To gain the stamp of what was missing the previous day (see 6:30PM from yesterday’s post), we set out for Tegucigalpa the next morning with Jamie and her friends Lillian, Kelly, and Jacky. At the airport, after a customs official was profuse in his deflection of blame, the matter was cleared up. The official, who only spoke Spanish, seemed to know everyone in the airport and called “olaolaola” every time we passed one of his friends. At one point, we had to stop for a five-minute conversation with an American who just landed and had brought a “special DVD” for the official and his friend with Delta airlines who was securing the deal.
Tegucigalpa has no discernible city center from what I could tell. A lack of urban planning, zoning, and utilities has generated kaleidoscope style sprawl with a water tower business across from the airport adjacent to a family restaurant which is a stone’s throw from a block of residences, etc. Two-lane boulevards connect the city’s various districts. The visual result closely resembles an overgrown Long Island with lots of dirt.
The city’s infrastructure is peculiar with little evidence of any piping or other utilities run underground. Wires haphazardly run everywhere. Note the spools of wire tied off at the telephone poles.
The role of American fast food in Honduras is similar to what I observed in China. American chains are treated as fancy sit-down style restaurants with somewhat jacked up prices. It was a treat for Jamie’s friends to eat at Pizza Hut, and though the atmosphere and music was from “American culture,” you could tell you were in Honduras when the waitress counted out exactly the same number of napkins as there were people.
It costs about 100 Lempiras (5 USD) to take a taxi from the airport to our bus stop in Tegucigalpa. The first driver quoted 125 Lempiras, so we declined. When the second one said cien (100), we agreed. They knew that the driver would not overcharge because he was blasting a Christian radio station.
The first thing to note about the taxis is that they have no meters – you fix the price before you get in. Second, there are no operable seat belts except perhaps for the driver’s seat. Third, there will always be something dysfunctional with the doors or windows. In the taxi pictured above, a smashed windshield was covered up with tape. Moreover, there was no window glass in the passenger window, which was of particular concern since rolling up all windows at intersections is the most convenient way to not be accosted by persistent vendors.
Before leaving the city, we shopped for real butter, peanut butter, chicken breast, cereal and other gustatory luxuries in an western-style grocery store that did not stock too differently from a store in American except that milk was sold in bags and there were less options overall. After taking the bus back to Valle de Angeles, we walked with our groceries through the hills to get home.