Honduras by Lynne
slice of heaven on the north shore, Tela (pictured)
Honduras, is more than the sleepy town often
described. This is where to go on the Honduras Caribbean coast if you want to relax and
be near/on the beach and swim in the sea. The beaches just to the east and
west of Tela's city center are best - the river that outlets to the sea at the
eastern end of Calle Principal can make the center beach a bit boggy after heavy
center of Tela, anchored by the Parque Central (pictured below), is a lively place at all hours,
except late on Sunday afternoons, when folks hang with their families or attend
unlike San Pedro and Tegus, most folks travel by foot or bicycle, which is a
good thing since the number of sidewalk vendors and shops requires a slower
pace. We bought t-shirts, post cards of Honduras, nail polish, and shampoo (Suave apple; we
had run out) for very fair prices and were surprised by the availability of
everything else we needed (Schick razor blades, tampons, Lucky Charms cereal,
Crest tartar control toothpaste). There is also an ATM at the Occidente Bank on
the square and La Prensa is sold by an open air vendor on the southwest corner.
Accommodations in Tela
first stop in Tela was to register at the Maya Vista Hotel. This is surely the
best deal in town (US $40 – 60.00) and affords views that can’t be beat. The
hospitality is even warmer than the weather and we feel we’ve found a home.
Arriving late afternoon, with still
good sun, we head over to the Starbucks Internet café on Calle Principal to
check our e-mail. Although no coffee is served here, it’s the best and cheapest
place to get on-line in town (50 cents US per hour). The most expensive
international call I made to the states from here cost 70 cents. This immaculate
establishment, staffed by a wonderfully friendly and accommodating attendant, is
open daily from 9:00am, and also offers a pretty nifty selection of candy and
down the street is the chicken bus terminal, which offers frequent service to La
Ceiba, El Progresso and Yoro. While these buses don’t go directly through to San
Pedro Sula, you change buses in El Progresso to go the remaining few kilometers
to the SPS airport or city centro. The fares are very inexpensive (less than 40
lempira), and the pace allows for great interaction with your fellow passengers.
There are faster ways to get around (Hedman Alas direct bus, private taxi), but
this is great fun if you’re not in a hurry, and most folks here don’t seem to
be. An aside, Hedman-Alas (big Mercedes Benz buses) can get you to/from San
Pedro (and airport) or La Ceiba for @ US $13.00, from the Texaco station on the
main road in Tela (everyone knows where this is, you will too unless you’ve been
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Tours in Tela
Diagonally across from the Parque Central (pictured) is the Garifuna
Tours office. We left a deposit of 200 lempiras each in order to reserve at trip
to either Laguna de Los Micos or the Garifuna settlements in San Juan,
and Miami, for the Monday and Tuesday we originally planned to be in Tela.
However, since there were only two of us, and the tours require a minimum of
five persons, we weren’t able to hook up for these particular trips. Our refund
was eventually returned and better planning on our part would surely have gotten
also offers tours to Punta Sal National Park, whose mountains you can see over
Tela Bay from anywhere along the beachfront. Another aside, we also found that
private taxi service to any of these locales can be had from just about any taxi
driver in town, although, you will pay a bit of a premium and not have the
formal sort of tour. Then again, it is how we were able to have such an
interesting visit to Puerto Cortes, alas, another story…
hundred feet further on will get you to the Puentes Nuevo and Viejo. The two
bridges breach the beach where brightly colored workboats are tied ashore. And
if you need to confirm international flight reservations (72 hrs.), Galaxia
Travel (one block east of Puente Viejo) can do this expeditiously for you for
100 lemps (trust me, a bargain considering the effort required from HN).
further on down the road is the Telamar Resort, home to some wonderful food
(well-priced)) and continental-style accommodations (and Coca Cola Beach; cool
signage). This is a lovely full-service facility - pools, raked beach, gift
shops and restaurants – along with the higher room rates you’d expect to
accompany such amenities (US $75 – 255.00).
back into town from the north side of Puente Nuevo, take a detour along the
beachfront for a superb view of the Mar Caribe. We found a couple of friendly
horses munching on the shore grass and several families playing on the beach.
There wasn’t much in the way of seashells here, although there was some cool
driftwood. There are a bunch of restaurants along the edge of the beach and
Lucy’s Norte (a block in) is popular for seafood and has a pretty extensive menu
of just about everything else. We had pork chops here though, the plentitude of
fresh catch we’d consumed throughout the country was starting to make us feel a
bit Flipper-like !
back up from the beach over the plank walkway in front of the Hotel Veromar, we
also passed the home of the blue bikini bathing-suit-painted Greek goddess at
encountered an enormous bull that seems to have planted itself in a local yard.
A young boy had tied a rope around the animal in an attempt to move it, but,
weight and likely age, gave the bull the distinct advantage. We waited a bit to
see if it would budge, but, noooo….
point, we were back at the bottom of the steps leading up to the Maya Vista
Hotel. The walk up is not wheelchair accessible (road at rear of hotel) but does
make for stronger calf muscles after several days. The multiple landings on the
way up do have great town and ocean views and provide an excuse to slow up and
relax a bit. The hotel’s landscaping is lush, varied, and well-tended and the
dining level overlooks many colorful plantings and a hammock-lounging area.
food at Maya Vista is wonderful, we went through just about everything on the
menu while we were in Tela for nine days. Seafood is big (shrimp anyway you
want) and omelet’s can be pretty much custom-ordered (off-menu) if you give a
little smile and your Spanish is passable ! The orange juice is fresh squeezed
and the local fruits should be ordered if just for their freshness. This is the
home of the original banana plantation and to miss this fine produce would be a
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Jardin Botanico Lancetillo, Near Tela
good night’s sleep, and a fine full belly the next morning, we had one fine hoot
of an adventure to the Jardin Botanico Lancetillo (y Centro de Investigacion;
$6.00 US per person) just outside Tela city centro (2k). We took a taxi (yep,
we’re old and lazy) to the Garden’s entrance, where the attendant admonished our
driver for charging us an extra 10 lemps (40 vs. the normal 30) to get there. We
misunderstood (our terrible Spanish) that the gardens were a 3k walk around,
when in fact, that is the distance to get to the main entrance.
Alas, about halfway down the road, a
small bus stopped and asked if we wanted a lift, we gladly paid the 15 lemps
each (rainy season, was a bit muddy) for the remainder of the ride in. We were
surprised by the number of people who got off along the way into the park, we
figured that folks traveling this path were park attendees too, but, when they
alighted with 50lb. bags of rice and headed straight up into the hillside, we
finally got it that folks live here too….so much to learn.
arrived at the visitor center, already a lovely wooded haven across from a
spectacular bamboo stand, which was undergoing expansion and upgrade (a common
theme throughout Tela). The attendant here made sure we understood the map she
gave us, which outlined the various ornamental, industrial and toxico plants
that we would walk by in the Garden.
It was a
warm and steamy walkabout (less than 2k) that took us by durian fruit trees
(someday I’ll taste the fruit !) and an amazing column of worker ants carrying
leaves to their next colony. Yes, this is probably a somewhat common site for
other well-traveled folk, but, it was pretty amazing for us to see such
perfectly parallel columns of ants with so dedicated a purpose ! And there are
so many palms, hibiscus (the blood-red color variety) and humongous ferns that
we became much-too greenery spoiled for anything less lush and exotic ! <
Gardens also have a plant nursery and several training, educational, and
administrative buildings as well as an older caretaker’s cottage that looks a
bit Key West-like in style. But we did wish we had sprayed ourselves with some
sort of insect repellant beforehand - this is an authentic, outdoor botanical
garden after all. Alas, not a big deal, and the ride back to town in the back of
a white Toyota pickup (30 lemps each) was exhilarating and great fun - the
consideration of our driver for our “safety” was enamoring – I wish I’d caught
his name, we won’t soon forget the exciting ride and free liches fruit he gave
us ! !
Tela's Holding Charm
only planned to stay in Tela for a two-day stopover before heading to Puerto
Cortes for an informational business look-see, and then back to San Pedro Sula
for our flight back to the States. But, as Pierre Conture (owner of Maya Vista
Hotel) so presciently noted at registration “lots of folks come here for a day
or two and then stay a week”. No wonder, the people here, as everywhere else in
this gorgeous country, are mightily friendly, humorous, trusting, and engaging.
perhaps, Pierre’s clairvoyance should be gospel. Not only did we stay three days
longer in Tela than originally planned, we were also caught in the midst of
Tropical Storm Gamma (November 2005) and ended up staying in Honduras (Tela/Maya
Vista) for four more days. Thanks to the sturdy structure and eminent planning
and foresight of our hosts, we were lucky to have experienced only driving rain
and wind during this damaging storm, others lost power and were heavily flooded,
39 people lost their lives.
and roadways were completely washed out and we wondered how we would get back to
the States. And yet, help was offered to us by a fellow traveler at the hotel.
Serendipitously, Bob had purchased a new 4-wheel drive truck the previous week
and offered us a ride with him to do reconnaissance on some back roads to see if
we could somehow find a path through “the Palms” that would bypass the major
road and bridge that had been breached.
an experience we’ll never forget. We drove over dirt bridges barely wider than
the wheels of the truck. In some places, mud and rock had been pushed in to the
“roadway” to make a solid path through flooded streams. All along the way, young
men stood by the roadsides with shovels and brooms in an attempt to clear a path
through, cash donations were solicited and gladly given.
back road was the only land-based alternative for any type of commercial traffic
between Tela and San Pedro Sula for many days and there were heart-stopping
moments when two trucks approached the same footbridge ! It amazed me that even
though these hundreds of folks had no alternative but to stay and slug through
this silt and water, that they were foremost considerate of restoring all means
of transportation and commerce. We were eventually able to get to San Pedro, but
leaving so many new friends in such difficult times made our return bittersweet.
Tela has made a sweet spot in our hearts and we look forward to seeing our
buddies again and exploring its many other treasures.
Lynne Harrington is
a recently retired government employee who's indulging a long-held desire to
travel while exploring cultural and business opportunities in Central America.
She is based in Miami. Lynne welcomes any questions you might have about the
Tela area or Honduras. She may be reached thru her
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This account of a Fall '05 trip to Tela is
offered by Lynne Harrington, who braved out her trip despite a mean tropical
storm. Thanks for the offering Lynne.
A second account of the Tela/Miami area from another visitor is offered at the
Honduras Whirlwind article