Huashan 1914 Creative Park by Dewey Hammond

Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei was a winery back when Japan ruled Taiwan, but today it's an art park that reminds me a bit of the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. I wandered around for about an hour looking for the upsidedown house, a picture of which turned me onto 1914, only to realize that the house wasn't a permanent installation and that I'd missed it by months. Huashan 1914 Creative Park is less impressive than Beijing's 798, but also less commercial. It's a nice place to kill an hour or two.

Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Jiufen by Dewey Hammond

Statue of war god Guan Gong (Guan Yu) can be seen in the distance, nearby Qitang Old Street and Cyuanji Temple.

Keelung Mountain to the left.

Teapot Mountain to the left.

Overlooking the Yin Yang Sea.

Jioufen Gold Mine Museum by Dewey Hammond

Jioufen/Jiufen is on the northern coast of Taiwan, east of Taipei and Yangminshan National Park, near Keelung City. References to gold in the area date back nearly 600 years but Jioufen wasn't mined heavily until the 1890s, nearly 50 years after the California Gold Rush. Until recently Jioufen was home to the world's largest gold bar (220kg) but today the largest bar (250kg) is in Japan.

Railway tracks in Jioufen, leftover from gold mining. 

One of the world's largest gold bars, worth more than $9M USD.

485 pounds of pure gold.

Vintage bus, perhaps transportation for miners?

Pokémon Go.

Noni by Dewey Hammond

Noni is a tree in the coffee family, and its fruit tastes absolutely terrible. Some say it has medicinal properties, but I'd rather be sick and eat coconuts and mangoes.

Noni in West End, Roatán, Honduras.

Coconut beans and rice by Dewey Hammond

I miss living behind Rotisserie, even if I don't eat the chicken. Dola. Karen. Rosalie. The cats. The dogs. The passersby. I lived here for a year and I couldn't have asked for better neighbors, or better coconut beans and rice. Dola sources the coconut oil locally, and it's fantastic. And of course the marmahon, which is basically Israeli couscous but somehow a dish native to Honduras. It's buried beneath Dola's carrot-based spicy salsa. 

My favorite food in Honduras!

Petrosun by Dewey Hammond

Gangs came from the mainland for their annual motorcycle biker party or whatever. But it wasn't just bikes. Anything mobile qualified, at least for their (hella loud) display in the West End. Scooters. Skateboards. Bicycles. Someone had a hoverboard. Kids chasing on foot. Everyone was just excited for a little action, and then at night they took the party to French Harbor and beyond.

Petrosun near French Harbor, Roatán, Honduras.

Baleada by Dewey Hammond

Comida típica de Honduras. They aren't typically made with rice, but Nelson turned me onto it.

Una baleada con arroz, aguacate, crema, y frijoles, de Calelu's a.k.a. Abierto in West End, Roatán.

Shipwreck by Dewey Hammond

We surfaced from an afternoon dive at Mandy's Eel Garden (spotted eagle ray) and Nelson pointed off into the distance. A boat was in flames and clearly in trouble. By then most of the free boats in West End had gone out to help, or maybe just take a closer look. Over the next few days we heard a few different stories, but the most common was that it was a personal yacht being taken from Belize (or maybe South America) to Washington (or maybe Canada). 

A catastrophic, boat-sinking accident that close to shore, close enough to be rescued but deep enough where the boat will never be recovered?

First thought: insurance fraud.

Off the coast of Honduras.

Everyone was rescued but the boat sank maybe 2,000 feet.

Dangers in Honduras by Dewey Hammond

There is no shortage of statistics that show that Honduras is a dangerous place. Assassinations of environmental leaders, the most dangerous place for environmentalists in the world. Murders left and right, with zero accountability or reliable law enforcement. But it's maybe the roads that are most likely to kill you. Nearly all of the cars are salvaged vehicles from the States or elsewhere, and working seatbelts are hard to find. The only dead body I saw during my year in Honduras was from an accident. Motorcycle with no helmet.

Car accident near French Harbor (I think). It looked even worse than the picture. Not a good scene.

TIME FOR THE NEWS by Dewey Hammond

When I lived in Honduras, I would sometimes spend an hour in the evening watching the news with John. It was a ritual for him, and more or less became a ritual for me too. We'd get some terrible local feed from New York or New Jersey, or whatever Cable Color had negotiated, and it was almost never of interest or new, but it was a good excuse to drink Salva Vida and debrief the day.

Dragon watching us watch the news, outside the apartment complex where we used to live. There are so many bats that live on that balcony. Dozens, maybe hundreds if you count the surrounding trees. Sometimes we'd stand outside, hella still, and feel them fly by our faces.

Selfie time with Mr. John, dive mentor and good friend.