A disturbing happening—back at the D & D Bed and Breakfast on Lago de Yojoa, one of the travelers staying there was a young Belgian man with red hair done up in dreadnaughts which hung all the way down to his waist. It was quite dramatic—he said he had been growing it for seven years. We visited a bit before I left. When I got to Copan Ruinas at the Hostel en la Manzana Verde, there he was again! He told me that he was in Honduras mostly on his own but with his own project of helping children by teaching them sports. We chatted about his hope for the children’s future—he seemed like a pleasant 20-something do-gooder. (there are lots of them here). That evening he was going to cross the border to Guatemala (15 km away) and somehow came to grief—he was shot and killed!
We learned about it in several ways. A young man in the hostel who was a Peace Corps volunteer who was planning to return to Belize by the same road was instructed on the phone by his Peace Corps Country Director not to take this road since a Belgian man had been killed there. The next day two police came to the hostel and interviewed the young woman manager; another young German woman said she heard it reported on Honduran radio. A couple of days later this was confirmed by Elaine, an American that I met who lives in Copan Ruinas. She said he was killed by the border guards when he offered to sell them drugs. I’ve never known anyone before, however slightly, that was killed. It seems unbelievable.
For some reason the hostel apparently didn’t have running water when it rains like this. For two and a half days we had buckets of water (not enough of them) to flush the toilets, shower (pretty cold), and wash. I moved out on Saturday into a hotel with my own room that had a bathroom with warm water! Actually the hostel was fun but the lack of water wasn’t.
But gee, Mom, nobody’s perfect—when I showered in my hotel bath, the water was too warm (!) and then when I was finished the faucet broke and I couldn’t turn it off. Always a crises.
The food situation is definitely picking up. In Copan Ruinas I found a couple of good restaurants but one must be careful about what one orders—a lot of their food is what they think the tourists would like. A really good breakfast that I have had a couple of times is two fried eggs with ranchero sauce, refried beans, a quarter avacado, fried bananas, a hunk of white cheese, tortillas and coffee. I’d hate to think how many Weight Watcher points that is!
On Monday I got a bus headed for La Entrada where I planned to transfer to another bus to Santa Rosa de Copan, the first town on the “ruta Lenca,” the route that goes through Lenca villages. Unfortunately because of all the rain, there had been a landslide causing a truck to go in the ditch, blocking the road. It had to be pulled out and the road smoothed out. We all got out to see the sight and I counted that we were 24th in line (and MANY behind us) waiting for things to clear. Things didn’t clear, at least for large buses like mine. Finally I got a tuk tuk back to Copan Ruinas and checked back into my hotel.
The next day (still raining) I tried it again. We set out and again came to the problem area of the landslide. Our bus sat first in line and waited, although many cars and small trucks were giving it the gun, barely making it up the steep, muddy hill. I finally learned that we were waiting for a big tractor to pull us across. After an hour and a half, the bus driver suggested to me and the others that we walk up the muddy hill (with cars and trucks careening and swerving close by) and get a bus to La Entrada on the other side. Carrying my pack, I made it without falling off the cliff on one side, falling down in the slippery mud, or slipping into the swerving cars on the other.
The bus to Santa Rosa was a 12-passenger minibus with 21 people aboard. There were only a few more smaller landslides which we carefully negotiated. We did see an overturned truck with 10 or 12 wheels all in the air. On the way I met the only other foreigner, 27-year-old Daniel from Australia. On the way to Santa Rosa (still raining) I told him I had decided to go on to Gracias and he said he had decided the same. We hung out together for a few days—in a few more he is meeting his girlfriend in Antigua, Guatemala and they’ll go traveling together.
It turned out that Daniel had become acquainted with the owner of the Manzana Verde Hostel who had been asked to identify the body of the killed Belgian young man and he said that he understood that the Belgian had gone off with some scuzzy druggies to buy drugs. I guess we’ll never know exactly what happened.
My friend, Susan, had a tooth pulled recently by a dentist who had pictures of Honduras in his waiting room. When Susan mentioned that her friend was in Honduras, the dentist recounted how he had visited Honduras in 2004 and had pulled 264 teeth in three days!
Gracias was a lovely small town—very authentic with few tourists. I did the usual walkaround looking at the churches, market, museum, botanic garden, a fort overlooking the town, and just the town, itself. Last night Daniel and I had a couple of beers poolside at an upscale hotel and then enjoyed good street food while sitting on a stoop behind the charcoal burner in the dark, all the while talking about our families and LIFE! How enjoyable!
We also had lunch together that day—at a place where they only serve soup. They were only serving one kind which was mondongo. The lady said it had “carne de vaca” in it (meat from a cow) so that sounded great. Well, it turned out to be tripe (cow stomach lining) with good broth and vegetables which I ate—the tripe was too tough—but poor Daniel just couldn’t deal with the whole idea of cow’s stomach. I think the proprietors could have been a little more specific—but then maybe they were, and we just didn’t get it. THEN they overcharged us!
Yesterday morning Daniel went west and I went east, and I’m now in the tiny village of La Campa in the back of beyond. The bus (a long schoolbus) took 57 minutes to go the 10 miles from Gracias. The road was one lane gravel, mountainous and dome-shaped which made it especially thrilling when we met oncoming traffic. The bus forded eight streams in those 10 miles (did I say it’s been raining a lot?) but the weather yesterday and today has been partly cloudy and not raining.
The mountain scenery around here is breathtaking and I’m in a nice hotel so just kicking back and doing a little walking into the countryside has been fun. This morning on my walk out of town, I visited Dona Desideria Perez’s workshop where she was busy making pottery. She’s well known for her huge pots (about 3 feet high) which take a week to make and are made by hand without a wheel.
And as you can see, even this tiny place has internet!