David and Lili's World Tour

HONDURAS

May 2007, Copán, Tela, Tegucigalpa

We arrived at Copán, the fine Maya site near Guatemala, then proceeded to Tela to pass my birthday on a nice Caribbean beach. We met nice people there, and there was a beach, but unfortunately, it was trashed. Some locals told us, "There are people paid to keep the beach clean, but they do not work!" Given the military, political, and economic domination of the USA and the banana companies, Honduras seems to be in cultural limbo, and as such, there is a notable lack of pride. Trash is all too common, most buildings seem in need of paint, the people are not engaging, and some places are downright dangerous. Overcrowding and cocaine have caused the cities to deteriorate remarkably.

When I bicycled through in 1990, I felt safe, mostly. It helped a lot to speak Spanish. But I was exceedingly cautious. I rode in and out of cities in the pre-dawn darkness, and I never let anyone see where I camped (out of sight, out of mind).

One highlight from that trip was meeting Andre, a scuba instructor who stopped at the same luncheonette. He sold me a 10-day diving package, including transportation and PADI certification, for a mere $100. So I threw my bike in his old American school bus and rode with him to pick up the other tourists. We stayed on a private island near Utila, with beautiful beaches and great coral reefs. When the diving course was over, I bicycled around the Bay Islands for a few weeks, and then rode to Nicaragua. The Bay Islands are now too expensive for average Hondurans to ever enjoy.

By the way, that private island is within swimming distance of another tiny island inhabited by English-speaking descendants of pirates; after centuries of inbreeding, the population has a high rate of birth defects.

All in all, I'd say that unless you want to see the ruins at Copán, or go diving off the Bay Islands, I recommend giving Honduras a miss. But if you speak Spanish and you love travelling in Latin America, then go. I'm sure you'll have fun.

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