A few months ago Jennifer suggested traveling to Honduras over the week of Thanksgiving. I was dubious. My mother-in-law is an excellent cook and her Thanksgiving feasts are always good. So traveling to Honduras would mean forgoing Thanksgiving. But traveling outside the U.S. the week of Thanksgiving has its advantages, as most Americans prefer to spend time with family and do not travel abroad. In 2006 we flew to Australia on Black Friday and it was great. San Francisco Airport was like a ghost town during our layover and on the plane to Sydney we had all the room we needed to stretch out and sleep as there were plenty of rows of empty seats.
Honduras did sound cool so I made Jennifer a deal: I would agree to go to Honduras (and give up Thanksgiving) if she would agree to wear a bikini I that bought for her. She agreed and she booked very reasonable flights to Honduras. (She since reneged and did not even pack the bikini).
Although booked two months before, the trip kind of snuck up on us as we have been very busy lately. As a consequence, neither of us did much research prior to November (which is very rare for Jennifer who usually exhaustively researches most aspects of our trips long before we even book them). But this time we did not book our accommodations until a few days before we left the US (the upside to this is that you can sometimes get a good deal by waiting).
I will admit I knew very little about Honduras before we began our trip. In fact I don’t think I know anyone who has ever been to Honduras. The day before our flight I happened to catch an NPR piece about the presidential election that was occurring the day after our arrival. Featured prominently in the piece was the many problems in contemporary Honduras, including having the highest murder rate in the world, and significant gang activity and drug trafficking. HIGHEST MURDER RATE IN THE WORLD?! WTF? The report went on to say that there were concerns that there could be rioting in the wake of the elections. Awesome!
The next day we headed to the airport armed with this most disconcerting information. While at the terminal waiting for our flight in Newark, I noticed that we were the only tourists headed to San Pedro Sula. While the plane was full, everyone else on the flight seemed to either be from Honduras, returning home after visiting the U.S., or had family in Honduras whom they were visiting. Upon seeing this I began to realize that Honduras is not yet a hot tourist destination. But sometimes that is ok. In 2005 we visited Belize, Honduras’ neighbor to the north. Back then very few people were going to Belize, and things were cheap (a meal for two was $5 when we were there). We had a great time in Belize and took pride in our adventurous spirit. Now Belize is well-known and has received a lot of coverage for being an eco-tourist destination. It was the same with Costa Rica thirty years ago, which we visited last year.
My hope when setting out to Honduras was to find the next Costa Rica or Belize. Honduras has much to offer: great beaches, large swaths of protected rainforests, and it is fairly close to the U.S with direct flights out of Newark and other east coast cities.
Our first stop was at a rainforest lodge located in the northern part of Honduras near La Ceiba. Upon landing in San Pedro Sula, I noticed the mountain ranges and lack of development. We were met by our driver and soon departed for our three-hour van ride to the Pico Bonito lodge. Compared to some places we have been the roads to the lodge were very good. Three hours is a long trip, made longer with two kids who, by the middle of the ride, were very bored. But we made it to Pico Bonito by late afternoon and our trip was finally beginning. As soon as we pulled into the lodge, we forgot all about the NPR story, the murder rate and the elections. We were ready to begin our adventure in the rainforest.