As they talk we can sense the protectiveness they’ve carried with them since the day we were born. We’re adults now, so telling and lecturing have been replaced with a subtle shift in tone. One that drops just below the casual level of our conversation to say “please be careful, we love you.” They don’t have to have first-hand knowledge of the places we’ll visit or check their sources against the sensationalized news reports; they simply get to be parents. They’ve earned the right to be worried, no questions asked. Honduras
“Seriously though, we’ve talked to tons of other travelers and they feel perfectly safe there. They say we’ll never want to leave Mexico. Honduras, on the other hand, has some real issues. A lot of people drive through it in one day!” These are actual lines we spoke. A mitigating diversion to questions about Mexico’s safety and in truth, the few bits of knowledge we had gathered about Honduras. Many people crossing from El Salvador in the morning and then exiting to Nicaragua on the same day; this was by far the least visited country along our route.
By this point in our trip, we’d found every country to be different than reported. U.S. news and the State Department told us everywhere was perilous, and the people of each country warned us about the next. However, our personal experience had proven otherwise and we decided we would be remiss to skip Honduras, home of the murder capital of the world.
The line of trucks, vendors and random people at the border felt normal, but what was this??? Digital fingerprinting and pictures to enter Honduras? Where were the shifty policemen looking to swipe something from our rig during “inspection?” Ahh…here’s a character looking to start trouble…”You guys are from Virginia?? My brother lives in Richmond.” Nice try buddy, I’ve got our emergency fund stashed where you’ll never find it. 😉
We’ve just crossed the border and the name Honduras has already lost its edge. A couple hours on smoothly paved roads leads to an intersection and the man in the vehicle across from us appears drunk. In Guatemala I learned to aggressively stake my claim of the road, so I watch for my moment to dart through the traffic. The drunk man is still waving his arm at me when the vehicle to the right starts to do the same. I cautiously roll through and realize I’m mistaken; nobody’s drunk, they’re politely taking turns. Welcome to Gracias, Honduras.
Following our time in Gracias we wandered around some of the national parks, through a town known for its strawberries, up mountain pine roads and down into tropical lowlands where we were able to camp at a brewery. So far, so bueno!
The Bay Islands – Utila
After exploring mainland Honduras, it was time to check out the Caribbean. We parked Tortuga at the 1877 hostel in La Ceiba, and loaded ourselves and our hiking packs onto the Bay Islands ferry. Our mission? Find a good dive shop on the island of Utila, finally get our PADI Open Water certifications and, our favorite thing to do aside from eating good street food, hang out with other travelers.
Check Check Check. We had a really great time on Utila, mainly due to the people we met at the Bay Islands College of Diving (BICD). If you’re looking to do some diving and/or grab a certification, we highly recommend BICD and their lovely crew.
So what’s the deal with traveling through Honduras? The people were happy, warm and welcoming. The buses drove slower, saner. The street food was delicioso. Most of the roads were in great condition with amazingly little trash. The mountain pine forests reminded us of Colorado and the lowlands of Belize. National parks were well maintained, with facilities and prices to match. Beautiful Islands and awesome diving.
Honduras was a surprise among surprises, likely due to how little we knew. We’d learned to judge less, listen carefully and give people the benefit of the doubt, but this little country rocked the boat and made waves reaching other “off limits” places in our minds. Venezuela? Iran? How many surprises are out there?
What we once thought of as the media’s Murder Capital and Theroux’s Mosquito Coast, we now know as a very special place. Add beautiful scenery, delicious food and the warmest of people to the things you’ve heard about Honduras; or grab a Salva Vida with your baleada for only a few Lemps when you visit!
Oh and Mom, Dad, family and friends…thanks for worrying. We love you too.
Great post and pictures.
Always a pleasure to receive such encouraging information
Thank you Nancy!
Miss you guys. Glad the adventure continues. ❤Julie Groff
Thank you Julie! We miss you too! Hope all is well.
I love how you two embrace where you are – that is why everyone welcomes you. Continue your safe travels!!
Thank you for the sweet comment, Lisa! 🙂 Thank you!