I left Managua on Sunday, May 3, took a bus to Esteli, another to Ocotal, a bus to the border at Los Manos, crossed the border on foot and caught a bus to El Paraiso, then a fifth bus to Danli. Traveling on local buses and using land border crossings is generally more interesting, but not necessarily more pleasant. Buses in Central America are rarely comfortable and not always safely maintained. However these buses always have world class horns, horns that cause hearing damage up to 50 yards, and bus drivers who work these horns hard. The driver of the bus from the border to El Paraiso would hit the horn several times as he approached a stop, hit it a few times at the stop, and hit it several more times as he pulled away from the stop. Since there were usually one or two stops per block in town, the horn got a lot of use. When he got out of town and had a mile or two between stops he would hit the horn frequently just to make sure it still worked. I think this horn was installed backwards so it blasted inside the bus, because the sound hit with the force of a physical blow. I made a mental note to sit as far back as possible in buses in the future.
Honduras had, and still has, a bad reputation for crime. While still in Costa Rica I read that both Honduras and El Salvador had higher murder rates than Columbia. I reviewed my guidebook and decided that there was nothing very interesting in El Salvador, but I wanted to see the Mayan ruins of Copan and get some beach time in Honduras. My plan was to got to Tegucigalpa, catch a plane to the Caribbean island of Roatan, then move on to Copan and into Guatemala. I stopped in Danli, which is less than two hours by bus from Tegucigalpa, because I wanted to arrive in Tegucigalpa early enough to make a plane reservation and find a room during daylight hours. Tegucigalpa is not the worst city in Honduras, that would be San Pedro de Sula, but its reputation was bad enough so I did not want to be wandering around at night looking for a cheap hotel room.
The guidebook described Danli as an attractive town--my guidebook was wrong. I walked around the center of town a little in the morning but didn't see anything of interest. I caught a late morning bus to Tegucigalpa and arrived early afternoon. On the way in I saw flimsy shacks covering the very steep hills on the outer edge of the city. I remembered news stories of the damage and deaths caused by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998. Apparently things had not changed, it was clear that the next big storm would cause more mudslides and considerable loss of life. Honduras would benefit from some intelligent, well enforced building regulations. Some people complain about regulations, I have learned to appreciate them, at least the intelligent ones. I've been to places where there appear to be no enforced regulations regarding construction, safety of food and drugs, honesty of weights and measures, restrictions on pollution, noise, or money supply, location of refineries, stockyards, brothels, and other businesses you don't want next door, etc.; none of the rules that make first world countries safe and comfortable to live in. Living in an unregulated society makes it clear how important reasonable regulations are.
Enough of that, back to the travel stuff. Once in Tegucigalpa I booked a $65 flight to Roatan, walked around a bit, and got a $15 room in Hotel Granada near the center of the city. I then walked to the center to find supper. It was early in the evening and I was reassured to see lots of people out, including plenty of police and soldiers with M-16's. I ate at a Pizza Hut (I was ready for some familiar food) then walked around to see if there was any interesting nightlife. I didn't find anything and didn't look very long, around ten in the evening I noticed that most of the normal people and police and soldiers were gone and some unpleasant looking people were coming out. I'm not sure who or what they were, my guess is transvestite prostitutes. I headed back to the hotel for an early evening.
The next morning, Tuesday, I packed and took a short walk around the central area again. The cathedral and Iglesia Los Dolores were interesting, but I didn't see anything to recommend Tegucigalpa as a tourist destination. I packed and took a taxi to the airport. So after two days and two cities in Honduras, my only picture is of the airplane that took me to Roatan. I think it is Czech made, an SD-360. It looked like a box with wings:
On August 30 I finally pried myself loose from Roatan, took a short flight to La Ceiba on the mainland, spent the night and the next day to the bus to Copan.
My last day in Copan Ruinas and Honduras was Tuesday, September 2, when I caught a ride with Billy, manager of Mono Loco, who was on his way from Roatan to Antigua. It pays to be on good terms with your bartenders.