Honduras – Murdered with kindness

We are in Honduras.

 

DSC01654

But before we get on with Honduras … can we just talk about Guatemala again? Okay, its my blog, I do what I want.

As evidence by Hyein’s legs, Guatemala did not let us go easy. Our last night we camped at Quirigua Archeologica Site. These mayan ruins are located in the middle of thick jungle and endless banana plantations. The whole night we were being eaten alive by flies and mosquitoes. We were extremely happy to leave in the morning. But Guatemala had hidden surprises for us in store…more about that later.

We entered Honduras through the Eastern border of Corinto.

DSC01653

 

Little background on Honduras. It is lovingly nicknamed as the “murder capital of the world”…wow, shit … why are we going there again?

Well there is no way to get from Guatemala to Nicaragua without passing either Honduras or Honduras and El Salvador.  The overlanding community is so afraid of Honduras, that there are people who write guides on how to get through the country and both borders in less than a day.

And if not for our friends, Anisorc and Carlos, who live in Hondura’s capital of Tegucigalpa. We wouldn’t be spending an extra minute in this country. And excluded El Salvador from the trip all together.

DSC01658

Honduran flag – the 5 stars represent the integration of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Check out the Nicaragua and El Salvador’s flags, almost identical. I didn’t know this, but Panama is not considered Central America…hm, geographically that doesn’t make sense.

DSC01662

After crossing the border we stayed in D&D brewery on Lake Yojoa. Nice place, sorry no photos. In the morning, we drove to Ani and Carlos’ house in Tegucigalpa.

Since they were at work we did what we usually do … garage sale in the middle of the street. Or in plain terms, just drying out our tent, car and awning. And getting rid of all the stupid flies in the tent.

DSC01667

Hyein can’t help touching her hair when she sees me with the camera. She says it’s a habit….yeah, a habit from her modeling days 🙂

DSC01670

Quick fun fact, here is some Honduran currency. With the current exchange rate of $1 USD = 22.5 lempira.

DSC01674

Anyway, back to the story. This is Ani and Carlos, our amazing hosts in Honduras. The first night they invited us out to dinner at a local food place, where you order plates of delicious meats.

We know them from back in San Diego. Along with Hyein they attended IRPS program at UCSD last year. So last time we saw them, they were in flip-flops, t-shirts and shorts. And BOOOM – its high heels and tie. What a transformation.

DSC01673

Local restaurant with stelas and pictures of famous people on the wall. And as a bonus, the food was amazing.

Driving to Tegucigalpa, we didn’t know what to expect. So when we got into the house, we were blown away.

DSC01680

I’m going to just go out on a limb and say… probably not your average house in Honduras. It is HUGE, 2 master bedrooms, 2.5 baths and an enormous living room area.

DSC01681

Definitely beats sleeping on top of our car, and the views are just as good.

When we got up in the morning, the guys were already at work. We were instead greeted by a nice message:

DSC01678

In the morning they let us sleep in and take a nice easy morning. So by the time we got up and had a coffee, Ani texted and told us that Carlos will come pick us up at the apartment in 15 minutes. Then lunch at their workplace – Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE).

DSC01686

DSC01689

This is one of the nicest buildings in Honduras, about 5 minutes from the White House. So the security is pretty tight…right?

No…they can’t even spell Hyein’s name right. Not the first time people can’t spell her name, and definitely not the last time.

DSC01690

Look at those sexy mugshots… Hyein Gin!!! 🙂

DSC01692

Our beautiful host and my beautiful Mrs. Gin 🙂

After lunch we went back home to relax and decompress. Because in the evening we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner organized by Ani and Carlos’s coworkers.

DSC01697

 

We had a great dinner and bonus – EVERYONE spoke English. So we felt completely at home or maybe that was just the booze talking.

Btw, before you enter any residential area you have to go through security checkpoint. No joke, there are 3-4 guys with guns taking your name down and looking at you sternly.

DSC01695

This is an normal, everyday, dont-even-bat-an-eye kind of a thing for people living in Honduras. At first you are put off by this, after a few days you dont even notice them.

Back to the party – where we drank so much that we couldn’t hold the camera steady enough to take a night shot, hence the results. Night skyline of Tegucigalpa.

DSC01699

 

Besides drinking and hanging out with Ani and Carlos, we had a really important quest to complete while in Honduras.

Remember, from “Maybe its time to take our clothes off?” that our stove was being a just pile of manure? To fix this issue, we ordered some new generators in the States. Then my mom shipped them to Honduras. But thats the easy part…getting the parts from Honduran Customs is the hard part.

I mean, Ani took a day off work in preparation to this event. So, here is the complete, non-exaggerated account of that process.

DSC017011. Quest – obtain package and review contents.

This means driving to FedEx, going through security, waiting to get your package AND then waiting for a customs officers to open and look at it. He then proceeded to punch something on his computer and told us that we owe some taxes. Okay, we expected that.

“How much?”

“600 lempira ($30 usd)”

“WHAAAT?……THATS A LOT, WHY?”

“Well, there is a 25% import tax and $20 storage fee”

“But 25% of $10(our declared value) is only $2.5”

“Yes, but we also include the shipping cost in the tax calculation”

“Wait….what? Why would you do that?

“We just do”… At this point both Ani and I started to get annoyed. We stood around the office protesting and after 10 minutes the guy agreed and

“Okay, just so that you have a nice impression of Honduras…the total tax is…100 lempira instead of 300 lempira…good?”

“Yes, thank you!….Where do we pay?”

DSC01704

2. Quest – find the bank to pay the import tax.

We had to drive to two different banks to find one that accepts these kind of payments. That took another 1 hour.

DSC01703

3. Quest – go back and pay storage fee.

Now, lets examine that fee for a minute. We paid $20 to “store” a package that was supposed to be delivered to our door. The package weights 0.36kg. So that roughly translates to $28/kg/day. Or in other words it would cost $2270/day for me to be stored in that dingy warehouse.

4. Quest – collect all paperwork and finally get your package

DSC01713

So, lets not calculate the actual cots of getting these damn generators.

  1. 3 Coleman generators from Amazon (free delivery) – $82
  2. Shipping to Honduras – $108
  3. All the bullshit, i mean taxes, in Honduras – $25
  4. Total: $215
  5. Finally being able to make coffee in the morning – PRICELESS

DSC01714

Bonus…check out the excited lady in the back! She is not happy probably because her stove is also broken 🙂

Thanks Ani, this could would have been impossible without you!

After the whole ordeal at FedEx we drove back home, picked up Carlos and were on our way to El Salvador.

Wait….what? You said you are not going to go there. Oh well, we lied. Carlos is from San Salvador and kindly invited us to go visit his country and his family for the weekend.

DSC01724

Next day, while Carlos was at his high school reunion we went to check out the local coffee shop scene.

DSC01718

I’m pretty sure because Hyein and I looked like a couple of tourists, the barista came to our table and asked what we would like for her to draw.

DSC01721

You guessed it – swans. Nah, we just asked her what she does best and this is the result. Very nice!

Oh and the coffee itself? AMAZING.

DSC01722

Got a little caffeine high going on. Damn, that was a good cup of coffee!

After we got nice and jittered out of our minds, we picked up Carlos and headed for the Pacific coast.

DSC01726

DSC01725

Its like PB, or OB or La Jolla except with stone beaches. And the water is like 90 degrees!DSC01727

Beach side vendors in La Libertad.

The local fishing community is thriving and people come to visit the market from San Salvador on the weekends.

DSC01729

DSC01735

The fishermen store their boats on the pier and prep their fresh fish right there as well.

DSC01737

Some people sell their catch right from the coolers in their boats.

DSC01730

I tried to figure out the prices and from what we understood the bigger fish on the left were going to $5 per fish. Seems like a good deal, right? Anyway we didn’t buy anything and decided to go get our fill at the local whole in the wall restaurant.

DSC01738

It seems that no matter where you go in the world the standard price for an oyster is about a buck. I’m not an expert in the kinds of oysters, but these were large, the shell was shallow and the meat was very sweet.

DSC01742

 

 

 

 

 

Hyein’s go to dish in seafood places – ceviche mixed cocktail. 🙂  It was delicious and fresh.
DSC01743

Okay, why is that every time there is a picture of me eating my hands and my face are INSIDE my food? That’s because I enjoy eating my food, without any reservations. Also, i have been craving for hot soups ever since we started this trip…not sure…maybe getting ready for Korea and Russia? Maybe i just miss my mommy 🙁DSC01744

 

Its nice to see you guys back in regular clothes. Your bank clothes make me feel guilty…that i should stop messing around and go get a real job!
DSC01741

Food time. No more talking, this is face in the plate time.

 

After a nice lunch what is better than to enjoy a cold beer and enjoy the view. We went to another restaurant just 10 minutes up the coast. This is a much fancier place and reminded us of La Jolla, except it was 20 degrees hotter.

DSC01753

Jyes…we look sexy as hell. Look at that sunset in the background, i promise there was no posing for this picture. We are just naturally so photogenic.

DSC01757-1

A very nice and romantic was ruined…now no one knows who i’m kissing. Could be Hyein or could be some other girl. We will never know.

DSC01757-2

Our double date for the evening.

DSC01756

As the sun set we managed to get some really nice pictures.

The place had a wedding vibe to it. It would be perfect to have a wedding here in the winter.

The weather is perfect, the views are stunning and most of all you are literally on the ocean. If we ever decide to have a 3rd wedding, this is a top contender.

DSC01758

DSC01760

After a relaxing day at the beach we headed back to Carlos’s house. We thought we were done for the day…but instead we were invited to his sister’s house for fun times and pupusas. Okay, so pupusas are like a pancake like dish, with the outside made from corn and the filling is usually cheese + some meat. There is a debate going on between Honduras and El Salvador about who makes the best pupusas.

DSC01770

 

Ani settled that debate for us by declaring El Salvador to be the winner, but i dont trust her…she is emotionally involved with El Salvador. Her decision can be objective 🙂 But i dont care who is better, i know for a FACT that the El Salvadorian pupusas were AMAZING!

DSC01768

How does Hyein always managed to capture me from my best angle? Btw, that’s Carlos’s dad in the background…i think he is laughing at me…not sure.

DSC01766

“Hyein stop playing with your food and just eat it!”

DSC01771

The pupusas come with a tomato salsa that you can put on top of them, making them look like little pizzas…no, calzones.

DSC01766-1

While i was stuffing my face with pupusas, Hyein was playing with Carlos’s niece and nephews. It was some Wii dancing game and Hyein didn’t win. She says it was unfair because they chose a song that they already know. Yeah whatever, dont be a sore loser babe!

DSC01771-2

After the games, Carlos’s little niece organized a “talk show” where she was the host.

DSC01771-1

I think i was still eating pupusas at that point.

DSC01771-3

Carlos’s whole family. I would like to personally say thank you to everyone in the picture for hosting us in El Salvador and Honduras. And showing us an amazing time in these countries. Couldn’t do it with out you guys!

DSC01765

Next morning, saying good bye to the youngest member of Carlos’s family. For me this was the hardest part. I’ve though of still the kitty so many times, and only my respect for Carlos stopped me from going through with it.

On the way back to Honduras, we went to a volcano right next to San Salvador.

DSC01778

Finally, we managed to see the crater of a volcano. And this time we didn’t have to hike for 5 hours through the jungle. All we had to do was sit back in the car and enjoy the view. I like dis way better 🙂

DSC01774

DSC01775

View of San Salvador from the volcano. On the right, behind the hills you can see the Pacific Coast. This reminded me of San Jose/Santa Cruz. The drive is about the same and there are small mountains between the two cities. Except the weather is better here…not as much fog as Santa Cruz. Oh…and the water doesn’t have ice floating in it.

DSC01772

Observe, people! That is Hyein in her natural state, a very rare chance for a camera to catch this moment. It is easier to record the snow leopards mating i think than to see this.

 

 

 

DSC01791

There is a little museum on the volcano, showing the history of the last eruption and the consequences it had on the local population. As part of the immersive history lessons, you could try out the local clothing.

DSC01794

I think the hats definitely complement our outfits. Carlos, where is your pretty blouse?

DSC01797

Who wore it better El Salvador style?

DSC01799

I think Hyein wins. Honestly, i had to beg her to keep this picture in the post…she says its too …hm….”princessyyy”. Apparently, she doesnt enjoy pretending to be a princess.

That concludes our pictures for that part of the journey. So here is my quick summar:

  1. We were scared of driving through both, Honduras and El Salvador
  2. With the right people, even the scariest place can turn out to be amazing – thanks to Ani and Carlos
  3. If you are driving on the Pan-American you have to drive through these countries, so my advice is to find a friend that lives there before you leave!
  4. Follow the rules, don’t drive at night and dont ask too many questions, know where you are going.

 

Now, remember those mosquito bites from the beginning of the blog? Well, Guatemala had one last surprise for us.

On our last day in El Salvador, the day of the visit to the volcano, Hyein woke up and tried to get out of bed. Only to realize that she can barely walk due to pain in her knees and ankles.

I silently sighed to myself…OMG what is it this time? As we walked up to the volcano, Hyein tried to laugh off the pain, but i could see the pain in her eyes.

Next day the joint pain continued and she got a fever in addition. When Ani got home that night, she listened to the symptoms and immediately said: “Chikungunya!”

12305491_1139792532705492_1349187254_n

Omg…shit, that sounds bad, what it is?  Okay, don’t worry it is not fatal, it just kinda sucks for the person who has it.

Basically, you get headache and a fever for a couple of days, your lymph nodes swell and if you are lucky that is it. But for most people that is just the beginning. The joint pain can persist for many weeks, months and for some unlucky bastards, even years.

Another symptom is a rash that starts out at the extremities and covers the whole body (except the face for some reason?).

DSC01863-2

Then it spreads to the rest of the body.

DSC01854-2

DSC01870-2

At some point it looks like the rash is gone…nope, its just covered the whole body so you can’t tell the difference anymore.

DSC01871-2

Looks…gross….i know.

Ani quickly informed us that Chikungunya is originally from Dominican Republic, just like Ani, and that is transferred by mosquitoes, not like Ani.

Now, do you see where Guatemala comes in? Argh…really not liking that place.

Anyway, Chikungunya quite common in Central America and so common in Dominican Republic that they even have a song about it.  Youtube link – La Chikungunya

 

chikungunya_1

The Dominican people are full of happiness and joy about life. So even in the dark times of Chikungunya, they made a song about it so you don’t feel alone in your sufferings.

chikungunya_2

This photo really cheered up Hyein as she was limping around Ani and Carlos’s apartment.

Okay, dont worry! Hyein is almost fine right now, the rash is gone, the fever and headaches are also gone. Its just her knees acting up once in a while.

Hopefully, nothing comes back and we will laugh about it just like the guys in the video!

 

 

 

5 Comment

  1. Clint Potter says: Reply

    Hi Ivan,
    I love the blog and am checking every day to see if there is an update. It sounds like a wonderful adventure.

    Clint

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says: Reply

      Thanks Clint. I feel like writing a blog is like writing a paper. First you get your figures, then you write the story!

  2. Jenya says: Reply

    Privet, how Hey-In is doing?

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says: Reply

      Hyein is doing well 🙂

  3. […] missed the train by 10 minutes…so poor Hyein, with her Chikungunya acting up, had to […]

Leave a Reply