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Honduras - Day 2

2005.01.09

San Pedro Sula - Puerto Cortés - Omoa
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Train station San Pedro Sula Omoa - model of a fort

Your flexibility on vacations can be easily reduced by fixed points in the program, which require you to be on a certain day at a certain place. If they are needed in the program for some reason, it is a good idea to place them to the beginning or to the end. During this vacation, I had only one such fixed point - take a train from San Pedro Sula to Tela on the Caribbean coast on Sunday January 9 at 6:30 am. According to Fahrplancenter, it should have been the only regular passenger train in Honduras, with travel time about 4 hours. After having done this, I planned to spend some time on the coast, see some cities and perhaps also visit the islands of Utila or Roatán. They are more popular for diving and passive resting than for sightseeing (i.e., not really for me), but one should not miss the next major attraction of Honduras after Copán. However, plans were to change soon.

Shortly before 6:00 am, I walked from my hotel towards the main square. The city was just waking up, there was almost nobody in the streets. Several homeless people were sleeping by the walls. It takes only about three blocks from the main square to the train station. San Pedro is considered one of the most dangerous cities of Honduras, so I decided not to risk any more and took a taxi there for 30 HNL ($1.70). We arrived at the station - but the train was not there. The cab driver took me to a nearby market place next to the tracks, but nobody knew about the train either. I asked him to drop me off at the station, where a security guard with a machine gun watched flat cars loaded with lumber. He confirmed that passenger trains have been suspended and only freight ones still run. There would however be no freight train on that day and nobody would be available at the head office (it was Sunday). My plan, based on a train trip on Sunday, just broke down.

What to do? On the one hand, it was clear that I could not take the passenger train. On the other hand, there were those loaded flatcars on the tracks. It was raining on them and I expected that they had to get to their destination fast. There would be more information available tomorrow, on Monday. I changed my plan. I would not go to the East, but stay in the area and come back on Monday morning.

The only tourist attraction of San Pedro Sula is an archaeological museum with a rich collection of excavations from the area (Valle de Sula). The cathedral on the main square, built in the early 20th century, is also worth seeing, even though it does not differ much from churches in other cities. As soon as I saw everything, I took a bus to the North, to Puerto Cortés. The railroad from San Pedro ends here and somebody could know more. Nobody was however able to show me, where the train station is (or was) located, so I gave up searching and continued to a nearby city of Omoa.

Omoa is a popular destination - there is a relatively clean beach, a famous Spanish fort, hotels and restaurants. The bus (which continued further to the Guatemalan border at Corinto) dropped me off on the main road at the outskirts of the city. A riksha offered me a free ride to Roli's Place hotel, which has been operated here by a Swiss for about 9 years. I left my bags, said hello to a few Dutch and Canadians and went to the fort. It is much bigger than nearby Castillo de San Felipe in Guatemala. You also can tour a museum and see some preserved interiors (e.g., more than 4,000 cannon balls in an armory). After seeing the fortress, I went swimming in the see and in the evening about five of us went to one of the coastal restaurants for a dinner.

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Updated: 2005.01.27

© Jan Pešula, 2005