Traveling through Central America is not as easy as one would think. In order to enjoy the beaches, ruins or some traditional villages you definitely have to bear the heat, the sweat, and the crowded buses. Even if the general sign for a trash bin should here be the open window of a bus (moving or stationed), not all countries are the same. As opposed to El Salvador, in Honduras the ambulant sellers don’t climb the bus while its stopped, but will circle around with their products, trying to get in through the windows. They even have a stick with a plastic bowl for the taller buses. I didn’t want to start with the second part of my story about Honduras this way, but it’s the shocking or maybe unpleasant parts of the journey that stick to you. Pretty much every time I got on a bus I was reminded it’s so much better on a motorcycle or your own car. Bus schedules in this part of the country are no good, and other travelers’ guides are also unreliable. So for here don’t make the mistake (like many others) to carry one of those lonely planet guides or other books.
After departing Isla Utila in Honduras, I ended up on the shore of lake Yojoa as I mentioned before. The hostel I stayed at, D&D brewery, was an oasis of freshness. The trees and the jungle shading all the houses and places to camp, good tasting food and American craft beer, made my stay there really pleasant. But food and drinks are nothing without good company, so I was happy to meet here again two of my ex-colleagues at the dive center on Utila (Chandra and Benjamin – a German couple who travel in an old GMC Camper van named Eddie or Freddy?! 🙂 ) who gladly shared their delicious German bread baked in the van with me. And as we got in at the same time, I got to share the dorm with two lovely girls – Romina and Tara. We even went on some nice trips together while there (hike the 7km trail of the PANCAM national park, Los Naranjos Eco & Archeological park, and the Pulhapanzak waterfalls – don’t forget to check out the pictures). This place is just perfect for anyone – lots of stuff to do, well connected, and a really good place to rest after the last few days of diving in the hot ocean.
Great stories to tell: getting into the Pulha waterfalls (and the caves under the waterfall) and the awesome “I saw a quetzal” story.
Tara decided to join me for the rest of the trip, or better said we planned together the trip ahead. The next few days we spent on Jorge’s ranch. Jorge is a CouchSurfer who invited me over to his place while I was still in El Salvador. I didn’t know back then I will have such a great time at his farm. Located in Zambrano (a small place that’s not in any tourist guidebook), his house is fully designed by himself and it’s definitely unique for the area. His travels must have inspired him to build this lovely European-style mansion, but sadly the location is not in the main path for the tourists to come. And since the trip is all about meeting nice people, Jorge did his best for us to experience a full immersion into the real Honduran lifestyle. After a whole day off-road trip on dusty mountain roads through isolated villages I can now say I have manually grounded roasted coffee in a traditional house and ate tamales dough right before being cooked. Of course, the important part is the stories these people tell and the interest they give you. That’s how I learned about the bug that eats the trees’ core and kills them in quite impressive amounts, or the rainy season that’s being delayed year after year. I tried to repay his hospitality by fixing his WV van and his old Nissan, which I failed miserably. Sadly, there are some things you can’t fix without new parts. My addiction to internet and the strong desire to get Tinkerbell back asap drove me away, otherwise I would have spent more time at his place.
Not on my initial plan, but with a few more days to spare and Tara’s strong desire to explore another off-the-map place, we went to Isla El Tigre. Honduras’ former greatest port, this island in the Pacific is now a poor place, with people barely making their living and trying to get all the money out of the few tourists coming to the island. The few walks and one expensive night spent there were enough to blow away any good recommendations from any tour books. The place we stayed was central but so “clean” they even laughed at me when I asked for sheets (and that’s another aspect to discuss – the way the Hondurans treat their customers). And just like in the horror movies, we were almost trapped on the island the next day as the advertised “24h boat service” from Amapala runs only when there are people, and obviously 2 is not enough. Three hours later we’re on the bus to El Salvador, aiming for the more popular beach of El Cuco, but again failing miserably (thanks to a ‘very helpful’ guide book and some ‘very good’ bus connections).
General considerations about Honduras…
– the people don’t smile as much as in El Salvador, their general look being an angry/sad one
– there is a constant desire to charge you, for anything, or charge you more just for being a tourist (or maybe the country is just more expensive than other Latin countries around)
– there is a general lack of education or common sense, and no interest of changing
– the roads are full of plastic trash, maybe even more than in El Salvador (mostly food wraps and water bags), and the trash bins are quite a rarity. My count reached 6 in the whole stay in Honduras.
– the internet is so slow and sometimes missing entirely – which brings me to the other aspect
– they way they run businesses is seller-centered: if you need to go, just close the place and go – nobody needs to know where you are, or if you’re coming back the same day, or ever coming back; if there’s someone waiting in line to pay, you must definitely finish the 10min conversation with the guy ahead who is not even buying anything; if there’s a foreign customer (like me) act like he’s trying to rob you, and give him ‘the angry look’ or mumble something very fast when replying; when the meal is over, leave all the plates on the table until the customer finishes his desert, or even until the next customer sits down. The list could go on and on… but I hope in 50 years things will get better 🙂
Meanwhile, I got news my bike is ready, so here I come, El Salvador!
Whole journey map