Tuesday, August 7, 2007

La Tigra and Santa Lucia hike

I haven’t written much about what I have done on the weekends, so here I’m going to write a little bit about my favorite events so far. Besides hanging out with my host family and playing soccer with the locals and the Americans, I have gone on a couple of trips outside of town. A few weekends ago, a bunch of us went to La Tigra which is a very large protected cloud forest. There is a path that starts in Santa Lucia that leads to the forest, but the hike to the entrance alone is 4 or 5 hours. Instead, the best way to get to the forest is to take the bus to San Juancito and then walk to the entrance there.

So, there are some small buses in the city called “rapiditos” that you can go around in, but other than that all city bus transportation is on American yellow school buses. Some of them still even say “Bluebird” or “Union School District”. But some of them are actually painted with pretty cool graffiti-like designs and have stereo systems installed inside. Unlike school district laws in the US, it’s three people to a seat rather than two, you can stand on the bus, and there is no such thing as the line at the front near the driver that you can’t cross. As we were crammed inside the bus headed to San Juancito, I mentioned to another volunteer that I was surprised that they don’t get more buses for transportation because all the buses are packed full. Well, it turns out that the drivers like it like that and may even wait longer than they should at a stop to get a full bus. The more people they can squeeze in, the more profit from one trip!

Unfortunately, not all of us made it to the entrance of La Tigra. We were told that the hike from San Juancito to the entrance of the forest is only about an hour. However, after walking uphill for about an hour and a half, we still weren’t at the top. The first five people in our group were super power-walkers and so when we stopped to take photos and they continued on, there was no way we could catch them. Then, my friend, Becky, and I picked up the pace a little bit and got split up from the others who were walking at a slower pace. Finally, Becky and I decided to turn around when we thought we saw our group on a different trail below us. Part of the trail forked at one point and we just figured they had taken the other path and we had gone the wrong way. Since neither of us had a map, or really any idea where we were going, we decided it would be best to turn around and catch up with the others behind us. So, sadly, I never made it into La Tigra but it was still beautiful from what we could see and it was a nice change to get out of Santa Lucia for a little bit and see anothe part of the country.

Santa Lucia Hike:

The top of Santa Lucia

Last weekend, a bunch of us decided to hike to the television and cell phone towers at the top of the mountains in Santa Lucia. The path to the towers is not clear, and so we asked for directions at about every turn. My host mom told me the hike is 2 hours or longer, but that’s at Honduran walking speed. Since we still walk like Americans, we were at the top in about an hour. We hiked from one tower to the next for about 5 hours on one of the hottest and clearest days we have seen in Santa Lucia. After we got back in town, I went and played a couple hours of soccer. So, if I wasn’t burnt after the hike, I definitely was after soccer. Also, the next day I was so uncomfortably sore that I would have given anything for a Jacuzzi.

The view from the top of another hill

It’s also pretty common for us to go out to one of the five restaurants in Santa Lucia. However, we can’t go out everyday because a night out costs about 100 lempiras (only about 5 American dollars, but about two days worth of our living allowance.) Besides my sense of time, my sense of prices has also changed a lot. I bought a beautiful pair of handmade earrings for $1 and thought it was the best deal ever. However, I have to remember that Peace Corps only gives us $3 a day to live off. We get about 55 lempiras a day, and the exchange rate is about 19 lempiras per $1. Also, the price of imported goods compared to local products is pretty crazy. My favorite candy here is called Choco Max, chocolate covered peanuts which cost 2 lempiras a bag at the pulperia (store) right outside my house. However, a Snickers on its own is 20 lempiras. A small jar of Jif peanut butter can only be purchased in certain supermarkets in Tegucigalpa and costs about 60 or 70 lempiras, which could buy 12 mangoes or more depending on the market. Also, I was talking with my little host-nephew and I found out the price of my laptop when I bought it new costs about twice as much as the price of a car here!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Courtney!! I totally hear you about the crazy transporation! I was JUST thinking about that the other day.. I was taking the bus in Tacoma and thinking about how it is never really full, and how sad that is (considering there are way too many cars on the street)and how in Latin America the public transportation is always crazy full! Many, many times in Ecuador I could not even get on the bus because there was no space, and then people are sitting all over the bus... one time I sat RIGHT next to the door: not too uncommon there.
I loved reading about your descriptions of the comparative prices. So interesting to hear about that!
Thanks for the post!