Everyone we’ve met so far has been super friendly and so we decided to try and save some money and hitchhike to our next destination. We were heading to Gracias, the old capital of Central America. Gracias, as in most of the places we’ll visit here, would be more of the same: checking out the town, eating a lot, and walking in idyllic surroundings.
Within minutes we got a lift to the next town. The dude who picked us up had a little jeep that barely fitted our bags in, and had a swarm of flies buzzing about in the passenger seat, but it saved us about 80p so we were laughing. A bus was just about to depart for La Guama, the next town where we would have to change buses in order to continue our journey, and so we hopped on.
At La Guama we again stuck our thumbs out, but this time we were not so lucky. After half an hour of cars speeding past, a bus showed up and so we got on. We had been joined by a preacher man during our short stint on the side of the road, and once on the bus he stood in the aisle and preached the word of God to the passengers. We didn’t know what he was saying as he was speaking Spanish, but every now and again the passengers broke out in applause. I preferred the clowns on the bus from San Pedro Sula to be honest.
After about an hour or so and a quick pit stop for food and drink, we were came to a junction where we had to change buses once more. As the bus was waiting, we gave up our hitchhiking and got on. I fell asleep for a while on bus number three so have no idea how long the journey was, but at some point along the way we were stopped by the police. Armed to the teeth, they boarded the bus and made all of the male passengers, me included, get off the bus for searches and ID checks. No one was arrested or anything and eventually we were on our way again. Next stop, La Esparanza.
Here we changed buses for the final time of the day. Just before arriving at Gracias, the skies turned grey and the rain started coming down. Bad timing. We donned our jackets, jumped into a tuk tuk and drove around looking for a place to stay. For some reason most of the hotels were booked up and we ended up staying in a tiny little shit hole. It was dirt cheap and dirt ridden, but was home for the night at least.
Not wanting to impose on the cockroaches we were sharing a room with, we headed out for dinner. We decided on a pizza joint and camped out there for the evening; eating and drinking wine, building up some Dutch courage to face sleeping in our room.
We were awoken in the small hours by gun fire in the street. There was no shouting but shot after shot rang out, and it was very close. It sounded a bit like a laid back gun fight. This unnerved Dom somewhat, and so the next morning we upgraded our digs to a hotel with armed guards. The hotel was at least three times as expensive as the prison-esque place we had just departed, but you can’t put a price on safety. It really is mad here. Everywhere seems to be protected by blokes with guns. Everywhere apart from the Honduran version of Cardiff’s Blue Dragon hotel that is.
Our new place was ace. We had a balcony with hammocks and amazing views of the tree lined mountains that surround Gracias. It was so nice that we abandoned our hiking plans and spent most of the day relaxing.
In fact we only left the place twice that day. Once for lunch and a little sightseeing stroll around the town, and once for dinner and to grab some wine. Our little ventures out were ace though. On our lunch excursion we found a shop full of jars of pickled everything and some ace spicy dips which set your tongue on fire.
When we went out for dinner we stumbled across a BBQ in the street and had some of the best beef and potato we have ever had. All cooked on a makeshift grill on the pavement and at a very, very good price. We have arrived during the preparations for their annual festival too so there is loads going on in the main square every night. The actual big day is the day we are supposed to be leaving, but we love it here and so will probably stay an extra night. It would be a shame to come all this way and leave before the festival kicks off.
It took one car, four buses and a tuk tuk to get here, and has cost us a fair whack to pretty much just sit around and relax. It is amazing though and has made us feel like we are on holiday rather than traveling. Gracias is a jewel of a town. Situated in the mountains, the temperature is perfect and has a fraction of the population of flies that we have endured everywhere else. Gracias, Gracias. You have been worth every wet penny from our pockets and every minute of our journey to get to you.