La Tigra National Park

Trip Start Jun 13, 2003
Trip End Aug 18, 2003

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Flag of Honduras  ,
Monday, June 16, 2003

Here's my email home regarding this lovely day:

So I planned this hike at La Tigra. Itīs my first morning
in Honduras. My guide book tells me where to catch the only bus that goes
out there. Itīs a school bus that goes to this village nearby. I go to the
assigned area and ask some kids if thatīs the right spot. They say, no, you
need to go 72 blocks that way. I start walking, then realize that the kids are having a little fun at my expense. Iīm the only white person in Tegucigalpa and they think theyīre funny.

So I go back the spot and wait. The bus miraculously shows up. Fantastic!
I ask the guy how much the bus costs. He tells me 10 Lempiras (like 60
cents). What a deal. I try to give him my money and he tells me I canīt get
on there. The place to get on is blah blah blah blah blah. I donīt
understand him. He smiles. He drives off. So I ask around for this bus
some more and no one knows anything. I give up and ask a cab how much. I get
him down to 150 Lempiras ($9). Thatīs not bad for a 28 kilometer ride. But
I donīt take it. Next cab, sayīs 400 Lempiras. I say, wow thatīs a lot
more. He agrees to the 150 and we start driving. We wander up the
mountain. We hit dirt roads about 10 minutes into the drive. We chat a
little, everythingīs great. We drive for 30 minutes. He starts to ask
directions from a guy chasing chickens. Bad sign. We drive for another 30
minutes. Weīre in the mountains, weīre far, itīs getting cold, heīs
getting agitated. He decides that my destination is too far and would like
to let me out of the car. I let him know that thatīs a bad idea. We
finally get to this place an hour and half later. He lets me know that our
agreed to fare is no longer good and wants double. I explain I donīt have
more than 200 Lempiras. He seems agitated. I hand him the money and hurry
out of the car. So now Iīm at the park entrance. There is one guy in there.
He speaks no English. He charges me $10. He points to chart that says
BROWN - $1. WHITE - $10. I fall into the latter of course and pay the man. I ask for a guide through the rain forest. They have none. I ask for directions and
a map. He gives me a used map and points to a few things. He explains a great
deal to me, but my Spanish doesn't cover hiking and jungles and what not.
Thatīs second semester lingo. All I understand is when he says one path is
"better" than the rest. Better actually translates into excruciatingly
difficult and terribly dangerous.

Itīs 11:00 a.m. and bright and just cool enough. Perfect. I start my hike and it gets a little darker. Now this place is actually called a cloud forest. So I notice as Iīm walking that
itīs getting a little damp. Not because itīs raining ON me, but because I
am IN a cloud. Water is simply miraculously appearing on my flesh
and clothes. But itīs beautiful and I hike on. I hear animals I donīt
recognize. I see stuff Iīve only read about. I tread through the jungle as
monkeys rain feces down on me. The monkeys seem to run out of feces, so
they go around collecting crap from other animals to throw at me. Iīm
welcome here.

I hike the 7 kilometer path and itīs fantastic. Iīm tired,
my feet hurt, but itīs cool. I finish the hike and thereīs another little office. Itīs early
afternoon. There is also one guy there, also not an English speaker. I ask
for the bus to Tegus. He tells me that the last one leaves from San
Juancito in an hour. No problem. I ask where San Juancito is. Itīs 2
kilometers away. Instead of giving me directions, he walks with me outside
(weīre still on the mountain) and points at this tiny village below. THERE.
Bitchen. I assume thereīs one road down and I begin to follow it. The road
branches, rivers course down the mountain, I donīt know where the hell Iīm going.
I ask some nice man that lives in the side of the mountain how to get down.
He lets me walk his personal path down. I tell him when my bus leaves. He
tells me Iīm almost there. His wife laughs. She lets me know that thereīs
no way in hell Iīm catching that bus. So I run down the rain-drenched
mountain dodging trees, streams, chickens and naked children. I make
it to the bottom of the hill. I ask the guy on the donkey, "Whereīs the bus
stop?" He tells me itīs outside of town, up the mountain in the other
direction. The bus canīt be troubled to come into this mountain village of
200 souls. So I run some more. Everyone in town knows Iīm trying to catch this bus. Everyone in town also takes great pleasure in telling me that I wonīt. I finally make
it up the other side of the village to watch this bus pull away. The villagers
find it utterly entertaining that they were right. So I look in my guide
book for a hotel in the town. The only heading sayīs YOU'RE SCREWED. Great.
So I stand on this road and wave at trucks full of workers, farmers, etc.
Finally some guy stops and lets me in. I ask Tegus? He sayīs Yes. I
weep. The drive is another hour and a half full of my broken Spanish, and
his only English is inquiries about the Yankees and Kobe Bryant. But he
takes me back to civilization. What a lovely human being.
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