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Archive for the ‘Honduras’ Category

Day 37 – Rape at the Border (Sumoto, Nicaragua)

09 Nov

We woke up at sunrise and left to El Amatillo, a border town between El Salvador and Honduras.  The directions given by Roberto last night were easy to follow.  We got separated in traffic, however, after exiting San Salvador and only met each other three hours later at the border, where some people approached us offering to expedite the paperwork for a reasonable fee of about 10 USD each.

We gave them our documents and quickly moved through the El Salvadorian customs and migration offices.  The Honduran side of the border looked more chaotic.  We parked our bikes in a shadow and sat down to rest, while waiting for the helpers to finish the paperwork.  Vadim went to get some food and came back with a few pieces of chicken and two bottles of Coke.  One guy sold us some reflective tape for the motorbikes that is supposedly required in Honduras and Nicaragua.

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Vadim at the El Salvador – Honduras Border (Still Smiling)

The helpers were running around, disappearing and then re-appearing several times to report the progress.  They returned a couple of hours later with all the documents ready and delivered a surprising news that all-in entry and exit fees for the motorcycles are 150 USD each.  We, of course, balked at the price and went to a nearby customs agency to get some answers, but heard the same story from the lady who worked there.  A couple of Americans were waiting inside and confirmed that they were being “raped” for the same amount as well.  We asked the helpers to itemize all costs, but the conversation turned into an incomprehensible haggle that lasted for another hour.  We left the border, eventually, after paying them 120 USD each.

Just few hundred meters past the border, we were waived down by the Honduran police, who asked us for the documents, then for some money “to buy Coca Cola”, then for some presents (they especially liked our motorcycle gloves and even tried them on).  We used our “No Hablo Espanol” tactics and, after offering 1 USD to one of the officers, were allowed to go.  The same story repeated itself just a few miles later, but the police let us go after a short monologue, since we pretended not to understand a single word of Spanish and offered them no cash.  We stopped at a gas station to get some small change for any future payments to the police.

Every time we saw the police on the road, we were expecting the worst, but nobody stopped us until we reached the Honduras – Nicaragua border at El Espino two hours later.  We met there Jordan and his family, Americans from Wyoming, who traveled by bus to their home in Nicaragua.  It was getting dark and we did not want to ride at night, so we hired (again!) another helper to get us through the border, which looked much more orderly this time.  About hour and a half later and our pockets 60 USD lighter, we entered Nicaragua and headed to the nearest town of Sumoto.

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Vadim at the Honduras – Nicaragua Border (after being Annihilated by Honduran Border Officers)

It was pitch dark and we were warned to beware of the cattle on the road, but it only took us half an hour to reach the town and find a budget hotel (12 USD per room).  After taking a quick cold shower, we went out to a small family run “comedor” few blocks from the hotel for some tasty chicken and Coke in the old-fashioned glass bottles.  On the way back, we briefly stopped to watch schoolchildren play volleyball on a field opposite the main church and passed many street vendors, who were wrapping things up for the day.  It was a long an exhausting day for us and we agreed to take a good rest and reach Granada without hurry the day after.

Routes taken: CA2, CA1 (Interamericana), CA7

Miles ridden: 261 miles (420 km)

 

Day 33 – Sepulturas and Lake Atitlan (Copan, Honduras and Antigua, Guatemala)

05 Nov

Gintaras took a quick tour of Las Sepulturas, an adjacent archeological site to the Acropolis, in the morning.  These were the former living quarters and tombs of the rich, including scribes and shamans.  Some of the buildings had beautifully preserved ornamentation.  The site is large and much still remains to be discovered by archeologists.

The five-hour ride back to Antigua was uneventful.  Gintaras stuffed his stomach with chicken and beef kebab just before the departure and half-slept most of the way on the rear seat.  The border officials did not even look at his passport, as they waved the minivan through.  We were stopped a couple of times by the Guatemalan military police, but after short conversations, were allowed to continue.  The road and traffic was decent until we reached Guatemala City to drop off one passenger.  This detour added another hour to the journey.

Vadim took the Mitsubishi L300 microbus to Lake Atitlan.  The uncomfortable ride took 2.5 hours down the twisty road in the mountains.  Upon descent, Vadim reached the lake where he was dropped off for 4 hours to have an opportunity to explore the area.  He walked around the lake and the surrounding market where he purchased a beautiful smoke pipe made out of clay.  It cost $10 and the deal could not be passed on as the piece was beautifully crafted.  The Lake is surrounded by three volcanoes – San Pedro (3,020 meters), Toliman (3,158 meters) and Atitlan (3,537 meters).  The water was fairly warm and had large fish and crabs in it.  Vadim saw a local fisherman passing by with his catch load that included a 3 foot fish and sack of about dozen of crabs.  Upon return to the hotel, Vadim got in traffic closer to the Antigua areas which made the ride almost 3 hours.  But it was worth the experience.

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Lake Atitlan

In the evening, we both went to Caffé Bourbon, close to the main plaza, and enjoyed chicken and rice soup, which is so good here in Guatemala.

Routes taken: None

Miles ridden: None

 

Day 32 – All You Need to Know about Maya and Coffee (Copan, Honduras and Antigua, Guatemala)

04 Nov

Vadim decided to rest after yesterday’s adventure and stay in the city, but Gintaras got up at 3:30 am (without an alarm clock!) to go to Copan, Honduras for a two day tour of the Mayan ruins.  Even the hotel guard was sleeping at those early hours, only laud snoring from the bar area gave him out.

A new Toyota minivan arrived on time, at 4:00 am, and then went to pick up few more people from other hotels: an Austrian couple and a back-packer from the US, who were heading to Honduras as well.  The five hour ride was not smooth; the driver was constantly accelerating or stepping on the brakes, as he tried to pass dozens of slow-moving trucks. Sleeping in the car was impossible.  We made one quick stop for breakfast and then continued to the border (which we reached at 9:30 am), where we paid some modest exit and entry fees and got our passports stamped.

Copan Ruinas is a small colonial town, just across the border.  The archeological site is only 10 min. walk from the main plaza.  Saul, a part time music teacher and a guide, gave a two-hour tour of the site, which is famous for its beautifully carved stone sculptures and stelai.  Gintaras spent another couple of hours browsing the site and the nearby museum, and then went back to the hotel on the main plaza, next to a Catholic Church.

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Mayan Archeological Site in Copan Ruinas, Honduras

In the evening, after a long nap, Gintaras went to a restaurant around the corner to sample some local beer (Salva Vida) and beef / chicken kebabs.  It was a very satisfying end of a long day….

Vadim went to a local bazaar where he browsed through items.  Later, he took a tour to the coffee plantation.  Guatemala has some of the best coffee in the world and the majority of it is exported.  As an example, Starbucks purchases approximately 50% of its coffee from Guatemala.  During the 2-hour tour, Vadim learned about the history of coffee, the different types of coffee, how it is grown, harvested and processed.  He received a detailed tour of the local plantation and equipment used to process the coffee beans.  It was a very educational tour followed by a cup of tasty local premium coffee from the plantation.  Vadim is now better prepared to choose the right coffee in the stores even though it will still be a tough task as the coffee packet labels typically say very little about coffee bean quality characteristics.

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Coffee Plantation

Routes taken: None

Miles ridden: None