To travel through Honduras and El Salvador is really an ordinary experience; disregarding their less than flattering reputations. Reading up on the countries online usually includes crime- and murder rates, drug trafficking and ordinary gang violence. Honduras is home to 6 out of the 10 most “dangerous” cities in the world. Dangerous indeed; I had Dunkin Donuts as a pre course to my Pizza Hut vegetarian pizza in one of the biggest shopping malls in Central America. Dangerous most indeed, they had both Zara and Mango, Victoria’s secret and loads of other “go CRAZY”-shopping possibilities. SHOES, pretty SHOES, cocktail dresses and not a single westerner as far as the eye could see. Temptations lined up, I did actually resist and settled for indulging in food other than rice & beans or the classical Hondurian Baleadas. In San Pedro Sula, (don’t google that city, mum) most of the houses are lined with barbed wire and security cameras. The girl working in the hostel didn’t let any of her guests choose a cab driver without her approval, doing head counts every morning, midday and evening. Appreciating the effort; still; walking around after dark I only met really excited and accommodating people, happy to see a traveller daring to make a short stop on the way through. The ridiculously high murder rate is limited to a certain suburb related to gangs and drug war. Nobody really goes there if they’re not involved and the violence doesn’t spread outside of these streets in the city. A friend travelling the country side; far away from buses, roads and proper infrastructure (Honduras still have a few real jungle areas in the east) became a prime witness to a double homicide while waiting for the river boat. Strictly gang related the locals explained, and as the proper tourist, my friend shot some pictures of the bodies and made a good story out of it. Reality really is another concept over here.
However; sticking to ordinary local buses on proper roads, travelling daytime I had a blast on both the Caribbean and the Pacific coast. Both countries are widely Americanised; the dollar is as common as local currency, over weight is standard weight, and Rhianna is pumping out of every street corner. Big advertisements are in English, boasting American brands of food, coffee shops, sweets and clothes. The roads are fairly developed, but the country side is abandoned. Due to the drug trafficking most people find it safer to live in the bigger cities and many factories and houses stand empty along the roads between them. The contrasts of the realities are striking and you’re not sure whether to ride along with it and stop making you own interpretations of what you’re seeing or really overthink each of your steps carefully before taking them. There’s absolutely no similarities between the main land and the paradisical Caribbean islands off the coast more than the free flow of coke you’re due to witness. The locals speak with the broadest creole-english making Bob Marley seem British; maaan, yo so whiiijt, and the flocking backpacking travellers keeps the one road of Utila Island as busy as Champs-Elysée. As one of my diving instructors put it; This is a party island with a diving problem. Nobody who comes here ever leaves when intended. It’s a constantly “maybe tomorrow” turning into “definitely tomorrow”, but really not happening until you’re feeling disgustingly guilty for having a way too carefree life; time to repent your sins; fifteen Ave Marias and a Sunday mass.
The company I kept during these weeks was widely spread; some old goofers travelling their whole life, some premiering backpackers too young to have so much fun, some in the early twenties, some in their late sixties. A few of my friends had rooted up their lives; sold the company/quit their jobs, sold the house/furniture/given up the apartment, broke off their life partners and completely given up on their old lives to go travelling the shit out of the world. Some with destinations, (WORLD CUP, YOU BASTARD) some without, saying yes to opportunities with the only notion that they’re looking for something else. A few of us has a life back home, but this is more rare than common. I feel spoiled loving both my lives, I feel guilty for not sacrificing any of them, and I feel it’s a little bit too easy to be truly happy. To put it to the test; I now booked my ticket home. 31st of May, Saturday evening, I’ll touch down in Gothenburg again. No money, no problems!