San Pedro Sula, Honduras

San Pedro Sula

San Pedro Sula

San Pedro Sula, Honduras is reported to be the most dangerous city in the world for two straight years with roughly 3 times the murder rate than New Orleans.  I was there for work first, and eating all the delicious food second.  I’ve been to New Orleans, and I’ve been to other areas of the world considered “dangerous” like Medellin, Colombia, the ex-most dangerous city in the world during the days of drug lord Pablo Escobar.  After spending time in these places, I’m convinced that those that go looking for trouble and those that put themselves in dangerous situations will most likely find trouble.  I’ve never ever sniffed danger in my past 3-4 visits to South and Central America.  The only thing I found was some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, and the most beautiful people in the world.

Flying in and landing at the San Pedro Sula airport was interesting.  Up until the final approach to land, it appeared we were above nothing but green plush jungle.  Then out of the blue or green in this case, and airstrip and we had arrived in San Pedro Sula.  The lines at immigration were fairly long when we arrived.  I may have waited there 30-40 minutes before I arrived at the passport counter.  I was fingerprinted a few times, and they took a picture of me, and asked me the purpose of my visit.  We were there to help out a school at the Universidad Tecnologica de Honduras, and would be in San Pedro Sula for two days, and then on to the capital Tegucigalpa for 1 day.  Tegucigalpa interestingly enough is the second most dangerous city in the world.

Remember those luggage claim tickets they give you in the states that don’t mean much?  I’ve never been to an airport in the states where I wasn’t able to just walk up to the carousel, grab my luggage and leave.  Not in SPS, there are security guards that won’t let you leave with your luggage until you present them with your claim slip.

The admin from UTH we were working with Moises picked us up in the school SUV and drove us to our hotel.  We passed by some sugar cane fields on our way into the city and passed by some agua de cana (sugar cane water) vendors in the street.  I wanted to try some to see how it compared with the canned stuff I had sampled in the states.  We didn’t stop however and pressed forward.

Hotel Copantl

Hotel Copantl

We stayed at the Hotel Copantl upon recommendation from the school.  I felt it was in a very safe and well-traveled section of San Pedro Sula.  There are two shopping centers close by, and the hotel itself is right by the main highway loop that circles the city.  On our way to the hotel, we asked Moises where a good place to change our dollars to lempiras would be.  I expected the answer to be some sort of bank or grocery store.  Instead he took us to a street in the center of the city where there were un-armed men with huge wads of cash on the sidewalk.  We pulled up the sidewalk and one of these men approached our car with the money, and which point we did the exchange.  At the time, I think the official exchange rate was 24 lempira to 1 dollar, and the gentleman we worked with us gave us a 22 to 1 exchange rate.  Not bad for an unarmed stranger in the street carrying around huge wads of cash.  Seemed a bit unsafe to me, but perhaps they had some sort of homegrown security system in place.

Balleada

Baleada

One of the typical national dishes of Honduras is the baleada.  I only tried one from the cafeteria on the campus of UTH.  The balleada is a huge tortilla that is then filled with cheese, refried beans, and sometimes eggs.  I asked around about the history of why they are called baleadas (gunshot) and was told the beans used were about the size of the bullets.  Honduras borders El Salvador in the East, where the pupusa is the national dish.  Perhaps it was because I just didn’t eat at the right place, but I would definitely say the pupusa is better than the baleada.  With that said though, we say several balleada shops driving around San Pedro Sula, so its tough to pass judgement on a dish after sampling it only in a cafeteria.

Parilla

Parilla

While I did enjoy my balleada, the one thing that Hondruas does extremely well are their parrilla grill meats.  The chicken I had during my stay was the juiciest chicken I’ve ever had anywhere in the world.  This picture above is a place we went for dinner in San Pedro that had delicious chicken, beef, and pork.

Tostones

Tostones

Another typical plate, not just to Honduras, but really everywhere in Central and South American are the platanos which are cut up and fried, then mashed and salted, and fried a second time to create the tostones.  The plate above came with a delicious refried bean dipping sauce and delicious!

Yuca Frita

Yuca Frita

If the platano is one of the most typical crops, and 1A, then the yuca would be 1B.  Yuca is similar to a potato, and can be fried and seasoned like this dish above.  I would choose a well fried and prepared yuca over a potato any day.

Power Chicken

Power Chicken

One place I would recommend visiting would be Power Chicken.  It was started in San Pedro Sula and has since spread out all across Honduras.  Think of it as Central America’s version of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  You walk in and order from the counter in front of the open kitchen.  They have huge grills with hundreds of chickens being grilled up.  The smell is intoxicating.  The one thing that Power Chicken does better than its North American chicken brothers are the sides.  You can get the yuca and tostones here too.  The salsas to go along with your chicken are all delicious!

Lago de Yojoa

Lago de Yojoa

From San Pedro Sula on the last day we went down to Tegulcigalpa the capital of Honduras.  The four-hour drive was one of the most entertaining ones I’ve ever been on.  For starters the Lago de Yojoa was beautiful, we stopped to take pictures.  There were lots of street vendors and things  you can buy along the streets on this road.  When  you get close to the lake, the town bordering it had dozens of different seafood options to stop by and choose.  I’ll definitely be stopping on my next trip.

Tegulcigalpa

Tegulcigalpa

Here we are arriving to the capital of 1 million people, and interestingly enough the 3rd most dangerous place to land for pilots in the world.  Check out this YouTube video of the approach to Tegulcigalpa airport.  It’s crazy!

UTH Campus in Tegulcigalpa

UTH Campus in Tegulcigalpa

Kennedy Carnes

Kennedy Carnes

We had lunch at a place called Kennedy Carnes and it was fantastic.  Check this plate out below:

Carne plate from Cafeteria Kennedy

Carne plate from Cafeteria Kennedy

This plate had a lot of things going on that I really enjoyed.  It came with a big chunk of delicious fresh Honduran cheese, and chunks of beef and sausage straight from the grill.  This plate came in at 115 limpiras or about $4.50.  Quite a bargain if you ask me.

Beware of Rabbits

Beware of Rabbits

Now I can’t be 100% sure I didn’t sample rabbit while down in Honduras, but the highway in Tegulcigalpa apparently was populated with them.  That is not ordinary rabbit folks.

Our little friend

Our little friend

While delivering a training at one of the rooms on campus we ran into this little creature.  Here in the states you have spiders, flys, and mosquitos etc.  Honduras has lizards.

La Churascaria

La Churasqueria

Where was my favorite place in Honduras?  That would have to be La Churasqueria Steakhouse on the 7th floor of the Hotel Copantl.  While it is covered by a roof, there are no windows here.  You just get a gorgeous view of the city with the fresh breeze and piping hot meat delivered to your table.  The thing here is they don’t just bring the meat, they bring the meat along with the grill with the live coals inside.  You may not see something like this in the United States due to liability concerns, but we got it here.  Picking off the chicken, blood sausage, meat, and pork right onto our plate.  It was crazy juicy, fresh, and delicious.

The four days I spent in Honduras were awesome.  We worked incredibly hard and didn’t really have a chance to do much sight-seeing or really exploring restaurants and food places.  The places where we did eat however, were excellent.  I had low expectations for the food, and was blown away.  The specialty down here are the meats especially the chicken.  Try a balleada while you are at it, but maybe try somewhere other than the cafeteria.  🙂

 

 

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