Most tourists, especially from the US, only come to Honduras to visit Roatan or Utila, flying down (or arriving by cruise ship) to enjoy the delights of those islands, with their world class diving and beautiful beaches. Except for a few spots, they avoid the mainland, with its reputation for violence and safety issues. But we had heard wonderful things about the mainland of Honduras, and decided to spend the bulk of our time here traveling the country. There are loads of other things to do in Honduras besides its spectacular beaches and diving, and we wanted to check out some of those things for ourselves.
“Honduras – Todo esta Aqui!” is the slogan you see on road signs throughout Honduras. And they’re right. Everything is here! While Honduras may be known as the Banana Republic, the diversity of its ecology is astounding. This is a mountainous country, with lots of winding roads. You can have breakfast in a river valley, spend your lunch at the beach, and then head into the mountains and rain or cloud forests for your dinner. The opportunities to get out and explore all different sorts of nature are seemingly unending here. If you like to be outdoors and be active, Honduras is the place for you. But there are also loads of opportunities for relaxation.
We’ve been in Honduras for two weeks now and we’re exhausted. But it is the good kind of exhausted that comes from being active and challenging ourselves.
In fact, when we look back at all we’ve done in the past 13 days, it makes sense that we are tired. We’ve sampled the cosmopolitan vibe of Tegucigalpa, with its big city energy. We’ve traveled by rapidito bus to the center of Honduras, to drink beer at a microbrewery & lodge in the middle of the rainforest & hike and kayak its largest lake. We’ve hiked just about every day that we’ve been here, including time in several national parks and private reserves, observing hummingbirds as big as my hands, agoutis, motmots, and various other interesting birds and insects. We’ve rafted on the Rio Cangrejal, reputed to be some of the best rafting in all of Central America. And we’ve spent time at a Garifuna village on the Caribbean coast, enjoying the tranquility of deserted beaches and the afrocaribe culture.
We’ve stuffed our bellies full of baleadas, the national dish of Honduras. A flour tortilla filled with refried beans, rice, and eggs as a base (and then people add all sorts of other fillings), they are eaten for breakfast and dinner. Not for lunch because you’re probably still full from the one you ate at breakfast. And we’ve sat down to many a plato tipico for both breakfast, lunch, and dinner; an ever changing combination of beans, rice, grilled meat, fish or eggs, and salad. We’ve bought rambutan bigger than golf balls from a wheelbarrow on the side of the road. Three different varieties that the gentleman, whose name is Leo, grows on trees in his backyard. We sit and chat with him over jugo de cañas (sugar cane juice) which is served here in Honduras with limon…a new twist on an old favorite.
I’m not going to lie to you. Honduras is a challenging country. It’s a rough and tumble life here outside the beachy tourist zones. It’s not set up for tourists to travel long distances easily and economically. So if you don’t want to travel by chicken bus, it can be complicated and expensive to get from place to place. We’ve spent a lot of time on local chicken buses, crawling through the countryside and stopping frequently. Our only other choice in limited areas is the very expensive high end VIP bus, which whips through the countryside without stopping. The typical mid range bus we would normally take in places like this simply does not exist here, most likely because a tourist bus would be a huge target for robbery.
But we’ve been huge fans of the chicken bus for years. It is such a great way to see things! It’s what we normally take when traveling in Asia, South America, or Mexico, and we’re comfortable taking it here as well. Tourists don’t typically take these sorts of buses, and it often makes us quite the attraction on the bus. What that truly means is that we’ve had all sorts of wonderful interactions with locals who are interested in who we are and what we’re up to, and are so happy and proud to share their country, & a little bit of their lives, with us. We’ve had so many great conversations with people and gotten so many tips and insights into life in Honduras and what we should check out. We’ve never once felt in danger or threatened while we’ve been here.
The other thing we’ve found is that in many places we just don’t have the same sort of freedom to wander the streets due to safety issues. So we’ve been limited in the ability to do one of our favorite activities in a new place: explore on foot, try the local street food, & meet people. We’ve definitely had opportunities to do that here, but they just haven’t been as prolific as other places we have visited. We head to Copan Ruinas next week and we’ve heard that is a town where you really can wander around. So we’re looking forward to that.
But all those challenges aside, our time here has been phenomenal! Amazing people, astounding scenery, spectacular wildlife. And we’ve had so much opportunity to be outside and active every day experiencing new things.
But today, we are just enjoying being stationary. After two weeks of running around, we’re back at the brewery by the lake, settled in for a week of hiking, kayaking, writing, and exploring. It’s almost time to wander down the dusty road into the local town for our daily jugo de caña and visit with Leo.
Here are a few of our favorite photos from our time here so far. Enjoy!
Have a great Wednesday!