Leaving Gracias was hard. Not just because it was an amazing town and we loved it, but because none of the cashpoints would take our cards and we had run out of hard cash, and also we got really drunk on a night out and so stayed an extra day to recover.
We have made friends with a lad from Costa Rica and he came to see us in Gracias. On our final night we all went to bed fairly early as we were all a bit worse for wear following a night on the tiles. At about 2 in the morning, we were awoken by gun fire again. It was exactly the same as the first night. We had moved from our toilet of a hostel to our new upmarket one for security reasons, but our new hotel no longer had an armed guard and the shots were close.
After a while peace was restored but only momentarily. Soon after the gun battle in the surrounding streets, loud voices were heard at the gate of our hotel. We assumed it was the police to inform the manager of the disruption and to advise against unlocking the gates. It wasn’t the police though. At a guess I would say there were three or four men, all speaking Spanish and sounding aggressive, checked into the room next to our Costa Rican friend. It wasn’t long before he fled his room and pitched up in hammock outside of ours. He told us that the men were counting large sums of money and were talking about drugs. I imagine they were gang members and possibly involved in the shooting. After about an hour or so, a vehicle pulled up outside and I think the men left. We could no longer hear them and so drifted off to sleep.
Our travel plans after Gracias were to go to El Salvador, but our Costa Rican buddy was shaken up after the previous nights episode. As he has lots of tattoos, he was concerned for his safety in El Salvador, a country renowned for its gangs. He was also our only source of cash without having to pay the hotel 15% in fees for cash back, and so the decision was made to put El Salvador on hold and head to one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Despite it’s reputation, the city is beautiful. Set in a valley and bustling with energy, it is a great place to visit.
Obviously we told to display extreme caution at all times and to not venture out and night. Advice we heeded. During the day though we took a walking tour through the city. We went passed the cathedral, museums, parks and stopped for a bite to eat in the busy food market.
After our food and coffee we headed up to the statue of Christ monument on top of the hill overlooking the city. You could see everywhere and even hear the city. It was almost as if it were alive as it’s citizens went about their daily business.
Our guide pointed out the dangerous parts of the city, far away from the downtown area and the district we were staying at, but close enough to make travellers wary of visiting.
We only stayed two nights but that was enough. If truth be told, I don’t think I’d have liked to have stayed another night in the hostel we were in. Our dorm had about 20 bunk beds and they were all occupied by people noisily getting up at the crack of dawn.
Despite it’s reputation as Central Americas bad boy, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Honduras and felt safe for the majority of our time there. I found the people kind, friendly and welcoming. I found the country to be diverse and beautiful. I found it hard to say goodbye to the place.