Border crossings aren't super complicated in Latin America. Especially if you are willing to pay people money, they become increasingly easier the more money you are willing to shell out. But for two backpackers, we didn't want to pay anything, so we took the ultra cheap route to get from El Salvador to Honduras. This meant that we took a bus as close to the border as we could (probably a kilometer away) and then walked across the border. Not really a very painful experience.
Once we crossed the border, we knew that there was a bus that came close to the crossing that could take us to where we wanted to go. Unfortunately we didn't see any bus once we crossed the border, and the taxi drivers are relentless liars and keep trying to convince you to get in their taxis. So annoying. So once we crossed the border we were bombarded with taxi drivers trying to take us to the nearest town. Once we waded through them we started looking for the bus (which they told us didn't exist). Well, we didn't see a bus, so we decided just to start walking and see what we find. Well... after a long while of walking we finally see the bus going toward the border. So we stop in some shade and wait for the bus to return and take us to the town where we could find a bus to Gracias Lempira, Honduras.
Gracias is a quaint town in the mountains. It is a bit more chilly there than in the lowlands, and it is such a friendly little town. The streets were cobblestone and there were a handful of ancient churches to explore. It used to be a capital city back in the 1500s, but since then has had little political influence in Latin America.
Located a little outside of Gracias is a national park called Celaque National Park. Our first night in Gracias we ran into a few college students that were studying tourism and we asked them what there was to do around Gracias. It was raining and seemed like it might be a miserable time, but the assured us that the next day would be beautiful and we should explore the park.
Well, we went out there and after battling with armies of mosquitos and other insects, we began hiking and really enjoying our time in the park.
There was a river running through the park and a few waterfalls. We didn't have a ton of time to spend in the park, especially since we had things planned for later in the day, but we wanted to see as much as we could - so we took two of the smaller trails.
There are so many interesting things to see in the forests. I think growing up in the states you get used to seeing similar wildlife/insects, but these insects were so diverse. And a lot of them were gigantic compared to what we have in North America.
We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed it while sitting on a log over the flowing water. That seemed to be the only place free of mosquitos. Seriously, I think we barely escaped the park with enough blood to survive. Those creatures were vicious.
We only had about two hours to hike in the park, but we also had to walk back to Gracias from the park, which took a little over an hour. As we were walking we listened to TED Talks to pass the time - and all the while we were watching dark storm clouds form overhead. Something you have to understand about Latin America is that the days can be absolutely beautiful, and then around 4:00 dark storm clouds can roll in and it will pour rain all night. So different from Oregon where the clouds don't go away for 9 months of the year.
So as we are walking we realize that we are going to get wet. Luckily, and I really mean luckily since we are on a dirt road way out of town, a mototaxi came by and we were able to get a ride for super cheap back to our hotel. That was the only mototaxi we had seen on the road, and remember it was about an hour walk, and we were about 40 minutes into the walk. Talk about a blessing.
Later that night we decided to go to a natural hot springs on the other side of Gracias. It was raining all night which made it a perfect experience to sit in steaming hot pools and have cold rain falling down on us. We were the only gringos there, which meant that we were stared at for the majority of our time there, but it was still super relaxing to sit in a hot tub. They say that the minerals help your bones and skin - so hopefully we now have super healthy bones. :)
There were three pools we could enjoy. Two for sitting and one that was more like a swimming pool. We were really enjoying our time there until I saw a little kid peeing next to one of the pools. Literally, just got out of the pool and peed on the walkway. I was so distraught, knowing that his pee was going to make its way into our pool. Then I started thinking about all the other nasty things that were festering in the pools and I had to get out.
So we called it a night. But there were no mototaxis waiting at the hot springs, so we ended up walking the majority of the way home with our umbrellas. The best part was that we were super warm from the pools, so we actually really enjoyed the cool air. And I love walking with Caitlin. We talk about love languages, and one of mine is quality time. Walking is the perfect quality time for me. Who cares if we have an activity planned, or have to walk 5 kilometers in the rain. As long as she is by my side, I am happy.
We explored a few other things in Gracias, but of course we didn't take any pictures of those things. :) After we finished in Gracias, we headed down to Tegucigalpa, which was one of our favorite places to visit, not because of the city itself, but because of who we got to see there. Tomorrow I shall share the stories of Tegucigalpa. Hasta mañana!