Crossing the border? As easy as crossing the road, at El Amatillo border, Honduras

Well, the El Amatillo border was a bit of a letdown. It was super quiet and dead easy to cross. In San Miguel, I hooked up with a Swedish couple headed for Nicaragua, meaning they needed to cross two borders in one day, cutting across a corner of Honduras. We took bus 330 from San Miguel and got dropped off at El Salvador immigration where there was five bored immigration officers. The officer barely looked at my passport before waving me off.

Next step was to walk across a bridge spanning a wide river – mountains in the distance, locals washing their hair and motorbikes in the river below us and Honduras immigration ahead of us.

El Amatillo border crossing,  El Salvador
Welcome to Honduras, that’s $3 please…

A short queue awaited here. We stood behind six nuns dressed in heavy black habits, who formed a neat queue behind each other, no fidgeting, no talking and moved forward each time in perfect step. Eventually when we got to the front, I had another disinterested official who asked me if I spoke Spanish, sighed heavily when I said ‘just a little’, then spoke perfect English to me. $3 later and I was in Honduras waving goodbye to the Swedes and trudging down the road to the Tegucigalpa bus.

Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras, three hours drive from El Amatillo border. I’d decided to stay one night here before moving on, mainly to see the Museum of National Identity, which was supposed to be excellent. Most of what I’d read online and in my guidebook was not particularly complimentary about the city. Gang controlled, petty crime, dangerous streets… The area where the buses arrive and depart from was supposed to be the worst. Lonely Planet recommends not to loiter, be wary of your stuff and definitely not to take a local bus (gang controlled) to the centre. This contrasted nicely with the directions the hostel gave me, which was to hop on any local bus going to the centre, then change to another one to get to them.

In the end I walked all the way from ‘dangerous’ Comayaguela, through a busy fruit and veg market, along the pedestrianised and rundown main street of the centre and up into the embassy district where the hostel was. Nobody paid me the slightest bit of attention and I didn’t feel unsafe at anytime.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Crossing the river from Comayaguela into downtown Tegus

Downtown Tegus is odd. The main plaza with the cathedral is very grand but full of street hawkers and people loitering and has a fairly edgy feel. Not somewhere you’d want to linger. A pedestrian main street sounds nice in theory but actually was full of fast food outlets and rundown clothing shops.

Downtown  Tegucigalpa, Honduras
A ‘postres’ McDonald’s selling desserts only – one of three I found downtown

I’d checked into the hostel as fast as possible and legged it back downtown to get to the museum for the couple of hours before closing, but alas the security guard told me it was closed all week for the Christmas break. Great! I cheered up however after finding the best banana bread I’ve had in my life, at a cute corner kiosk selling fresh cheese in huge slabs and an array of delicious looking cakes. It was so nice I went straight back and bought another piece.

I amused myself for a hour or so wandering around and listened to some nuns playing guitar and singing in the cathedral for a while. My favourite sight was the square with Iglesia Los Dolores, an impressive crumbling church.

Iglesia Los Dolores, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
This was the third clown I’d seen that day

But there really wasn’t much else to do here. I was looking forward to moving on tomorrow to Lake Yojoa, the largest lake in Honduras and slapbang in the middle of the country.

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