Street food in Central America

street food in Ahuachapan, El Savador

A consistent highlight has always been street food deliciousness – there are so many, wonderful, cheap eats that are almost always worth the risk of a sick tummy. Even the couple times I have gotten an upset stomach, I’m pretty sure its because of the unclean water that I drink involuntarily, in the form of ice, soups, coffee or water-washed fruits. Hygene isn’t great either, with the narrow, winding alleyways becoming the main garbage collection spot for all the grocers and food vendors while dozens of stray dogs linger nearby, waiting for an edible morsel of food to drop to the ground. One gentleman who sold me a $0.20 icecream cone had the sniffles and kept wiping his nose with the same hand he held the icecream in, probably thinking it was more polite not to hold out the snotty hand to take my money and give back change, but I’m not sure that was better than accepting the icecream from that hand.

Claudia waits for our $1.10 carne asada in Copan

I  love going into churches, since even the smallest towns have usually half a dozen, and the surrounding plazas and squares that are always full of local people, night life, or bustling markets. Shopping and bargaining those markets is an amazing sensory explosion, because you could never imagine more options of stuff for sale in such quantity, variety, or density. One Mayan market I went to in Solola totally covered every walkable inch of central park, and in one breath you could smell coffee, dried fish, barbequed meat, and chicken poo from the live chics being sold by the dozen. You could also buy grains, vegetables, pirated CD’s, cell phone accessories, leather products, individual razors or shampoo, and all all sorts of pretty cloth. All the new mothers carry their infant children in long pieces of cloth tied around their backs, keeping their hands free and their heads reserved for carrying baskets full of heavy items, and sometimes even live chickens and turkeys tied down and balanced ontop their heads, clearly suffering in the direct sun.

the sensory bombarding market in Solola, Guatemala

Shopping in the markets for your daily needs is status quo for most locals, and when there arent any franchise alternatives to getting your groceries then why not do it too. Even if I don’t need to buy anything, it’s just too interesting of an experience to pass up, since walking through any market will give you so many pretty things to see and smell, all the while guessing what half of the unrecognizable merchandise is. When you’re just learning spanish, it also doesn’t help to ask what something is, because of course they’ll respond what the spanish name of it is, and if I pride myself in knowing all the words for different colours and my ability to count, translating the name of an exotic fruit I’ve never seen or tasted just doesnt happen. One of those was nance – anyone know what the equivalent or comparable english description of that fruit is?

Im not sure what they all are, but some of it looks like cat food, and it's very cheap per kg

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Honduras with some pretty Honduran guides

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our cozy hotel in Chinandega

When me and Guy left Nicaragua, waking up in our $6 hotel room in Chinangega was a bit of a shock. We had arrived the night before at 11pm from our 7 hr horse carriage ride from Leon, and thought anything not as hard and bumpy as our cart would be comfortable, but the room was atrocious. We just laughed about it, but still a little repulsed by the bathroom and resident 3 inch cockroach territorial of the sink.

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the view of Tegucigalpa from Hondura’s version of the Christ the Redeemer, except this one looks out over the largest Coca Cola sign you’ve ever seen

We left for the bus terminal, a few blocks away, and got into the first bus that agreed to take us to the ‘frontera,’ but then ended up at the Guasaule crossing instead of Las Manos. We just went with it and carried on, with a chicken bus, to Choluteca, and then called my Honduran friend Claudia to let her know we were getting closer to where she lived in Tegucigalpa. We got on another chicken bus to the capital, which we learned later dropped us off in one of the worst part of towns, on a bus company not even Claudia would ride on. Oh well, we ended up ok, and made a toothless friend who sang Eric Clapton to us while waiting on the side of the road.

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Santa Lucia, one of the prettier towns located in the surrounding hills of Tegucigalpa

Claudia and her Dad poked some fun at us for our choice of transport, and then took us on a driving tour around Tegicuigalpa, introducing us first-hand to the slightly nerve-wracking way Hondurans drive. We almost hit a few people, but then made it home to the most delicious home cooked meal I could have ever dreamed of. The next day we drove around neighbouring colonial towns with Claudia’s sister, Sabrina, and she reconfirmed the driving standard. The following day we left on a 3 day road trip, and most painful during the drive was always the unnecessary, but very numerous speed bumps along the highway, that Sabrina insisted on taking at 0.5km/h, or, when she didn’t see them, at 80 km an hour with someone yelling from the side of the road “Slow Down!” Both were equally uncomfortable, but also just as hilarious.

we drove past Lake Yojoa but had to stop for a photo

We ate alot of pupusas (stuffed torilla thingies), baleadas (tortillas folded with beans), and drank horchata (like chai tea but better) under our excellent Honduran guides’ recommendation. We saw so many beautiful towns and beaches along the way, many of which I didn’t ever even learn the names of, and also visited her other sister in San Pedro Sula who treated us equally like family.

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Copan Ruinas

We ended our road trip in Copan, where I had my first salsa dance this entire trip. Amazing how little latin dancing I’ve been able to find in the last 2 months, shameful really, but I got it out of my system with a Guatemalan salsa teacher who danced excellently. My other first on the trip was the Copan Ruinas, my first Maya site visit, and prefaced what has become probably my highlight in every country since.