May 15, 2006 GMT
Last weeks in Honduras

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Reflections of Miss Piggy

And so we left San Pedro Sula to head further south. Our guide book had stated that San Pedro Sula is not a city that you would be inclined to stay in for long, yet after the isolation of the far north coast we found it pleasant and it seemed quite safe, as it has the dubious reputation as the third most dangerous city in all of Latin America.

We followed the road south towards Tegucigalpa, the Capital of Honduras. Grant began to feel fatigued and a little unwell, not helped by the condition of the road which, with kilometre after kilometre of heavy road works, was slow and un-inspiringly straight.

Passing by Lago Yojoa, with the picturesque lake in view, we feasted on the famous black bass, great value at a mere $3.50 for a whole fish and a great big plate of fried bananas.

The small town of Sigutepeque, some what half way from the coast and the capital, seemed a perfect stopping place. We secured excellent accommodation at Hotel International Gomez for $US8.00 and stayed for almost a week while Grant recovered from a bout of the "grippa" (flu).

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Sacred Grotto - La Esperanza

Most days we relaxed, however, on two occasions we took a ride to the town of La Esperanza, approximately 150km round trip. The excellent motorcycle road wound its way up into the mountains, down across a hot low lying valley and then rising up into the mountains to the cool culturally rich town. La Esperanza reminded us of the Mexican town of Creel, on the edge of the Copper Canyon, with the strong scent of pine forrest, clean fresh air and numerous caves in the surrounding mountains.

We packed up Miss Piggy to ride the 40kms to Comayagua - hardly worth the effort really. The town, busy and noisy, has some of the most beautiful colonial buildings in all of Honduras, it is also home to the oldest working clock in the Americas, situated in the bell tower of the Cathederal in Parque Central.

View from the Bell Tower

Built by the Moors, over 800 years ago whilst they occupied southern Europe, it eventually found its way to Central America in 1582 as a gift from Spain. We were informed that it is normally kept hidden from the public eye, however we employed a guide to negotiate a visit. We approached the Cathederal with anticipation of a possible viewing of the clock. Our guide walked eagerly off to find the Care Taker of the bell tower. We waited for some ten minutes, at which he returned followed by a gnome like individual, who, with some what of a gruesome expression reminded Grant of Yoda from the Star Wars films. Happily, he appeared in a good mood on this day and as we loosely translated his Spanish he would permit us a visit of the clock, for a donation of course.

800 Year old Moorish Clock - Comayagua

He opened the gate to the bell tower revealing a set of narrow steep steps that spiraled upwards. We left Yoda and our guide ascending four flights of stairs and entered a large, open room. A rectangular box like structure (the clock) sat centered in the room, while a wirey elderly man approached us with a welcoming smile and explained that he was the carer of the clock or as he was fondly known "The Maestro".

For over an hour he explained the details of the mechanics, the clock has a weight (a large stone) hung by a long rope that by the power of gravity winds the crank which in turn powers the clocks mechanisms. After three days the stone is cranked back up to the clock and the process begins again.

Squatters Homes - Near Comayagua

The Honduran Government is working hard to market Comayagua as a tourist Mecca for the country, similar to Antigua in Guatemala, however though the town is nice and certainly the Cathederal Clock remarkable our biggest surprise and dissapointment was the number of slum or squatter abodes along the road to the entrance of the town.

We continued on to Tegucigalpa to stay with Fred, Ann and Isidore, a French family whom we had met in Ruinas Copán.

Fred, Isidore & Ann, Miss Piggy, Grant & Jules - Tegucigalpa

They graciously opened thier home to us for the week. We spent our time playing Aunty and Uncle to 6 month old Isidore, taking long walks and being invited on a ride in the country by Eric, a fellow compatriate, wandering the City Centre, visiting the Basillica Suyapa and also attending the combined birthday party for Fred and Serge, yet another frog. It was great fun! Though being immersed in French was confusing to us still struggling with Spanish!

Ride in the Mountains with Eric - Tegucigalpa

Cathederal - Tegucigalpa

Stained Glass - Basillica Suyapa

An easy ride through volcanic lava flows to Danli and the border with Nicaragua was the completion of our Honduran stay of almost two months.

Posted by Grant Guerin at 04:03 PM GMT

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