Sunday, March 29, 2009

Honduras - Utila - Tegucigalpa

I did end up making it into La Libertad in El Salvador, a nice town and more lively than El Tunco but I am pretty happy with the choice to stay in El Tunco. Also got in some more surfing no more injuries so all is well.

Next stop Utila Honduras. The folks that ended up in El Tunco who I met in San Pedo (3 of them) decided they too wanted to come to Utila so we all decided to go together. The buses to Honduras leave very early from San Salvador so we arranged a pick up truck ride in (takes about an hour) so we left at 6am. Since there were 5 of us we could not all fit in the cab so I drew the short straw and got the bed of the truck. It was actually pretty fun, most of the locals ride around back there and I made all sorts of friends on the road, people were waving and smiling, I got my royal wave perfected. The lady at the drive through coffee shop got a good chuckle along with the shotgun armed security guard.

From San Salvador we caught a chicken bus #119 from Terminal de Oriente to El Poy in Honduras for $1.75 (4 hour ride). People always joke that there are no chickens on the buses anymore but in this case it really was a chicken bus, a guy in the back had 4 crates of live chicks he was transporting, all the way to the boarder all you could here was chirp, chirp chirp. The bus lets you off on the El Salvador side and you have to walk across the boarder. Didn't have to check out of El Salvador but did have to check in to Honduras which was a $3.00 US fee. Caught a taxi up to a town called Nueva Ocatapeque that is about 10 minutes by car up the road. They have a bus depot in a hotel there, we caught a bus to San Pedro Sula for $120.00 Lps - $7.75 US (an 8 hour ride), so far all the buses lined up and we did not wait more than 1/2 an hour between transfers. We got to San Pedo Sula and the plan fell to shit. We were too late to get a chicken bus out to El Ceiba so the only option was the 1st class bus at a cost of @240.00 Lps $15.00 US for a 3 hour ride (note the locals pay a different rate it is $10.00 US). It was a very nice bus but after we had saved so much money by using chicken buses it was a little disappointing to have to cough up the cash.

Got to La Ceiba at 9:30 pm to find the hostels all full, we managed to get in at the Banana Republic but 2 of us slept on couches/the floor at a cost of $50 Lps. If you are going to have to spend the night in La Ceiba you should make a reservation as it fills up fast with folks having to spend the night before heading to/coming from Utila.

The ferry to Utila leaves at 9:30 but you have to be there at 8:30 to get a seat. Groceries on the Island are pricey so we did a food run at 7:00 am to get some staples and by that I mean mostly booze. The ferry costs $425 Lps - $23.00 US, the boat is pretty small but the ride across wasn't too bumpy.

I wanted to take the open water PADI dive course. 1 of the others is PADI certified so she wanted to do a few dives and the rest just wanted to snorkel. A friend from San Pedro was already here and she had just finished her dive course so she sent me an email while I was in El Salvador with the info on the place she was at. The place is great, it is called Paradise Divers and is located 1/2 a block from the ferry dock. This is the only locally owned dive shop on the Island and is owned by a lady names Rosa who is a great lady. Nice rooms and cheap diving, the course cost me $235.00 US and included free accommodations. The folks not diving paid $65 Lps - $3.00 US each for their dorm beds. They have a kitchen which helped to keep the costs down a bit, but the local street food is pretty cheap you can get Baliadas with meat for $20 Lps. The staff at Paradise are awesome and the atmosphere is very chilled. No hard sell here you either want to dive or not, no one is going to give you a sales pitch or try to convince you. They do several trips a week where they go out and look for Whale Sharks, they had 2 trips out while I was there and found them both times. Most of the Islanders have really cool accents, a cross between pirate and Jamaican. The folks on the island are a diverse people, a mix of just about every color due to British rule at one time, Spanish locals and the slave trade, they are a very resilient and down to earth bunch of people. They tell great stories about everything from fishing and diving to surviving hurricanes.

A word of warning, if you are not going to dive on the island odds are good that you won't be able to get cheap accommodations. The dive hotels are mostly reserved for people who are diving, understandable as that is how they make their money so you will probably have to go to a non dive hotel and pay a little more for your accommodations.

There are a few bars on the Island, somewhat like San Pedro in Guatemala they too seem to rotate which bars are busy on specific nights. There is one that I found fascinating, it is called Tree Tanic and is located in the branches of a tree in a hotel. I took lots of pictures and posted only a few here, to see more go to It took 10 years for them to build it up to this point, all hand made with bits and pieces of whatever they found to build with. They have the coolest bathrooms in Central America they even have toilet seats. One of the mysteries of traveling here.. Who keeps taking the toilet seats?

I ended up staying on the Island for 7 days, I had a great time and met a lot of new people as well as seeing some others that I had met in San Pedro. We did run into a little issue, there are 3 bank machines on the Island however they went down and for 3 days no one could get any cash out. So a suggestion if you go, make sure you have enough cash to get you through your time there just in case something goes wrong with the ATM's. The ferry will not take Visa, you have to pay cash to get off the Island, we had several folks stranded with out enough money to leave. Lots of sad people who couldn't afford to go to the bar or eat for a few days.

From Utila I headed off on my own to the capital of Honduras Tegucigalpa, in order to get to Nicaragua it is the easiest and most direct way to go. I caught a bus from La Ceiba to the capital, the bus was $120.00 Lps and took 7 hours. I got in at about 9pm and my taxi driver suggested a hotel, Los Primos. It is located about 2 blocks from them main plaza downtown, it was $120 Lps a night. Private room with a shared bathroom. I did get out and walk around to see the sites, there is a lot of history here. On night 2 I caught a show in the plaza that was a musical that taught about the African history of Honduras. Sadly I forgot to take my camera out with me so no pics. There was also a world cup soccer match on my last night there, Honduras vs. Mexico; Honduras won and the party in the city went on all night. They do love their soccer, the manager of my hotel and a few others got some beer and used one of the rooms with a TV to watch the game.

The bus to Nicaragua was $70 Lps, it was via the Mi Esparanza bus company. As I was sitting in the bus depot waiting for my bus a couple of travel friends from San Pedro/El Tunco/Utila showed up. A very small world indeed. There are a couple of routes you can take to get to Nicaragua from here, we chose the Rio Guasaule border crossing. A bizzar experience, we couldn't get off the bus as the locals swarmed us. There are guys with bikes who will take you and your luggage to the customs office and then the 3 km to the bus depot on the Nicaragua side. They are very pushy and fight amongst each other, almost had a few brawls break out. They also grab your backpacks and load them onto their bikes. A fun little game of where is my shit ensued as they steal it off each others bikes. I ended up yelling at a couple of them and strong arming my backpack back. End result a long hot walk through the boarder and to the bus depot so I would recommend that you use their services but don't pay more than $20 Lps. Cost to get out of Honduras free. Cost to enter Nicaragua $7.00 US. Pretty painless, I find it kind of funny that not once in my travels has anyone asked to see my backpack or searched it. Too used to going through the US/Canada customs I guess.
Next stop Leon Nicaragua.

1 comment:

Trekker Shar said...

Travel update. I have some friends who are still traveling in the area from Guatemala to Nicaragua and back. As of yesterday Ticabus was still getting through the Honduras boarder between the 2 countries