Dusty streets, colourful headscarves, and a definite pirate vibe greeted us as we rolled into Trujillo on a Thursday afternoon. Ladies strolled through the streets with bright umbrellas to keep out the sun, while the usual Latin American reggaeton tunes blasted through the air from an unknown source. Not a single tourist could be spotted. I liked this place already.
We arrived in Trujillo intending to stay for two nights. I’m currently sitting on the balcony of my hot pink hotel more than a week later. The original plan was to find some information about travelling to La Mosquitia – the remote northeast corner of Honduras – and then hit the road.
I’m not 100% sure why we ended up taking so much time, but it’s probably because of all the weird and wonderful people we met in this seemingly low-key town.
Trujillo’s main square, or Parque Central, is set on a hill overlooking the Bahía de Trujillo. Behind it are the slightly shabby streets that make up the town centre and some lush green hills in the distance. The majority of the population here is either Garífuna (also known as Black Caribs) or Ladino. There are also quite a few people from Honduras’s Bay Islands now living in Trujillo. The main language spoken by all is Spanish.
In search of something to eat, we found ourselves at Café y Sabores, which became our regular breakfast place. It was also the first time I tried a baleada (a very cheap Honduran snack, kind of like a burrito) and instantly fell in love. Each day when we walked in for a meal our usual waitress would giggle about the fact that we were still in town. (For more info, see my article on Trujillo restaurants and hotels.)
Things really kicked off on our second night, when we visited Café Vinto Tinto for a beer and some dinner. Located just in front of the Parque Central, at the edge of the hill overlooking the beach, Vinto Tinto is an awesome spot to meet both locals and gringo expats. We were welcomed by Jon, the lovely British owner, who gave us a mini history lesson on Trujillo and told us about all of the sunken treasure just off the coast.
It was here that we met crocodile hunters, lobster divers, treasure seekers, and more. As our new friend, the jewellery maker/volunteer teacher put it, “There are two types of people in this town; the wanted and the unwanted.”
We were also introduced to a bad-ass doctor with tonnes of La Mosquitia knowledge to share. “It’s more exciting than Disneyland!” he promised, as he scribbled down information for us. There was excitement in the air as I experienced what I imagine travel would have felt like before the internet – a bunch of people in a beach bar, swapping handwritten notes.
Each night the conversations drifted from the sensible to the insane. One minute we’d be discussing Trujillo’s future plans for a cruise ship terminal, the next minute our fellow Australian/crocodile hunter would lean in and whisper, “Crocodiles are very sexual, you know.”
During the day, our activities were a little more laid back. People-watching is an entertaining sport and we spied many things – smiling Garífuna women with braided hair and big hoop earrings, children littering the streets with lychee skins, and dog gangbangs. Exotic!
But however exotic Trujillo was, it was easy to feel very exotic, too. Curious stares in the street are normal if you’re a new gringo in town. I was even asked by a young lady if it’s “true that they eat monkey brains in Australia.” She was about seven years old and I hated ruining the fantasy by saying no. But I did advise her that it probably happens somewhere in Asia.
As the week continued more friends and social commitments were made, which further extended our stay. There was the local guy Raphael gave his foreign coins to, who insisted on cooking us breakfast at an ungodly hour a few days later. And there was our favourite couple in Trujillo – one part Canadian free spirit/animal rescuer, the other part ex-US navy/future charity work champion.
These two treated us to the best home-cooked meal we’ve experienced in a long time and then took us on a tour of Trujillo’s surrounding towns and villages the following day. Many laughs were had and interesting people met. Including a religious couple, who advised me to “vomit everywhere” if someone ever tries to attack me.
Actually, every person we met in Trujillo had a great and usually crazy life story to tell. Perhaps our Canadian free spirit was right when she said to ‘get’ Trujillo you have to be “half a bubble off.” I totally ‘got’ Trujillo.