Most of the people I’ve met on this trip have been friendly. I would readily describe most of the countries in Latin America that way. But, because Hondurans were just a little bit nicer, and the tourist industry a lot less developed, the people of Honduras are what motivated me to stay, and they’re what I’ll remember. A few of them stand out.
There was America, the cosmopolitain girl from Tegus, who’d lost her job, her husband, her father, and her house all in the same year, but was excited to have a fresh start on life. She offered to drive me to some of her favorite places outside the city for lunch, before delivering me to the bus station in the afternoon.
Next was the stranger who warned me not to get in stranger’s cars, after he picked me up.
Then there was the wonderful woman whose closet-sized restaurant we frequented in Lago Yojoa. The softness of her demeanor was disarming, her smile warm, and there was a quiver in her voice that hinted at a past we later learned more about - her husband had been mugged and murdered eight years before, leaving her alone with four young girls and no income.
Lastly, there was Duni, the round, middle-aged, mestizo woman I met on the bus out of Yojoa. We talked about many things, and eventually she told me her husband was living and working in the US illegally. She told me about the lack of opportunity in Honduras, and the pull of America. She looked out the window and pointed at a house that was less ramshackle than the others. She said in Spanish, “that house was built with American money.” Then she added, “all the nice houses are.” I could hardly believe that the peanuts illegal immigrants earn in the US can afford them so much at home. At the end of our conversation she asked me if I had many friends, noting that she didn’t. She then wrote her name and phone number down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. “Now we are friends,” she said.
After that rocky start in San Lorenzo, Honduras turned out to be another highlight. In my experience, the longer a place has been a “destination,” the less it’s citizens care about visitors. There are exceptions, but it’s not coincidence that I’ve received the warmest welcomes in Vietnam, Colombia, Cuba, and now Honduras - all places that, due to war, embargo, and/or violence have been off-limits to tourists until recently. What the road less travelled lacks in zip lines and resorts, it often makes up for in friendlier people and more authentic experiences.