Journal de bord
Viernes 19 agosto 2011 : Un viaje a Honduras * (*A Coca Cola Company brand ?)
Estoy escribiendo de la ciudad de Granada en Nicaragua donde llegamos desde hace 3 dias. El pais de Nicaragua es muy bonito pero sera el objeto del proximo informe. Tambien es un pais muy interesante quien tiene una historia rica marcada para su lucha para conseguir su independencia frente a las pretensiones de los Estados Unidos (para conquistar un paseo hacia el Oceano Atlantico via el Lago de Nicaragua y el Rio San Marcos). Ahorita es siempre Daniel Ortega el Presidente lo quien no le gusta a Los Norte Americanos.
La cuidad de Granada es hermosa porque se queda a punto del Lago de Nicaragua quien es tan grande como la Corcéga y tambien otros lagos como (el Lago de Apoyo, el Lago de Managua, la Isla de Omotepe concebida para dos volcanos en el medio del Lago de Nicaragua…muy lindo !) y de algunos volcanos (unos activos) como el Momotombo, el Cerro Verde, etc…).Entonces el sitio natural es fabuloso.
La ciudad de Granada es una veja cuidad colonial con muchas iglesias y casas coloniales con tejados de teja. Es un cuidad muy agradable a vivir y el coste de la vida es muy interesante (es bastante barrata y la cocina es muy rica). Vamos quedarse aqui 10 dias por que empezaremos una semana de leccion de español desde este Lunes hasta Viernes durante 15 horas (cada dia 3 horas). La cuidad es un buen lugar para quedarse y para aprender español.
Pensamos regularmente a nos amigos de Belgica por que aqui el clima esta de tipo tropical con un sol radiante desde la mañana y una luz brillosa. La temperatura puede alcanzar 40 grados C°facilmente.
So what about Honduras ?
Firstly, I want to say that people in Honduras were extraordinary welcoming, friendly, smiling and helpful. Getting in contact with them was just a breeze because they are really keen on talking to you very easily.
A lot of them told us some confidences about how hard and harsh was life in their country. Actually it doesn’t take us much time to realize that even now most of businesses belong to US companies. Not only in the fruit business (We’re talking about the Banana and coffee trades) but even regarding to entertainments and tourist business. As a matter of fact, we saw that touristic activities were rather pricey because labeled in US Dollar (of course!) and much higher than the standard cost of living. To keep a long story short: it was US entertainment made for US travelers (so good at home guys!).
Consequently, we did our very best to be hosted by local homestay and to grab our food to local stalls. Besides, it’s astonishing to spot some backpackers wasting wads of cash in those American Businesses. Those owners really act as if doubting of nothing. They put up some prices over 30 to 50 % upper than the local prices (for everything as food, lodging, tours, and so on…) so that you’ve only to look around to find much cheaper prices. Unfortunately, lots of backpackers end up in those hostels because of the seeming facilities it offers (and it’s not always true : sometimes those places are more expansive but the comfort and the cleanliness are just over – let alone if you tend to learn Spanish – leave it guys !)
It’s also reported that the vast majority of the banana and coffee businesses are into the hands of American companies and lots of local guys told us that if you really wanted to stay alive here, you had better not complain.
However, just alongside those western businesses, there are lots of very poor people and in the rural areas, it’s just incredible the difference that does exist between the local people very poor (but so charming and smiling) and the rapacious business (not so smiling at all but far more interested in your expected deep pockets - but sorry guys we really can survive without gulping down burgers and beers).
On the other hand, the country is very beautiful and above all the countryside (el lago de Yojoa is really a wonder – but what a journey to get there). That’s true that travelling in Honduras is not a breeze (except if you waste you US dollars into taxis and US shuttles). Hanging around in chicken bus is such an experience. There are overcrowded and so slow because of the dumpy roads and the fact that they really stop incessantly. Eh, don’t forget that just a very very few people here can afford to buy a car). On the other hand, that’s real Honduras full of long driving hours (your butt won’t ever forget it); full of smiley faces and curious stances to you (a gringo here - how progressive !!! – You speak Spanish ?! - No puedo creer lo – amigo viene in mis brazos que voy a besar lo); full of young students in their proud apparel going to school taking at times countless hours to get there and always happy to share a piece of road with their fella “compañeros de escuela”. We just miss their brightling laugh sometimes as a proof that they are really honest guys on earth. Yes, that’s the real Honduras full of joy, full of welcoming faces and full of hope because when they look at you, they sometimes picture what they could be if they were just on the other side.
We’ve exchanged lots of smiles and words with them.
So firstly, just a couple behind the border, we went to Copan Ruinas, a really lovely village with a wonderful quality of life and accommodation and food, a really heavenly place for a long-drive backpackers. The town is romantic, lovely and small…so you don’t have to stroll around the whole world to feel just happy and comfy. We were hosted by a lovely grand-mother and got some nice accommodation with a hot shower (God ! yes, it still exists !). Well we saw some amazing Macaws (parrots) reserve and the archeological site of Copan : really a must seen that you shouldn’t skip if you were around. A bit expansive but if you’ve so much money to gulp hamburgers that’s fair that the local government tends to grab its pie share. We’d do the same probably, woudn’t we ?
Then, on the road again toward Gracias in one of their dodgy and bumpy Canadian buses – turn into the so called “chicken bus” – so refreshing to spend hours to do just 80 kms ( 5 hours I’d say) - plenty of free time to study our Spanish and also our English). Got to Gracias – hosted by a kind of old Nazi that had fled its old Germany to find asylum here – it’s not that rare to bump into the old German padre that surprisingly felt in love with a local to settle here so far away from an annoying noise at home). Gracias, what a dead-and-alive hole but actually quite nice and so quiet. Before the town was called “Gracias a dios” because of their lovely Spanish founders and conquistadores. The Spanish did so many bad things around here that people fight to change the city name into “Gracias a Lempira” – the name of an Indian that did all he could do to resist to their invaders ! Thanks god they could change the city name. Lempira is still the Honduras currency so that you could picture how much those locals suffered the Spanish presence.
Oh- actually hope you’re neither Yankee nor Catholic …if so …not sure you’d appreciate my story. So sorry about that guys.
Got to Peña Blanca near the lake Yojoa banks. An extremely lovely place we warmly recommend to you. The lake is not so famous but however, it’s a wonder. We did a rowing boat tour with a local guy for three hours. We left at 6h30 till 10h30. It was an enchantment. The lake is quite famous for the number of birds that you can spot there. It was a peaceful moment and we saw plenty of various and colorful birds. A wonder. And besides, it was still cheap and affordable (16 € for 3 hours). We won’t ever forget the smoke rising off the water lake in the early morning. We saw also an amazing fall around that place. What a feeling! So great (see the pictures);
Going or not to the Hondurian Caribbean coast was such a dilemna. I don’t know why but reading my guide I had felt that it could be too “ Americanized”, if you could see what I mean. On the other hand, our guide seemed to say that the so called “Bay Island” was a kind of tropical heaven with palm trees, tropical beaches, white sand and all you could ever dream of to forget that you’re stuck in your grimy world at home. There are three Islands in the so called “bay island” – (Roatan, Utilla, and the third). The first one was supposed to be the best so finally we went to La Ceiba, the main harbor on the coast and took a boat to get there).
God ! That’s not the smartest thing we did. Welcome to paradise – guys !
Frankly and to be outspoken, the beaches are quite common and rather dull.
Everything was quite double priced that on the continent. The worst was the local food. Disgusting was just the word I would use to qualify the food which is sold in their smelly mini-market. If not you could go out and try to find your luck in their fancy restaurant rather unaffordable and quite as expansive as if you were in Belgium.
The worst were the sand flies !!!!! Never heard about that muck ??? YOU DON’t KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE ! The sand fly is just a tiny little bull sheet that you can find in their sand out there and it bites you as hell. At the start of it you get like a red hole in your skin but at the end you get a button and it really scratch like hell. In one word is horrible. There are thousands of these little bull sheet in their beaches so that it’s quite impossible to stand on the beach.
We met there a couple of super friendly Belgian Guys (Pieter and Inge - we are sending you a super big kiss) and Inge could tell you how horrible was her stay there. She had to go to the hospital twice to get some injections and pills to prevent her from scratching her skin. Guys, I was bitten as hell and it was such an effort not to scratch my skin all the time. Finally, we had to go directly in the water and after bathing we went out as quick as we could to avoid being bitten. Impossible to wander around without insect repellent and so one.
First night there, we got some trouble to find some affordable accommodation there. There were all full or so expansive. Finally we were quite happy to find a kind of dirty place to settle down. The place was rather chaotic, smelly, dodgy and all. The owner seemed to be warm, friendly but rather insane, depressed and lonely. She had probably felt in the weed pot a long time ago and was trying to sell her place but really trust me, it was more like a ruin than a hostel. Guys, what a night. I saw a rat as big as the first part of my arm inside the room. I’ve never seen a rat like this my whole goddam life. God, I really hate this kind of awful beast. And that’s just the start of it. We saw also a huge cockroach as big as my thumb. Oh, lovely…
Then, I wasn’t sleeping at all – around 4h00 AM I heard a kind of roar coming from outside. It was a drunk guys that tried to sleep in one of the outside sofas that were there. Then the owner came – I’d say as drunk as the guy himself and started a kind of fight with some dreadful threats – kind of “ Once I will kill you old bitch !”;
I didn’t sleep at all – I was exhausted and fully disgusted.
We found another place quite the double of the price but really lovely (for that price). Finally we decided to spend there almost 5 days.
I can say that there were lovely days, we bumped into really lovely and friendly guys and even if it was tricky to get to the beach we had some nice moment there, especially with our new Belgian friends. We hope that you came back home smoothly and we are already looking forward to seeing you again in Antwerpen. So long guys.
So we left that “Paradise” full of “American Gringos” and went back to la Ceiba. We took a comfy bus to get to the Capital where we spend a lovely night in a local restaurant. Those Hondurian people are so warm and friendly.
The last night in Honduras before running to Nicaragua.
So long Guys and try thinking a bit more Hondurian than Yankee.
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