Beautiful Honduras’ shocking homicide rates
We spent three wonderful weeks in Honduras where we hiked through lush, dense and very green tropical rainforest full of incredible wildlife. We also climbed a powerful waterfall and met the most wonderful and hospitable people.
Unfortunately, due to Hondura’s extremely high figures of homicide a lot of people avoid the country, and comparing the statistics of homicide across the world it is understandable. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, according to a U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime report. In 2012 there were 7,172 intentional homicides, or 90.4 per 100,000 of population. Bearing in mind it is not 7,172 tourists that get killed. To put into prospective homicides in the UK are around one person per 100.000 (2012).
I don’t think, as a tourist you need to worry that much really as these homicides are related to drug cartels and the cartels do not want to murder tourists as that would draw too much attention to their business.
Although we had these figures in the back of our minds, we decided to stay for a while in Honduras and visit a few places. Nonetheless, the first day while riding in Honduras we were very aware of our surroundings and what was happening around us. Lets say that we were on high alert.
While riding from the border to the town, Santa Rosa De Copan, Anders made the comment of the day, “Do you know, I have a feeling of riding in Sweden….” I answered ‘err ok that must be the banana trees that gives you that feeling… duh’.
An insect moved in behind Anders ear
The town Santa Rosa De Copan was the first stop in Honduras. It was a lovely town with streets made of cobblestones and not touristy at all.
While in this town Anders started to get earache and the day after he also got a headache. We just thought it was an ear infection and hoped some painkillers could help him. However, after a few days it got worse and I noticed that he was very swollen behind the ear. I could also see that there was a tiny hole with something black in it.. So with Anders screaming with pain (such a baby) I squeezed as hard as I could with my nails until I could see a black insect pop out. Not really sure what it was but I don’t think it should have been behind Anders’ ear… Luckily after some days the swelling started to go down and the aching eased and Anders was fit to fight another day.
The road from Santa Rosa De Copan to the town Copán Ruinas (80 km) was in a good condition except from some potholes scattered over the tarmac, just enough to keep you awake and not get bored. The road went through hilly green beautiful scenery so it was a real pleasure to ride. In Copan, the streets were made of cobblestones, which can be a nightmare to ride on, especially in heavy traffic that goes stupidly slow. I am actually amazed that I haven’t dropped the bike on any of these streets yet due to my bike being too tall or maybe it is my legs that are too short… depends on how you look at it. Anyway we found a hotel very fast; actually we took the first one we checked out. We got a nice room with lots of enormous dark brown cockroaches that you could easily imagine in a horror movie. Luckily we also had lizards in the room but honestly, I am not sure which one would eat the other… Apart from the cockroaches, it was a good place, with a kitchen up on the roof terrace where we could cook dinner.
While in Copan we visited the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve. This turned out to be a big hit. We arrived early, actually before the opening time and luckily they let us in so we could walk around as the only visitors. There were lots of tropical birds in such wonderful vibrant colours and the birds had such different characters. One of the Keel-Billed Toucan birds loved hunting our feet and one Scarlet Macaw, which is the national bird of Honduras, was hanging upside down and did everything it could to get our attention. When walking back from the park we took a detour to see some of the surroundings, everyone we met were friendly and wanted a chat… unfortunately, our Spanish is not good enough for long conversations. Luckily, the Spanish language has many worlds that are similar to English, so we managed to get along with ‘spanglish’ mixed with body language.
San Pedro Sula
On the way to the Caribbean coast we did our first stop in San Pedro Sula to buy some food. Anders went into the shop and I was waiting outside with the bikes. It only took a few seconds and I had one armed guard that stayed with me. He looked a bit nervous and after awhile he called for another guard to come so there I was with two very nice armed guards protecting me from…. not sure what. However I felt safe with these two gentlemen.
Pulhapanzak Waterfall WOW WOW WOW, that was so cool.
We spent three wonderful days at Lago De Yojoa where we saw lots and lots of hummingbirds. One of the days we decided to visit a waterfall. It was only a few kilometres from where we camped but we decided to pack everything up and camp at the waterfall for one night. When we arrived they told us that we could pitch the tent anywhere we wanted and that it was very safe. We were the only people camping and I had a bad feeling but I tried to shake it off. We headed for the office to pay for the waterfall hike and just a few minutes after we left the tent I got a strong feeling that something was not right so we turned around to check the tent. We saw that someone had opened the ‘door’ and saw some kids running in the opposite direction. Anders started to run after one kid and told me to run after the other one. OMG I’m so unfit… the one I was chasing obviously managed to get away but Anders had more luck, the kid he was hunting was fat… He had managed to catch up with the fat boy who had one of our bags in his hand. The boy sounded like he got an asthma attach after the running I just hoped he was okay, karma’s a bitch. Anyway, the only thing they had managed to grab was a bag with food so I guess they had been very disappointed when they realised that.
After this we decided to move the tent and pitch it outside the restaurant where there were a few people around. When that was done we, at last, headed for the waterfall.
We went in a group of four and this was the first time I had climbed through a waterfall ending up behind it. The power of the water was just almost too much. It felt that I couldn’t breath. We were climbing up and down on stones and a couple of times I thought I would fall in and disappear forever…. Oh well maybe not forever. This was just AWESOME and I can really recommend this to everyone. We also had time to jump into the water from one of the cliffs and it was so much fun.
When we arrived back at the tent we noticed that the guy working at the place was drunk as hell so we decided to pack our tent and head back to the previous camping place.
The day after we rode to Tela at the Caribbean, we both love the Caribbean coast. Just outside Tela is the second largest botanic garden in the world, Jardin Botanico Lancetilla. At least that is what they claim. Biggest or not it was a lovely garden with all sorts of trees, flowers and lots of different bamboo. We stayed the night in a cabana and in the evening while sitting on the veranda we saw lots of different birds. It was such a nice relaxing evening and it felt very secure, as we were the only ones there except for four military guys who stayed in the cabana next to ours. Their work was to protect the garden… seems like a pretty good job to me.
Nice bamboo forrest in the park.
The parrot that was too scared to fly
While in Tela, we decided to ride the 100km to La Ceiba and take a boat to the island Roatan. Unfortunately, the ferry was fully booked as it was palm Sunday and I think all the Honduran people headed to the island.
Instead we headed for the jungle. On the way we met a man walking his dog. We stopped and asked if he knew a place where we could pitch our tent. He kindly offered us to stay at his place at Villas Pico Bonito for hardly any money. This turned out to be the most beautiful place we have visited so far. Richard, the owner, had built the place and I have never seen anything like it. It was just a green heaven, so very tropical. You could just sit and watch one tropical bird after another. The food in the restaurant was the best we’ve had since arriving in Central America, it was outstanding.
There was one parrot that was so funny. It had a cage but it was open and its wings had not been cut but it didn’t want to fly. According to the owner the bird had only been flying three times in its entire life. The last time he flew up and sat in the tree and didn’t dare to fly again so it had to be rescued… so funny. I’ve heard about rescuing cats from high tree but never birds.
We had a lovely evening with Richard and his friends that were visiting from the states…. This included perhaps one or two glasses of wine too many.
After a few days we rode to San Pedro Sula and according to statistics, this is by far the mot dangerous city in the world. We ended up here four times during our time in Honduras and managed to stay alive each time. It is not a very beautiful city but interesting enough due to its reputation.
Invited to an impressive beach house at the Caribbean
While in San Pedro Sula we got a message from Eduardo, a friend, who had contacted us while we were in Mexico. He offered to help us, if we needed it while we were in Honduras. He asked if we would like to come to his beach house at the Caribbean coast for a few days. Though we had just come from the Caribbean coast we quickly decided to head back to stay with Eduardo and his family. This turned out to be a very good decision as we had the best of times. He had wonderful place with several houses built with wooden planks and painted in a fantastic blue colour, which complimented the view of the Caribbean Sea. He let us have one little house for ourselves that was newly built and was just a couple of metres from the swimming pool and a few more metres to the Caribbean beach.
This is the little blue house we stayed in (Left)
Eduardo had four bodyguards of which two of them came with us to a Spanish fortress, Fortaleza De San Fernando de Omoa. There is a first time for everything, and this is definitely the first time either of us have had bodyguards.
Fortaleza De San Fernando de Omoa was built of brick and coral between 1759 and 1777 under orders from King Fernando VII of Spain to protect the coast from piracy.
While at Eduardo’s we were just spoiled rotten with food, nice company and beautiful sunsets etc., etc..
When we at last headed back to San Pedro Sula, thanks to Eduardo, we could ride the whole way up to the Coca-Cola sign. The Coca-Cola sign is one of San Pedro Sula’s landmarks and it is often compared to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. Not very surprisingly, Eduardo owned one of the five houses up there. You are not allowed to drive up there but he made a call to the guards and told them to let us pass when we arrived. We then rode the narrow winding road the whole way up to the Cocola sign post. Bloody hell this was so cool. Not only did Eduardo arrange this, he also booked us into a very nice hotel in the capital, Tegucigalpa and even paid for it….. These people amaze us, they have the biggest hearts and they would help people out without asking for anything in return.
The view from the Coca-Cola sign in San Pedro Sula
Never seen a happier boy
On the way to Tegucigalpa we stopped to give some photos to a family we had met earlier. This was a very poor family. As I understand the man had three children. They had a little ‘shop’ where he sold some bananas not much more really. Anyway, when passing earlier we stopped and had a chat and I asked if I could take some photos of him and his children. He had a boy and two girls. The boy was really grumpy at the time but I got one photo of him that I really liked. We decided to print out the photos and give them to them when passing the area again. I have never seen anyone so happy for a photo before. This little boy was looking at it with big eyes for a long while and then he hugged the photo of himself. This brought tears to my eyes. The little boy had probably never seen a photo of himself before. Unfortunately, we were late so we couldn’t stay very long but this is another fantastic memory from Honduras.
It took longer to ride the 320 km from Omoa to Tegucigalpa than we expected so we arrived to the capital when it was pitch black. Anyway due to the Easter holiday there was not much traffic so we got to the hotel safe and sound. We were so super lucky as lovely Ed had booked us into this very nice hotel, and even paid for it. We were just over the moon to stay in such posh hotel. There were two big beds, very fast wifi, the room was very big, had hot water, air conditioning and breakfast included… I couldn’t believe our luck. We slept like babies that night.
Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras
Early the next morning, we rode towards the border, south of El Paraiso where there were lots of police and military checkpoints but we were only stopped by a few and that was only because they wanted to have a chat and shake our hands. The border crossing took bloody ages.
To sum up Honduras in a few sentences is not easy. However, we fell in love with the country though we understand that the country has huge problems with poverty, crimes, such as murder and drugs etc. But behind this, there are a people friendlier than most, some rich and some very poor. Honduras is one country that we would love to come back to.
Next up Ecuador 🙂
Random photographs shot in Honduras
Heavy rain in Honduras
A bus in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras
Little boy keeping the park clean
Little boy keeping the dusty road wet to avoid the dust.
People with weapons had at this time, sadly, become a very common view.
Anders having a chat with a friendly military guy
Some birds (Black Vultures), and a dog having a dead cow for ‘dinner’…
The Hondurans celebrating the Palm Sunday