Central America | Honduras | Southern Honduras | Tegucigalpa – Honduras
I almost cycled straight through the narrow gap of Honduran real estate that lies along the pacific. As my bicycle brought me through El Salvador and closer to the border with Honduras I realized this would quite likely be my only visit to Central Americas 2nd largest country. I also realized the regret I would have to deal with if I did spin through the sparsely populated area in just 2 days of pedaling.
I changed my mind and my direction. I headed east for the capitol. In no time at all I began to meet people who effortlessly made me feel at home. Within their company I was offered a glimpse into Honduran life. As difficult as times here are with an almost 50% unemployment rate, high crime and abundant street children the people of Honduras hold their heads high and sport great large smiles. Amidst the tangles of daily life here people seem to enjoy life and laugh easily.
I spent a few days in Tegucigalpa and decided to carry on to the Caribbean coast. I climbed up out of the capitol in thick clouds of exhaust laid down by overburdened and under maintained buses and trucks. The chaotic traffic, honking horns and powerful sun made the first hour of riding a challenge. The road out soon took on a pleasant feel and before the day was out I was in the city of Comoyagua. Comoyagua was the first capitol of Honduras and is the city of Central Americas first university. It took 3 more days to reach the coast. I was excited to see the shining aqua green waters of the Caribbean.
On my last day of riding, which brought me to the coastal town of Tela, it began to rain. It began and it carried on gaining strength as it fell. It rained more in that one day than I have experienced in over seven months of cycling. It was great! At times it was hard to see but it was a lot of fun. I felt like a kid playing in mud puddles. When I arrived in Tela I was as wet as a fish. I got a nice room there with hot water and cable TV. What a splurge, until the power went out. I ate in a restaurant by candlelight thankful that people cook with gas here and not electricity.
It was eerie and exciting to be in a blacked out city with waves pounding the shores, unrelenting torrential rain and silhouettes of the few who hung out on street corners. Daylight would provide a different picture of Tela but sunshine and dry streets would not be a part of it. I hung out there for an extra day hoping for the weather to clear, I wanted to go on a guided kayaking trip. Mother nature complied and the next morning I was happy to be paddling through the thick of Rio Plantans mangrove forest. We saw Toucans, several types of heron and other birds, brightly colored butterflies and turtles. It was a very nice paddle. Afterwards we went to a Garifuna village for lunch. The Garifuna people are descendants of West African slaves and Caribbean Islands. We also visited a shop where drums and other instruments are made. We all picked up a drum or other instrument and followed the owners lead into an undisciplined calypso beat. It was great fun.
The next day I headed out along the coast to the city of La Ceiba. It was a little damp with a light but constant drizzle. Before the days ride ended the drizzle would once again turn into heavy rain and once again my happy skin would wrinkle. The purpose of going to La Ceiba was access to the Bay Islands and the worlds 2nd largest barrier reef. With the continuing storm however the ferries were grounded. I had some time to kill. On my first evening in La Ceiba I went to a local drinking hole were I watched men surrender their handguns at the bar as they entered. Later with judgments to varying degrees impaired, they would reclaim their guns and enter the streets with the rest of society. What an odd feeling that gave me. I have become numb of the hundreds of rifles that protect banks and stores here. I no longer notice these high-powered weapons or the adolescent faces of the guards, police and soldiers who carry them. But the gun check at the bar caught my attention.
From there I went into a store where the owner befriended me. We had a couple of beers and were joined by his cousin. The store was locked up and we remained inside to drink a couple of bottles of rum and tell stories. We ended the evening some time in the morning not long before light would be shed on the day.
With monster cobwebs I managed to make my way into town in search of strong coffee and a bit of food. I was intercepted by an English couple I had great fun with in El Salvador. So much for a civilized recovery. It was great to meet up with these guys again we had so much fun in El Salvador I knew there was more fun to be had. And there was. The next day we went white water rafting in the Pico Bonito cloud forest reserve. It was a blast! Everyone went in the water, we left none including our boat captain dry. We also went on a hike. Our guide for the hike found a 6-foot boa constrictor and managed after quite a bit of work to pull it up out of its tangle of swamp grass and rocks. The boa wrapped itself around the guides arm demonstrating its powerful strength.
The snake was unwrapped and tossed into a pond were he slithered away with the grace of a dancer. It was quite a sight.
I woke the next day to sunlight. Finally after 4 days of rainstorms and overcast the skies were smiling and we were all off for the island. We spent four days on Utila. I stayed in a simple room that overlooked the ocean. Gently slapping waves and cool salt breezes lulled me to sleep and greeted me at sunrise. I made 6 dives off the reef and each one was great. Its been years since I dove in the Caribbean and now I wonder why. It is a place, which is hard to describe. The range and abundance of coral and fish in these waters is almost overwhelming. Each piece of coral is a work of art as are the fish. This is the work of nature and the only way to experience it is to come here and dive. I saw trumpet fish, barracuda, lots of angle fish, blowfish, sea turtles and countless other forms of sea life. We all hoped to see whale sharks but that will have to happen on my next visit to the these waters.
I am back in the capitol again. I went out with friends here last night and again stayed out until just before dawn. I really must escape this country if I am to survive and complete this journey. But I will enjoy this last day here with the friends I have made. Tomorrow I will get back in the saddle and head for Nicaragua. My goal is to make it to Granada for the holy celebrations of Semana Santa, Central Americas biggest holiday.
Its hard to believe I almost missed this country.
Weather: Sunny, Rainy, Stormy, Sunny
Flat Tires: count lost
Mule Races: 1