Ok so I left Utila and was making my way to Nicaragua. However, in order to get there I had to change buses in Tegucigalpa (AKA Tegus), the capital of Honduras. Mainland Honduras is a bit dodgy at the best of times (we all remember Copan) and I had heard a lot of bad stuff about Tegus. The traveller's bible (lonely planet) actually talks about "gangs of transvestites robbing people on the streets" and it says "if you're not interested in crack or crack addicted prostitutes then don't go to tegucigalpa". As I wasn't looking for any crack or prostitutes, I decided I would spend as little time there as possible. Unfortunately, things didn't work out the way I wanted and I had to spend a night in Tegus in order to get my 5am bus to Nicaragua. So, I figured I would get the bus into Tegus, take a taxi to a hostel, stay the night and get a taxi back to the station at 4am, in order to get the 5am bus out of crack town. Thus ensuring I was not robbed by a gang or rowdy tranny's or forced into a life of prostitution to support my crack addiction!
So, I started off from Utila, got the ferry to La Ceiba and then spent the next 9 hrs. on a bus to Tegus. The bus ride was a bit mental and we were stopped a few times by police. They made us all get off the bus and line up along the road side with our luggage in front of us. They checked in a few bags and then we were all allowed back on the bus. No one really knew what was going on, but no one seemed to be surprised either, so I just assumed this happens often in Honduras. Mainland Honduras was depressing and the people are dirt poor. Driving across the country and seeing the way people live was quite sad. There are a lot of homeless people who have made "homes" out of plastic sheets and cardboard lined all along the roads; it was not a pretty sight. This was definitely the poorest country I had been in so far and I couldn't help, but be glad I didn't live here.
During the bus ride I met a nice Czechoslovakian couple from Prague, Ava & Martin. We got chatting and it turned out we were both heading to Granada, Nicaragua. It turns out there isn't one big, central bus station in Tegus. No, that would be way too easy and convenient for people. Instead, some Einstein decided that every bus company (of which there are many) would have its own station, somewhere in the city. So, when we finally arrived in Tegus, Ava, Martin & I decided to split a taxi to the other bus terminal, to pick up our tickets. Ava spoke fluent Spanish, so she instructed the driver to take us to the station and then to our hostel. She also arranged for the driver to pick us up at 4am the next morning to catch the bus. However, when we got to the bus station, I got my ticket (as it was pre-booked in advance), but Ava & Martin felt this bus was too expensive for them and decided to get their tickets with another company. So we got back in the taxi and headed to yet another bus station. When we got their we realised that it was just around the corner from a hostel, so Ava said for me just to get the taxi there, book us in and they would meet me there in about 30 min. So I headed off in the taxi to the hostel…..or so I thought.
As we passed the hostel, I tried to use my "Spanglish" to explain that he had just passed destination. He then explained to me that he wasn't taking me there and that if I wanted to get picked up at 4am then I would need to stay at his friends "hotel". Taxi drivers always try to convince you to go to another hotel or hostel, as some places will give them a commission for bringing them business. usually they try to convince you that the hostel you want is full, but they know a nicer one with availability. i huess a lot of people fall for it or they wouldn't do it. I explained that I didn't want to go there and that I was meeting my friends back at the other hostel. He wasn't interested in what i had to say and just continued driving to who knows where. It was already dark by this point and it was lashing with rain outside, so I basically had two options…1) I could get out of the taxi in whatever scary, deserted part of town I was now in and hope to find another taxi before the tranny's got me… or 2) I could go with this scary taxi driver (or possible kidnapper) to his friends "hotel" were I would most likely die. I didn't have much confidence in my Spanish abilities to be able to explain to a new taxi driver where I wanted to go (as i couldn't remember the name of the hostel), much less get him to pick me up at 4am, so I decided to get it over with and head off towards his friends "hotel" to my certain death. Better the devil you know and all that.
I was relieved when we pulled up in front of a building that had a sign that clearly stated this was a "Hotel" and not some abandoned warehouse or something. However, that relief quickly faded when we walked in and I saw the place. This was clearly more of a "by the hour" kind of hotel and I was bricking it. This Turned out to be the most expensive place i had stayed whilst travelling and it was filthy, cold and scary as all hell. I was shown to my room, which was just a cement block with a bed and a bathroom. I locked myself in and just stood there wondering how the hell this had all happened. I really wanted to just curl up in a ball and cry, but everything was so disgusting I didn't want to sit down anywhere. I realised I would have about 8 hours to kill before the taxi driver came back for me (hopefully). I hadn't eaten in hours, so I headed to the front desk and asked if there was a supermarket or a restaurant close by. My taxi driver was still there, chatting to his friend (probably waiting for his commission). He informed me that it wasn't safe for me to go outside on my own and that if I wanted, he would escort me to the shop on the corner to get something. So off we went to the corner shop, which turned out to be a window covered with plexi-glass and metal bars where you could shout your order into the window and the clerk would then go get your stuff. on his return a drop box was opened for you to place the money in, which was then replaced with your order or close enough to what you ordered. Not knowing what they sold I just loaded up on diet coke and crisps and then my escort/taxi driver/kidnapper and I headed back to the "hotel" from hell.
I decided I should take a shower that night, instead of at 4am, but since I've been travelling I haven't had a shower without wearing my flip flops. I don't want to have to stand in some gross shower, where who knows who was in their before me. However, as I had lost my last pair two days before whilst riding around Utila on a motor bike, I only had a pair of converse left. So, as you do in these situations, I improvised. I managed to find 2 poly bags and tied them around my feet, so I wouldn't have to actually touch the shower floor. I double checked that my room door was locked and headed into the shower only to realise that there were no handles on the faucets. I re-dressed, but didn't bother to take off the poly bags and went to ask the guy at reception how to turn the water on. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn't care. I was angry that I had to stay at his disgusting hotel and I didn't care if he thought I was some mental person, who wore shopping bags on her feet. He sent his son down with a wrench to turn the water on for me. Then after my shower I had to get him to come back and turn the water off again. By this point I was fed up and just wanted the nightmare to be over, so I tried to get some sleep. However, the stains on the bed covers were worrying, so I pulled out my beach blanket, laid it on top of the bed and curled up into a tight ball and just tried not to touch anything else.
As you can imagine, I didn't get much sleep that night and I was dressed and ready to go, well before I needed to be. Thankfully, the taxi driver actually came back at 4am and took me to the bus station. I was so relieved to finally get on the bus and get the hell out of Tegucigalpa. This was the scariest experience I have had so far travelling and it's easy to laugh about it now, but at the time, I seriously thought I might die. I would strongly recommend that no one ever go to Tegucigalpa, under any circumstances. It is a horrible, horrible place!