If you’re in Tegucigalpa and want to see sweeping city views, you go to Parque Naciones Unidas El Picacho. An expat friend picked me up from my hotel on Saturday afternoon and we drove up to Parque Naciones Unidas El Picacho. The park is home to a statue reminiscent of the Christ the Redeemer in Rio (but on a much smaller scale) and includes a zoo and replicas of Mayan ruins. The panoramas are unparalelled, but residents come here for a much simpler reason: to be outside.
In many areas of the capital city it simply isn’t safe to walk around outside. I found this hard to believe, but confirmed it with my friend who said that when he leaves his house he walks directly to his car and drives away. Their family goes to parks like Picacho when they want to spend time outside with the kids. Honduras has the unfortunate title of “highest murder rate in the world” according to the UN. I knew next to nothing about violence in Latin America before I went to Honduras for the first time and I wrote off friends’ murmurings about safety as exaggerated and overly fearful. Unfortunately, I was misguided and the security situation in Honduras is real.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about this. I am not an expert in Latin American politics and my understanding of violence in Honduras is extremely limited. I am often asked if I get scared when I travel and my answer is an emphatic no. Traveling has afforded me many of the richest experiences of my life and as I travel to some off-the-beaten path locations, I am careful about the stories I tell when I get home. I’ve come to realize that mine might be the only perspective informing the point-of-view of the person I am speaking with. My singular experience becomes someone’s universal perception of the place. This is a risk and it’s why I hesitate to tell this side of the story. But, pictures of poolside palms and mountain panoramas don’t tell the whole story and it felt disingenuous to leave the account here. I expect I will be back in Honduras in the next few months and I look forward to my next visit. Looking beyond the instagram frame, the situation is certainly more complex, a bit messier and less edited, but isn’t that what reality always looks like?