Facts and Figures
May 17th - May 26th 2011
Start Mileage - 39,634
Miles - 153
Ocotal (Nicaragua(Hotel Belrive) - Comayagua (Honduras(Hotel Norymax)
Up and on the road before 09:00, hopefully we can clear the border and get some miles in before the cops are in full corruption mode! There are lots of horror stories on Overlander websites about how bad the cops are here, handing out huge on the spot fines for fictitious offenses. Some of the examples of “Infringements” we have heard of for bikers that have travelled through .. Not carrying two new spare tyres, not having a Hi-Vis jacket, not carrying a fire extinguisher, no reflective tape on front, rear and side of the bike, having headlights on during the day and whatever other BS excuse they could think of. I did get the reflective tape when we were in Panama, good idea to have anyway. I am carrying a spare rear tyre though it is a used one, no Hi-Vis, no fire extinguisher and my headlight comes on with the ignition. We will see how things pan out!
Like Europe, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are all members of the CA-4 Agreement which allows the citizens of these countries and foreign nationals who enter one of the signatory countries to also travel to other signatory states without having to obtain additional permits or to undergo checks at border checkpoints. When we entered Nic we were given 90 days in our passports but the bike was only given 30 days, not a great deal of time to get around the 4 countries if we decide not to just hoof it through to Mexico.
US$5 charge to leave the country and the bike paperwork taken from us and we are out of Nic.
Even though the CA-4 Agreement is supposed to allow free movement between countries we still have to go to Immigration and Customs to process the “Formalities”. After being herded around between different offices, going to the copy shop more than once, having to revisit offices we have already been to, going to the bank numerous times to change money, because even though all the costs for entry stamps etc are in US$ nobody will accept them, local currency only. We even had trouble changing Dollars at the bank because they weren’t new enough and had to find a money changer, making sure we weren't ripped off this time. After all this, 2 and a half hours later we are in Honduras with a fresh 90 days for both us and the bike, so much for the CA-4 Agreement making things easier!
On the road and we soon hit the first Police check point, I had closed up on the back end of the truck in front of us and we got through before the cops had noticed we were there. A stop for coffee and to get some money, I was worried about not being able to park the bike in view while we had coffee, after I had moved it I noticed that the car park security were all armed with pump action shotguns and pistols, now I don't know if I should feel safer or not leaving the bike!! A couple more check points safely passed through with the help of the many trucks on the road and we arrive at Comayagua.
Day 1 in Honduras with no hassle from the cops.
Start Mileage - 39,787
Miles - 78
Comayagua (Hotel Norymax) - Peña Blanca (D&D Brewery)
18/05/2011 - We heard about D&D Brewery from Darryl and Angela who we met in Moquegue, Peru, they had said it was a nice cheap place to park up for a couple of days with it’s own micro brewery and there is a good Coffee Finca next door.
After attempting and failing to drink the free coffee supplied by the hotel as breakfast we carted all the gear down to the bike then I noticed the flat rear tyre, Bugger! Must have picked something up in the gravel car park at the Hotel that has split the tyre. I was hoping I could push it to Mexico before swapping over but not bad mileage again, 10,000+. Whip the wheel off and run it round to the Gomeria down the road, well I would have done if the wheel bolts would come loose. Nothing for it but to strap the spare on and ride to the Gomeria. Lucky for me that the wheel wouldn’t come loose, the Gomeria I was originally going to was only a tyre sales place, I ended up riding a cpl of KM’s to get the tyre changed. They didn't have the Torxe bits to remove the bolts so went out to buy/borrow a set rather than use mine. They also had trouble loosening the bolts but with the aid of a long extension bar they came loose with a scary, loud CRACK!!!! Same as the last change in Belen, Argentina, maybe I should start cracking them every couple of thousand miles.
With the air now safely contained in the new second hand tyre we can get loaded and on the road, but first I need a stop at the first fuel station for coffee. More heavily armed car park attendants!
A nice cool ride through the mountains, all on tarmac again. A few more Police check points, I have given up sticking close to trucks after nearly running into one and will just take the chance. We didn't get stopped at any of the check points today.
We eventually found D&D after taking nearly every road in Pena Blanca, we had planned on camping here, their website had said camping was 50 Lempira per person per night but when we got here we were told there was an extra charge of 100L a night if we wanted electricity and then we saw the campsite … it was just a pitch your tent wherever there was enough room under the trees site. The rooms were 300L for a double or we could have two singles for 200L, the same as camping, no contest and there was hot showers, first for a while! We ate at the site restaurant, expensive and nothing to write home about, and tried some of the micro breweries beer, I had a Porter and Lorraine had some kind of Lager brewed with fruit, again, expensive and not much to write home about.
19/05/2011 - We had thought about visiting Pulapanzac water fall today but decided we didn't want to get all the gear on for the ride out in this heat so gave it a miss and took a walk to the Coffee Plantation just up the road. 50L each to get in but we only have 70L in small notes or a 500L note, the ticket office doesn't have change so after a few calls on the radio they let us in for 70L. Not a great deal here as it is out of season, a few plants but no activity on the coffee plantation.
20/05/2011 - Went to jump in the shower this morning and no water, worse than not being able to have a shower is that we can’t have a coffee!! Lorraine went to reception to see what was up, it will be back on later but we can buy a coffee from the restaurant for 50L (about £1.50), we got two bags of water from the shop for next to nothing, coffee sorted at least.
A little cooler today so we are off to the water falls, nice but nothing spectacular.
Bought supplies in the village then back just before a huge storm came in. The storm passed so after dinner we thought we would splash out and have a few beers at the bar, there were a couple of other people at the bar but not busy. Half way through our first beer we were handed a remote control and asked if we would make sure the music was switched off when we left, they were closing ….. it is 21:30.
Start Mileage - 39,883
Miles - 104
Peña Blanca (D&D Brewery) - Tela (Hotel Presidente)
21/05/2011 - A non eventful run from Pena Blanca to Tela, got stuck in the traffic in San Pedro Sala after ignoring the GPS which tried to take us through a big factory of some kind. … It was HOT!
22/05/2011 - Today we’re heading out to a Garifuna village on the coast about 8KM’s out of Tela. The weekends are supposed to be quite lively with spontaneous cultural music and dance shows. Another really hot day and it’s a struggle putting all the gear on. A little bit of tarmac then we are on a good gravel road for a couple of Kilometres before the road turned to deep sand and Lorraine started complaining again, we’ve been on tarmac to long! I reluctantly parked the bike up and asked some locals where the village was, about a kilometre further on. We secured the riding gear to the bike and started off down the sandy road when a taxi pulled over and said we had better not leave the bike unattended as the locals couldn't be trusted. Trusting the local advice I went back to the bike (more pissed off now that Lorraine wouldn't even try to get further down the road on the bike) and left her to go off on her own. Turned into a pretty disappointing trip out, the village was nothing more than a few decrepit grass huts and no sign of any parties with music and dance anywhere, nothing like the picture that the guide books and websites paint, I suppose if we had been on an organised tour and paid stupid money the locals might have put on a “tourist show”. Back to the hotel and mope for the rest of the day. Heavy storms.
23/05/2011 - Trip out to the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens, apparently the 2nd largest in the world. After yesterdays let down I’m not expecting much better today and I wasn't disappointed. Not a great deal of anything there but trees, a few tropical plants and lots of pointless walking. Might have been better if we weren't out of season.
Made up for the last two days disappointments with a huge, cheap and good Chiffa.
Heavy storms through the night.
Start Mileage - 40.016
Miles - 168
Tela (Hotel Presidente) - Copan Ruinas (Don Moises Guest House)
24/05/2011 - Just for a change it is stinking hot again! The road out takes us back through San Pedro, hope the traffic is quieter in the mornings. Just before we entered the city the GPS was directing us down a dirt road, I decided to give it a go just to get some dirt time in. About 10KM’s of good dirt and gravel through a couple of villages and we ended up at the factory that the GPS tried to take us through on the way in to Tela. Should have gone that way on the way in and saved the hassle of a hot and busy city. A straight forward run to Copan Ruinas, a hilly cobble streets town. The first accommodation out of the book that we checked turned out to be a book shop, eventually found one that would let us park the bike in reception after some furniture shuffling.
Another day with many police check points and not one stop.
25/05/2011 - Another hot day today but we aren't out on the bike instead we took a Tuk Tuk to the Copan Ruinas.
Copan, founded in the early 5th Century AD, is one of the three major Mayan sites in Central America (along with Tikal in Guatemala and Chich'én Itzá in Mexico) and consists of 6 main sections. After going through the entrance there is a short walk which takes us past a small feeding station for the Macaws that are being reintroduced to the area.
We then entered the site proper, quite a sight equal to Machu Picchu.
The Great Plaza - The huge plaza consists of a well kept lawn dotted with stelae and altars. The stelae are three to five meters tall and two to three meters around and carved in high detail, they are portraits of the greatest rulers in the history of the city. Many have the figure on one side with hieroglyphs on the other sides which describe the life of the ruler depicted.
The Ball Court - The ball court is the second largest to be found in Central America, the largest being in Chich'én Itzá in Mexico. The rules of the game are not known, but it is thought to have been played with a hard rubber ball that had to be kept in play by the players using the sloping sides of the court and hitting the ball with their hips.
The game also had important ritual aspects often featuring human sacrifice.
The Hieroglyphic Stairway - Climbing up the side of Temple 26 with 63 steps, 69ft high and several thousand glyphs tell the history of the rulers of Copan and is the longest known text of ancient Mayan civilization. Its construction was first commissioned by the King 18 Rabbit with the second phase being commissioned by Smoke Squirrel, one of 18 Rabbit's successors.
The Acropolis - Divided into two big plazas: The West court houses Temple 11, built as a portal to the other world, and Temple 16 which sits between the East and West court. Temple 16 was built on top of the Rosalila Temple without demolishing it. The Rosalila Temple was also built on top of 5 previous temples. Altar Q sits at the base of Temple 16 and depicts the 16 members of the Copan Dynasty.
The Tunnels - Archaeologists have dug 4km of tunnels, (not all open to the public) under the acropolis to view earlier stages of Copan civilization and to show the buildings buried below. Two of the tunnels, Rosalila and Jaguar, are open to the public for an extra fee.
In the Rosalila Tunnel there is a protective glass panel, which needs replacing because it is now very opaque, where you can see the original stucco of the Temple and see the care that was taken to preserve it at the start of the final construction.
The Jaguar Tunnels contain Stucco Macaw masks and some more Hieroglyphic steps.
The Cemetery - Due to the amount of bones and artefacts found here it was first thought to be a burial site but was later determined to be residences for the elite.
A really good day, we spent 4 or 5 hours wandering around the site. We could have taken a guide at a cost but with past experience we have found they give a lot of useful information but within an hour after leaving we forget most of it, cheaper to buy a site guide from the entrance … The highlight of Central America so far.
Heavy storm again tonight, rainy season has caught up with us.
Start Mileage - 40,184
Miles - 122
Copas Ruinas (Don Moises Guest House) - Nueva Ocotepeque (Hostel Ocotepeque)
We have decided to give El Salvador a try seeing as we are this close. Heading for the border today but will probably stay this side as we still have a way to go, owner of the hotel says we have 5 hours to get to San Salvador, El Salvador and two options for the border. 1. through Santa Rosa de Copan which means going North, East and then South West to El Poy or 2. Take a shorter route West along the CA 11 into Guatemala then South into El Salvador .. 2. could be a problem with having two border crossings and not sure about multiple entry into Guatemala. We opted for option one. The road after Santa Rosa de Copan got gradually worse, potholes, wash outs and ripio .. Arses took a bit of a pounding!
Lots of check points again and no stops.
Called it a day at Nueva Ocotepeque and started the hunt for accommodation, eventually found one with parking, hot water and wi-fi at a reasonable price. Unpacked the bike and carted it upstairs, we should have learned to check these places properly by now .. No hot water and no wi-fi, they just said they had to get us in. After speaking to the owner on the phone we managed to get a discount, bloody annoying they don't tell the truth at the beginning!
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