We are now heading back to the Caribbean. But of course, the journey is never that easy.
From Copán, it was a ten-hour long bus trip to La Ceiba, so we decided to break the trip in San Pedro Sula, about half-way. Copán hadn’t really prepared us for Honduras—it had a small town feel and it was pretty safe.
This morning, while having breakfast in Copán, I read La Prensa. There was a quick survey on page four: “Do you think Honduras is the crime country of the world?” 75% of the readers answered “yes.” The following page detailed all the murders that had taken place in San Pedro Sula over the weekend.
I put my coffee down. Okay, good to know that.
We arrived in San Pedro Sula around 2 p.m. and jumped into a taxi to the hotel, located in a somewhat dodgy (but cheap) part of the town.
The truth is, I didn’t know what to expect from San Pedro. It is the financial centre of the country, so it’s a big city. It is also located in a valley, far from the sea, so it’s extremely hot. That’s all I was able to deduce from the travel guide.
When we arrived in the hotel, Feng and I immediately thought of Panamá City or Porto Alegre, two not-so-safe and very hot places. Indeed, San Pedro isn’t a pretty city: the streets are dirty, messy, traffic is awful and buildings look like they are going to collapse any time. There are tons of gun shops (and stickers telling you that guns are forbidden in stores and at the bank—duh!). The population is quite mixed like in Brazil. “At least we don’t look fresh off the plane!” I told Feng. “We are tan now, we don’t scream ‘gringos!’.”
We hung out by the main plaza for a little while and ventured into a mercado set up metres away from train tracks. I was surprise to see so much textile—t-shirts etc. like in a Chinese market—until I remembered that a lot of clothes are hecho in Honduras. There wasn’t much to see or to do. The only restaurants were American franchises and a few panaderías.
We took a taxi to a mall, hoping for an air-con movie theatre but no such luck—all the movies were in Spanish and the mall was rather old. We walked a bit along the huge road lined up with U.S. fast food joints. Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonalds… Eventually, I decided to try the local specialty, baleadas. It’s a wheat flour tortilla, folded in half and filled with beans, cheese, eggs, chicken (or whatever meat) and avocado. Quite taste actually, it was a good dinner.
As the sun set, we headed back to the hotel and the streets were downright dodgy, an impression that was confirmed when we needed to buy some water. The pulpería (convenience store) at the corner of the street was protected by bar and the shopkeeper handed us our purchase between the bars—we couldn’t step in. Even the hotel—not a five-star hotel by any stretch of imagination—left some leflets about food delivery in the room. When even locals don’t recommend going out, you tend to listen to them.
Here are a few somewhat crappy pictures of San Pedro. I left the DSLR at the hotel and only took the point-and-shoot camera with me today. The last time we didn’t, we got mugged in Panama, so…