Honduras: Into the Wild

I admit it I have a very bad habit of contradicting people.  I don’t do it intentionally or to cause trouble it’s just who I am.  So you can only imagine what I did once somebody told me that it was a bad idea to go to Honduras.

Honduras is a beautiful country known for it’s lush cloud forests, mysterious Mayan Ruins, tropical beaches, and the highest murder rate in Central America.

When family and friends found out about my plan to celebrate my birthday in this gorgeous Central American locale they tried to convince me not to go.  But being a woman who strongly dislikes being told what to do I refused to listen.  I know that I may come off as irresponsible or reckless at times, but I’m not.  I’m as concerned about my safety and security as the next person and take precautions.  I also consider myself to be quite adventurous and have traveled to some dangerous places on my own long before I became Mrs. Captain.

I’ve learned that everyone will have different experiences whether the country is deemed “safe” or not.  For example a traveler in Italy may get robbed at gun point, therefore, equating their experience as terrible while another in Colombia might find love and consider their trip amazing.  Maybe it’s all about luck or maybe not. But it’s always a wise idea to do research before venturing off to a new country and preparing to the best of your abilities.  Always be aware of your surroundings, use common sense, keep copies of all important documents such as passports in a safe place, and if you’re an American Citizen make sure to register with the nearest U.S Embassy or Consulate before traveling abroad.  Even then nothing is guaranteed.

The Captain and I were thrilled to discover that there were plenty of open seats to Honduras. My husband and I reside in Chicago and since Delta does not fly directly to Honduras from there we had to catch a connecting flight to Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport.  We arrived in Atlanta late that evening and had to wake up bright and early because the flight to Honduras we listed on was the earliest.  From years of flying standby I’ve learned that sometimes the flights with the most promise are often the ones at ungodly hours.  Fortunately for us we got business class.

Four hours later we landed in San Pedro Sula.  While riding the van to our hotel and peering out the window I knew that we were in a different world.  I was excited to start our adventure in Central America.  Scheduled first thing in the morning, which happened to be my birthday, was an expedition to the jungle.

Hiking the dense jungle

The following day The Captain and I were waiting in the hotel lobby.  We stayed at Hotel Gran Mediterraneo, a charming hotel located in the heart of San Pedro Sula.  It is beautifully decorated with exemplary service.  It wasn’t long before a young man with red hair, khaki pants, and a cool looking hat walked in and introduced himself to us.  He was Juan Carlos, our guide.

Those who know me know that I am not a fan of tour guides or guided tours and prefer to explore on my own but due to the limited time we had in Honduras we arranged some excursions with Jungle Expedition.  Jungle Expedition is a local company that specializes in adventure tours such as jungle hiking, horseback riding, and waterfall rappelling.  It’s also run by Juan Carlos.  He was very informative and passionate about his country and due to his amiable nature he seemed more like a friend than a tour guide.

Also accompanying us were three of his friends – Richie a photographer and videographer who does freelance work for National Geographic, Diego a journalist, and Raquel a teacher.  They all tagged along to do a promotional project involving Cusuco National Park where we were going to hike.  There was plenty of room for us in the 4×4 and I had a great time getting to know each of them.

Juan’s 4×4

Our first stop was Buenos Aires, a village in the Merendon Mountain Range where we had a cup of freshly roasted coffee and a Honduran version of the pancake called fritas.  If you are a coffee lover, I strongly suggest you try Honduran coffee.  There’s nothing like it and you won’t be disappointed.  After talking with the locals we headed up to the mountain.

The view up the mountain was stunning and the higher we went the more beautiful it became.  Once we got to the location we were immersed in a sea of clouds and lush green foliage.  I was mesmerized by the lushness of the rainforest.  Never had I seen such an immense diversity of life.  There was life everywhere you turned.  At that moment I was glad that I followed my heart instead of listening to other people’s fears.

The hike through the deep dense jungle was arduous – having just rained the narrow dirt path that we were walking on was slippery and curved up and down making it even more challenging.  My husband and I had to focus and maintain our balance otherwise we could fall off the vertiginous trail and get injured.  We also had to watch what we grabbed onto because there were trees covered in thorns and venomous snakes all throughout the jungle. Some species of snake that can be found in Honduras are the Honduran palm pit viper, fer-de-lance, and Godman’s montane pit viper.

The Toucan Waterfall

An hour and a half later we reached the Toucan Waterfall, hidden deep in the jungle. According to Juan Carlos no more than five hundred people have visited this area.  It was rewarding and refreshing to see the majestic waterfall and to be in a place that so few people have ever been to.  My husband and I sat together on a large rock holding hands taking in the great beauty of the waterfall and the rainforest that surrounded us.  It was a serene experience.

Half an hour later we started heading back. It took another hour or two to return to Buenos Aires.  Exhausted and hungry it felt wonderful to sit down to a traditional Honduran dinner. While we were hiking the locals made fried chicken, plantains, flour tortillas and refried beans for us to feast on.  The food was delicious and I couldn’t get enough.

Dinner time

On the way back to our hotel Juan Carlos, Richie, Raquel and Diego decided to surprise me with sweet bread that served as a birthday cake.  On top of the bread was a single lit candle which I got to blow out after the group sang Happy Birthday to me.  So unexpected was this that I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture. Under the vast and starry sky in the Honduran jungle, I celebrated my birthday with my husband and our new friends.  It was a great experience and the best birthday I’ve ever had.

Spending a day hiking at Cusuco National Park made me wonder why people feared going to this country.  The rural areas of Honduras are safe and the locals there are warm and friendly.  I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so welcomed in a country before.  But while rural Honduras is safe the Captain and I were warned that the cities were dangerous and to avoid wandering around at night.

Relaxing after the long hike.

The husband and I had a fantastic time in Honduras.  Weeks later we were elated to find that we had both made it on the promotional projects that Juan Carlos, Richie, and Diego were working on.  A picture of the Captain hiking appeared in a Honduran newspaper and I made a brief appearance in Richie’s video!  How lucky are we?! Being a part of their projects to promote Cusuco National Park further added to our already unforgettable adventure! Honduras provides an authentic experience.  Being a frequent traveler I can say that this is a country where you won’t feel like a tourist but an adventurer.  If you crave adventure and aren’t afraid to get off the beaten path than Honduras is for you.

 

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