Quirky Honduras – What I’ve Learned So Far


Quirky Honduras - What I've Learned So Far

After three weeks in Honduras, I can’t say that I’ve found any real crazy stories yet. My buddy Rich and I have been in ‘holiday mode’, spending more time in hammocks and bars than exploring but I’ve still managed to get a feel for the place. Here are a few details I’ve picked up:

They really do speak Spanish here. I’ve gotten spoiled in Asia, where it was easy to get by with pidgin English and gestures but I’m struggling to keep up here. My accent must be perfect, as everyone seems to think I’m a native speaker and responds to my stammered “hola” with twenty rapid-fire questions.

Ordering food is especially tricky — I plumb the depths of my vocabulary to manage “I’d like the number four plate” only to be overwhelmed with “Would you like rice or beans or rice and beans? What size fork would you like? If you were a tree, what kind would you be?”

My usual reply: “Umm… Si?”

I’d like a Surly Temple, please. When ordering food or drink, it’s a good idea to finish each request with “and please don’t stab me”. I’m used to poor or slow service –you find that all over the world– but I’ve never felt the level of hostility and disdain that I’ve experienced at a few places here.

My favorite experience was in Tela, where the barmaid at small local bar apparently hated everyone. Her snarls and grudging service were shared equally amongst the locals and us gringo tourists. No matter what I ordered she served me an Imperial beer. Ask for nachos and… yep, I’d get an Imperial beer. We hung out there three or four times and she never once gave me what I asked for.

At one point she actually turned her plastic chair so that her back was to the bar while she watched TV. Eventually someone would shout out that they needed a drink, she’d sigh dramatically, stand and slump her way to the cooler. It was a spectacular display.

When I declared that I wasn’t going to tip her, Rich pointed out: “Dude. She’s the only barmaid at our favorite bar and this is her best behavior. Do you really want to get on her bad side?”

The bathroom technology is a bit lacking. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a widow-maker water heater and I can’t say I’ve missed it. Something about the thought of water pouring through a heating element with exposed wires and then onto my head makes it very easy to say “Maybe I’ll wait until tomorrow…”

And here on Utila Island, finding a working toilet has proven to be a bit of a challenge. You can’t count on toilet paper being provided and you can’t flush the paper down the toilet, but I’m used to that. I had dinner at a fairly nice tourist cafe here and when I pushed the lever, nothing happened. Looking in the tank, I found there was no water and after looking around, noticed that the water valve was switched off.

After filling the tank, I tried again and earned another “clink” sound for my effort — the chain from the lever was broken. So I had to reach into the damned tank and lift the flap at the bottom to flush it. When I went to to wash my hands, the faucet knob was missing.

My favorite bar, two doors down from my hotel, doesn’t even have water running to their toilet — the bartender pours a bucket of water down it from time to time. So if I really have to do some business, I walk back to my room. This happens often.

I’ll take Dysentery for $500, Alex. I have to say that I’ve suffered more intestinal distress here than I have anywhere else so far. For the last three weeks, Rich and I have both been running to the bathroom like we’re training for a relay race. He calls it “our new hobby”.

We’re not seriously sick or vomiting — we’re just careful to never be more than a minute walk from a bathroom.

Me: “Yup, it’s that time again.”

Rich: “Well, don’t dawdle — I’m due any minute now.”

The bus ride to Guatemala should be fun.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Robinson November 1, 2011 at 2:56 am

Sounds like what I got in Acapulco. I think I took ciprofloxacin and that took care of it. However, ciprofloxacin is now known to cause tendon rupture, so I don’t know if that’s a good idea anymore.


mervyn November 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I’d chance the tendon rupture. Take the cipro early and often.


DKR November 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Whew, I’m glad Rich went and not me! Sounds like Thailand was a walk in the park compared to Honduras!


Michael November 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm

yup, cipro/levo will often clear up the trots in as little as a few hrs, but the danger of tendon injury is very real indeed. I would recommend taking ONLY if yr symptoms include a fever and only as a last resort–I had a tendon in my hand come loose from its moorings between the knuckles that took 17 weeks to heal and have chronic tendonitis on and off in my feet and arms now, sigh.. (acupuncture has worked miracles when it flares up)…I have fairly good luck dosing up on pink bismuth tablets a day or so before I arrive at a new destination, for a couple of days after arriving, and then on an as needed basis, but unless you can source locally (difficult to impossible in most of SE Asia), this requires an extensive stash to be packed in yr bags, totally worth it.


Stephanie - The Travel Chica November 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

That shower looks like the shower in my apartment in Quito, Ecuador. I was certain I would be electrocuted during my month-long stay.

I came across the bucket o’ water in the bathroom of a bar on the island of Utila. Guess it’s better than nothing.


wes November 3, 2011 at 1:32 am

Yeah, I hadn’t seen one since I was in India years ago. Scary but they get the job done…


Christy @ Technosyncratic November 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

How in the world did that barmaid keep her job?? Also… is barmaid the correct term these days? It looks so old-skool.


wes November 3, 2011 at 1:31 am

Not sure if it’s the right phrase or not either :/

She must be related. The guy during the day wasn’t a bundle of charm either but she was in her own league…


mike@earthdrifter.com November 2, 2011 at 9:09 am

A bunch of years back I did a Spanish course in Xela(Quetzaltenango), Guatemala and stayed with a family. There were gringos in the school that I spoke a lot of English with but the family didn’t speak a word of English. It did wonders for my Spanish which hugely enhances the experience in Latin America. The classes are one to one and it’s super affordable.
From my own recent gastro experience in SE Asia which I’m still getting over, I would recommend getting a stool sample at a clinic down there just to make sure that what you have is viral and not bacterial. Because when it lasts for more than a few days it could be bacterial which means that some antibiotics will cure you, even if the side effects of them can kinda suck. I didn’t know about the Cipro side effects, awful, will try to stay clear of that from now on.


wes November 3, 2011 at 1:30 am

Thanks for the tip. God knows my Spanish could use a lot of help.


Lindsey November 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm

My boyfriend and I spent last Christmas on Utila. Santa visited – leaving us lovely presents of the squirts (I) and Botfly (He). Not a very Merry Christmas it did make but pretty appropriate for Hoduras, I guess!


Maria November 3, 2011 at 1:13 am

No this is a good point and made me laugh out loud, “Dude. She’s the only barmaid at our favorite bar and this is her best behavior. Do you really want to get on her bad side?”

And the Dysentery? Hell I got that a few years ago in Austin, TX so you just got to be careful of what you touch, let alone eat. :-/


Rease November 4, 2011 at 5:07 am

Haha, this is a fun post. That barmaid sounds awful but your friend was right, you cant snub the only lady who provides you with alcohol! The bathroom situation sounds atrocious. I´ve had a few situations like that in mexico but thankfully it wasn´t widespread.


Marsha November 4, 2011 at 6:25 am

Glad to hear you’re having a *memorable* time in Honduras. Good thing the barmaid doesn’t work at the local pharmacy. You’re liable to get an Imperial beer instead of an antidiuretic….which may not be that bad of an idea….


elizabethJ_Bird November 5, 2011 at 2:36 am

That shower reminds me of the showers in Egypt. The hot and cold water come out of the wall in different pipes and then combine in the faucet. I didn’t realize this and touched the hot water pipe – instant 2nd degree burn. Hurt for days.


Lauren November 5, 2011 at 11:36 am

Haha! I can’t believe that barmaid.


Theodora November 9, 2011 at 7:18 am

I once asked a hotel in Guatemala to come and fix the widow maker. Reception is like, “Sure, we’ll send a caballero.” I try and explain to the guy what the problem is — exposed wires right next to the metal of the shower capsule. He cannot see it in the slightest…


wes November 9, 2011 at 8:05 am

Ha! “What problem?”


Mark November 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

It’s amazing 10 years ago I was at e place where regulars hang out in la ceiba and after a few drinks I had to make it to the toillet, so I ask the owner of the bar for a toillet and he said there isn’t any you have to go in the woods, and then I ask for some paper and he said there’s none so that was a really bad experience and to read this post is like are these people are whe in Honduras gonna ever understand the importance of public restroom, I live in Florida at the moment but I’m from honduras and here in the USA that is one of so many things that really amazes me is something like a restroom is available pretty much every where and I said amazing because in Honduras that is just a nightmare.


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