January 04, 2003 GMT
Rain in the Banana Republic

It was a 15 minute ride to the tiny town of Copan Ruinas, on a brand new tarmac road, still no signs though! We parked by the main square and cast about for accommodation. An American by the name of Jessie came over for a chat and invited us to his place for a beer, when we had settled in. A nice start to our visit.

The hotels mentioned in the book were not that appealing and so when a tout offered to show us somewhere, we followed. It had parking and hot water, so we booked in. Decided to see the ruins in the morning, so had a relaxing afternoon, then walked up the hill to visit Jesse. He had colourful house, full of Grateful Dead posters and an even more colourful history, which we enjoyed hearing about. Jenny his Honduran wife, was away visiting her family, but due back the next day, so we were invited for supper and to spend the night so we could meet her too.

The ruins of Copan were not that smashing, after the likes of Palenque and Tikal, although the carvings were splendid, we both felt it was overpriced. I suppose the Hondurans have to make the most out of their biggest attraction. I found it more of a shame however, that for most of the people visiting the ruins, this is all they get to see of the country, as they only make a quick trip over from Guatemala.

When we got back to our bikes, we were surprised to see another parked beside them, and with German plates. We waited for the rider to return and so met Georg, who has been on the road on his Africa Twin since May.

Georg.JPG

Another German bike in Honduras

Chatted over coffee in the café until we were kicked out as the park was closing, swapped email addresses and agreed to meet up later on the north coast. We then rode up the hill to Jesses place, squeezed our bikes into his garage and spent a very enjoyable evening with him and Jenny.

After a quick trip to Gracias, it was time to visit the coast and hang out at the beach for awhile, something we hadn't done since Los Angeles! Along the way we saw lots of stalls selling fireworks, so decided to stop and buy some as New Years Eve was just a few days away. In Guatemala, the stalls had much more selection and for some obscure reason sold apples and grapes as well. Here the fireworks were of the showy type instead of the louder explosive type that we had tried out at Christmas. We bought a string of crackers and packed them carefully away in the panniers.

firework stand.JPG

How much of this can we squeeze into the panniers?

Omoa, a small village by the beach was our next destination.. We stayed at Rollis place, as he had plenty of room for the bikes and a nice area to camp. Here we met Robb, also heading south on his R100GS. We spent 3 lovely days here, recharging our batteries, with little to do but walk on the beach or read a book.

Omoa beach.JPG

Arno relaxing for a change

The only minus points were the ferocious mossies that attacked constantly, our only respite being in the tent behind mossie nets.
We let off the firecrackers around midnight on New Years Eve, out on the street with everyone else. Kids had been lighting fireworks and bangers the whole day and I was surprised that there were any left, but plenty had been held in reserve for midnight.

With the New Year came rain, we postponed our departure by a day as the rain wouldn’t stop long enough for us to pack. We eventually left for Tela, drove in the rain for most of the way and booked into the first cheap hotel we found. It was at the bottom end of the pile, but had great parking. Arno came down with a severe case of food poisoning and spent a good amount of time in the toilet! We decided to leave ASAP, the crappy hotel room doing nothing to make him feel any better. After a visit to the chemist, I packed the bikes and by noon we were ready to ride to La Ceiba. Arno wasn’t really fit to ride a bike, but he managed and we only had to stop once for him to be sick. We found the hotel in La Ceiba easily enough, checked in and Arno slept for 24 hours, while it rained and rained.

flooded.JPG

If it rains anymore we’ll take the boat and leave the bikes!

We were supposed to leave the next day, but the rain didn’t let up, so took the time to catch up on email. Georg turned up after having completed his diving course out on the islands, and so the next day, despite the rain, we left the coast and headed inland. Drove all day, almost right across the country, in the rain until after we had passed the capital, Tegucigalpa. We had decided to cross the border at Las Manos, supposedly a lot quieter than those to the south and our last night in Honduras was spent in the tiny town of El Paraiso, where at last the sun shone!!

We made the usual early start the next day and got to the border early, it was very quiet and we signed ourselves and the bikes out of the country, changed our last Lempiras into Cordobas, all within an hour. Over to the Nicaraguan side, where we were immediately surrounded by moneychangers and tramitadors. Both were out of luck, as usual we did the whole thing ourselves. This time we had it a bit easier, an American couple had arrived about 10 minutes before us with their pickup and had employed a helper, so we just followed them around. They were done a little quicker than us, had the forms filled out correctly the first time, etc, but it wasn’t worth the U$5 they paid – in our opinion anyway.

bienvenidos.JPG

This sign was tucked away behind all the trucks at the border, the road, was in fact much better than this one!!

For the record, we paid for immigration a whopping U$7, plus 10 cordobas each, making Nicaragua the most expensive country yet. For the bikes we paid 147 cordobas, which is about U$8. The bikes were inspected and we had to get all paperwork copied for the police, then after the time it takes Liverpool to beat Manchester United, we were off, Granada bound.

Posted by Sian Mackenzie at January 04, 2003 04:37 AM GMT
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