I went to the world’s most dangerous city and spent the evening playing Uno.
I only did minimal research before I joined the tour this time. Exams had led me right up to my departure date so I’d only daydreamed of Central America but when I finally got round to a bit of reading and Googling, I could only find one thing about San Pedro Sula, Honduras, – it was the world’s most violent city.
I really mean it. Google yielded no information on the city other than a variety of Daily Mail articles about beheadings.
Luckily Lonely Planet was a little more forgiving and sensibly attributes the violence to gang on gang crime. My fears calmed a little, I looked forward to scaring a few friends and family when I told them about the city’s reputation.
Jacob, the tour guide, seemed understandably a little nervous about taking the group to San Pedro. We were only using it as a quick pit stop on our way to Nicaragua from Roatan but you could tell he was uneasy. He didn’t exactly say the words “house arrest” but he sure did seem to suggest it.
Jacob’s anxious disposition made him a prime target for some good old dry humour so Dave and I spent a bus journey teasing him that we were planning on spending the evening walking the streets looking for a Wendy’s. Jacob was not amused.
We weren’t feeling quite so brave by the time we’d arrived at the hotel. The taxi drive had seemed to take in a few of the dodgier neighbourhoods, but in reality anywhere would have looked dismal in the dark, wet night.
The Hotel Maya Copan does have a restaurant but by the time we arrived the cook had clearly had enough and barely glanced up from her book to tell us that she didn’t speak English, even though we’d asked in Spanish if it was still open. A quick phone call to Pizza hut later though, and we were all set for a pizza party in the lobby.
With a three am wakeup call nearly the entire tour group had already retired to their rooms. (Which were awful by the way, I wouldn’t want to spend any longer than the 3 hours I did in that bed). Sat in the lobby, drinking beer and eating pizza, playing Uno that we had bought from reception and watching other customers bringing back prostitutes, it was one of the more surreal nights of my life.
So that was how I came to spend the night playing Uno in the most violent city in the world. I’m a thrill seeker, me.
And I didn’t hear one gunshot.