The bus heaved in to the terminal in Comayaguela, on the west side of the Rio Choluteca, opposite Tegucigalpa at about 10 p.m. The town this side of the river is considered “dirtier and poorer” by the oft-reliable lonely planet guide, and when I stepped from the bus into the open parking area, one look confirmed its judgment. I chose a taxi driver that seemed older and weaker, all the less to fight me with. We crossed a bridge connecting to the “silver-hill”city as I tried to communicate with him. I soon found that I had been overzealous in my selection process. He either didn’t hear well or had never heard anyone speak Spanish in my manner. I asked him to go to a hotel of mid-price range that would accept American Express. His first two choices looked like concrete prisons, dimly lit and unkempt. I stayed at the third only because his taxi wouldn’t start after I said to keep looking.
Never arrive in a capital city at night without the local currency! The money exchanger back at the border seemed confident that the American dollar and not the Lempira was the most useful currency in Honduras. That had been the case in Panama, so I followed that notion here. But I couldn’t change American dollars at the near-abandoned hotel reception desk, local Chinese restaurant, or Internet café. It had become an exercise in traveller futility.
I happened upon a bar/restaurant where chicken wings were gobbled, beer mugs were slugged from heartily, and the band played a final generic American rocker. I was hungry and needed to exchange currency. Both priorities nearly satisfied, I ordered what I thought was a safe meal of spaghetti bolognese, but found small cubes of ham in it. Like the permanent fixture of large slices of ham on pizza in Costa Rica, I wondered if you could separate the ham from the spaghetti in Honduras?
A blonde foreigner stuck out in the crowd as she came and spoke with me, wondering where I was from, what I was doing here and advising me to be careful. The middle-aged Australian said she had been living in the capital city for two years and felt safe, until she was attacked. Her friend, a young Honduran man apparently learning English, asked me how I felt. Fine, I told him. “The world is our home and all is here to share with everyone,” he said as he shook my hand. “Welcome home.”