I have yet to find the time to write about Honduras or Nicaragua and already I am in Costa Rica! I hope to have time on Tuesday or Wednesday when we have turnover day and we get a new set of tour people and a new leader to finally catch my literary self up with my true self!
And so…a quick overview of the 5 or so days I spent in Honduras, which I definitely didn’t feel was long enough.
We left Antigua at 4 a.m. in order to drive to the Honduran border before the crush. We headed for the little border town of Copan, nestled in the hills, only an hour’s drive from Guatemala. Copan is famous for its ruins, unfortunately, having been to Tikal only 10 days before, they seemed less than impressive. On a lot smaller scale, and with the jungle around them cleared away, the ruins are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t awe inspiring. They are also a lot more decrepid and clearly not as faestidiously cared for, as for Honduras, they aren’t a main source of tourism income, unlike Tikal for Guatemala.
Overall I was astounded that Honduras wasn’t as poor as I thought it was going to be. I thought, as one of the least visited countries, it would be one of the poorest, but I was wrong on both counts! Honduras was a lot cleaner and looked more advanced than Guatemala had, even the stray dogs didn’t look so starved.
The next day we set out on an epic 12 hour journey to the other side of the country, catching a nauseating ferry over the Caribbean Sea to the autonomous Bay Islands or ‘las islas de la bahia.’ We spent the next two days on the very expensive Roatan, which was a welcome break from the non-stop action of the past 3 weeks. We lounged on the beaches and lounged some more, barely lifting a finger for 3 long days.
On the boat over, I spoke to a local, dark skinned man called Frank, who had been born on Roatan’s southern tip in one of the Garifuna villages, making him a true Bay Islander, born and bred. I asked him if he felt a part of Honduras, and he strongly rebuffed me, saying that the people of the islands feel very strongly about their independance. As with all those born on the Islands, he spoke English as his first language, not Spanish, as on the mainland, these dots of land are a true oddity. This is becuase, unlike the San Blas archipelago in Panama for example, these Islanders are not indiginous Indians, they are people who came to the islands after 1850, although most look like they just stepped off a ship from Ireland. The three islands which make up the archipelago are entirely geared around luxury holidays, especially for the more advernturous Americans.
I feel I only saw an snapshot of Honduras, spending a brief night in the capital, Tegucigalpa, where we went to a very modern shopping mall, before we were rushed on to Nicaragua. And excuse to return however, and next time I want to see the Mosquito Coast!