We left La Ceiba after a sleepless night in a crap hotel. The hotel was right on the water, which was the only plus to waking up in a pool of sweat. Utila was very relaxing for a few days--hot showers, air conditioning, clean sheets, and great food. After just a couple days of paradise I was ready to head back to Olancho. We had two options for transportation. We could either take a bus to San Pedro, change buses, head to Tegucigalpa, change buses, head to Juticalpa, change buses, and then head to San Francisco; or we could hop on a chicken bus from La Ceiba and go straight to Olancho, stopping frequently to pick up new passengers, salesman, and clowns. Yes, clowns.
Heading out of La Ceiba you can see banana farms and palm trees used for their palm oil. The trees are neatly placed in rows making for a well organized countryside. The first few hours flew by, but the thought of 7 more hours was a bit daunting. We continued on the paved road outside of La Ceiba until we crossed into Olancho. The American fast food restaurants stopped and we entered the back-country. We picked up the usual salesmen who I don't pay any attention to. I looked up after I saw some long red shoes in the isle. I was staring straight at a clown. Clowns were getting on and off the bus attempting to entertain us for money. The problem was that they looked more scary than anything and I thought their jokes were terrible, not to mention that every clown did the same jokes.
The hours started to stack together and we were making our way to Gualaco, which is the town up from San Francisco de la Paz. We got a call from a couple people from San Francisco warning us that there was danger around town. Apparently, two people from our town were killed in Puerto Cortez for reasons I am sure you can guess. One of the people who we talked to said that this time it was actually dangerous--basically shit was going down.
We were almost in Gualaco when a blue truck flagged us down. He talked to the driver for a couple minutes and we went on our way. I asked the driver's helper what was going on and he hesitantly told me that there was some trouble up ahead on the road but he thinks it has already passed. We arrived to the trouble and it was worse than we thought. Army and police lined the road with automatic machine guns and body armor. A group of people were crying on the side of the road. As we wound our way past the group I could see why they were crying. There was a dead body face down, stripped of clothing on the side of the road. That was definitely a first for me.
We got home safely and pretty much locked ourselves in for the night, except to take out Leche who was very glad to see us. Our neighbors barricaded their roof to make gunning stations in case of an attack. At around 7 o-clock just as it started to get really dark outside I heard an explosion in the distance and machine gun fire--another battle had started. The explosions were definitely grenades. Fortunately, our neighbors weren't the ones being attacked. Coming into Olancho from La Ceiba, you realize that it is probably the most raw and untamed regions in the country. The land is mountainous and the people are just as abrasive. They value the lives of their cattle more than their human counterparts. School was let out early on Friday because of the violence. I really hope this doesn't continue to trend toward increased violence. Everyone says the current violence is nothing compared to a year or two ago.