Category Archives: Honduras

Copán Ruinas: The Best Place to Visit in Honduras?

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No matter how long you plan on staying in Copán for, I can guarantee you that you will end up staying there for an extra night! It’s a quaint little town, safe and clean, with oodles to do and not too saturated by tourists.

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The Ruins

Breathtaking Mayan Ruins in a beautiful park. Entrance costs $15, with $5 for a guide. Entrance to the site also allows you into a second, lesser visited site called “Las Sepulturas”, where you will end up climbing tomb raider style up and down more ruins than you can shake a stick at. I preferred the second site in some ways as it was quieter and the guides were more passionate, but the main ruins themselves were simply a beautiful place to just hang out and chill.

Bird Mountain

In San Pedro Sula, I was told that the bird park (“Macaw Mountain”) was unmissable, but I did in fact miss it. This was because:

a) I’m stingey

b) I prefer not to support businesses where animals are kept in cages

c) if you’re at the ruins at closing time, the macaws come in to roost, and you can get very close to them anyway. 

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Luna Jaguar

Beautiful thermal springs 60 minutes drive from the centre. I treated myself to this experience on the night of New Year’s day. It cost $25 (including transport), which was so cheap compared to anywhere else that I just couldn’t resist.

Eating

Most restaurants can be found on Calle de la Plaza, which goes from the south west corner of the central park. For breakfast, Avenida Sesesmil had a wide range of eateries, from organic coffee shops to local eating holes. There’s also a supermarket on this street, across from the football field, if you’re looking to cut costs, although a main course meal is unlikely to cost you more than $9, unless you go to the ritzy British Restaurant (obviously our notorious culinary reputation doesn’t precede us to Central America)

 

Honduras has a bad rep, but if you want to chill out and have a nice relaxing time, I highly recommend Copán. I’ve spent 3 months in Honduras now, and have come across the phenomenon that anywhere that is “safe” for me to go is invariably expensive and rubbish (i.e. some sort of chain). Not so in Copán, where people are friendly and welcoming, and when you ask them for directions, they actually stop, as opposed to in San Pedro where people are so guarded they won’t even turn to see who is addressing them.

 

As I was leaving my hostel, the proprietors and his friends asked me to stay. They are active on workaway.com and usually have at least one volunteer. I was tempted; they were lovely people, and this was the nicest place I had been to so far in Honduras. But time was awasting, and I had to continue my journey to see more of this beautiful yet troubled country.

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El Portal, The Best Restaurant in San Pedro Sula, Honduras

After the espectáculo, the founder of the home took us out to a nice Argentinian restaurant as a thank you and a farewell.

Inside the restaurant was wide and spacious, with a tiled floor and a waterfall coming down an ornamental wall. The restaurant was packed with people celebrating Christmas in large groups, and the waiter took us into a small back room. We were the only people there and it was the perfect intimate setting for our farewell dinner.

 

We had a lovely broth to start with. This is really good to keep out the winter chills (it was only 15C outside…)

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Randomly, there were coffee beans in the salt, as opposed to rice (for absorbing moisture).

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Then we all shared a mixed grill from their own wood fired barbecue, which had a delicious selection of sausages, ribs, and rib eye steak. Yet another time I was in a restaurant where I was glad that I wasn’t vegetarian anymore.

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As we were leaving, this sign was a reminder of the dangers of the city.

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Parque La Leona, Tegucigalpa

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View from Parque La Leona, Tegucigalpa

Parque La Leona was a short (yet steep) walk from the centre of Tegucigalpa.

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There was a lot of graffiti style art along the way.

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The park had a huge old tree, that my friend told me was “hule”, which was a word I didn’t recognise as I only knew the Spain Spanish word for rubber (“goma”).

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The Death of my Camera

So, after much stopping and starting, my camera (now at the ripe old age of 11 months) has finally given up.

About 3 months ago, maybe after a torturous ride in a suitcase, the lens stopped from automatically coming out when I turned it on. “Turn off and on again”, it bleated, so I did, and it was resurrected.

Gradually, it became more and more difficult to get it to work reliably, and after about 10 days here, it gave up altogether, probably due to the humidity.

Then Carmen came. Carmen is the cinematographer from the film crew, and she knows a thing or two about cameras, and she told me to smack it, hard, giving me these instructions

1. make sure it’s turned off

2. hit it in the horizontal plane, to align the inner mechanism

3. hit it evenly, along the bottom part.

Low and behold, after 5 or six consecutively harder and harder smacks, it started working again! Hooray, I thought.

Until it gave up again on my trip to Tegucigalpa, never to open it’s eye again.

As it’s the holiday season, it will take a camera technician a while to fix it, and from now on I will be on the move so much that it’s unlikely I’ll be anywhere long enough for someone to fix it and give it back to me. So, what to do?

A. Take a chance, and try to pay for it to be fixed, even though the chances are someone will try to rip you off, being a $gringa tonta$ and all that.

B. Use camera on smart phone. It’s not great but it’s an OK sub

C. See if I can buy a new one for $100 (electronics here aren’t cheap, but there might be something in the sales?)

D. Buy a sketch pad and pencils to draw shizzle along the way, like flora, fauna, and hills. A $100 digital camera doesn’t do scenic shots too well, and any shots with people I meet on my travels can be taken on their iphone and tagged on facebook. Benefits: Living in the present, man. Drawback: not a very experienced scenic sketcher.

But like it or not, if I’m serious about keeping a blog, I need a decent camera to capture images on, as everyone looks at the pictures online, and few read the text.

So,  I’ll need to make a decision soon. I think
I can justify buying a new camera as photos are so important for journalism, but maybe I should wait a while and get a really nice one, with all the bits and pieces. A few years ago, I never would have dreamed of doing that, but I think I know enough about cameras now to know that I will be patient, read the manual, and go “shooting” with friends, and maybe even join a photography club. Yeah that’s right, I’m becoming “one of those” people!

 

A Week In Tegucigalpa…Without Internet!

I set off to stay with my friend in Tegucigalpa without my computer for several reasons.

1. It wouldn’t fit in my backpack and carrying in it in it’s little bag is like wearing a sign that says “rob me please”

2. My friend doesn’t have internet in her house so I would need to carry it out of the house to use the internet  (see point 1)

I often turn on my computer with a sinking feeling, knowing that I will inevitably lose an hour of my life to keeping up with email, facebook etc etc, yet when I don’t have access to these things for 10 days, there’s a usually a big surprise awaiting me when I finally go to check. The surprise is as follows:

Absolutely nothing has changed.

 

The world has not exploded, everything is OK, apart from the fact that I now have about 100 email adverts clogging my inbox and about 10 emails from friends asking if I’m free to skype “sometime”, but with full knowledge that we are both so busy that actually catching each other at a good time while being thousands of miles apart is easier said than done.

From now on, I will only spend 60 minutes at a time on my computer, making a “to do” list before I turn it on, sticking to it, and not get caught up in flimflammery.

Yeah right! 😛

Having a Root Canal in Honduras

Today I had my first root canal and this is what it felt like.

First, I went to a wonderful dentist who took out my old filling and gave me an x-ray. She told me that I’d need to see a specialist to have a root canal, so she gave me a temporary filling and sent me home to have lunch. I asked her if my interdental brushing or flossing had caused the problem with the filling, and she said that over time the mercury (amalgama in Spanish) expands, making the filling bigger, and so by pulling with the floss I might have loosened it a tiny bit, allowing the tooth decay to reach close enough to the root to require it to be removed. I thought “That’s it. I’m never brushing my teeth again!”.

She called again a few hours later to say that the specialist could come in an hour, so off I went again. The specialist arrived and was very kind and friendly. She took out the temporary filling, and started poking my tooth extensively with various needles that she seemed to be screwing in and out.

I realised that the main problem with going to the dentist in Spanish is that once a person is wearing a mask to cover their mouth, it’s much more difficult to understand them, which we don’t always appreciate with our native language. Another thing was that there were two dental chairs in the room, with two young dentist ladies drilling away happily, meaning that the extra noise was another factor which made life more difficult for me.

My job was basically to wait patiently until it hurt, wherein she could inject INTO my tooth with an anaesthetic, putting the nerve to sleep before yanking it out piece by piece. Sometimes she pulled out big bits but mostly they were small. Then she took x-rays. Then she compared all of the x-rays that she had taken. As she did this, I thought about all the times when I had gone to bed without brushing my teeth, vaguely thinking “I’m probably going to regret this at the dentist one day”. I was right!

Normally, the procedure is done in two sittings, but I asked for it to be done in one, although in the end the dentist seemed tired and I didn’t want her to make a mistake through being overtired from her delicate yet at times strenuous work. She patched me up with another temporary filling, telling me to take painkillers, antibiotics, and drink plenty of fluids so she could finish up tomorrow. 

As she worked on my tooth, I thought about all the people who can’t afford dental work, and I considered myself very lucky to be in so much discomfort. The clinic that I went to serves the whole neighborhood, even those who can’t pay. I asked her if she gave treatment for free because she was a Christian, but she just smiled. She explained that the people from the bordo ( probably translates as “slum” in English) mainly come in for extractions, and that she has so many clients who can afford to pay (sometimes by installments) that she doesn’t need to charge the one’s who can’t. She explained that she thought that Honduras was a strange country because the government doesn’t try to help the poor. I was impressed by her simple, humble altruism, as much as I was impressed by a lady I met who came here a few weeks ago. She was an american, and a qualified dentist, and she had PAID with HER OWN MONEY to come here to work FOR FREE. It’s meeting every day heroes like these two ladies that gives me hope that there is more good in the world than the media lead us to believe.