Honda is a place so unremarkable that its Wikitravel page simply says, “Honda is the state capital of Tolima.” That’s it. No elaboration. We were just stopping there as we needed a place to stay en route to Villa de Leyva. The scenery during the drive was quite nice though. The hotel we stayed in was part of a water park. I wondered if the water park would still be open when we arrived at about 4pm. It wasn’t. In fact it was closed all day. In a country that has no seasons, it certainly wasn’t water park season at the moment. The hotel allowed us in for a bit as long as we only used the pool and not the slides. It felt a bit eerie with ten people having the sole use of such a big place.
It’s quite good how the room partners are alternated on a daily basis. Tonight I was with Nico, from Buenos Aires. He actually works for Dragoman, making commercials. So far he’d done a lot of filming. To ensure that I was edited out of the footage I usually looked directly at the camera and said something stupid such as, “I bet that’s a Pulitzer Prize winner!” This was the first chance I’d had to talk much to Nico and he’s a interesting fellow. He showed me some of the stuff he’s previously made and it’s great. I really like the commercial he did for the silk trial trip. It’s here, Overlanding the Silk Road.
We ordered a taxi into town to find somewhere to eat. Seemingly if you request a taxi for 5 people around here, a normal taxi will turn up and the fifth person is required to lie across the other three passengers on the back seat. Clearly this was awful road safety but any risk was significantly reduced by us travelling only for about a mile in traffic that was so busy we never got above about 10mph. It’s probably safe to say that Honda doesn’t get many tourists. It was a case of restaurant staff coming outside to (not so) discreetly look at us. Never mind English menus, there were no menus at all here. Instead you had to pick your choice from a board hanging from the ceiling. The food was decent though and the service friendly.
So far on this trip I’ve been to Detroit and Mexico, two places that have a reputation of being a bit rough and ready and potentially unsafe for tourists. Colombia would probably fit into that group if you asked the general public about dangerous parts of the world. When I researched safety issues in Colombia, a lot of what was said seemed either outdated or based upon hysteria. Security in Colombia has vastly improved during the past decade and if you’re careful about where you travel and take adequate precautions, there’s no reason to avoid this beautiful country. This was one of the main reasons why I decided to travel as part of an organised group trip. So far there had been no problems but you can tell by the security on many homes and businesses that crime is obviously an issue here. Therefore what I saw in the hotel lobby tonight was more than surreal. I spotted a couple of lizards climbing along the wall behind reception. Coming from somewhere this doesn’t normally happen I decided to take a picture of the local wildlife. When I later checked my photos the lizards weren’t the immediate focus of the picture. Standing at reception was a man who had what can only be described as some sort of high calibre weapon across his back having an affable conversation with the receptionist and a guest. I think he may have been the security guard at the water park.