Catacamas travel tips
If you speak fluent Spanish and enjoy a bit of adventure, you can travel quite inexpensively. Express busses travel between Catacamas and Tegucigalpa, several each day. Ask the clerk at your Tegucigalpa hotel for information. Taxi drivers usually know where you can catch busses to the numerous Honduras destinations. Some of these locations are in rough parts of town, but the next bus is usually available for boarding as soon as a bus departs - you may have to wait. Do not drink a lot of coffee before leaving to catch the bus.
I would not recommend this route for novice Spanish speakers. If you cannot communicate most of your daily needs in Spanish or cannot understand Spanish spoken by folks who are not used to dealing with foreign visitors, you should consider discussing your interests with a commercial tour organization like Explore Honduras or MC Tours - Ron Marrder has posted an on-line list of in-country tourism offices but I have no personal knowledge or recommendations regarding tour guides so please shop carefully. But, for the returning Peace Corps Volunteer, the trip should be easy to arrange and relatively comfortable.
Where to stay in Catacamas: The Hotel Juan Carlos in Barrio San José was home base for the science team in May and June of 1996. Telephone 899-4212. The hotel restaurant is quite decent, which is good because there are no other restaurants near by. A room with a fan, private bath and cable TV probably costs less than a room at La Colina (below). There is no air conditioning. The management is muy simpático.
The Hotel La Colina is more centrally located, just half a block southwest of the Catacamas Parque Central. A room with a private bath, fan and cable TV cost Lps. 160/night (less than $11/night) in August of 2001. This is a smaller hotel, more recently constructed than the Juan Carlos, with walls of brick and stucco rather than wood. Telephone 899-4488. There is no air conditioning. We ate breakfast just a comedor just 40 meters to the north, and there were several restaurants serving lunch and dinner within a couple of blocks. The bed (a matrimonial) was the best I've slept on in Honduras, and light switches are located both by the door and at the head of the bed - a nice touch. There is space in the patio to park 2 or 3 vehicles overnight off the street, behind a locked gate. The management is muy simpático.
I understand that there is a new hotel with air conditioned rooms available, no doubt for a price. If so, any competent tour guide should have up-to-date information. I hope this hotel has its own electrical generator. Catacamas is still suffering the after-effects of Hurricane Mitch. The electrical power still goes off from time to time, and the water supply is sometimes disrupted.
Where to eat: the As de Oros (Ace of Diamonds) serves gringo-sized meals featuring Olancho beef. The dining room has no windows nor screens, but we were not bothered by insects. Service was a bit slow but the food was excellent. Prices average $7 - $9 for beef dishes, served with a heap of french-fried potatoes and another heap of salad. I suggest taking a Catacamas taxi to/from the As, most streets are not paved and street lights are very rare.
Meals at other Catacamas restaurants cost between $2 and $4 for the most part. Fried chicken, hamburguesas, comida corriente, Olancho pizza, even fish from local tilapia farms. There were a few insects attracted to the lights. This photo shows a gecko attracted to these bugs. I have watched similar critters at some restaurants in Choluteca and in Golfo Dulce (Costa Rica).
You might want to know ahead of time that -
It is difficult changing money in Catacamas, and almost impossible to change travelers' cheques. Banks would not change my dollars to Lempiras in the summer of 2001, but they (bank clerks) directed me to a store half a block down the street where I did get my dollars changed. The lady in front of me changed dollars into almost Lps. 10,000. Back in 1996, I visited 4 banks before I found one that changed travelers' cheques, and that bank is no longer in business.
No one takes American Express - or MasterCard or VISA, for that matter. Perhaps the As still takes plastic. The economy runs on cash - Lempiras - but you really don't need a lot of those to cover your basic needs.
Bottled water costs more than in Tegucigalpa, and no one carries the gallon size. A 5-gallon bottle costs less than $2, but the bottle deposit is $7. This is still cheaper than buying 1-liter bottles by the armload even if you do not cash in your bottle deposit when leaving town. Don't even think about drinking water from the tap!
Olancho always had a reputation for being the 'wild west' of Honduras. Now days, most businesses close their doors shortly after dark. We had to ring several times before the night clerk answered the bell at La Colina upon our 8:30 PM return from dinner at the As.
I will add to this page as new information comes to light.
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