Los Naranjos – Jícaro Galán 

Walter, the main guide, finally got back to me over breakfast with information on a cave tour I could do, however, it was expensive and if I was going to do it, it would have been better the day before. I politely declined and tucked into my blueberry pancakes. I learned the previous day that these were the way to go…  
I caught a colectivo taxi into the tiny town of Peña Blanca, then a bus back into Guama. From there, another bus dropped me off at Cuevas de Taulabe, a local tourist cave which had developed and undeveloped sections. I bought a ticket for ‘The Extreme Tour’ (ie. the undeveloped part of the cave open to the public) and trotted off with my guide. Fortunately, I think he realised I wasn’t particularly interested in viewing ‘Snow White and the seven short señors’ in the formations so didn’t elaborate too much. Especially when I explained to him how a remnant rim-stone pool on the roof had been formed. 

About 300 m was developed, along with atmospheric lighting. It was as hot as Hades and I think this was the theme they were running with as the majority of lights were either red or orange. I was glad to have my cave light with me as the substandard lighting in the slippery conditions were somewhat on the treacherous side. The ‘extreme’ part of the tour was just wild caving and covered a further 300 m. My guide tried to do the ole ‘just go down this small slippery shute which doesn’t go anywhere and I’ll wait for you here’ trick, but I perfected that malarkey many years ago and called him out on it. 

The cave itself was very heavily decorated and had a lovely display of pristine helictites in the undeveloped section which were in surprisingly good condition. It was obvious where our tour ended as the passage dropped down into a lower level which would have needed SRT to negotiate. Still, it was an interesting cave and I enjoyed seeing it, even if I was only able to go 600 m in. We exited wet (with perspiration!) and muddy, so I took opportunity to clean up and change before jumping on another bus. I showed my guide some photos of caves back home, by which he was most impressed as his knowledge of caves would have only be this cave and maybe some other nearby ones. 

I waited on the side of the road outside the cave for a bus to come along. By now, I had used up my allotted time for Honduras and needed to make a move to cross into El Salvador for the next part of my trip. I had to backtrack down through Comayagua, and then travelled on to Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa. As the bus climbed up the pine clad hills, one had wonderful views of the underlying valley. 

Tegucigalpa is situated in a highland valley, surrounded by beautiful forest. As you enter the city, you notice pastel coloured adobe buildings neatly stacked side by side along dirt roads on various levels on the hillside. The effect is almost like a surreal painting. The bus pulled into its final resting place for the trip and I asked for directions for a bus heading further south. An hombre accompanied me the two blocks I needed to go for the next bus, where I again waited on the side of the road for it to pass. 

On board my final bus for the day, we drove up out of the valley and out of Tegucigalpa. The road ran alongside the international airport which did not look as if it would be able to take too large an aircraft; punctuated by hill at one end and drop off over the city at the other. Soon we were clear of the city and on the open road. As the bus climbed ever higher, one could see the lights of Tegucigalpa sprawled out prettily over the hills and valley. 

I didn’t get to Jicaro Galán, my final destination, until well after dark. I was dropped off at a tiny settlement at a crossroad and pointed in the direction of a hotel. La Hotel Colonial ended up being way out of my budget and I got directions to the only other accommodation choice in ‘town’. As I was leaving the hotel, the guard came out of his guard-box and enquired as to why I wasn’t staying at the hotel. I explained it was too expensive for me and that I was going to try the other hotel. The gracious guard was most adamant that that would not do and reiterated the salient points of his hotel, explaining that it was very secure (illustrating that point with a wave of the ubiquitous shotgun all the up and coming guards have in Honduras) and that I would sleep well. I thanked him, but would not be swayed. He reluctantly let me pass but was not happy. 

Hotel Sirleny was in an unlit section at the far reaches of ‘town’. I didn’t have a light on me so carefully negotiated the patchy road in between traffic passing. I was quite relieved when I finally arrived as by now I was hot and tired. A room less than half the rate of the previous hotel was offered to me by a most affable señora and I gratefully accepted it. Pursuing my room, however, I began to realise that the guard at the other hotel well knew about this one and considered it well below par. Not only was it dirty and ramshackle, there was a large jar of condoms sitting on a shelf adjacent to a grimy mirror attached to the ceiling above the bed. My second Honduran Whorehouse! Maybe they thought I could use a little extra cash as I had complained about the price of the other hotel… None the less, the bed was clean and it was a welcome retreat from pounding the pavement. 

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