Nothing but Fast Food.
Trip Start Dec 22, 2006
97Trip End Feb 10, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Another lazy morning was passed by working on our journal and fiddling around the van packing and repacking cupboards and drawers that have become a tad disorganized during the trip. At least at the hostel the water system was not connected to electric pumps and we were still able to have showers and use the bathrooms. Once the van was cleaned and reorganized from top to bottom, we started to look around for something to do. It was now the heat of the day, so our first thought was to pull up some chairs under a shady tree and kick back. This we have done before, so we started to read some tourist information guides about Omoa to find something else to do. We finally decided on touring the Spanish fortress that has significant historical meaning for the quiet village of Omoa. The fort is called the Fortaleza de San Fernando de Omoa. As with most coastal forts, this one was built on orders from the King of Spain and the intended purpose was to ward of pirates that were causing havoc with looting and pillaging the small coastal villages. Over the years, the pirates and privateers became dissatisfied with simply attacking ships on the high seas and began to set up on the outlying islands of Roatan and Utila from where they were able to plan strategic and successful attacks on the mainland. Omoa, with its calm waters in the bay, was a shipping port and most desirable to pirates and buccaneers. Pirates were considered simple thieves and if captured in combat, they were hung by the mast. Privateers on the other hand were working under the authority of their homeland government and brought with them a Letter of Marque, which stipulated the nationalities of the ships and ports subject to attack. Privateers were considered legitimate enemy combatants and if they escaped death during battle they were simply imprisoned or chained to the benches of the rowing galley.
The fort was constructed between 1759 and 1777 and its new-style design was touted as being impregnable. Ironically, the fortress was captured by the British after only a four day battle. Continued battles led to the Spanish regaining control of the fortress. Throughout history, the Spanish were faced with constant pirate attacks, however they were able to ward off any further takeovers of the fortress.
The Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa is the last of a series of important forts built at this location. The walls of the Recinto "El Real" still stand as a perimeter boundary adjacent to the Fortress. El Real was originally a temporary garrison to protect the ammunitions, troops and workers during the early stages of the fort's construction. The materials used to assemble the fort were bricks, coral pieces and limestone. There is still evidence of several kilns at the fort site used to process the limestone and harden the soft rock.
Photos from May 16, 2007: http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=16xvaj2z.64zgdhjr&Uy=-aj3ujj&
On May 17, 2007, we were ready to say goodbye to Omoa and get back on the road. After a quick breakfast and a final round of cleaning our dishes, Michael jumped behind the wheel to turn the key and get 'Nilla all revved up for the road trip. 'Nilla was not easily coaxed to get her engine roaring for the day as it took a few attempts to get her to keep an idle. We guess that she was quite comfortable at Roli's Place sitting amongst the large palms and beautiful flowering trees. Once 'Nilla got the sleep from her eyes, we were able to get on the road and head for the Northern Coast.
The first stop of the day was a thrift store in Choloma. Geraldine has been eyeing the oversized flowing dresses the locals wear, so we have been keeping our eyes peeled to get her one at a bargain price. As we slowly rolled down the main drag in Choloma, the first thing that caught our attention was a mass of dresses blowing in the wind underneath the awning of a thrift store. We just had to stop. The proprietor of the shop was a friendly American man. He has spent his life in and around the Los Angeles area and had decided to pack up and retire to Honduras to run a second hand clothing shop. The store was immaculate and the clothing was displayed on easy to view racks. Most other stores we have ventured into have the clothing piled sky high in wooden boxes strewn along the floor. We shopped around for quite a while before Geraldine found a nice long green dress that would both keep her cool and give her enough coverage for the smaller and more conservative villages we find ourselves in from time to time. We grabbed a few tee shirts as well as they are cheaper to buy than clean. We still clean them every now and then, but now we have enough to wear for a month without worrying about laundry. Yee-haw! The armload of clothing we bought was under $10. There was not much going on in Choloma, so we pressed on toward San Pedro Sula.
San Pedro Sula is the main industrial and business center of the country and is the second largest city in Honduras. Aside from the prosperous industry that takes place here, San Pedro Sula is also the location for land transportation for travel to the north coast as well as a site for the hub of commercial shipping. There is no shortage of buses, taxis, and transport trucks all over the road. The town is surrounded by fertile lowlands, which led to San Pedro being an attractive spot for large banana growing companies from North America to set up. Dole is the leading agricultural producer here and there is a multitude of yellow buildings and vehicles displaying their famous insignia. With the large sea port of Puerto Cortes only a short drive north, San Pedro has thrived with the access to a major import export route, thereby establishing itself as the country's manufacturing capital. The growth of business included apparel manufacturing, which supplies nearly the entire county and a demand from foreign countries. Any major business in Honduras can be found in San Pedro Sula including banking, insurance, industrial manufacturing, agriculture, trade, services and tourism. It truly is the heartbeat of Honduras.
There is not much to do in San Pedro Sula for tourists as it functions more as a launching pad to sites around the area. Not discouraged by the lack of things to do, we decided to at least hit one local site which was the Mercado de Artesanias Guamilito.
We finished trekking around the market and headed back on the road. San Pedro Sula was a bit too busy and bustling for us, so we were attracted to the north coast and the small town of Tela. As we waited at a red light in town we were approached by a rather ragged looking shoeless man in his early twenties. He wandered up to the driver side window and with hands outstretched he politely begged for money to buy food. Instead of taking the easy route of handing over money, we offered to give him food. The man looked absolutely puzzled that we would offer him food, but that expression quickly changed to delight and he jumped at the chance to take a shiny apple from Michael's hand before walking back to the curb. The refrigerator in 'Nilla is always stocked with food, which gives us the luxury to being able to help people in need. We much prefer to feed anyone in need versus blindly handing over money that may or may not be used for the intended purpose. Today was positive for everyone involved.
The drive to Tela was easygoing. The highway is well built and in great shape. There were actually road signs directing us to Tela, which we still believe may have merely been our eyes playing tricks on us. Close to our destination, the signs pointed off the highway and down a well paved artery to the town. The secondary road led to a T-intersection, where we found a bunch of hotel and restaurant signs with directional arrows pointed every which way. We were officially confused. A quick decision was made by Michael to turn left and he reasoned that most of the signs pointed in that direction. It was not more than 500 metres down the road that we ran into a police check point. Good work on turning left Michael. The police approached the car and asked us the basic questions of where we were from and where we were going. After handing over our identification and getting frisked, all seemed to be in order. Then we just had to humour the police as they inspected the vehicle to satisfy their curiosity at our house on wheels. We wondered why the police gave us such a strange look when we advised that we were heading to Tela, but we figured out that they thought us to be morons as we had turned the wrong direction at the T-intersection. Feeling a bit silly, we turned 'Nilla around and headed for Tela, again.
First stop in Tela was the Tourist Information office. The free local maps and advice on camping from these offices has been invaluable on our trip thus far. Tela did not disappoint.
We jumped from the van and sought out Presidente Braulio. A large man with a deep voice sitting at a table piped up "I am Braulio".
Our first night at Lito's Place we met Presidente Braulio, his wife Blanca and their two children Julissa and Malcolm. A few locals that spoke partial English were also present. Fermin was a very personable guy that chatted with us right away. We learned that he spends time working between Honduras and Belize on fishing boats. Fausto was the other English speaking man and he recently moved to Honduras after spending years in the United States. The conversation was basically exchanging niceties and being welcomed to El Triunfo de la Cruz. We had a warm reception.
A couple of tourists walking by spotting us and decided to stop in. Josh and Alexis were Americans that work for a volunteer organization and were scoping out locations for a work project to start in the area this summer.
Today we headed back to Tela. We drove the long way as we wanted to see the small Garifuna village of La Ensenada on the way. It was quite early in the morning when we arrived in La Ensenada and there was nothing going on. There was no-one walking in the streets and the curtains on most homes were still covering the windows and doorways. It appeared as though we were rolling around a ghost village. We enjoyed the solitude and were able to take pictures of the surroundings without running the risk of offending the locals. The homes are very basic accommodations to say the least, comprised of one large room inside four walls and a metal or palm leaf roof. The kitchen facilities are generally wood burning barbeques and ovens located to the side or the rear of the main home. Laundry lines were hung from any nearby tree or pole fencing in the property. It was simple yet functional.
In Tela, we dropped into the Municipal building to enquire about getting the necessary paperwork to get married in Honduras. We had been so taken aback by the hospitality we had received in the picturesque and old-fashioned Garifuna village of El Triunfo de la Cruz, that we thought about having our wedding there. Nothing is for certain, but we had to check it out. At the Municipal building we received a list of things to satisfy in order to get married. The main concern was that we required a letter from the Canadian Consulate stating that we were both single and able to marry. Having no idea where the Canadian Consulate was located we tracked down an internet café to search out the necessary information on line. The website for Canada showed the governing Consulate office for Honduras was located in Costa Rica. That seemed a bit confusing so we called the number it provided and we reached an office in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This is where the real confusion set in. The Canadian Consulate office advised us that they do not provide the letter we require, however for $44 USD, they were willing to write us a letter stating that they do not provide the service we require. This appeared to be no help at all. Armed with this new information, we returned to the Municipal building and tried to talk our way into getting a marriage license. This was a no go. The only way the local office was willing to provide us a license was if we had the Consulate write us a letter confirming our ability to get married. Furthermore, they needed an original document, which mean we would need to drive 7-8 hours to Tegucigalpa to obtain an original. Not ready to travel two days to the Canadian Consulate office we decided to return to El Triunfo de la Cruz and talk with the locals. Maybe they had some connections we could rely on.
Photos from May 17 - 18, 2007: http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingReg.jsp?