Jul 7, 2011

Trujillo, Honduras

John and I have been visiting Honduras off and on for nearly 20 years. While things change slowly they are changing and every visit has its interesting aspects. This year we flew into San Pedro Sula and caught the small plane to La Ceiba. Flying in Honduras is pre-911 flying… no secure door between passenger and pilots – sometimes the door is left open. The pilot steps into the passenger section and says, “Please fasten your seatbelts.” But if you don’t, not to worry, no one checks. The planes fly low so the flight becomes a flight-seeing tour.

Tourist Options, the travel agency where we arranged for a rental car, picked us up at the airport. The next day we headed to Trujillo, four hours to the east and the last town before the jungle. East and south of Trujillo is La Mosquita, the “real” jungle. Years ago we took a four-day trip into La Mosquita. I had read the Paul Theroux book, “Mosquito Coast,” and we had watched the Harrison Ford video of the same name. It took two plane trips and three boat trips to reach the last village on the river. Truly an incredible experience staying with people who had limited contact with the rest of the world.

I am always amazed at the “can-do/make-do” attitude of the people of Honduras. There are two seasons in the tropics – dry and wet. During the wet season it is not unusual for roads and bridges to wash out. They always seem to manage to come up with a solution until repairs are made. This time we reached a place where the bridge had washed out and a new, higher bridge was being built. How to cross the river? No problem! A raft capable of holding two vehicles pushed by a motor boat ferried us across. With only a small delay we were on our way.

Trujillo is on a beautiful bay and when we first visited it was on the brink of becoming the new tourist’s destination on the Honduran mainland – then Hurricane Mitch came. None of the help reached Trujillo and it languished and declined in the tropical sun.

The city has an interesting history. In 1502, on his fourth and last voyage to the “new” world, Columbus landed in Trujillo. It is where the first Catholic mass was said on the mainland of the Americas. Later the Spanish built Fort Santa Barbara, which is still standing. Hernando Cortez visited, as did the pirates of the Caribbean. It is where William Walker was executed and is buried. The American lawyer, journalist, and adventurer organized several private military expeditions into Latin America planning to create English-speaking colonies where he would be the president. He was successful in becoming the president of Nicaragua for a year before he was captured by the British and turned over to the Honduran government who tried and executed him. Trujillo is where O Henry wrote “Cabbages and Kings” while hiding out to evade an embezzlement charge in the states.

Today things are looking up with new hotels and even upscale residential communities plus a proposed cruise dock in the works. We stayed in Casa 17 in one of the new developments. The house is lovely with a great view of the Caribbean. It will be interesting to see what changes have taken place on our next trip.