I Am Not A Killa…. Things go sideways in Honduras

Stevie and I talked about whether or not to write about certain events in our travels. On one hand we prefer not to worry our families back home and it would be easy to omit things. On the other, we feel obligated to tell all, good and bad. If we censor our experiences there would be nothing but fluff on the blog. Yesterday was anything but fluff.

Our caravan left Copan in the morning. Our destination was a B&B on a lake in Central Honduras. So far we only had one incident of the cops trying to extort a flashlight from Dave. I had just told Stevie how mellow Honduras was turning out to be when we pulled into a gas station so Dave and Chad could fill up. I had plenty of gas so I pulled aside in the parking lot. The first thing I noticed was a 14 or 15 year old kid with a machine gun standing in the lot. Having seen nothing but private security guards toting guns for the last 3 countries I didn’t think anything of it. I walked over to where Dave was pumping gas to point out how young the security guards were getting. Dave just looked at me and said “Tree, take a look around”. There was a jacked up blue 4×4 truck surrounded by kids. All of them had 9mm glocks tucked into their belts, in plain view. They were staring at us. I barely had time to register what I was seeing when another man walked toward us wearing fancier cloths and gold chains. He had a nickel plated 9 tucked in the front of his belt. The kids were bodyguards and I was staring at a narco boss. He was holding a beer in one hand and his other hand extended toward me. He said in a slurred voice, “I am not a killa” and smiled, showing gold teeth. I looked down at his gun. I looked at the kid with the machine gun standing next to him. I extended my hand and said “mucho gusto senor”. He took my hand and did not let go. I took a breath. Dave stopped pumping gas and moved toward his vehicle. The man said some other things in broken english that I honestly can’t remember. Again I said “mucho gusto senor”. I looked toward the Sprinter and saw Stevie walking Kiki. I felt the mans grip loosen and I slowly pulled my hand away and started back toward the van. I told Stevie to get in and turned the van around. I left the engine running and for the first time looked back toward the men. Dave was pulling around behind the Sprinter and the men had surround Chad’s windows.  A moment later Chad was getting out of the van. The Boss was holding his arm and showing him photos. The others surrounded them. I waited. I knew the leader was drunk and the kid’s were young and armed. Even though they weren’t showing aggression, the situation felt very volatile.  I caught Emily’s eye and said “we need to leave NOW“. She got into the drivers seat and turned their van around. Chad was still surrounded. The boss still had his arm. Nobody knew what to do. A few minutes went by and Chad managed to exit the situation and get into his van. We drove away and didn’t stop for 2 hours. We later learned that the narco boss was showing Chad photos of helicopters, his sister, his wife, his time in the army. It must be lonely being a drug lord. Chad, his new best friend, was doing his best to exit the situation without provoking him or appearing rude. Looking back on it, it was crazy how flagrant those guys were with their guns. They were obviously not concerned with the real gas station security guard who had a shot gun, nor were they worried about the police checkpoints. We were in an area that they clearly controlled.

We all had quite an adrenaline rush going. I felt bad for Dave and Ann. After being robbed last week by 3 guys with machetes, this was the last thing they needed. Then the next card fell. About 45 minutes from our destination white smoke started flying out the back of the Sprinter. The van went into a computerized “limp mode”, meaning it would only go 20 miles per hour. We made it to our destination and with a weak internet signal and the help of my Dad back in the US determined that the Turbo Resignator was blown. Our friend Duncan had already warned us about this known Sprinter problem over a month ago, so I had already ordered the spare part which is at Outdoorplay in Oregon right now waiting for me to pick it up in April. We just weren’t planning on ours dying before we had the replacement.

The good news is that my amazing crew at ODP is sending the part down via Fedex today (thanks Jason!). We should have it by the end of the week. The bad news is that the Sprinter vans down here do not use that part since they don’t have emissions controls. That means they won’t install. That means I get to do it. So what’s the difference between a wrench and a socket again?

Dave and Chad walked me through a hypothetical installation and made sure I had all the tools required for the job. The installation does not look too difficult. I think I got this one! Anxious to get out of Honduras, our friends will be heading for Nicaragua tomorrow. We will be on our own. We’re gonna miss their company for sure. After we get the van fixed I think we will also head for Nicaragua instead of heading to the other side of Honduras. We’ll see how things unfold. Should be exciting. TREE

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  1. Well son, I talked with another sprinter dealer and all things being said…he said sounds like the turbo resonator, a replacement I'm sure you can do. Say, I recognize the flashlight. Let me know how the drive to the city went.

  2. Yikes. I think it's time to head out for sure. I don't think the risk of rape, death, and or theft are worth it. Go back and visit when it's safer. Hondourus isn't going any where. Stay safe!

  3. dammmmmmmnnnnnnn bro. get the F out of here!

  4. You can do it Tree. Use the screw driver.

  5. The stock resonator will blow apart again. Get an after-market "eliminator" fitting.


  6. YESSSSS! I may not be the smartest guy in the group, but I'm usually always the most prepared. Before crossing the border I bought every spare part the dealership sold. I didn't even know half of what I was buying, but hey, that's just me. I went and looked at the stock pile and guess what was in there? A Turbo Resonator! YESSSS! We're installing it now and that should get us down the road to safer territory.

    John M – thanks for the pointer. I am taking your advice and ordering the stronger version. I will pick it up when I fly home for a couple weeks in April.

    The tides are turning. Can you feel it? Can you?


  7. ending positive energy and love. Wish I was thereto help.

  8. Tree can fix it and then get the F#$%^ outta there would ya.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You guys can handle this. Just a part. Good luck

  10. Tree and the guys installed the Turbo Resonator in less than 20 minutes!! We're drinking beers at the one and only microbrewery in Honduras celebrating! All is well….not sure if we're going to Utila or following the pack to Nicaragua. We'll keep you posted. xoxo.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Go with the Pack! Go with the Pack!

  12. I'm glad you are all safe. I agree with all your friends – go together and get out of there. Stories are better told when you are still alive. . .

  13. This is good shit! That's what my husband just said after I finished reading this to him. Sending you guys mucho good energy!

  14. Thank God it wasn't the Flux capacitor! You would have been in deep shit! The last time my flux capacitor went out I had to go back to the future to get one. It was a huge pain in the ass. I'm glad you guys are safe and back on the road. Honduras sounds scary.

    Your dad called me and freaked me out…I had my tools packed and my passport ready. Just in case.

    No fluff here!

    Nice job with the fix Tree. Get your butts to Nicaragua.

  15. This is not ok love bug!!! U need to come home!!

  16. Terri Williams says:

    i believe i shit myself… i've been living my dreams through your adventure. i'm ready for an adventure novel where, although i can relate to the characters, i don't personally know them…BIG POSITIVE THOUGHTS COMING YOUR WAY!!!!!!!!!!

  17. sideways is better than backwards…

  18. Hey everyone,
    We've decided to stay with our friends and head to Nicaragua. As much as we wanted to go explore the other side of Honduras, it seems that the most responsible decision now is to stay with the support network until we've driven the van on the new part for several hundred miles. We should make it to the border by tonight and we'll cross into Nic tomorrow.
    Dad, thanks again for all your help yesterday. Love you.

  19. Good decision guys! It's kinda cool that you guys are caravanning together anyway!

  20. Steven also has a sprinter van and has also had to replace that same part. Happy to hear you are all safe!!

  21. mamatuya says:

    Let us all know when you get in to Nicaragua. We want to know when you are all safely there. Love you stars,

  22. we're here in nic. we're safe. more update later.

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