May 13, 2011 GMT
Antigua To Honduras

I treated myself to breakfast at the Valhalla macadamia nut farm open air restaurant before setting off in the direction of Honduras. Valhalla was the third and final place I stayed in Antigua thanks to the Lent and Easter Festival filling all the available accommodation although living in a bamboo cabin amidst the rows of nut trees was worth the effort of moving. A very tranquil setting after the hustle, bustle and noise of central Antigua in festival time.

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Valhalla Restaurant In A Tropical Garden

I had plotted a route on secondary roads and wasn’t sure what to expect, they tend to be a mix of paved and reasonable dirt roads with the more difficult dirt roads marked as ‘other roads or tracks’ Some of these rough dirt tracks can be a bit too rough for me as I remind myself I’m now too old to bounce when I hit the deck. However I had a good first day riding to Pacaya volcano on a paved road which then turned to an average grade dirt road as it wound its way down to Laguna de Calderas (A lake inside a dormant volcano) and on to Amatitlan lake that I had visited via a different route on a day trip from Antigua.

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Laguna de Calderas Near Pacaya Volcano

More sections of paved and dirt road followed as I climbed up into the cooler mountains then dropped back into the searing heat of the valley bottoms. By mid afternoon I started to look out for somewhere to stay and finally found a motel on the outskirts of Jalapa at 5pm for six pounds ($9US). It was another of the so called ‘Love Motels’ with high walls and a private garage beneath each room to offer the maximum privacy for the cliental. As far as I’m concerned I have secure parking for the bike and a bed and hot shower for me. The only drawback is that they are on the outskirts of towns and often don’t have any shops or restaurants nearby. As I’m usually carrying some food and water on the bike it isn’t a major inconvenience.

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Lago de Amatitlan

The following day was another good mix of dirt and paved roads travelling through the mountain scenery as I headed for the Honduran border then on to Copan Ruinas, another Mayan archaeological site.

In Antigua I had swapped my Garmin GPS map of the United States and Canada for what I was told was ’open source’ GPS maps of Central and South America. I had bought the official Garmin map of the area which only shows the major roads and international borders and these aren’t very accurate and not a great deal of help with navigation. The ‘open source’ maps are better and include street level mapping of some towns and cities although some roads are missing and others appear as unconnected sections of roads that you have to assume will be connected in the real world. I was told these ‘open source’ maps are created by enthusiasts driving or riding around recording their routes on their GPS units then downloading them into some mapping software. This would explain why roads are broken up into unconnected sections if different journeys are taken that don’t quite overlap.

The border crossing was relatively straight forward. Having cleared Guatemalan immigration and customs I changed my remaining Guatemalan currency into Honduran Lempiras with the private money changers that have free access to the border security area. Honduran immigration was straight forward but clearing the bike at the Honduran customs was a bit slow and tedious. I had stocked up on photocopies of my documents beforehand but customs wanted three copies of my driving licence with a different page showing than the Spanish translation I had photocopied. The photocopy office was just outside the security barrier in Guatemala, the first or last building in the country so I had to walk back into Guatemala, melting in my bike suit. On returning to Honduran customs I had to wait while a DHL driver was processed then the form filling and stamping for my bike continued. I then had to return to Guatemala for triplicate photocopies of the stamps that had just been put in my passport.

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Copan Ruins Mayan Site

Once the formalities were completed I rode the short distance to Copan Ruinas, my first stop in Honduras.

Posted by ianmoor@tiscali.co.uk at May 13, 2011 01:04 AM GMT
 
 

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