Coffees with Julio C. Parón

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Honduras  ,
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Tegucigalpa is a typical Latin American capital city; big, noisy, dirty, smelly and potentially dangerous. Having said that, like most places if you look hard enough you´ll find something to like.

Our first impressions weren´t too favourable. You need to pass through a shanty-town called Comayagüela to reach the central part of Tegucigalpa and it was the kind of place you prayed the taxi wouldn´t break down - dark, dingy and chaotic.

We stayed at the Hotel Boston which was an 80-year-old building with some style and for a reasonable price too. As usual, our stomachs ruled our minds and we are further impressed by the city after a great Chinese meal. 

Next morning, we plan to give the city three or four valuable hours as we need to catch a bus to Nicaragua later that day. Our plans to stay in the city for just a couple of hours are highjacked by a friendly and dapper pensioner named Julio C. Parón who captures us in front of an attractive colonial church.

He offers to show us around the central city and it is clear that he would take such obvious enjoyment in it, that we accept his offer. He speaks beautiful English as a result of years working for the American Embassy as a driver, followed by a promotion to administrator. He is single (widowed?), retired and has just completed studying a tourism course and ably demonstrates his skills learned to date. We find out that he has a daughter living locally, but that his son moved to the USA many years earlier and ´forgot them´ as Julio put it.

Our sights include another church or two, a pretty local park and a great viewpoint of the city. Our walk was punctuated by a coffee break at Julio´s favourite cheap and cheerful cafe where everyone appeared to know him.

Before a fond farewell, Julio popped into his house to collect two little leather Honduranean key-rings for us and we were pleased we had a bookmark from NZ to give him.

As we always find, it doesn´t matter whether the place you are in has tourist appeal or not - it is the people that count when it comes to your impression of a place.

Hopefully if any of you visit Tegucigalpa in the future, Julio will find you and practice his tourism skills again!
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