We survived San Pedro Sula!

October 2, 2016, Trip: Honduras
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October 2nd

So it’s our second Sunday in Honduras. We were not really sure how much time we’d spend here and figured maybe two weeks, but it’s been way safer feeling than we anticipated and we are enjoying our time. Honduras (HND) is cheaper than GTM and SLV (except gas) but just as hot although as we’ve not made it to the coast yet, it could be just as hot and more humid there. Also this is hurricane season on the Caribbean so it will probably be wet too.

After doing a few things in the “house”, we filled up our water tanks and left Copán Ruinas picking up a hitch hiker soon after leaving town. Edgar is Honduran and has travelled around Latin America a great deal. He was headed home to Tegucigalpa and we took him as far as we were going that day: Quimistan, about 120 kms/75 miles. Enroute we stopped to dump our tanks and get Tigger washed. Of course, ten minutes after that it began to rain but didn’t last long. We stopped at a hotel/restaurant on the highway at Quimistan for the night and not because it’s a “destination” but because we didn’t want to drive much further than that. Our next destination is another 100km and the road there is supposed to be bad, so it could be a slow drive. We also want to stop near San Pedro Sula to stock up on groceries etc.  While 100km/60m does not sound like a lot it usually takes at least two hours on the Central America roads; rarely do you get a good section and if you do, speed limits go no higher than 80km/50m and that never lasts very long.

Don Miguel Restaurant is a hotel in a “U” shape with a locked gate at night. They allowed us to park at the back of the U near the pool and power and use their Wi-fi as long as we had a meal in the restaurant. Great deal; gotta eat anyway right?

They make many of their own products here and we treated ourselves to a bottle of honey from their rancho.

It rained really hard shortly after arriving there and we sat by the pool undercover reading. The new silicon that Doug’s “helpers” had applied  a couple of days ago, held up and we had no water leaking into Tigger; cause for celebration!

where we spent the night in Quimistan

It was a quiet dry night after that and in the morning we left by 8 heading to HND’s second largest city though not the capital, San Pedro Sula – the murder capital of the world.  It is considered the industrial capital of the country.  Now there’s no real reason for tourists to come here, nothing of note to see (many clothing factories and the like) but you seem to have to pass by it or fly into it if you are visiting this country. We wanted to find a large grocery store and get some other items you can’t find in small towns and so we were going to brave it. We stopped just inside the city limits for gas and ask about an auto parts store. The gas jockey said we were currently in the safer part of the city and had nothing to worry about. The first auto parts store did not have what Doug was looking for (a new air compressor hose) but pointed us in the right direction and that store – which Doug absolutely loved – had it and for 1/3 the price we’d found on Amazon. Agenica Global was huge and had many items for cars, home and your basic hardware.  Then it was off to McD’s for some egg McMuffins before hitting the grocery store.

We spotted one of these here:

yes! it IS a Datsun; we saw this in San Pedro Sula

We made it out of the city alive with no sense of fear although we only left the truck alone while we shopped, otherwise one of us was in it while the other went in. The grocery parking lot had security guards so we felt okay about leaving it unattended but with almost all our security gadgets on.

The roads here were not good; lots of pot holes etc but once we left San Pedro that road heading to the capital city was good. Sadly we had to turn off in 20 miles/30kms or so and that road was bad although we’d been told approaching the lake from any other direction was even worse. The last 10km/6m were actually good.

We made it to Finca Las Glorias around mid-day and were able to park with a lake view with power on a concrete area to boot. We had lunch, did Spanish while walking the beautiful, large hotel property (complete with horses, boats, a party venue, restaurant, soccer field, pool tables and a playground) and then spent the rest of the afternoon by the super clean and cool pool. The temperatures in San Pedro had reached 90F before we even left there but here in Lago it was slightly cooler, mid 80’s with a breeze but still hot walking in the sun. The temps cooled down after the sun went down and it was actually cool enough that first night that we didn’t need AC at night.

Volcan Santa Barbra at the top end of the lake

So Tuesday we decided to take advantage of the fact that we are on a lake and pulled out our inflatable kayaks. The other side of the lake didn’t look so far away until we decided to come back! We had read that there is a chance to see monkeys and birds on that side but although we saw a few birds, the monkeys did not put in an appearance. It was a slog getting back with no current or wind and even more of a slog cleaning, drying and putting away the kayaks; not sure we want to keep them right now. We were out there almost five hours and Doug figured we did about 10km! Despite putting sunscreen on before heading out, Fran got a bit too much sun on her thighs; first sunburn in a long time. Luckily she noticed it about an hour before we got back and took off her life jacket and spread it over her legs to avoid further burning.

Fran

We then spent the afternoon, cleaning out one of our storage bins at the back. It seems somehow water got in and we cannot figure out how. Luckily nothing that got wet was damaged but it’s a mystery. Doug’s roller board suitcase (no clothes inside) got quite wet and nothing smells so it had to have only been water. The only think we can think is that when we had Tigger washed, they were using a pressure washer and maybe one of the door seals leaks under pressure but we couldn’t get it to do it again. Then we went for a well-deserved shower and relaxed by the pool.

Wednesday morning, we unhooked and headed to the nearby Pulphanazak Waterfall which is quite lovely. It’s 43m/130’ tall and there’s a fair bit of water tumbling over it. They offer some ziplining here, cave tours that take you behind the falls but we’d done stuff like that before so we passed.

at the look out

We did meet a nice young Argentinian man at the lookout though whom we chatted with for a while. Damien is travelling the Pan Am on his motorcycle and doing handicrafts for income. He’d been to Alaska twice already and was headed back up once again; he’s been on the road six years! He said he made good money picking fruit in the Okanagan one summer as well.

Then it was back to San Pedro to get a couple more parts at the auto parts place (Doug needed new fittings for the new hose because, naturally, it wasn’t quite same as the old one), a few more groceries and we headed to the Caribbean coast to the town of Tela. It’s right on the east end of a lovely sandy bay. The place we wanted to stay at was quite nice but they were expecting a big group that night at the hotel and felt there would not be enough room in the parking lot for us and all of them. They did have a fellow get on a motor bike and take us down the beach over a km to another hotel, Grissy’s, and they gladly took us in. It has the same amenities: pool, showers, power, and Wi-Fi, but it’s not right on the beach; there is one small property in between but from where we parked at the back of the property, we could see the ocean through the palm trees.

The owner of the hotel, spent 34 years in New York City. Mike’s wife was tragically killed in the Twin Towers and he named the hotel after her – or rather the nickname he had for her.

We set up and then went to check out the beach. It’s one of the better Caribbean beaches we’ve seen in Latin America. It is soft, light coloured sand, wide and has many palm trees. Sadly there are sections with some garbage but not nearly as much as we’d seen in Belize (only hotels seems to keep their sections of the beach clean there).

looking towards the town - about 2kms away

We walked a good two kms until we reached the town of Tela’s public beach where we were approached by captains of launchas about taking a trip with them the next day out to national park at the west end of the point of the bay. We had not considered this but took down the name and number of the guy that offered us the best price and said we’d think about it. Shortly, after a young Honduran man approached us and asked us what price we’d been quoted. Turns out he was with an American friend, Will, and they wanted to do a trip the next day. We told Ernesto, the price we’d been quoted and they were quoted a slightly lower price if they could get at least five people. Will was from Maryland and spoke pretty good Spanish, while Ernesto, spoke very good English.  When we returned to Tigger we did some research and decided not to take the boat trip.

By this time we were thirsty and the last of our water had gone warm. Fran’s sunburned legs were feeling a little sore from the rubbing of her salty wet shorts so we caught a cab back to the hotel where we went for a swim and then had a beer before dinner.

Next morning, Doug goes out for an early morning walk and sees on his phone that he has two voice mails from calls at 2AM! He checks it out and the police and the sheriff’s office in San Bernardino called to say they recovered our stolen rental car and had someone in custody; they advised where the car was being held and we could arrange to have it picked up. So Doug called Enterprise, the company’s insurance agent and the tow yard. The latter told us the car did not appear damaged but they could not tell him whether anything was found inside (like our GPS and his shoes). So we’ll see what Enterprise has to say after they get the car.

We spent Thursday and Friday at the hotel/beach/pool enjoying the sun. When we were in California last month we bought a portable beach umbrella which came in handy here.  It’s  called a PortaBrella; the pole is in three pieces plus the umbrella part itself and fits into a 24″ long bag.  It provides sufficient shade for both of us to site under and proved to be handy here as we could sit right on the tide line and enjoy the beach.  (see picture above)

We’ve not had rain in three days now so maybe…… the rainy season is on the down side. It’s nearing the end of the hurricane season here on the Caribbean so we could still get some storms. Saturday started out the same but the clouds came in mid-afternoon and we had some heavy rain and was on and off and then on again Sunday morning and the good news was the new caulking and the new bathroom vent both held with no leaks; a victory.

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