The destination for the day was Los Naranjos (The Oranges) on the northwestern shores of Lago de Yojoa (Yaa-ho-aa), Honduras' largest natural lake. It is at an altitude of 635m. and the Tegucigalpa-San Pedro Sula highway runs along its eastern shores. The first leg of our multi-leg journey to the lake destination involved taking a bus headed to San Pedro Sula (aka murder capital of the world) and getting off at La Guama and transferring from there. While the guidebook indicated that our Tegus hotel was close to a collectivo (minivan shared-taxi) route that runs to Coyameguela, the transport hub for Tegus, the lady at Hotel Nuevo Boston totally vetoed the idea and insisted that we take a taxi. She directed us specifically to the El Rey bus company and not knowing any better that is where we instructed the taxi driver to take us. As it turned out, El Rey buses do go to San Pedro Sula, but being an express service (and a first class bus) they would not sell us tickets to La Guama (a mere stop at a fork on the CA-5) which is where we would have to get off to detour to Los Naranjos. We presumed that the driver would not even let us get off at La Guama even if we were prepared to pay the full fare to Sula.
Feeling slightly at a loss, we exited their office only to be accosted by several men who on learning where we desired to go, reeled off names like Sultana, Empressa and so on, smaller bus companies that ply on the same route but being chicken buses (former US school buses that were eventually towed to Central America and then remodeled and painted over), would comply with any requests to get on and off anywhere along the route. We gamely followed one of them and he led us to the office of the 'Costenos' bus company about a block away. It was a small room that served as a waiting area for a few passengers and a ticket window in one corner. The fact that the man at the counter asked us some form of ID served to assure us that this was a legitimate business and we relaxed. With no free room available in the waiting area, we parked ourselves outside on the street and watched the comings and goings as we waited for the bus. When the bus eventually pulled in in front of the office, the group of people who were thus far calmly waiting for the bus organically coalesced into a mob and the years of experience boarding suburban trains in Bombay immediately came in handy. Right in middle of this melee M realized that the tickets that thought she had securely placed into her pocket were no longer where she had put it! Just as panic was setting in, a good samaritan from the rear of the mob magically thrust the paper tickets into her hands and with relief and renewed energy she continued to elbow the locals so she could secure decent seats. Once everyone had settled in the ride itself was uneventful except for the lush green countryside and the hilly terrain that we were told pervades all of Honduras. The journey was regularly punctuated by kids selling raw mangoes, water in plastic bags, sodas and a sweet concoction called bantidos which we eventually decided we had to try. We also got a half hour stop by a roadside facility featuring a cafeteria style lunch counter and a mini-store. The highway was mostly a single-lane concrete construction in reasonably good condition.
As soon as we alighted at La Guama (after a 3 hour journey), a young boy looked at us enquiringly and mouthed 'Pena Blanca?' Yes, we nodded and before we could even look up, our bags were loaded in the back of a smaller minibus, we were herded in and the bus was off to Pena, all within 30 seconds of arriving! We were so disappointed that our Spanish preparation to inquire the locals as to the whereabouts of this bus was completely wasted! Pena is the closest 'town' to Los Naranjos and that is where we would need to transfer to Los Naranjos, just a short taxi ride away. While D & D Brewery is on an unpaved road off the main asphalt road, the taxi conveniently dropped us off at the gate. Set in midst of thick tropical foliage, D & D Brewery is Honduras's first microbrewery and hostel. It is run by an American who first came to the country as part of the Peace Corps and is now a popular backpacker haunt. With cabins and rooms reached through paths between thick shrubbery and trees laden with bromeliads, we immediately fell in love with the place and were glad we were staying for a few days. A variety bird species flitted by including several hummingbirds that frequented the many feeders on the property.
It was still early afternoon and not wanting to waste the few remaining daylight hours, we borrowed a hand drawn map that showed us how to get to the nearby Archaeological Zone. The park housed trails we could hike that would allow us to sample some of the bird-life of the area. Initially our progress was slow since we paused to examine the source of every bird call and movement in the trees but we eventually picked up pace and completed the thoroughly enjoyable loop hike in a couple of hours with a little daylight to spare and get back to our home for the night. So engrossed were we on the birdlife that we neglected to notice one of the two Mayan towers that were fully overgrown with grass. We managed to get our act together and spotted the second one, chiding ourselves for our lapse.
One of the highlights of the park was a long boardwalk path constructed above the marsh at the lake's edge that gave us an opportunity to get close to bird life and lookout onto Lago Yajoa. We were lucky to spot a Crested Caracara flying overhead. We also renewed our acquaintance with an army of Oropendulas whose cousins we had the pleasure of viewing in the jungles of Peru more than a decade ago.
Video: Red-throated Ant Tanager
Video: Archaeological Park Boardwalk atmosphere
Video: Mysterious Shaking Leaf by the Boardwalk
As we walked back from the park back to D & D Brewery enjoying our moment of village life in a remote countryside of a remote country, we were delighted to spot a shed outside a village house with a sign "Maiz Tortillas" with two young women warming corn tortillas over a hot plate. They were packing them into packets for bulk sales and were amused to see two foreigners request for a handful of tortillas for a snack and were only too happy to oblige us.
That bus journey is a cinch compared to the rather adventurous journeys of the RTW trip. Interesting that the Bombay local technique (as perfected by the Lord !!) came in handy. Wonder if you gave that silly grin after sitting down that is a required act to claim victory over less experienced and disappointed fellow travellers :):)
God, this time I need a dictionary (Caracara ? , Oropendulas?) and a map (Los Oranjos ?, La Guama ? ) to follow your travels. That will make it all the more interesting.
Wishing you a very happy new year. From , on Dec 31, 2014 at 03:49AM
Getting into a train coming into platform ten seconds before it stops is a patented know how. Any one claiming to adopt the method or use it has to pay a royalty and get permission legally. Those found misusing the method will be severely dealt with under the law. From, on Jan 2, 2015 at 04:38PM
The way this episode ended with the two women and the shack with the maize tortillas is how I wish most travel episodes would send ! Nothing quite like finding good food out of the blue From, on Jan 26, 2015 at 03:04AM
The rescuing of the jacana is a suspensful affair alright ! Seems to have gotten tangled twice or thrice around that wire. From, on Jan 26, 2015 at 03:18AM
@Kishore - And we think this must happen again and again because the jacanas fly through the fence at high speed all the time From, on Jan 26, 2015 at 05:12AM