Maybe. But I have a feeling that the terrifying travel warnings about Honduras issued by virtually every developed country might be the bigger problem.
The U.S. State Department issued its scariest warning yet yesterday, raising the spectre of kidnappings, carjackings, "disappearances," rape, and even the possibility that the Honduran police will kill you. The advisory listed 10 of the country's 18 departments as particularly homicide-prone (sorry, Copan, you made the list), but added that no place in the country can be considered safe. If I hadn't been living here long enough to know better, I'd have concluded from the warning that only a reckless, death-wish kind of traveller would ever consider a trip here.
The advisory is admittedly more extreme than those from other countries, but not by much. Aided by Google Translate, I searched out travel warnings from governments in Germany, Holland, Canada, Britain and Spain, and found a similar alarmed tone running through all of them.
The German government paints a picture of a country overrun by gangs, crazed drug-using criminals and feuding families, all with "low inhibitions in the use of firearms." Attacks on strangers have been especially notable on the route from San Pedro Sula to Copan Ruinas, notes the advisory, which also inexplicably cautions women travelling alone to be sure to have someone accompany them at security checkpoints.
Holland concedes that it's still safe to travel to Honduras, but "not without being extra cautious." Tourists are targeted for theft and robbery because Hondurans "see foreigners as millionaires, who have too much money." The advisory lists the top tourist spots of Honduras - Tela, La Ceiba and Roatan - as dangerous for travellers.
France cautions that bands of young, armed men target people, "even in groups," in low-traffic areas such as beaches. And watch out for the coast overall, where aggressive boaters, pirates and drug traffickers are waiting to get you.
The Spanish government makes a rather sweeping statement about all public transportation in the cities being unsafe, and advises that it's best if either your family members or a hotel shuttle takes you to and from any airport. Man, that would break the hearts of the many decent, honest, hard-working taxi drivers I've ridden with in my time here.
Spain recommends daylight road travel only and warns that organized gangs sometimes attack private vehicles. The government also gives some very specific warnings about certain city neighbourhoods and areas that are best to just skip entirely. Unfortunately for my acquaintances in the local tourism business, one of them is the Department of Copan.
The Canadian government cautions travellers bound for any of the key tourism sites as well, and adds to the scare factor with a warning about people trying to drug your drinks or give you drug-tainted cigarettes or gum so they can rape you.
"A large percentage of the population is armed," it adds. "Guns and weapons such as machetes are frequently used in robberies. Perpetrators often use violence if the person resists." (OK, you do want to pay attention to that last part - you'd be crazy to resist if someone tries to rob you here.)