• El Morro, Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico: Visiting El Morro

    Heading to Puerto Rico? One must-see site for visitors is the historically significant El Morro, a fort dating back to the 1500s.

  • Layover in Panama City

    Layover in Panama City {PTY}

    Have a layover in Panama City? Here's how we maximized our 36 hours in Panama's capital.

  • What's Honduras really like? Media vs. Reality

    Honduras: Media vs. Reality

    Honduras: what's the world's 'most dangerous place' really like?

  • Punta Sal, Honduras

    Tela, Honduras: Exploring Punta Sal

    Spending a day exploring the gorgeously untouched area of Punta Sal.

  • Taulabé Caves, Honduras

    Taulabé Caves: Spelunking in Honduras

    The Honduran adventures continue! Spelunking in Taulabè Caves.

El Morro, Puerto Rico

Stepping back in time at PR’s Spanish fort

Last weekend we headed to Puerto Rico to celebrate the launch of the new Anguilla – San Juan service being offered by Seaborne Airlines. While we were in town for business, we extended our time there a bit to be able to enjoy a bit of what Puerto Rico has to offer. This trip marked my first time in the US territory and I was psyched to have a couple of days to take a dive into Old San Juan’s charming streets and explore a bit of the history-rich island.

One of the musts for anyone’s first time to San Juan? El Morro.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro, San Juan, Puerto RicoEl Morro, San Juan, Puerto RicoEl Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The walk to El Morro from our home base at El Convento was incredibly charming. The colorful streets of Old San Juan bled into gorgeous sea views and a huge lawn at the base of the fort. It was a Saturday when we visited and families were out en masse, soaking up the sun, flying kites and picnicking.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of El Morro but had heard and read enough about it to know that it was a must for any first-timer. The fort is part of the US National Park System and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which dates back to the 16th century. To find many structures that fall under the US’ jurisdiction dating back that far is something of a rarity. Coming from the West Coast where our US history dates back to 1849, this is practically ancient. The site was built by the Spaniards over the course of 250 years and the fort’s remains which stand today are still pretty remarkable. The beginning of the construction on El Morro predates the first American colony, which lends to its uniqueness in the American landscape. It’s one of the best preserved sites that I’ve encountered (granted it’s not as old as some historical sites we’ve seen around the globe); I was far more impressed than I expected to be. You’ll enter onto the fort’s 5th level, and have the option of climbing up to the 6th level for gorgeous panoramic views of San Juan. Climbing down, you’ll enter open spaces that were once used as living quarters, and then continue to decline into the old tower and then to the bottom floor that sits at sea level. Some of the walls in the old tower are original, dating back to the mid-1500s when the fort was first erected. Read More

Layover in Panama City

36 Hours in Panama City

After our week in Honduras, we made our way back to St. Maarten via Panama City. Neither of us had spent any time in Panama City previously and it was a city that had intrigued us. We ended up having two nights, and one full day in Panama’s capital. Here’s how we maximized our time:

PTY, Layover in Panama City

Arrive in Panama City // 7PM

We arrived into PTY after 7PM and had pre-arranged our transfer with our hotel to make things simple. This ended up being brilliant. Here are two suggestion to begin your stay on a great foot: choose a central, well located hotel so you’re not wasting time on transport once you’ve arrived. There are a slew of great hotels available in Panama City, but we chose Tantalo Hotel/Kitchen/Roofbar located in Casco Viejo, Panama’s charming old city.

Our driver was primed and ready to swoop us up from the airport and the ride was much more modern than what we’d experienced in Honduras. The thirty minute drive to Casco Viejo was a breeze and the car was even equipped with wi-fi to allow us to maximize transfer time. Score. {Our pre-arranged cab was $40 for the one-way transfer.}

Appetizer Crawl around Casco Viejo // 8:15PM

Capital Bistro Panama, Panama City

Lest we waste anytime, we got to our rooms, cleaned up very quickly and made our way out to explore. When we have limited time in a city one of our favorite things to do for dinner is an appetizer crawl in lieu of a traditional dinner. I’m more of an appetizer/tapas person anyway (I can never really do a full entree) so this suits my style perfectly, plus it’s a great way to get a taste and feel for a variety of spots with limited time.

Tantalo’s location was great, nestled right in the heart of the old city. Within a five-minute walk, we hit the waterfront and stumbled into Capital Bistro Panama, a bustling spot with an unbeatable view of the Panama City skyline. For our first stop, we each grabbed a drink – sangria for me, Manhattan for him – plus an appetizer to share (the salmon crispy rice which was a major score). The view here is enough of a draw – I could have sat here for hours watching the lights bounce off the water.

Panama City Skyline, Capital Bistro Panama

From there, we moved on to Grapes, a more upscale restaurant on a street perpendicular to the waterfront. I think we both envisioned a swanky, dimly lit wine bar with a sexy city vibe. It ended up being a little less ‘fun’ and more fancy than I expected, honestly. The service was lovely and their cheese plate is enough for a party of 3 – 4. A good note about Grapes: if you do go in and you want more of the sexy city feel I’m referring to, sit at the bar. The bar set up is lovely and perfect for a glass of wine and a bite.

Coffee + a Stroll Around Casco Viejo // 9:30AM

Casco Viejo, Panama CityCasco Viejo, Panama City

Maximize your first day with coffee to go! We each grabbed a piping hot Americano for the road at Casa Sucre, a coffee shop/boutique hotel in Casco Viejo. While the clouds burned off, we began strolling the Old Town to take it all in. (Unless you’re a big eater, save your appetite for the excitement that will be your lunch.) The architecture is lovely in the old city, and the dilapidated bits are charming in the way that old cities tend to be. There are markets nearby where you can score brightly colored handicrafts to take home with you.

Check out the skyline by day, too – it’s definitely a beautiful picture.

Panama City Skyline

Lunch at Mercado de Mariscos // 11:30AM

In my book, lunch doesn’t get better than a Mercado de Mariscos lunch. This. Is. Perfection.

Fishermen bring in loads of fish, with corvina being the go-to white fish for the ever-present ceviche. Shrimp, lobster, black clams, and octopus make the cut, too. At one point I looked at Scott and asked, “how are there any fish left in the sea?” There are unbelievable amounts of fish being brought in, I can’t help but wonder if a) it all gets eaten, and b) how sustainable this is. I mean really, how many fish are there in the sea though?!

Mercado de Pescado, Panama City

The market is pretty spectacular. Inside you’ll see stall after stall selling fresh fish and/or fresh ceviche or cocktails. Outside you’ll see a stream of brightly colored stalls doling out varieties of ceviche, too (less of the fresh fish, more of the ready-to-eat food). Score a small serving of ceviche for $1.50 – $3.75 depending on which variety piques your interest. We ended up doing a ceviche crawl, popping into four places and trying the different varieties on offer: corvina, concha negra (black clam), Mediterranean, and shrimp.

Mercado de Pescado, Casco Viejo, Panama City Read More

What's Honduras really like? Media vs. Reality

What’s the ‘world’s most dangerous place’ really like?

Honduras’ busiest airport is San Pedro Sula, a city in the northwest corner of the country. The city’s been referred to as the most violent city in the world, with the highest murder rate outside of a war zone. The murder rate in the US (as of 2013) was 4.78 per 100,000 residents. In San Pedro Sula that number is 173 per 100,000, making it 36 times higher than the United States. The Honduran average is 85.5 per 100,000, which highlights the fact that San Pedro really pulls up the average on its own.

For anyone in their right mind looking at those statistics, Honduras would not be classified as a safe country. This was the warning that Scott saw as we began researching for our trip to the country:

San Pedro Sula Warning

Yet our experience in Honduras was something different. As I mentioned to people who asked us about our trip, I don’t know that I would have thought to feel nervous or uneasy had I not read those stats going in. I found myself being hyper vigilant during the first couple of days. I was tense when we arrived at the airport and when we exchanged money (as I shared in a previous post). I felt a bit uneasy during our cab ride to the resort, and when we walked around Tela during the evening, we were sure to be on well-lit roads after dark. These are all rather common sense things that we would probably do anywhere, but we found ourselves a bit more on edge than normal during the first 48 hours. By then end of day two, I almost felt bad for feeling that way. I was hugging my purse to my side and looking at everyone like they were a potential criminal when in reality everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming. As I said, had I not read that I should be worried, I wouldn’t have actually been worried at all. Read More

Punta Sal, Honduras

Discovering paradise with Garifuna Tours

Gorgeous stretches of tan sand. Stunning, perfectly placed leafy palms. Turquoise and emerald waters lapping onto the shore. Monkeys bounding from tree to tree overhead. Landscape that looks like a blend of Caribbean perfection with a drop of Southeast Asia from the rugged outcroppings.

I felt like I was transported to a paradisiacal wonderland where the water was fresher, the colors were brighter, and time passed more slowly. And even more unbelievably, the four of us were the only people exploring this untouched haven. Where does this happen?!

This is Punta Sal, a slice of Tela that blends beachy wonders, dramatic landscape, and untouched jungle, and it’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Punta Sal with Garifuna Tours, HondurasPunta Sal, Garifuna Tours, Honduras

The area is home to the Garifuna population, an indigenous community that is culturally far more Caribbean than it is Central American. The tour company that we chose to help guide us for the day, Garifuna Tours, shares the indigenous group’s name. There are a slew of tours that the company offers within Honduras but Punta Sal was at the top of our list. We had gotten a fair dose of adventure between our days at Pulhapanzak plus our experience ‘extreme spelunking’ at Taulabe Caves. What we wanted for our final excursion was something that would blend an outdoor experience with an opportunity to marinate a bit, just soaking up our surroundings during one of our final days. Punta Sal did just that.

We debated – do we opt for the more expensive private tour so we can guarantee it’ll be just the four of us, or just book online through their normal portal for $36 per person. The private tour was more than twice as much, and while it still represented a decent value we didn’t think it was necessary. If there were others on the trip that wouldn’t be such a bad thing anyway. Half the fun of travel is meeting other travelers, right?

Ultimately it ended up just being the four of us on the trip anyway. We met at around 8AM at the Garifuna Tours office in Tela and jumped in a van with our tour guide, Darren, a Honduran who had spent a number of years in the States. Unlike our previous journeys with Spanish-speaking guides, Darren spoke English which made everything extra simple. Our first stop on this day long adventure was the jungle, where the tour would begin.

The Jungle // Jeanette Kawas National Park

Punta Sal, Jeanette Kawas National Park, Honduras

In most places this beautiful and this well-maintained, you’d be lining up to walk through and glimpse the beauty. We were entering a slice of Jeanette Kawas National Park, a protected area named after the female environmental activist who worked to ensure the preservation of flora and fauna in the area. Here, we were the only people, following as Darren led us through the jungle. He warned of jaguars who had made a couple of appearances and when we oohed and ahhed over the monkey that seemed to greet us, he advised that the monkeys would probably follow us around for the duration of our journey.

He was right.

Punta Sal, Jeanette Kawas National Park, HondurasPunta Sal, Jeanette Kawas National Park, HondurasPunta Sal, Jeanette Kawas National Park, Honduras Read More

Taulabé Caves, Honduras

The Caves of Taulabé are well-known within the part of Honduras that they call home, and are one of two sets of cave systems in the entire country that allow tourists to explore. When we originally headed to D&D Brewery, we had a few items on the docket with D&D Adventures: Pulhapanzak for a day, followed by boating on the lake. Anything else was TBD, and we were hesitant to cram too many things into a couple of days lest we feel rushed.

When we looked at D&D’s wall of adventures, we were all immediately taken by the idea of spelunking. Taulabé is roughly forty minutes from the lake but we knew we could get it in for a late morning/early afternoon experience and still make it back to Tela at a reasonable hour. After getting the go-ahead from all parties (we’re very democratic that way), we scheduled our transfer from D&D Brewery to Taulabé (700 lps for four of us, around $33) immediately following our morning on the lake.

Cuevas de Taulabé {Taulabé Caves}

Cuevas de Taulabé, HondurasCuevas de Taulabé, Honduras

The drive was quick and painless. We pulled into a long driveway with a green ramshackle building at the end of the stretch. A group of locals were congregated, sitting in hammocks and whiling away the morning. A sign nearby reassured us that we were in fact at the caves. Entry fees to the caves varied, and we had to decide before going in whether we wanted to do the normal spelunking trip, which would take around 40 minutes, or the ‘extreme’ caving, which would clock in at around 2 hours. While the normal spelunking adventure cost around 80 lps each (around $4), the extreme variety adds on a premium, bringing the total up to 230 lps (about $11). Clearly both options were affordable, and our biggest concern at the time was the ‘extreme’ designation.

How extreme is extreme? We posited the question to the congregation, the four of us totally wide-eyed and eager. As with other places in Honduras, no one spoke English. I generally like these situations because it allows me – forces me – to speak Spanish and practice. But this situation was a bit different. We would be entering a deep cave, being led by one sole Honduran man who would be narrating our adventures in a foreign language. From what we could gather, ‘extreme’ was twice as long, distance-wise, and far more rugged.

Okay. Why not?

Naturally, we opted for the extreme. How could we not? So, geared up with a helmet and one small handheld flashlight each, we entered the cave. Our guide was kind enough to speak a bit slower than normal and we had no problems. I was impressed with myself actually (and with the others) – we left knowing exactly what we saw, and understanding his lecture without him speaking a word of English. Survival skills.

Taulabé Caves, Honduras

The cave system is fascinating. It was discovered in the late 60s, and scientists are still uncertain as to where the cave ends. Some theorize that it goes to Lake Yojoa, some say it may go to Copan Ruins, but to date it remains uncertain. The first 300 meters are part of the normal tour, and guests explore the cave on a pretty well marked path with railings. There’s enough light to help guide your way and shed light on the amazing stalagtites and stalagmites that line the cave system. Our guide, Luis, shared that the stalagtites ‘grow’ about 1″ per 100 years, which is pretty remarkable considering the size of these.

The four of us followed Luis deeper into the caves, spotting bat droppings, and cockroaches running amok. This was cockroach heaven. At home I have a momentary freak out if I see a rogue roach. Here, it was practically a cockroach mating ground, which would become even more interesting as the caves got darker.

Taulabé Caves, HondurasTaulabé Caves, HondurasTaulabé Caves, Honduras

This is me, realizing that there are a lot of cockroaches:

Taulabé Caves, Honduras

About 10 minutes into our walk, we had our first brush with the ‘extreme’ tour, a small cavity that led up to a viewing platform that would allow us to see a long stretch of the cave system from above. The cavity was this narrow, muddy passage that had us pulling ourselves up to get through. Once we made it to the top, the stretch narrowed (I didn’t think the boys would make it), until we reached the view point. Luis encouraged us to step out to take it all in but we kept a reasonable distance from the edge. No guardrails and no safety nets combined with slick muddy passageways didn’t seem like the safest setup.

Taulabé Caves, HondurasTaulabé Caves, HondurasTaulabé Caves, HondurasTaulabé Caves, Honduras

We wound around the inside of the cave, in awe of not only the space, but also of the fact that we were the only ones in the cave. I couldn’t tell if this made me excited or nervous. After another half hour or so, we reached ‘the end’ of the 300 meter normal tour. We were about to take in the next 300 meters and for that, we’d go off the path to embark on the next adventure.

I’ll tell you now in case you’re wondering: the extreme spelunking is very extreme. Part of that is credited to the fact that there are no lights, no paths and no guardrails anywhere in the next 300 meter segment. The only light we had was dim light from our individual flashlights. Headlamps would have probably been more practical, but flashlights worked. The path was consistently more muddy and slick and noticeably damp. It was as if we’d entered a totally different world. We glimpsed cockroaches and bats alive and well in the cave, but couldn’t see them in full because of the lack of light. We held each others’ hands as we climbed up steep rocks, skidded across the sweaty surfaces, and climbed through narrow openings. Some of the downhill passages were so slick and difficult to maneuver that it was easier to sit and slide to get around. It was an adventure to say the least.

We finally reached a point near the end that had us walking through a narrow passage between two gorges (I’m not sure what else to call them). There were no guardrails and we weren’t suspended from anything. To the right, the land ceased to exist and the floor opened up to the world below. I didn’t want to look down to see how far it was, but suffice it to say that the drop is likely fatal if you were to slip. At this point, my sister turned to us and told us that the road ended there for her; she wasn’t going any further. The guide asked us if the other three would like to continue, the end was very near. We looked around – we were definitely in a place that would have our parents holding their breaths for us – and all silently agreed that we were on the same page. We’d had our fill of adventure, and while I highly doubt anyone has actually died on this tour (I can’t confirm that), I didn’t want to test it. Sweaty, mud-covered, a little dinged up, and totally on a high from everything we experienced, we made our way out. The temperature dropped by 15 – 20 degrees when we hit the normal path and our bodies were so grateful for the cool air. We escaped the caves more or less unscathed, and very happy about the experience.

Taulabé Caves, Honduras

For anyone going, make sure that you bring water as it gets very hot (you can buy some at a tiny shop outside of the cave). Tennis shoes are an absolute must, though shorts and a t-shirt seemed to be fine for clothing. You will be very dirty and very sweaty after this tour, and there’s a small washroom where you can clean up a bit afterwards. I took my camera inside but I’m not sure I would recommend it. Having both hands is helpful most of the time and while you’re climbing the camera can get dinged up a bit. If you’re bringing one, I would advise putting it in a proper camera bag/carrying case to keep it protected. We have GoPro footage but it was so dark in the extreme section that it couldn’t pick up any footage, unfortunately. Even the 300 meter standard tour is great, but if you’re up for it, the ‘EXTREMA’ version is definitely a memorable experiences. Know your limits, know that the guide will not be able to speak English, and enjoy!

xo from Honduras,

Shannon Kircher

Lago de Yojoa, D&D Brewery

Tranquility on the Lake

Our second day at Lago de Yojoa brought us an adventure on the lake itself. We had a number of excursions we wanted to experience, but boating and/or birding on the lake seemed like a must for us so we could actually see the lake before departing Peña Blanca, the small town nearby.

Our alarms went off at 5:40AM, giving us a quick twenty minutes to prep ourselves before our 6AM departure. The days get hot quickly so an early morning start helped guarantee a tranquil and enjoyable trip vs. a sweaty one.

Lago de Yojoa, Honduras, D&D AdventuresLago de Yojoa, Honduras, D&D Adventures

We headed out from D&D Brewery with our guide Ronaldo, who took us to his home for a hot cup of coffee before we headed to the lake. Ronaldo had a few English words but our conversations were almost entirely in Spanish throughout the course of the day. As with the majority of our other experiences in Honduras, it was a great opportunity to put our Spanish to use. After trips like this, I’m always amazed by the power of immersion when it comes to honing language skills. In day-to-day life, we’re often too embarrassed to practice our Spanish – we don’t sound like natives, our conjugation’s not perfect, we’re using the wrong past tense form, etc.- but when language skills become a survival instinct (i.e. to tell the driver where you need to go, explain what time your flights are, talk about dietary restrictions, etc. etc.), you quickly realize that it’s okay to be floundering a bit because you have a point to convey, and let’s be honest: no one’s really judging you if you’ve conjugated the verb improperly.

Based on our conversation with Ronaldo, we learned that while the lake doesn’t have a strict ban on motor boats, there are only a few that make an appearance. For the most part, it’s quiet rowboats that take to the waters to explore in a tranquil environment. And with a 6AM departure time, it certainly qualified as tranquil. When we hopped into our boat we saw but one other trio heading out on the lake. Throughout the course of the entire morning, which lasted about 3 1/2 hours, we saw two other boats on the water: one fisherman who lived in the local community, and one duo out exploring.

Lago de Yojoa, Honduras, D&D AdventuresLago de Yojoa, Honduras, D&D AdventuresLago de Yojoa, Honduras, D&D Adventures

Lago de Yojoa from Shannon Falzon on Vimeo. Read More

D&D Brewery, Honduras, Lago de Yojoa

Everything we’d read about D&D Brewery was glowing. It was touted as an affordable lodge near Lago de Yojoa that serves up a wide selection of microbrews and helps travelers delve into the region through activities and adventures. By all accounts, this was one of the cooler hostels on earth and we were about to experience it.

Quite honestly, D&D exceeded my high expectations. It was perfect. I could go back to Honduras and stay there for 5+ days in utter comfort. It’s a traveler’s paradise: affordable and comfortable accommodations, a pool (that didn’t get much use), inexpensive high-quality brews, inexpensive – and shockingly delicious – food, and a series of activities with qualified local guides. Naturally, there were some travelers griping about price a bit, but by most standards this place is a steal.

For $35/night, my sister and I had a private cabin (the boys had their own as well), which, with two queen-sized beds, is actually big enough for four. The room was incredibly spacious, with freshly cut flowers in a vase and a couple of pieces of art on the walls. We had a private bathroom with a shower and a small closet to hang a few items. All for under $20 per person.

D&D Brewery, Lago de Yojoa, Honduras Read More

Jumping into Pulhapanzak Waterfalls, Honduras

We learned one key thing after our adventures in Honduras: the majority of the ‘extreme’ adventures that you’re allowed to enjoy in the country would be heavily regulated in other countries. Not just developed nations, but even developing nations with a burgeoning tourism industry. Most places have some rules and regulations when it comes to activities. In Honduras, this wasn’t the case. There are no release forms to sign and very little oversight for many adventures. From what I can tell, the onus is truly on the adventurer – the traveler – to know their limits, their comfort level and to be in charge of one’s own safety.

Our adventure at Pulhapanzak Waterfall fell into this category.

Pulhapanzak Waterfall, Honduras

Check out this video of the falls, below – gorgeous!

Pulhapanzak Waterfall, Honduras from Shannon Falzon on Vimeo.

Zip Lining at Pulhapanzak

Before we embarked on this trip, my sister mentioned to me her undying desire to go zip lining. After doing our research, we found the zip lines at Pulhapanzak to be the best opportunity for this. We were headed to Lago de Yojoa for two days and Pulhapanzak was a quick 15-minute drive from our home base at D&D Brewery ($15 cab ride). Many people online dubbed the course as fairly novice, but for us – as newbies – it was perfect. We had two staff members with us during the entire experience, one leading the way (to guide and catch us) and one following behind us to help attach us to the lines and get us going. Truthfully, the zip line didn’t seem too dubious. The entire operation was very organized, far more than I expected, with guides who spoke better English than many people we had encountered up to this point.

The zip line started small, making us comfortable with the strength of the lines, and the feeling of soaring over land.  We gradually traversed the park until we hit stunning Pulhapanzak and soared over the falls, rainbows vibrant in the water below. We finished totally exhilarated. For $25 each (500lps), we found the experience more than worth it.

Check out this amazing clip of my sister zip lining over Pulhapanzak, the grand finale of the course:

Ziplining at Pulhpanazak from Shannon Falzon on Vimeo.

Zip lining, Pulahapanzak, HondurasZip lining, Pulahapanzak, Honduras

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Indura Resort, Tela, Honduras

Indura Resort + Exploring Tela, Atlántida

We arrived at Indura at around 9:30PM, a stunning resort that’s a veritable oasis within the Honduran landscape. It’s an anomaly really, this gorgeously appointed property in a land of hostels and rustic accommodations. The front desk was expecting us when we arrived and welcomed us by name. We were informed that our travel buddies, who had arrived nearly ten hours earlier, were in the dining room waiting for us.

After a long travel day, this was perfection, sitting with my sister, Scott, and his cousin, melting into the chair, just the four of us in the dining space. Our room was practically designed for this #SibTrip: a king sized bed in one room (ours) and two queens in the other (theirs). It felt like the poshest, grown up summer camp imaginable. With coffee and wine. Plus, this was the first time that my sister and I have vacationed together as adults sans one or both parents, so it really felt like we materialized in someone else’s reality.

The following morning I couldn’t have been more excited to wake up. We’d arrived late at night and the landscape was obscured by darkness. In the morning, with the bright sunlight shining on the resort’s grounds, it was utterly spectacular. The resort is housed within a national park and is replete with lush landscaping and the occasional jungle animal (Scott saw two monkeys our first morning, and iguanas made appearances). I had banked on sleeping in each and every morning but we bounced out of bed by 7:30AM (I forced myself back to sleep after getting up at 6AM initially). Bathing suits on, we headed down to breakfast and then quickly jetted to the pool. This was what I had been waiting for. Pure, unadulterated relaxation by the pool. Armed with magazines and  a book that I would finally have the time to consume, we basked unabashedly with mid-morning cocktails until it came time for our afternoon massages.

Indura Resort, Tela, HondurasIndura Resort, Tela, Honduras Read More

Punta Sal, Honduras

In reality, San Pedro Sula isn’t a huge distance from our home base in Anguilla, but once you’ve added in the travel time to St. Maarten and the connection time in Panama City, it ends up being a solid twelve-plus hour travel day. By the time we’d arrived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (after an hour delay), it was 8:30PM.

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect when we disembarked. How established would the San Pedro Sula airport be? Would it feel as unnerving as every advisory warning would have us expect? We stepped off the plane and into a fair bit of chaos as we raced to find our transfer. We identified our driver, a man carrying an Indura sign, who began leading us out of the airport and into the parking lot. We hadn’t changed our money in advance since we expected to exchange our US dollars for Honduran Lempiras (22 lps to $1 exchange rate) when we arrived in the country.  Rushing out of the airport, and in a hurry to get to Indura Resort to see our travel buddies, we asked our driver if we could pause a moment to head to the exchange counter. It didn’t exist, at least from what we could see.

Instead, a guard whistled and called a fannypack-wearing man over to assist. I’ve seen this happen before, of course, but we had just landed in Honduras, a land infamous for its crime, and we honestly felt a bit apprehensive as a small group of men looked on. We pulled out a couple of $100 bills to exchange for lempira. We worked quickly and as discreetly as possible and jetted out the door. Objective 1: complete.

To be honest, our driver wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. I think we both assumed that there would be a resort-owned van for transfers like ours, with a driver that worked exclusively for Indura. Our transfer cost a rather steep $65 per person so I didn’t think that notion was entirely unfounded. Instead, our driver, dressed in jeans, a graphic tee, and no name tag, led us to his car, a mid-90s Japanese sedan that we scrunched into for the hour-plus long journey. Read More