Nicaragua, Honduras

Trip Start Dec 12, 2002
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Trip End Aug 01, 2003


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Sunday, February 2, 2003

The Voyage continues... Nicaragua, Honduras to the Mountains of Guatemala...

In Ometepe the same absurd atmosphere as we experienced in San Carlos and on the 10 hour boat ride. A colorful group of people waiting between huge banana piles welcomed the boat from the mainland. Trying to leave the boat wasn't so obvious since they started to load before the passengers got off!
For the passengers transport to the village was provided : two old, almost decomposing, trucks took so much people so that everybody had to stand up and try to hold themselves at the iron bars above their heads. Luckily Hotel central in the village (Altegracia) opened the door for us at 1.30 a.m. Traveling can be very exhausting indeed!!
Meanwhile, my own private miniature volcano was ready for an eruption. About one week after the scorpion bite, the pain became stronger and stronger every day. I could hardly walk, so we missed a lot of interesting things to do on Ometepe.... It would last about two weeks more before I could walk without pain and even now, two months later the scar is still visible...
Even so, Ometepe is a beautiful island and we were so fortunate to witness 13 marriages at once and the whole town celebrates! After Ometepe back in the boat to San Jorge where a yellow American school bus brought us to Granada. Granada is very beautiful and pleasant. It's the oldest colonial city of Nicaragua. But Nica is really very poor. Children or begging for your leftovers when you're eating outside, and the smile they gave you when they get a chicken wing really breaks your heart!
After Granada back in the bus (again) towards Leon, the old revolutionary capital of the Sandinistas and the poetry capital of central America. This is the city of Ruben Dario and many other great poets.
Leon is really worthwhile. Not only is it a pretty town, but here the history of Nicaragua is painted on the walls and carved in stone in the streets. The shadow of Sandino is present everywhere. (It looks a bit like Sandeman of the port wine, maybe there is a connection?)
Frescoes, some of them quite good, show the history of the revolution and the resistance against the dictator family Somoza who with the help of the CIA and the American government ransacked this country and murdered many thousands of people.
Leon is the only city in Nicaragua where Daniel Ortega's Sandinistas won the elections. Obviously this town is very proud of his revolution and souvenir shops sell T-shirts with pictures of Che Guevarra, Fidel Castro and Sandino, sometimes in combination with Ruben Dario and other poets.
After Leon, back to Managua, the ugliest city I ever saw. The Managuans never bothered to rebuild the city after the big earthquake some years ago. The city center looks like a ghost town, everything lies in the suburbs : Shopping malls, offices, houses, cinemas. Well, who cares. The only reason one stays here is to catch the bus. In our case to Honduras. Quiz : what's the capital of Honduras? right, Tegucigalpa! After a long bus ride with Ticabus you arrive in a chaotic, loud and stinking city. The bus driver, who was changed along with the bus just after the border, was a maniac who caused a chain collision on the motorway and after almost killing a traffic cop, refused to stop and kept on driving, pursued by a angry policeman on foot! Honduras is the country that gave the world the word 'banana republic'. This country was (and is) run by two American banana companies who own almost all the farmland and who are each supporting a different political party. Despite the fact that in America Haiti and Nicaragua are much poorer, the differences between rich and poor are the biggest in Honduras. At the end of the sixties Honduras and El Salvador found it necessary to start a 'futbal' war. After a game of football (soccer for the Americans among the readers) between the two countries Salvadorian hooligans attacked Hondurian fans after which Honduras expelled thousands of Salvadorian emigrants. El Salvador answered this insult by attacking Honduras by force... Only in the nineties a peace treaty was signed...To walk in Tegucigalpa (or Tegus like the people call it here) is not a pleasant experience. In every street you find heavily armed soldiers and policemen. Stores an restaurants are guarded by private militia who are also carrying, revolvers, war guns and metal detectors. This is the most militaristic country I've ever seen.
Fortunately, not everywhere in Honduras soldiers are so omnipresent, but guns you see all the time.
We decided to go to La Ceiba at the Caribean coast where we took a little plane to the island of Roatan. (20 minutes)
In La Ceiba we had dinner in a French restaurant on a roof. The owner was very glad to see us, I don't think he has a lot of costumers. So we had a great French meal for almost no money and a nice conversation in French. It gives me a strange feeling these ex pats in places you don't expect them. Why opening a restaurant in La Ceiba? Or like that Irish pub in Managua we saw! People have to do what they have to do, but I think it's a funny idea. I don't think that guy was happy like he was sitting alone in his bar drinking a beer in the dark and listening to very loud Irish music. Homesick...
Then for West End! The most beautiful village at the most beautiful beach at the most beautiful see in the world! People come here for scuba diving so that's exactly what we did. And that fantastic underwater world is to much to describe on paper. Diving between the coral reef, fish in all kinds of colors, see horses, sting rays, and we even had the luck to see a 7 feet long nurse shark...so close we could almost touch it!
After a week we did an exam and now we can call are selves licensed PADI open water divers. The pictures from the diving will, hopefully, be added later, that is if they are any good. I really wanted to stay here for the rest of my live, but the travel microbe has got me and off we went to Copan, the old Maya city...



To be continued... in the next entry 'Antigua'
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