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honduras pt. 1

ok, i’ve finally downloaded & curated some of the ~1000 or so photos i took during our recent trip to honduras.  so far, i’ve only gone through about the first 36 hours of our trip.

hostel floor

we start off at approximately 1 AM on the living room floor of a hostel in the industrial center of honduras: san pedro sula.  we had arrived at the airport only 3 hours earlier; since we planned on catching a bus out of town the next morning at 5 AM, we thought we might save a night’s lodging costs and sleep in the airport terminal.  sadly, the honduran customs officials didn’t think our idea was so clever (the airport actually closed at night).  several dirty looks and one silent taxi ride later, we found ourselves at the only hostel in a sketchy looking neighborhood.

initially, we thought we had lucked out: the proprietress told us she had an extra bed for us.  unfortunately, she was wrong.  it turned out that the extra bed belonged to an english tourist who was out carousing with some men she had met earlier in the evening.  her acquaintance (who had been awoken by the proprietress) insisted that the bed not be given away, in the off-chance that her friend wasn’t kidnapped by her newfound friends.  thankfully, after much pleading, we convinced the proprietress to let us sleep on the floor.  as we were carrying our full camping gear, i thought this would be a good idea: we get a discount on our lodging (we got the hostel fee halved) and thanks to our mattress pads, we would have a more comfortable night than in some saggy mattress.  of course, i forgot to take into account the cockroaches that scurried across the floor all night, as well as the lack of good ventilation on the floor; it was too hot to sleep in our sleeping bags, but extremely nasty feeling roaches walking on you.

welcome to honduras.

the next morning, my spanish is put to the test as we try and find our bus.  apparently, our bus no longer leaves from where the guide book says it does.  it takes 15 minutes of hiking, 1 conversation with a man who courageously overcame all odds to become drunk by 9 AM, and a lot of wandering to eventually get here:

san pedro sula bus

we quickly learn that transportation infrastructure is not honduras’ strong point.

however, we also notice that san pedro sula’s industrial parks have this bleak beauty to them:

honduran silos

by an amazing stroke of luck, we find our bus.  10 minutes later, we take off towards the city of copan.  our bus makes frequent stops along the road for the next 3 hours, picking up hondurans heading in our direction.  this woman brings 2 dogs onto the bus in little cardboard boxes:

we pass things you don’t usually see in the states:

finally, we arrive in copan.  we find a nice little hotel with a garden in the middle:

i’m sorely tempted, but i don’t buy any street food.

we get on a taxi to take us out of the town, to the local ruins.  the taxis are adorable — these little motorized tricycles, very similar to what they use in manila.

honduran tricycle

the mayan ruins at copan are breathtaking:


old big head

we leave the ruins mid-afternoon and, in spite of the falling rain, we decide to hire a guide and take a horseback ride through the countryside. this turns out to be a good idea; not only is it fun to ride horses:

but our guide turns out to a kind man full who’s fascinating to talk to:

he tells us that he’s only 40-something but already has 15 children.  born and raised in copan, he’s held a wide breadth of jobs, including: police officer, farmer, government official, archaeological excavator, and builder.  as we pass through the forest, he points out which tree leaves the mayans would use as analgesics.  he also tells us more somber stories about the devastation wrought by hurricane mitch, a huge storm that took its time passing over honduras.  copan suffered particularly exquisite flooding, as it lies in a valley:

copan valley

our guide told us that in spite of hurricane mitch happening almost 10 years ago, local agriculture had still not recovered; lucrative strains of coffee and tobacco that once were cultivated in the valley still couldn’t be re-introduced.  tourism, he tells us, has been increasing, but not rapidly enough to offset the catastrophic loss of crops.

excited by having seen the ruins and sobered by our guide’s stories, we return back to our hotel.  we find that our room lacks a window screen.   while we are taking malaria pills, we decide not to tempt fate; we find that the tent we’re carrying fits very neatly on our bed.  we fall asleep watching the honduran national soccer team lose on tv through our tent’s screen door.

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2 Responses to “honduras pt. 1”

  1. on 28 Sep 2007 at 9:50 am Andrew Louie

    couldn’t you pitch your tent at that hostel on the first night? I just recently watched hostel 2. Is it true that the only people who use hostels are extremely attractive young people who enjoy running around in minimal clothing and implicitly trust any and all other attractive young people?

    also stay away from people with tattoo’s of bloodhounds on them!

  2. on 28 Sep 2007 at 10:07 am Lawrence David

    it was 85 degrees in there. it would have been even nastier in a tent =)

    funny though — most of the people in hostels i come across are indeed good looking. i can’t really speak to their potential killing prowess, however; i’m firmly resolved to never watch any of those hostel movies, given how often i end up finding myself in one them. i’d be paralyzed with fear every time i travel.

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