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La vida loca! Wished you were there? We did, so here we are on our big adventure! A year in central America, to make sense of this vida loca...

The goosey what?

HONDURAS | Sunday, 4 January 2009 | Views [1791]

Like your donuts rotten?

Like your donuts rotten?

First off, sorry for the delay since our last entry - we've been a bit off the map in the Maya Mountains for three weeks (story to come...).

After a rather tortuous experience with a bus company agent (it took us forty minutes to purchase two tickets – and we were the only people in the shop), we said goodbye to Nicaragua and took the Tica bus up over the border and into Honduras. We traveled through cattle pasture and up through hills into the mountains. The first obvious difference here was that the forest consisted mostly of Caribbean Pine, not the rainforest that dominated in the other countries we’d passed through already.

We finally arrived in Tegucigalpa (‘tegooseegalpa’), Honduras’ busy, dirty capital. After a couple of abortive attempts to find a hotel, we plumped for a 70’s concrete job and set out to explore. The city really isn’t anything to write home about, the traffic is very heavy, leading to gridlock the majority of the time, when every self-respecting Honduran vents their frustration by beeping his/her horn repeatedly, as its obviously someone in front who is maliciously blocking the road and making them late for work, every day. In the short periods of time when the traffic is moving, crossing the road becomes problematic, as it seems obligatory for drivers to floor their accelerators as soon as they see pedestrians attempting to step out. Maybe I’m just being neurotic, but both Rachel and I had some rather close shaves with psycho trucks and motorbikes.

Newly restored facade of Tegucigalpa cathedral

Although the capital is nothing to look at (I get the impression the old colonial city was torn down and rebuilt with concrete in the 60’s and 70’s.), we found that it does have a really good art museum, focusing on local talent, including a good collection of Honduran naivist art, with colourful scenes of an idealized rural Honduran life. They also have a new museum of Cultural Identity, which sets out a very detailed history of the country from pre-columbian times to the present - really interesting, although it was all in Spanish, which gave Rachel a headache trying to translate it all! They also had a reconstruction of one of the temples at Copan, the big Mayan ruin in northern Honduras – a taste of things to come.

Like the architecture, the restaurants in ‘Tegoos’ are nothing much to write home about. The high street is dominated by US chains – Pizza Hut, Wendys, MacDonalds and Dunkin Donut – the first time we’d seen so many. The only difference between here and the US are the presence of security guards carrying combat shotguns. It’s kind of surreal having a morning coffee and croissant surrounded by three heavies carrying lethal weapons. We had seen armed guards before protecting banks in Nicaragua, but the Hondurans seem to have extended the idea to most big shops and restaurants – which suggests that either there’s an armed robbery problem, or people have taken news reports of armed robberies to heart and aren’t taking any chances.

The war against drugs clearly isn't working...

I was amused by some of the Honduran shops. There’s a home grown fast-food chain called D K’d Donuts. Obviously an attempt to attract some of the reflected glory from Dunkin. However, maybe they didn’t think the name out very carefully. There’s also a clothes chain called Charly. I imagine they have booths at the back where you can get your line of the white stuff whilst browsing the underwear section. And don’t forget to swoop down and get some choice bits from Carrion, the department store from Costa Rica.

We didn’t sleep well. The first night some guy decided to start up his car stereo at 12.00 and have a one-man party for half an hour. The next night he decided to have a party starting at 1.00, until the cops came and shut him down. To add to the effect, the hotel nightwatchman turned up the TV in the lobby so he could hear it over the music, and then stood outside our door and had a loud, and apparently hilarious conversation on his mobile.

A quieter view across one of the old plazas, Comayagua

After a few days a couple of sleep-deprived travelers left the whiff of exhausts and the sound of blaring horns behind them and took a bus up north to Comayagua, the old colonial capital, with a couple of nice plazas and a lovely cathedral facade. We soon found out that Tegoos wasn’t the only place with a lot of noise – let’s make that most Honduran towns. Check out a short video of the cement trucks, fireworks, dog chorus, shouty people and to cap it all a Mexican Mariachi band outside our hotel. The video doesn’t really do it justice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY2u_XS9Vjw

Wanting a break from town life, we booked a place at a guesthouse cum microbrewery on Lake Yojoa further north, run by a guy from Oregon. Of course, the prospect of some decent beer didn’t come into our decision at all.

To see more images click here:

http://journals.worldnomads.com/rachel_and_daniel/gallery/14513.aspx

The oldest cathedral in Honduras, Comayagua

Tags: comayagua, fast food, grid-lock, parties, tegucigalpa

 

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