Back in July, in my last days in Honduras, I traveled to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with the intention of going to Cusuco National Park, on the mountain range of Sierra del Meredon.
I was traveling alone and although I’m quite used to doing so, it’s not something I do/did regularly in Central America for safety reasons.
Since I was alone, I felt it would be safer to hire a guide to go up the mountain. I found this travel company that offered guided tours but when I inquired about the schedules and conditions, I learned that there was a minimum of two people for the tour.
I was bummed and the guide offered me a solution. Seeing that I spoke Spanish, he suggested that I go up there alone and assured me it was simple.
Perfect, I thought. How do I do this? I expected his explanations to be something like this:
- Start from point A.
- Take a bus.
- Arrive at point B.
- Someone will be there waiting for you, will take your hand and will bring you where you need to go.
- Walk in the park, take pictures.
- Come back the same way you got there.
- THE END
Instead I got this:
- “You take a taxi. Go in neighbourhood Barrio La Primavera. Near the football field, there’s a wooden pulperia (a pulperia is sort of small convenient “store”).
- You wait under the tree that is next to the pulperia for a pickup truck that is going to the village Aldea Naranjita. You hitch a ride.
- At Aldea Naranjito, pay the driver 40 lempiras (approximately US$2). Then you walk on the main road for about 10 km until you reach the village Buenos Aires. Don’t get off the main road!
- Once there, find the comedor (small eatery) Tucan and ask to stay there for the night. They can arrange a guide who can bring you to the waterfall and park.
- To return back to San Pedro Sula you can do A) find Martina and ask her if Roger can give you ride back, or B) wait by the side of the road for a truck that goes back into town.
- Any questions?”
Erh…yeah…I have questions…Let’s see…Oh! Will I die during this trip?!
I mean…don’t get me wrong. I’ve hitchicked before. In fact, in Central America is very common to do so, especially in small villages where transportation is limited but I still felt unsure about the whole thing.
reassured me tried to reassure me. He wrote all the instructions on a piece of paper, read them to me again about three times. He also gave me half a dozen phone numbers in case I needed them. These, as I later found out, would have been useless because my phone couldn’t pick up any reception on the mountain.
And off I went! I survived — obviously, since I’m writing this blog post — and nothing bad happened to me either but please be aware that it is not recommended to hitch hike alone! I took a huge risk! But I’m so happy I took it!
My Favourite Moments
- Being in the back of a pickup truck with approximately 15 people, a chicken and a whole lot of merchandise. Speaking with an old man whom I could barely understand because he had no teeth and, like I said, we were in the back of a pickup truck going up a dirt road. At one point during the conversation, being asked by the old man if I liked flowers while he pointed at the sky. Looking up and seeing a field of flowers on the slope of the mountain.
- While staying at the comedor Tucan, chatting with 12-year-old David about the violence in San Pedro Sula. Being in awe and feeling a little sad that such a young person could be so articulate about this very heavy subject matter.
- After two days in the mountains, waiting five hours on the side of the road for a ride to go back to the city. Finally seeing a truck and meeting two agronomists who worked for the government. Being invited to tag along on their farm visits before heading to San Pedro Sula. Visiting farms, drinking coffee and sharing stories with small coffee producers.
It was great!
People asked me if it’s worth going there. Honestly, I’ve seen mountains more jaw-dropping than this one. However, this was probably one of my best travel experiences of all times.
That’s the beauty of traveling, for me anyways. It’s not so much about a great view, a museum, a sculpture or whatever other tourist attraction. It’s about the encounters you make along the way. The beauty and kindness of people. There are no travel books out there that could have helped me plan out a trip like that.
I wish you all wonderful holidays and a fabulous 2014. May your year be filled with heart-warming moments, either while travelling in far away places or while rediscovering the beauty of your own backyard.