Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Thursday 17th March 2011

Our general plan (always vague and never particularised in much form until three or four days prior to the present) was to avoid big cities in Central America. However the necessities of transport led to us spending time in two such cities in as many days. Our grudging acceptance of this was made all the more reluctant by the bus companies' habit of locating their terminals in the most notorious barrios of these cities.

The need to catch a very early bus meant that we were obliged to spend the night in Managua, Nicaragua's capital. The bus being at 5am, we found a hotel a couple of blocks away from the terminal, located in Barrio Martha Quesada. A sense of unease hung over us as we checked into the guesthouse, cast by the array of comments on the internet and in guidebooks about the place, all marveling at its danger and population of petty thugs ("The place is full of thieves"..."Take a taxi after dark, even if you are just traveling a couple of blocks" etc etc). After we checked in, being growled at continually by a nasty off-white little poodle sittnig in the reception, we walked through the neighbourhood looking for an internet cafe. It is low level and run down, idlers lounge in doorways staring, boarded-up shacks sit on corners and the local grocery store was covered in thick bars (like our hotel and many other buildings) with service being offered through a small aperture amid the bars, even mid-afternoon. The place did seem heavy with a silent menace - but perhaps it was just the guidebooks creating that. We were fine and had gathered enough confidence to eat at a road side diner that evening, amongst a sizzling stove and plastic chairs scattered along the pavement. That said, we were gripped with a vague terror as the security guard let us out of the gate at 4am next morning and we half-ran along two blocks of darkness to the bus station.

The bus took us to Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital - or more specifically Comayag├╝ela, a neighbourhood on the dodgy side of the river. The Lonely Planet goes to town on how dangerous this area is, with a long piece about keeping your hands on your luggage at all times, not waring shorts or sandals (so to stand out less - it is impossible, the book says, to not stand out at all)and how the Honduran Congress was suspended because members kept getting mugged on their way home. We didn't stick around to test the accuracy of the report - only a couple of hours, including a short journey in a clapped out taxi, along shambolic streets which sit under hundreds of tangled telephone lines, and past gangs of policemen gripping semi-automatic rifles and pump action shot guns. I did think it a shame though, driving out of Tegucigalpa and looking across the hill strewn valley in which it sits, not to see more of the city - but perhaps the better side of the river.

144 - posted at 20:13:28

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