and on to Nicaragua
It was all I could do to lie in a hammock with a book and lift a beer once in a while.
That is because these beach towns are hot. Lounging on a beach is nice for a while, but I'm finding out I am more of a mountain person, as far as a lifestyle goes.
8-30-06 to 9-5-06
Got a bright and early start out of Antigua on Wednesday. John, the other KLR rider staying here, drew me a map of Guatemala City, as it is notorious for getting travellers lost on the way through. I followed it for quite a ways, but then there was a fork and I must have taken the wrong one, because all the landmarks were gone. I wandered around for half an hour or so, wondering if I was ever going to out of the city, but eventually I did. After the city, the highway started losing altitude quickly, and it got hot and humid. It tried to rain a few times, but it never amounted to much. I made good time and got to the Honduras border about 3 in the afternoon. Borders are always an adventure, you never know if it's going to be a breeze or a pain in the butt. I got checked out of Guatemala, just like normal, got my passport stamped and canceled my bike permit. The expatriates in Antigua were all abuzz about a new agreement that Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have. Now, when you enter one of these countries, you get a 90 day tourist visa, good for a cumulative 90 days in all 4 countries. previously, you got a fresh 90 days when you left one and went to another. For my purposes, it doesn't matter, as I will not be here that long anyway, but if you are living here as an alien, it complicates getting your visa renewed. Previously, from Antigua you could drive or bus the 2 hours to the El Salvador border, and reenter with another 90 days, now you have to go to Mexico or Belize which is an all day thing. What this all means to me is that the Honduras border guards wouldn't give me an entry stamp in my passport, since I was entering from another country in their agreement, they said there is no border control between these countries. I did have to cancel my bike permit and get a new one from
Honduras, though. I am feeling a bit like an illegal alien, with no entry stamp in my passport, but it's their rules. I just hope the border where I exit to Nicaragua has the same understanding. This law went into effect June 1, so hopefuly that is enough time to get the bugs out. Anyway, the actual crossing was easy, so my luck has been holding out so far in that regard.
The town of Copan Ruinas is only 10k or so past the border, and I got a room here for $25 for 2 nights. That is actualy pretty high for here, but this is a tourist town, with the ruins here. I had been here, before on my other trip through Central America, only spent the night here, and I wanted to take a look at the ruins. Next morning I got to the ruins when they opened, and pretty much had the place to myself. I don't know what you can say about these places that hasn't been said. It is just amazing what these people accomplished without metals tools, or even the wheel. In the afternoon, I took the bike and went looking for some hot springs that were supposed to by 25k north of town on a gravel road. This turned out to be a pretty respectable dual sport ride, as one bridge was washed
out and I went through the river, following a local pickup truck so I could see how deep it was, and it was rutted gravel most of the rest of the way. I never found the springs, so I either missed the sign, if there was one, or was on the wrong road. It was a nice ride anyway, through rolling hills, and several little towns.
The next day, I decided to try to get all the way to Trujillo, which would be a bout 350 miles. This is quite a long day in this part of the world, but I got n early start, and got there in the late afternoon. I picked Trujillo because it is about as far as you can go on the Carribean coast of Honduras, and I kind of like those out of the way places at the end of the road. In a weird way, it reminds me of Copper Harbor Michigan, in the US. They are both at the end of a peninsula, and you have to be going here, because there is no place further to go. Of course the temperature is a little different on Lake Superior than the Carribean, but you get the idea. On the bay side of the penensula the water is flat calm, but if you take a dirt road the half mile across the peninsula there is some surf on the beach on that side, and nobody around for as far as you can see. The Honduran Navy has a base at the tip of the peninsula and at night you can see boats coming and going. I'm staying at a hotel/hostel thing a few miles out of town, on the beach. I'm going to stay here a couple days, then head for Nicaragua. I have been offered a house on the beach on the Nicoya peninsula of Costa Rica for 2 weeks, by another Horizons Unlimited member if I house and dog sit while the owner goes to England for 2 weeks. Unless her plans change I will be taking her up on that, and will head that direction when I leave here. I have about a week to get there once I leave here, so that will still give me 5 days in Nicaragua, so I shouldn't be too rushed, and of course then I will get to chill for 2 weeks. I left Trujillo on Monday morning, with the intention of getting somewhere clode to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, that day. Not wanting to retrace my route out to Trujillo, I decided to take another highway roughly paralell, but inland, to the one I took out there. No one at Casa Kiwi, where I stayed, had been on this road, so I had no idea what I was getting into. It ended up being a real nice ride, with about 70 miles of gravel, over a small mountain range and through some real back country. The only caveat is that there are several river crossings in vados, and if the rivers were high you might end up turning back. I saw the two bigest snakes I have ever seen in the wild on this trip. Both were in the road, one alive the other dead. The live on was dark gey, almost black, with very shiny scales. This guy had to be 8 or 9 feet long, although it was curled back on itself and hard to judge exactly, and as big as my arm. I don't know what species this one was. The other was run over and dead, but pretty fresh. This was a Fer-de-lance, or yellow beard as they are known for the yellow underside of their jaw. These are quite deadly, and this one was 6 or 7 feet long too. I'll think carefully before walking in Tevas. Anyway, I got to within 50 miles of Tegus, and it was getting dark, and it had been awhile since I had seen a motel, when I came across on of these pay by the hour places. If you don't know, thse are set up so you drive into a garage type stall beside each oom, and pull a shower curtain behind your car, so no one can see it. the price is on a sign in the garage, and you put the money in a portal with a door on it, and no one ever sees who you are. Extramarital activityis big here, not that it isn't at home, but here it is a real industry. One of the New Zealanders that run Casa Kiwi
said it is not unusal for a guy to bring his wife and kids out to their restaraunt on Sunday afternoon, then come back midweek with some other woman, rent a room, and then be gone in a couple hours. And that isn't in the rent by the hour business, or anonymous. But i digress. I told the guy I only wanted to sleep, and he rented me a room for 10 hours for 150 Lempira, or about 8 bucks. Got up and on the road early, and made the Nicaragua border by 10 am.Up to now all the borders ahd been dirt simple, but I had used out of the way crossings for those. The last time I came down here, I crossed into Nica on the PanAm, and it was a pain in the butt, and I thought if I found another place to cross, it might be easier. No such luck. This was just as much of a madhouse as the other time. When I got
to within a hundred yards of the border, I literally had 20 guys running at me, wanting to change money, expedite the crossing procedure, watch my bike, wash my bike, shine my shoes, and I don't know what else. The place was set up so the windows you have to go to were on the back side od the buildings, so you can't keep an eye on the bike, so i paid 2 kids to watch it with the understanding that they got paid when I came back and everything was OK. That part worked out fine. I got checked out of Honduras by myself, but couldn't find where to do the Nica stuff, so I got one of the hangers on to walk me through that. The customs booth ended up being a shack that looked just like the other 100 shacks selling cokes and tshirts, and no sign on it, and it got worse from there. I don't know how you would find anything if you didn't know where it was. I'm sure I got ripped off, as I spent $60 on I'm not sure what, at the various booths. I think the "helper" has the official jack up the fees and they split the profit. In the end, I got through, but I would have to give myself a failing grade on that border. It would be a lot easier with a partner, as one guy could stay with the bikes, so if it took a while to find things it wouldn't be so nerve wracking. I rode to the first big town, found an ATM and got some money without any problem, the rode to Leon, where I am now.
Trujillo was the only place so far where I have had trouble with internet access. I did find a dial up connection, but it took 15 minutes just to log on to my yahoo mail, so I didn't even try to update my blog.
Posted by Andy Tiegs at September 06, 2006 02:32 AM GMT