New York.

6. Lizz can speak Spanish. Who knew? Her enthusiasm and dedication for learning a new language were seriously impressive. I'll be writing a thank you note to Rosetta Stone shortly after I finish this post.

7. Despite insisting that she is less passionate about music than many of her friends, Lizz is seriously obsessed with the Piano Man. Don't believe me? Just ask about a certain video that is soon to appear on YouTube.

8. In a world in which climate change is spinning out of control, there is something truly gratifying about the autonomy and efficiency of sailing. Harnessing wind power to hop from island to island, solar power to charge our electronics, a fishing rod and a water maker to provide our sustenance, and a snorkel mask and fins to fuel our entertainment, we dramatically reduced our impact on the planet. Wicked cool.

9. Cayos Cochinos is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With out our own boat, we never would have had the opportunity to explore this collection of islands south of Roatan. This was far and away the highlight of our trip. If you have not had the chance, I highly recommend checking out our photos.

10. Lizz and Kevin are two of the warmest and most generous people we know. We felt honored to have had the opportunity to share a week with them on Cielo in Honduras, and are looking forward to see everyone at their wedding this Fall!