Many people plan to drive through Honduras in one day, doing a double border crossing. Its long history of military rule, corruption, and poverty have made it a hotbed for crime over the years. But it also has a thriving tourist business in the islands and is making attempts to bridge the gap between rich and poor. It crossed our minds to skip the country, but we knew others that wanted to check it out further, and we decided to do the same.
When we and the Foleys (ClunkMonkey) showed up at the border crossing, the immigration officers were surprised and then delighted that we were planning on staying more than a day. They seem to expect most driving tourists to fly through as fast as possible. We decided to head North to the Caribbean, and were so happy we spent this time in Honduras, and crushed a lot of misconceptions about the country along with having a good time.
We headed north along the border with El Salvador, and were pleasantly surprised by the roadways. Massive highways are under construction, and we were the only ones on them! Except for some herds of cattle, and occasional work crew, we felt like we were in the wild. The highway alternated between pristine tarmac, and level gravel road, and sometime packed dirt. The views were incredible, not only the mountain scenery but the unique rock walls lining the roadway, and it was one of the nicest drives we’ve had.
Not that we didn’t have our moments through some small towns, where the road seemed to disappear, or we would encounter a dead end in the form of a wall of bricks and dirt at an intersection. We were taking the lead, and at one point, the Foleys figured we went down a wrong road when a gentleman rushed out of his home waving his hands for us to stop. Tim Foley pulls a trailer and can’t really back up, so fortunately he saw the man and waited at the corner, waiting to see how long it took Okan and I to realize our error. Eventually, when the road turned to a path, and turned again to shrubbery, we sorted it out and backed up a long long way to see Tim and family out of their car smiling.
We camped for the night in a little town halfway to our destination, just barely making it through the gated doorway to a nice hotel with a big parking lot. They were happy to have us there, as was the large mission group from the USA. We watched the the mission volunteers get bussed into and out of the hotel each day with their armed guards, they watched us cooking our meals next to our rigs in amazement that we were traveling as we were.
Full of curiosity, we were asked many questions. Top questions 1) aren’t you scared to travel like this? 2) How do you not get sick on the food/water, what do you eat? As far as the being scared…definitely no, no, and no. The possible nervousness we’ve felt during this travel is akin to that when you get off the plane in a new country in say Europe, and are a bit anxious about how to ask for help, where to get a rental car, and navigating the road. Normal stuff, but definitely not scared. But, just by nature of being in “Honduras” when pulled over by the police in a small town, we did wonder “will this be a bribe situation?” but the officer just seemed more curious about where we were from, where we were going, and wanted to make sure we weren’t one of the drive-through-in-a-day tourists that got lost along the way. They generally want you to enjoy being in their country. After smiles, handshakes and well wishes we were quickly on our way.
After our jaunt through the small town, we headed to the coast. We tried to stay at Roli’s place in Omoa for which many overlanders have written great reviews. But, we seemed to have woken a sleeping Roli, who when looking out at two huge truck campers, and a trailer, with 4 adults, 5 kids, and 1 dog….said perhaps we needed to look down the street a ways. We were disappointed to have to get back in the vehicles and drive more, but we found a decent spot on the beach in front of a restaurant.
This would mark the first time I got to enter a new campsite on iOverlander! I was overly giddy about being a contributor to this great app on which we all depend so much. Because unfortunately, those who’ve come before and have marked so many great places to stay, the app itself has perhaps inhibited subsequent travellers from investigating and discovering other places that surely exist. This makes for sort of a circuit that we all travel which will get worn down over time. So if you are arriving to a new destination early enough…do try to ask around and find something never tried! You might be the one to find that gem of a place that no one knew was there.
The beach here was pretty dirty, restaurant mediocre, and bathrooms passable (this was definitely not one of those gems). But, I noticed the staff out raking and by the end of our stay, there was a stretch of clean and clear beach along the water.
They had a cute little herd of goats here, and Indigo had his first run in with livestock. It was a doozy. A cartoon style head butt in the gut by a little goat, where Indigo’s legs flew up in the air and he was knocked about 10 feet backwards. I literally watched him fly 10 feet horizontally. I had to contain a laugh because it truly looked like something that would occur in a cartoon, and then of course rushed over to make sure he was ok. That will teach the kid not to stick a long piece of grass up a goats nostril!
Lot’s of people come to Honduras for the diving, it’s cheaper than most countries and really good. The islands of Utila and Roatan offer great lodges and great diving. We’ve seen great photos and reviews from friend’s who went. We ultimately decided we couldn’t swing the logistics or cost of a diving trip. We stuck to the coast and went east a bit to Tela, and found a great resting place! We even saw a family that we had met before in Baja! We were both apparently on the same circuit 🙂
We set up the slack line over the pool and had lots of good days here. Carson was the first to make it the whole way over the slack line, and continues to amaze us each time we see him with his new slack line skills. We had walks to the small town, visited the markets, admired the murals, and enjoyed the weather.
We splurged here and arranged a boat tour with ClunkMonkey and friends Steffi and Daniel to a nearby island. There was a lot of pirating history during the tour that I missed most of (okay just about all…Spanish lessons didn’t work so well for me), but we enjoyed the jungle trek and a bit of snorkeling. The meal that was provided included very freshly caught fish, and it was devoured quickly!
I hung back with Indigo during the snorkel through a famous crack in the rock, where people that enter and exit together are supposed to soon thereafter be married or expecting a child. Daniel and Steffi caught a lot of grief after they came out of course, being the only couple without children amongst our group.
Back at the campsite, we took a group photo before Daniel and Steffi headed out, not sure of when we might meet again. We left soon thereafter for the border, It was hard to uproot ourselves and leave our little slice of heaven. The owner of the property didn’t help by trying to persuade us into buying one of the homes on the property…tempting indeed.
On the way out, we needed to refill our Liquid Propane (LP) In every country we must learn the ins and outs of getting our LP tank filled. In some countries it’s a snap, in others it’s more complicated with the need for adaptors, and employees willing to break a couple of rules. We lucked out just outside of Tela, and literally chased down a truck on the road and got our tanks filled on the street corner. Pretty sure we were bending if not breaking some rules on that one.
Our drive to the border was a long one, and why you might ask did we travel the long way around, instead of the more direct route? We asked the owner of the campground about our intended route, and were told that we were better off sticking to the main highways, and not take the road less traveled. The shorter route we originally selected went through an area that is known for small town robberies. We are not super risk takers, after all we are traveling with kids, and it was nice to know that the locals truly have an interest in keeping their guests safe.
Just before the border, we parked in a driveway outside a hotel up on a hill with a great view of the dense jungle, from their… merry-go-round. I wish we had the budget to have gone diving and explore more, but I was happy for our little glimpse of Honduras, having met friendly people, driven on some great roads, and eaten good food. And where else would you get to find an ancient merry-go-round deep in the jungle?