Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Antonio Blanco Rodriguez -Tony R.I.P. 1965-2009

My best friend and brother Antonio Blanco Rodriguez [Tony] got murdered in El Salvador last Friday 11th September 2009. I'm still in shock. He got shot seven times on the chest by 3 people when he was driving his motorbike on his way home.
El Salvador Police
(PNC) is investigating. they said that the incident occurred in the village of San Antonio Abad of Los Indios, in the jurisdiction of Maple City-Ciudad Arce, 40 miles west of San Salvador.

He wasn’t only my friend, he was my brother.
I spoke with him the very same morning as he was visiting Spain for a few weeks and also coming to see me in Madrid this very Wednesday he did send me this photo. Probably the last photo of him

Toni was a very special person, unique, one in a million and he also literally saved my life years ago. We lived loads of intense experiences together since our teenage days on the 80s.. So many memories.....
He was a single parent and leaves a 4 year old beautiful girl called 'Maya Blanco'.

But nobody dies if you keep his memory alive. And I will make sure this is gonna happen.

Love you mate and will never forget you, because to me you are not gone.

R.I.P. brother
We have created a group for Antonio Blanco Rodriguez [Tony] in Facebook [See link below]. This is an open group for everyone to share memories and keep his flame alive. If you have photos or you crossed paths with him in the past, please share your story with us all.
Thank you.

Antonio Blanco Rodriguez Facebook group link

Hemos creado un grupo en Facebook [Link arriba] para que todas aquellas personas que tuvimos la suerte de conocer a Antonio Blanco Rodriguez [Tony] podamos compartir aniversarios, memorias, anecdotas o fotos y así de ahora en adelante mantener siempre su memoria viva.

Here is a video I recorded with Tony in our skyjet trip in rio Dulce Guatemala on the way to Belize in August 2006.

Antonio Blanco Rodriguez&Pedro Vila in Izabal Lake [Rio Dulce]

Antonio Blanco Rodriguez&Pedro Vila in Izabal Lake [Rio Dulce]

The Reegs|MySpace Videos
If you want to read more about Toni click on the link on the right in LABELS

News link english:

Noticia en Español:


Saturday, September 30, 2006

San Pedro Sula- La Ceiba [Utila, Roatán&Guanaja]

Utila Beach bar [Chiringuito]
This must be the smallest Hotel on earth

Arriving to Utila


We didn’t see much of San Pedro Sula really. I don’t think there are that many things to see to be honest. Is the second biggest city in Honduras, and it has an International airport, probably due to its proximity to Guatemala.
While we crossed the city with the car I could see lots of poverty.
Kids not older than 10 -12 years old were begging for money at the traffic lights. They were everywhere.

Following the advice of our German friend, we decided to go to Honduras bay Islands. There are little ferries to the 3 Islands [Utila, Roatan and Guanaja] from La Ceiba. They are called Honduras Bay Islands.
My friend Tony wanted to do the route with his watercraft again, but I persuaded him not to.

Utila is the 3rd largest island in the Honduras Caribbean. There are currently about 50 established scuba diving sites there. Paradise if you are crazy about it.

Útila borders on the Mesoamerican barrier reef system, the second-largest reef in the world, after the Australian great barrier reef .

Beautiful warm clear waters.
Finally, 'The Beach'!

Útila has been a part of Honduras for over 150 years. Yet its nature reflects its independence and its local government works diligently to promote and protect its unique and wonderful culture.
For almost 200 years Spanish conquistadores and British pirates battled for control of these islands, ignoring the Indians for the most part.
En Sunzal & El Zonte -El Salvador

I had so far a good Caribbean dose, but had not seen El Salvador’s beaches yet. And that was a must. I hadn’t swum in the Pacific Ocean since I went to Venice LA with Tony about 16 years earlier. It was about time.
El Sunzal and El Zonte

Friday, September 29, 2006

Jiquilisco Bay


Jiquilisco Bay Map

Estero bay

Time for a well deserved refreshment

View from the watercraft in the middle of the river




It was time now to put the Watercraft to rest. We had so much fun with it, and we have been so noticeable everywhere too!

We left early one morning to Jiquilisco Bay on the Pacific sea. They call it 'estero' here, where the sea gets into the land.
Looks like a river but it isn’t.

Some parts were as beautiful and wild as in 'Lago Izabal'. Lots of jungle. There were also tons of weird birds and even caymans, althought we didn’t see any.
They might have been scared by the watercraft!

Tony has a membership with 'Barillas Marina Club', a club for posh people from San Salvador I guess. It’s located in Usultan, right in the middle of the Bay. He rented a place there to store the watercraft in when he’s not using it.

The club was empty, maybe because it was too early, maybe because it wasn’t a weekend. I bought 12 Corona beer [One of my favourite beers], a bag full of ice, and some sun lotion [my skin was starting to get really really fucked up].

We put all the gear [beers included] on the watercraft and we left trying to reach the Pacific Ocean in Usulutan.

We noticed another sandbank in the middle of the bay, but this time we were ok, weather was good and sand was a bit deeper than the one in Livingstone.

We stopped there for a drink&smoke. It felt weird we could walk over the water!

Tony Blanco walked on the water La La La.....

The sand colour was beautiful

Beach on the way to El Zonte.

'El Sunzal' and 'El Zonte'-El Salvador

I wanted to go to 'El Sunzal' and 'El Zonte', the still undiscovered, surf spots in the 'Departamento de la Libertad'. One of the 10 best surf beaches in the world apparently.

They arent well-known yet, although you get the odd surfer coming from wherever in the world. I couldn’t blame them, the waves were fantastic!

My friend was busy this day because of work, so he offered me one of his employees, Manuel, as a guide who would give me a lift anywhere with his van.

We left in the morning with Ana, Tony's girlfriend.

The road goes all the way through the Pacific coast with a beautiful scenery 'Carretera Litoral' . The heights gave us a good chance to take some photos. It was so virgin and unspoiled that I wished it will always remain like that. No hotels to be seen, no tall buildings, no crowds on the beach, only the odd wee village.

We stopped on the road and bought some 'Anonas' a dozen for one dollar. I’d never seen them before, but they tasted delicious!

El Salvador’s beaches are different from the Atlantic ones. They have their own personality and beauty.
The coast line is pure thick jungle followed by black beautiful coloured volcanic sand and then just pristine clear waters. You get loads of weird shells in the sand. I couldn’t resist taking some with me.

We stayed at Casa Frida to get something to eat. Its owned by a Catalan man called Manel. It wasnt cheap really but food was good. More delicious crab soup, and few Bahia lagers.

The Pacific Ocean was calling me.

Sonsonate -El Salvador

Mayan Sculptures in Salinitas El Salvador

I had a few with my friend the first night in Sonsonate, so when Bars were shut and I was reading a book in my room, I witnessed the strongest storm I’ve seen in my entire life. It didn’t seem longer than 20 minutes but it was very scary. The lightning was amazing. So were the thunders. Unfortunately my camera had no battery, and I didn’t have the charger with me, so I couldn’t take as many photos as I wanted.

The wind was really really strong, and big palm trees were bent almost to the ground.

That was a real tropical storm.

I turned the TV on and the music of 'Riders on the storm' filled the room. It was a strange mix with Blondie singing I think. I looked at the window and thought It was pretty cool.
I was told by the locals they were warned about 24 hurricanes this season. That was probably a small one, but hell, it did scare the shit out of me.

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house were born
Into this world were thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out on loan
Riders on the storm..


I sat on the terrace and thought It was the perfect time to enjoy more of my last Eric supplies.

Finally, after a while, the storm was gone.

Bahia de Jiquilisco

One arm guy

The view of the volcanoes around us was stunning.

On the way back we stopped to get something to eat in what it seemed a little village in the bay.

We parked the watercraft and one guy offered to keep an eye on it for some cents [Do that in Madrid ...ha!.] His honest smile made us trust him instantly .
He had only one arm. I asked my friend why, and he replied that maybe it was because the war.

El Salvador had 20 years of civil war, the peace talks started around 1992, so the war is long finished. Two parties were at war, the right wing Arena funded and full supported by the USA, and the socialist FMNL.
Pretty much the same history like everywhere elses in Central and south America.

People seem to want to forget about it, and there was no hate I felt from anyone I asked curiously about.
They are just trying to forget and get over it.
They really deserve it.
We had some great fish, Ceviche, which is cooked with lemon. Lots of food in El Salvador is cooked with it. One guy came to the table offering some fresh 'Jaivas' They looked like crabs to me.
Jaivas [Crabs]

On the way back to Sta. Tecla in San Salvador, near where Tony lives, we had a little accident with the jeep, with two other cars were in front of us.

According to El Salvador traffic rules, you can’t move the car there until the police comes, so we had to wait for about 1 hour. All this about 6 pm when everybody is driving home, so we did start a good traffic jam. One of the cars involved in the accident was owned by a girl who didn’t have insurance at all. Seems it’s optional over there. She was the niece of a well-known police officer so I guess she was OK.

My friend said he worked for the Spanish embassy [He doesn’t] , so no alcohol test was needed.
Police seemed surprisingly great and nice with us. They leaved after take their report.

So we rang a car crane and put the Jeep to rest too.
Honduras Bay Islands part 2

Útila has been a part of Honduras for over 150 years. Yet its nature reflects its independence and its local government works diligently to promote and protect its unique and wonderful culture. For almost 200 years Spanish conquistadores and British pirates battled for control of these islands, ignoring the Indians for the most part.

During this period, the Islands were used for food and wood supplies, safe harbour, and slave trading. Remains of British forts and towns named after famous pirates remain as their legacy. One group of slaves was "parked" here once during the heat of a battle. When the winners came to collect them, the slaves refused to go.

These are the Garifunas who still populate much of the Bay Islands, maintaining their own cultural identity and language. Punta Gorda on Roatán is one of many villages where they live.
Roatan, the Home of the English Pirate Henry Morgan, sounded too crowded to me so I preferred to go to Utila instead. The ferry takes only about 2 hours to get there.

There are no roads on Guanaja, the third island. Islanders travel by boat. There is a canal that locals call, "the cut", that allows access from the south to the north side of the island without having to go all the way around. It’s called the Venice of Honduras because the amount of canals. Guanaja was devastated by 'Mitch' Hurricane, and still some parts haven’t recovered since.

I will come back again.


Honduras Mountains

We drove back to San Salvador this time through San Marcos and Sta Rosa de Copán. The Mountains where amazing!. Cerro 'El Celaque' is 2880 meters high.
We were above the clouds. We had to cover the roof of the car a couple of times due the strong rains. Everything seemed so humid and wet, much like The Highlands or Asturias in the North of Spain, but with higher mountains and much more trees

Honduras-El Salvador Border

The customs in El Salvador were much more serious. The customs officer told me I shouldn’t get a passport stamp in Honduras next time, because you reduce the 90 days you have in El Salvador down to 30. Weird. So you choose to get stamped or not? He was polite and nice though.

Watercraft papers were asked again.

Guatemala-Honduras Border

We woke up about 6 or 7 am. I was unsure about Eric turning up. We had a few the night before, and he probably was still sleeping.

I would.

Palm tree forests

But when we were loading our bags into the jeep there he was! He brought a bag full of weed wrapped in a plastic bag! [Think in a Tesco one].
I didn’t pay more than a ‘fiver’ for it in the Guatemala currency Quetzals

[1 USD = 7.592 GTQ.]

Nice one!

Now it was time to get the watercraft and head to Honduras. Tela and 'Triunfo de la Cruz'. The Garifuna community was waiting for us.

We got through the Guatemala-Honduras Customs.

We had to park and pay about $3 . There were lots of people queuing, we didnt know why, but it went pretty quick for us. Then it’s when I just remembered, oops!, we had the weed in the car. The film 'Midnight Express' quickly came to my mind.

But everything was fine. Police only smiles here.

They only asked for the papers of the watercraft [Again]. We were told there are lots of stolen cars brought in from the USA to sell here.

Tony laughing said that in case we were caught, there is always 'La Mordida' a little bribe the police normally should accept.
There were loads of young people offering local currency exchange.

My friend was dealing with one of them. I took some photos while they were ‘busy’.

Border Police Offices

Antonio Blanco Rodriguez [Tony] getting the best deal

Its not that much!

We needed some 'Lempiras' anyway [Honduras currency].

Lempira [2 USD= 40 L.]

Honduras Border
End Of Part 6

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tela and Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras [Jeep Madness]

Garifuna Family-Triunfo Honduras

We couldnt get a rid of the kids anywhere cuz the jet sky!

Garifunas Reggae Bar in Triunfo

Toni Bullet Boy!

My friend Antonio Blanco Rodriguez

Garifunas Comedy &African Chants

As soon as we were getting into the little Village 'El triunfo de La Cruz' through a narrow path off the main road that goes to La Ceiba, I saw this wee little blond fella pulling a trolly behind him.

Triunfo de la Cruz town entrance

He looked at me and smiled, like everyone seems to do in this country.

Too young to work isn’t it? Thought he should be in School instead, but maybe they were on school Holidays?

Toni driving the jeep

We drove towards the beach which was pretty close, the little town looked like empty and my friend Tony wanted to try again his Jetsky.
There was absolutely no one on the beach to be seen, it was about 1 pm, the sun was strong and we were the only ones around.

Tony placed the jeep on the sea shore, and I helped him to put the Jetsky in the sea.

But suddenly we realized we couldn’t get the jeep out! The more my friend pushed the gas pedal, the more the wheels were digging into the sand.

We tried and tried, but nothing. The sea was starting to swallow the car, waves were getting a bit stronger, so my friend told me to go to the town and try to find some people to help us.

I left him there with his attempts to get his car out of the water, making sure we were not losing the watercraft either, because the waves were staring to get bigger and bigger [Typical].

The village was near the beach , but there was no one on the streets!

Is it siesta time? Where are the people in this ghost town?

But Hey! Hang on a minute, isn’t he the blonde kid I saw before?


I asked him what his name was and he replied 'Erzun', which sounded like a basque name to me. To be honest he didn’t look like a Caribbean-Garifuna either.

I told him if he knew any people around, maybe some young lads willing to help us. It was an emergency and we needed help!

We were even willing to give a little amount of money for the help.

He ran and disappeared into a back street.

As I didn’t know what else to do, and the streets were isolated, I decided to go back to help Tony.

Maybe he managed to get the car out?, or maybe the car was lost for ever?

Unfortunately things were getting worse. I had to put our stuff out of the car on the beach, just when I saw the waves getting into the car seats.

Some kids gathered as chance spectators, mesmerized by the show.

Tony looked pretty calmand relaxed to me. If it were my car I would be panicking!

Hope is the last thing you lose.

Suddenly 4 or 5 guys turned up on the beach ....Herzun managed to find some people!


We tried to pull the car with some ropes, but we didnt have any improvement at all.

We needed more people to help.

My friend chatted with one of The Garifunas, he was wearing a hat and a white t shirt and a big collar? of the rasta god 'Halie Selassie'.He seemed the leader to me.

Tony offered him some more money if he could bring more people to help.

Garifuna Kids peeping

Locals helping

Meanwhile, I tried to call the insurance company of my mate's car, he was fully covered, but didn’t have much luck and I couldnt get through, as all I got were those sort of annoying answering machines: 'if you want to renovate your insurance press 1', ' If you need xxxx press 2', etc etc.... fuck! the only thing I needed was some assistance!

I had my doubts that would work though, as the nearest city was probably 2 or 3 hours away...so by the time they got here the car would be scuba diving in the Atlantic ocean. I thought it was better to leave it, and focus on helping my friend [And take some pics of course]. :-D

More people came, they brought big wooden sticks to try put below the front wheels.

After another long 15 minutes, ...Hurrah!! the car was back on the sand!

Tony then, as promised paid them in the local currency [Lempiras].
At first it was getting a bit chaotic as they were arguing who helped the most, so the bloke looked like the leader offered to be the one to 'distribute' the money fairly to all of them. Good job lads!

Antonio Blanco Rodriguez-Tony

Antonio Blanco dealing with the locals

We didn’t give them that much money [According to European] standards, but they seemed content with the amount, my friend Tony knew what would be a fair deal.
I would have been clueless.
Beautiful unspoiled beaches in Tela town Honduras

In the afternoon I saw this black lad searching the beach sand where we took the car before. He said he lost his watch while helping, and they even didn’t give him any money!

I felt sorry for him and gave him 10$ as I didnt have any Lempiras left, the local currency.

Tony discussed the issue with me, telling me I shouldn’t, do that as maybe he was lying or cheating. 10$ is a lot of money in Triunfo de la Cruz, I will never know if he said the truth...

I didn’t care

Thank you, Garifunas!

End Of Part 5