We are on the road for 8.30am and stop at the local Texaco for fuel before heading to the border. There is some confusion about what fuel we want and they ask us to pay before we pump. Everyone is watching us, although friendly when we say 'hello'.
The road to the border takes about 45 mins and is scenic still with green hills.
Once at the border we park up and change some quetzals for Honduran Lempira ready for the cross over as we were told by everyone that they will only accept local currency. The money changer helpfully gives us back 20 quetzals - we aren't really sure why but smile and nod like we do.
First up is Customs and this all go's smoothly. Then to Immigration to check out of Guatemala - all fine. We get asked to pay 20 quetzals (10 each) and realise this is why the money changer gave it back to us! Probably his cut on the transaction or a bribe?
Then we get sent to another window there which is the Honduran Immigration and finally 200 yards down the road to the Customs office to import the bike. Both of these offices accept US dollars.
The whole process takes us 45 mins in total and was again very easy. Maybe we are just getting lucky with these border crossings.
We head off into Honduras and everything looks great- roads are good, views nice.
Stopping at Copan 12km later we take a tour around the town which is jam packed with people as it is a Sunday. The streets are cobbled and very bumpy and we are at slow speeds and stops and starts due to the traffic. It is nothing short of a nightmare and we manage to escape the town via a dirt track which is steep and washed away at points.
Deciding to go and see the Copan ruins first as it is only 10.30am and worry about hotels later we continue.
We get parked up and a cold drink as it feels like 85 degrees in the shade at this point. It is so humid and hot. We enter the ruins and wander around slowly taking it all in.
There are lots of beautifully carved obelisks with interesting animals and faces.
Darren wanders off to look at an obelisk while I stay in the shade. A group of ladies looking round nearby stop and ask me (in Spanish) whether I speak Spanish. I say the usual 'a little' and they chat to me for 10 mins about where I am from, the motorbike, where we have travelled, how long have I been learning Spanish etc. This is my first proper spanish conversation and it feels amazing to be conversing with people finally! We shake hands and agree that it was a pleasure to meet each other.
Further on and a group of 5 young Honduran lads all with bikes themselves start quizzing us about the bike (engine size, mileage etc), they are really friendly.
Unlike Em, my spanish is limited to either filling the bike with fuel or myself with coffee or beer, so it was a rather strange conversation I had with the local lads. Its amazing the universal language of the motorcycle - we understood each other perfectly despite not speaking each others' language!
As we get back to the bike a local policeman starts to ask us about our travels as he has been looking at our pannier stickers. He asks us if we are making a film about our travels. We give him a card with our blog address on.
Heading back into town we look for a hotel and find one just as we pull in. It is $20. They move their truck from the garage so that we can park the bike in there.
We get cleaned up then wander into the main square and get a coffee. Then we wander some more and find a Travellers bar full of Americans. After a few beers we move on to a restaurant and get a great meal.
I started to really enjoy Copan and the Honduran way of life, for the first time I was actually looking forward to the rest of Cental America. After Mexico, I had concerns as to what to expect of Guat onwards and worried that this part of the trip would be a challange for me and Em, but we were both really enjoying the experience, the trip had come alive again for both of us.
Next day we are up early and heading for La Esperanza. The first road we take is tarmac and twisty fun. The second road we hit is the same for a while until it suddenly deteriorates into mud.
We follow it till we reach a gas station and stop to give our backsides a break.
At the fuel stop a group of guys come over and chat about the bike. One guy buys us two bottles of water as he leaves. We can't believe how friendly the Hondurans are.
We continue on and the road gets worse and steep with high drop offs.
Lots of people we pass stare at us like we are nuts as Darren is standing on the pegs while I hold on for grim death. We have a moment on a switchback when in the wrong gear the engine stalls, luckily Darren manages to hold it and we don't go over.
It was great to get some off road again, Em makes out that she didn't enjoy it, but once its over she always has a smile on her face.
Finally reaching La Esperanza it is really rough so we decide to head on to the next big town which is Siugatepeque to find a hotel. We find one on the outskirts of town which is great and costs $30. It has a buffet restaurant which causes lots of confusion as each item you chose from the buffet gets charged seperately depending on how much you eat. This means that someone hovers over you as you try to eat totting up your meal.
No need to worry about parking the bike up overnight either, a security guard with the standard issue pump action shotgun stands by it all night - finally I get a good nights sleep..until the squawking parotts wake us up early and we hit the road by 8.30am.
Posted by Darren Homer at February 10, 2008 03:00 AM GMT
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