I arrived at the airport in San Pedro Sula and my confidence immediately began to fade. No one was there to pick me up and I realized I had forgotten to get a map. I was in a new town without a clue of which direction I would need to walk in.
My taxi driver arrived (sigh of relief) and we got into his beat up Toyota and started driving like crazy through town. We chatted a lot in Spanish and he asked if I was hungry and wanted some real food. My response was, “of course!”
He took me to an open air market with a lot of locals. He warned that if I came back alone to be sure to hide my money. I didn’t know what that meant about right now so I hid my money pouch in my armpit and he started laughing at me. He told me not to worry right now.
I ordered a fantastic lunch – yuka, chicken, rice, plantanos and beans. I saw a sign for horchata and said, “oh I love horchata!” (oh how I miss the horchata of the taco trucks!) He shook his head no and walked me over to a different booth. I got an horchata and realized that might not be such a great idea (water) so I compromised and only drank 1/4. Not sick, so I think I am okay!
It wasn’t until I got to the hostel that I admitted I felt overwhelmed. I needed to go to the galeria and exchange money but there were no locks on the doors and no lockers so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to bring my pack with me or leave it at the hostel. Better safe than sorry, I took the pack with me. It ended up being quite a burden – there is security everywhere and no one wanted to let me in with the pack, not to mention I stuck out like a total traveler.
There is security posted at each shop and the door has to be unlocked for you to enter. At the bank, they have security inside and outside and the doors are padlocked. I had to leave my pack at the door. They didn’t like it at all. On my way back, I also saw military posted at intersections with rifles and all the houses have big iron gates – it makes you feel like you also need to be alert.
I felt really self conscious with the pack walking back. I couldn’t find my street. I was nervous walking back and forth with my big pack on my back. And knew people were observing my obvious confusion.
I found the hostel and really started to feel overwhelmed. Maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. Maybe I was in over my head. But then I met Mary, a girl from Oakland, California and I also met 4 British medical students and listened to their stories. They are all at the end of their trips and I am just starting mine. The medical students have been traveling for three months from Cancun to Belize to Honduras. I want to meet friends I can travel with like that. Maybe this is the start. I started to feel like I could figure this out.
It started pouring outside so we all decided to order Pizza Hut – yes, San Pedro Sula is the Gringolandia of Honduras. We sat around the table poolside, sharing stories. I could learn a lot here.
Knowing Spanish has been invaluable. The house ladies here only know Spanish, security only know Spanish and so far I have used it a ton.
I played gin with the three guys from Britain and lost terribly. And now here I am lying in bed preparing for tomorrow.
I am looking forward to getting out of San Pedro Sula. It’s a little too edgy for me. I get a free shuttle to the bus depot in the early morning and am headed toward Copan Ruinas.
La Posada has been a great jumping off point for the trip. They really do a great job of keeping you safe and happy and helping you get a lay of the land.
I hope for future travels with friends but first I must figure this out on my own.