Tuesday, December 14, 2010

San Pedro Sula, Honduras and travel to Nicaragua

Day 21 – San Pedro Sula, Honduras

So I’ve now realized that I’ve been gone for 21 days, this is the longest trip I’ve taken in my life thus far, perhaps not the furthest, nor the most physically or psychologically difficult, but it’s been great fun and challenging. I believe my first trip through the American southwest for 2 weeks, without a riding jacket, tennis shoes, no money, living like a hippie, camping out at Wal-Mart’s, was a tad bit more difficult than this one thus far.

I’ve been amazed by how less challenging this trip has actually been. I knew that planning for so long would skew the true reality of this trip is a completely different way that it truly is. But none the less it was necessary to do the extensive planning as I’ve seen, and glad I did. Perhaps that’s why it seems easier, I planned this one more than that trip for 2 weeks I decided to take the day before I left ha ha.

For your viewing pleasure, an outline of my route so far

Ver South America Adventure en un mapa más grande

So today I am in San Pedro Sula, in the beautiful country of Honduras with its amazing mountains and insane traffic, and enormous pot holes. Beating Belize by far! Honduras is now number 1 on my list of killer pot holes, one false move and you’re off the side of the mountain here, or straight into the pot hole itself along with your vehicle.

We are staying at la Casa de los Arcos Hotel in San Pedro Sula, this is a great hotel, and I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to this industrial city, the 2nd largest in the country.
Getting into this industrial city required 2 hours of crazy travel through massive semi-truck highway with only two lanes, intense pollution that left me washing black off my face, and an almost head on collision Brett almost had when a semi-truck tried passing another semi, and was literally 1 ft away from his left side pannier on the opposite side coming toward us on our lane, I drove into the sand off the road, but Brett couldn’t as there was a bicycle in his way and had to look straight at the truck coming his way.

The only reasons I came to this town that was way out of my way of pre-planned travel was to help Brett look for a safe, secure place for his bike for his 2 week departure. I had little luck in my research and initial search physically. But then, as I spoke with the hotel security guards, I realized that the hotel was connected to some apartments, one that was vacated.

Upon speaking to the owner, which was very nice, I got Brett a spot in a vacated apartment with a garage next door to the hotel for the next 2 weeks while he’s back in the states. How lucky is that, the new tenants to the apartment are moving back the 1st of January and Brett gets back to Honduras the 28th of December, it seems fate and some luck was on my side on this one, as the only way we found this hotel was be some luck seeing a faded out sign in the middle of the night getting into the city. With 24 hr surveillance and security packing some heat, I’m sure he’ll come back to find his bike as good as new. Once less thing to deal with, onward I go!

Hanging around the hotel and talking with the security guards, a young woman about the same age as myself passes by, tells the guard a few things and leaves.

I ask the guard who she was and he said it was the owner’s daughter, later to find out she was the actually owner, and is currently running the place, an inheritance gift from the family the hotel was for her. After speaking with her and taking care of Brett’s bike, for good, we started to chat.

Turns out she went to college in Louisiana, came back home a year or so ago and has been running the hotel ever since. How small the world is once again, she went to college the same time I did night next door in a neighboring state.

This is Dania, a charming and very determined and busy young lady that doesn’t take no for an answer. She was running around the place cooking and taking care of business all the time. Highly motivated and greatly enthusiastic, I extend my high recommendation for La Casa de los Arcos Hotel in San Pedro Sula with Dania for a night’s stay or more. http://www.lacasadelosarcos.com/ubicacion.html

Turns out she’s a soccer fanatic, and told me that the Honduras soccer league was having their Final championship game tomorrow night. I couldn’t believe it, what luck, one of my goals for this trip was just that, see an important soccer match, a national championship match, thing to do in life, almost a check!

Real Espana, vs. Olympia, two bitter rivals in the league. I got my ticket this morning for $150 lempira, or $8US dollars to sit with the huge crazy crowds that do the waves, jump around, yell, throw stuff on the field and sometimes light flares in the middle of the game.

Ha, this is going to be great, watching a bitter rival soccer match in San Pedro Sula, murder capital of Latin America, at night, yea this I believe will be a fun and interesting night


Real Espana, vs. Olympia- 2-1 favor Real Espana. All I can say is wow! What a crazy game it was.
Oh man, where to start. Ok so I get to the stadium, crowds everywhere, I have no idea where to enter, but I pick a door and go with it. Turn out I get to the side of the Olimpia team, all in blue and white, as you can see by this picture.

I then look over to the Real Espana side, and see more people and some chanting. I said to myself, I’m here to experience the best soccer game with all the fans and atmosphere; I’m going with the crazy people over there. So I switch sides, seen by the picture.

Some nice balancing next to some barbed wire

Burning of the opponents flag on the barbed wire

Ok here I am about to enjoy a good soccer match…and then some.

The Real Espana side and fans are considered the most passionate in the entire Honduras soccer league. We started to do a wave that consisted everyone of grabbing each other and swaying to the same side, whether I like it or not, I was part of the crazy crowd as I was being shoved back and forth with thousands of other fans.

It was a back and forth game with the fans of the other side to see who could top the other, and drown out the noise of one another. Truly and amazing experience to see a mass hoard of people verbally fighting each other.

If you do not understand what they are chanting, its probably better that you dont, its not very nice.

In my excitement for that game I arrived 2 hours before the game to get a good spot, as you can imagine, I got hungry and thirsty. As my brain was in “America stadium” mode, I though the crazy expensive I was going to have with expensive stadium food and drink, but hey I’m on vacation, what the heck right? Needless to say, I had 4 soft drinks, 2 bags of dried banana chips, gum, candy, and a torta sandwich, all for less than $4 US dollars! I love Honduras!

As the match began, the crowds got wild, remember this is the biggest rivalry of the league. Within the first 2 minutes, the goalie from Real Espana was hit with a deadly accurately placed fire cracker to the head, a 15 minute delay was issued while over 60 police and swat team member rushed the crowd, beating people with sticks and getting the trouble makers out and dispersing this massive flash mob of people. I thought “oh boy this is going to get interesting”

So does the picture look familiar? It should, remember how I mentioned I decided to all of a sudden switch sides? I would have been right the middle where the cops are now bashing and hitting people as you can see by the picture and video. Lucky huh?

This video is where the goalie got hit with a fire cracker to the face from the crowd behind him. And where I would have been if I had not of moved, being bashed by police

Flare Fire in the crowd
So by the 80th minute Olimpia finally scored a goal, crowd goes wild. As time is about to run out near the 87th minute, I started to make my way down from the crowd, I was about to leave, I decided instead of beating the crowds I’ll stay until it ends. Well Real Espana, scored the last few minutes the equalizer, the game was back on!

It went on into overtime, lucky me was on the Real Espana side, in extra time they managed to score and win the championship! As you can imagine it was a huge celebration and I was right in the middle of it!

To sum up my experiences and observations of this intense game.

Apparently the water bags that contain drinkable water, as bought by people are used to throw at officials or players when they get close enough to the crowd.

Beer is also used as a projectile to throw at players and officials, even though half way in the air it all leaks out into the crowd ahead.

Throwing a full cup of beer at the officials, or aka-the people directly in front of you, is an indicator of disapproval of the "apparent"  lousy call the referee just made.

Green ultra high intensity laser pointers are used by the crowd to blind the opposing players and especially goalies on important plays.

There was lots of flag burning, lots of flare fires, fireworks, people climbing the fences with barbed wire

The beer was cheaper than the water or soft drinks

I sat on a huge piece white piece of gum with black pants, had beer thrown at me, water thrown at me, went deaf from whistling next to my ear, and was part of a flash mob.

Saw a 10 yr boy smoking tobacco

Saw a marijuana joint be passed around the entire crowd

Needless to say, it was fantastic! Sweaty, smelling like beer, and I was happy.

Things to do in life, Check!

It is now December 13th, and today at 5:30am I bid farewell to Brett, He’s back to the states for enjoy the holidays with his family, and I am off on my own once again, celebrating the holidays with monkeys, jungle, and random people. Let the adventure continue.

I had lunch at the Disneyland of chicken apparently.

Today I traveled from 6am to 6pm, no breaks except for gas and bathroom, I literally traversed the entire country of Honduras in one day, sure doesn’t beat traversing Belize in about 6 hours though.

Getting through the Honduras and Nicaragua border was a confusing maze. Each building and place I had to go through was utterly confusing and had a mass swarm of people trying to charge me for their unnecessary services.
The great big sign welcoming me into Nicaragua

This young kid was my guide, we had some lunch together and gave him a nice tip and he pointed me towards the right direction with everything I needed.

I also met nice women at the border, which I later found 4 hours later at the same gas station in Nicaragua, small world once again.

As you can see, Nicaragua is a beautiful country. Things are relatively cheap. Had a nice meal for $4US.

Staying at the Via Via Hostel tonight, in a dormitory with 6 other people. Cost me $6 US, but the memories are free!

Met a guy from England, another from Australia, Germany and a poor other one I never talked to because he was sick in bed from swimming in a volcano crater lake, and it was believed that he was sick because he swallowed some of the water from the crater on accident.

Tomorrow I do something very incredible and unique, can’t spoil the surprise. Until then adios!

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