April 17, 2006 GMT
Semana Santa

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Semana Santa Procession - Gracias

The Good Friday procession in Gracias Lempira was a very solomn affair. A life sized Jesus bearing a cross was carried through the village streets on the shoulders of the local parishioners to the singing of the following congregation. Stations of the cross were set up through out the town where the procession would stop for a sermon and prayer. There was a strong political message asking the Lord for assistance in matters of Human Rights and Government policy.

Church in Gracias

From Gracias we wound our way through the hills to San Pedro Sula, the fastest growing city in Honduras before arriving on the North Coast and La Ceiba, the launch pad for the Bay Islands and diving.

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Palm Oil Plantation

We rode into the hot and dusty town and whilst looking for accommodation ended up in the wharf area were we parked under a tree as we were becomming overheated in our heavy motorcycle jackets. Almost instantly we were accosted by drunks and drug addicts looking for hand outs in the guise of helping us find a hotel.

Grant headed across the street and was immediately tagged by a fellow with the story of how he lived on Roatan and had come over to visit the hospital (his scabby arm was waivered in front of Grant as evidence) and now had no money to return home. He insisted he was very sick yet reeked of stale alcohol. In the mean time Jules was beeing heckeled and cat called from men lying about in the near by park as a man approached her and explained we were in the most dangerous part of town and should get out as soon as possible. We suspected it was fine during the day, with hung over drunks to avoid, yet at night it could be quite intimidating or even dangerous.

Colours of Honduras

We found accommodation in the Zona Viva (much better part of town) on the beach at the Hotel Rotterdam where the proprietor let us park Miss Piggy at our door and cook in the garden. The mosquitos were ferocious in our room and we were thank full for aeroguard and to be taking our anti-malerials, even though Grant was having a bad reaction to them with bad headaches, aching muscles and nausea. Ironically similar to a mild case of maleria!!

La Cieba did not appeal to us at all so we moved on to Trujillo nestled on a beautiful bay, a stones throw away from 'La Mosquitia' - The Mosquito Coast.

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Road to Trujillo

For two days we stayed in the small town prefering a slightly more up-market hotel with air conditioning before heading out of town to Casa Kiwi on the road to Puerto Castillo.

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Spanish Fort - Trujillo

Casa Kiwi, (www.casakiwi.com) is owned by Chaz from New Zealand and is perched at the waters edge on an idillyic tranquill beach.

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Casa Kiwi

We stayed for almost two weeks securing some work around the hotel in exchange for room and board. In between fighting fires (a common occurance during the dry season) and no-see-ums (midges) we constructed a new large clothes line, undertook odd jobs and helped out at the bar and in the kitchen. It was a good leveller after 11 months of travelling.

On most days we would work in the hot sun and finish the working day by watching the most spectucular sunsets we have ever seen from the warm waters of Caribean Sea. We would have stayed longer had our 'itchy feet' not beckoned us to move on.

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Our 10th Anniversary together

Returning to San Pedro Sula we secured our cheap accommodation and slept peacefully. The following morning, 1st May - Labour Day - as we sat in the hotel court yard we could hear shouts and horns sounding from the main street, 2 blocks away. Guessing it was to do with Labour Day, and having not seen a parade in a while, we wandered up the street.

Watching and taking photos we mingle with the ensuing crowd whilst a small contingent of local police stand guard. For ten minutes we enjoy the seemingly passive and colourful parade of workers marching by. Julie notices some way up from where we stood the armed millitary personnel in full riot gear. Grant thinks this would be a good photo however we turned back to the crowd and the parade which is more or less turning into a rowdy protest.

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May Day Parade

We look to where the parade was heading, Central Park. A large crowd is forming with a great deal of shouting and noise eminating whilst smoke from exploding fire crackers envelopes the banner waving crowd.

Right then two crackers explode on the ground next to us temporarily deafening us some what. Mean while a large athletic man wearing a baseball cap and carrying a basket of chips walks past and pronounces to us 'Fuera Gringos' ('Out Gringos'). 'Ok' we think, 'one mans opinion voiced, no big deal'. It was then that the calls from the demonstraters became clearer 'Fuera Gringos'. We look at each other and then up and down the crowded street. There is not another Gringo in sight: Euro, US or otherwise. Possibly this was not the ideal location for us at present. If the crowd became passionate enough we may be caught up in something more unsavoury.

There we stood lone blond haired, fair skinned Gringos feeling vulnerable in the middle of 'Hondo-Mania' down town San Pedro Sula. Briskly we left the crowd and returned to our hotel where we spent the rest of the morning listening to the emotional outpourings from the protests.

In some ways we felt sympathetic to their causes, bearing in mind that many large international corporations in all of Central America manipulate the rights and conditions of workers to suit their economic status, on the other hand, with out large foreign investment there would be even fewer jobs to be had.

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Market Stalls - San Pedro Sula

Posted by Grant Guerin at April 17, 2006 11:39 PM GMT

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