We got to the border to exit Guatemala, got the stamp in the passport, and when we asked them where we cancel the bikes, first they said we don’t need to do that, but as we insisted (as we know we DO have to do that if we don’t want to have problems later), they told us that the Customs is back about … 1 km according to one of them, 8 km according to another officer. We were having a bad feeling about this when we turned around, and we were right. We drove back and forth looking for SAT, the Customs. Since it is a government building, we were looking for some big sign on the building, but nothing. We were riding again toward the border, when we see this big barrel in the middle o the road with a handwritten SAT on it. There it was, we found it! No big signs on the building or anything, just that. We cancelled the temporary import permits for our bikes and then we exited Guatemala. There is an 8 km stretch between the Guatemalan border and the Honduras border. When we got to Honduras, we went to get the same temporary permits for the bikes and they charged us $35 USD per bike. So far, this was the most expensive we have paid for these permits. As we were not expecting them to be this expensive, we did not get more cash before the border and at the border they did not have Credit Card machines. We paid for the permits, and we were left with $5 USD, out of which $2 we paid to make copies of all our paperwork, for the lady at the customs. We were just hoping that we did not need to pay anything else. Once this done, we went to Immigration to get the stamp in our passport, and Vasile and I went to two kiosks next to each other. And guess what: we had to pay $3 USD each for some entry fee. We started explaining to the lady that Vasile was dealing with and the old guy that I was dealing with that we have no more cash, but we are willing to pay with Credit card. No, they had no credit card machines, we had to pay in cash. The lady who was dealing with Vasile’s paperwork seemed to be nicer and she wanted to let him get away without paying, but my old guy was very strict, and he said “No, you don’t pay, you don’t get into the country”. We were in a weird situation now: we could have tried to go back to Guatemala, and go to a bank, but we could not guarantee that we wouldn’t have run into trouble, since we had cancelled the import permits for the bikes, and we had the exit stamps already. The other solution was for one of us to pay (since we only had enough money for one of us) and to go into Honduras to the closest bank, which was at about 40 min ride, according to the nice lady officer. Riding 40 min there and back for $3 USD!!! Turned out the lady officer was nicer than we could have ever expected. She pulled out of her own purse 60 lempiras ($3) and gave to Vasile so he can pay, without the old guy seeing. She just saved us, and we were total strangers to her! Plus, I am imagining the $3 for her did not have the same value that it does to us, it’s probably worth a lot more. This was unbelievably nice of her! And due to her, we started our trip to Honduras on a totally positive note, and we started loving Honduras already!
And we kept loving it! Honduras is a beautiful country and it looks like it’s quite developed. The roads were very good, the buildings seem bigger and stronger, the cities have pretty much everything you find in a Canadian or US city: all the brands and all the store chains.
We stopped first in Puerto Cortes, about 50km after the border, planning to stay there for the night. But when we got there we realized there was not much to see there. Plus, we were told there was no Scotiabank there, but that we would find one in San Pedro Sula. So off we go to San Pedro Sula. But we got there, and no Scotiabank. On top of that, the traffic was crazy. We were moving with 5 km / hr through the city, honking, cutting off, sharing lanes again, in one word very tiring. And we were hungry too. So because of that, we decided to get cash at any ATM, get out of the city and then find a hotel.
It seems as we go south the traffic gets worse every day. In Honduras the traffic has been the worst so far. I’ve been almost ridden over by big trucks or cars many times, and yet they were honking at me for not getting out of their way, even though I had the right of way. At some point we were riding on a big highway, and we had two lanes on our direction. Suddenly I see a big commercial truck coming towards me, from behind a turn, on my lane, and I was just overtaking a truck on my right. For a split second I thought I can’t see well, but soon I realized my eyes were not mistaking. Then hearing Vasile yelling at me on my Sena device “Go, go, go!” confirmed for me that I was right. So I pulled the throttle as hard as I could and I finished passing the truck on my right, swerved and changed lanes in the last minute to get out of the way. Soon I realized this was happening a lot. I have never seen cars overtaking on the opposite lanes on a highway with multiple lanes and double yellow line! So basically we were keeping on the right lane, and only got onto the left one if we had to pass, and even so we had to be very careful not to run into an oncoming vehicle. We have seen many many times big commercial trucks showing up from behind a turn, on our lane. We are lucky that bikes are smaller, so we can swerve towards the side of the road or the shoulder and get out of their way, but I cannot imagine how this feels in a car, or another truck. I guess the rule of “the bigger goes first” applies here. Also, the rule “slower traffic keep right” does not apply. They go at whatever speed they want in any lane, so you have to keep changing lanes if you want to go faster. Anyway, bottom line, here you have to be very aware and focused on the road. A full day of riding can be very tiring here.
As we were getting out of San Pedro Sula we were looking for a hotel, but it seemed as if they all disappeared. There were no hotels in our way. So we kept riding. Around 4:30 we saw a sign for a Motel, so we went to check it out. The rooms were looking pretty good, but the girls there said they cannot give us the key for the room. As we wanted to go out and have dinner, we insisted we wanted to have the key for the room. They told us that they have to wait for their father for that. The father arrived 5 minutes later. A very nice old guy; he told us he can give us the key, including the key for the garage. Then he showed us the room again, and he mentioned that we have the porn channel on tv. Turns out this was a place where they were renting the rooms per hour, for …certain clienteleJ and that’s why they were not usually giving away the key of the room. In Central America almost all hotels sell the rooms for one, two, three hours or a whole night. Now I understand why they were sometimes surprised that we wanted the room for the whole nightJ
As we wanted to stay for the whole night again, the price went up. So Vasile and I decided that maybe it was not a good idea to stay there, since we found it a bit suspicious too, and we kept riding to find another hotel. But again, no more hotels on our way, and it was starting to get dark. And Honduras is not a place where I want to ride at night, considering that they have the highest homicide rate in Central and South America.
Eventually we saw a sign for a hotel by a lake, but the hotel was supposed to be 6 km from the main road. We decided to go there, and stay no matter how good or bad it was now. So we turned right onto a little road, and we kept riding, but we did not see any hotels. We were about to turn around, when we saw some people walking; we stopped and I asked them if there was any hotel in that area. Turned out we were 1 km away from it. Very happy, we kept riding and we got to Brisas Hotel, by the lake. Very nice location, big hotel, pool etc. A bit expensive for our budget, but as it was dark already, we had no choice. But it was worth it. It was very comfortable and quiet. For the first time I could sleep without my ear plugs.
So well rested, the next day we hit the road again. We stopped in Tegucigalpa at a big mall, and while I used some internet at a MacDonalds, Vasile tried to find AAA lithium batteries, but in vain again. So now our only hope is that our friends are going to help us. Ehren, one of our good friends told us that he has a colleague who will be spending his New Year’s in Costa Rica, and he could bring us some batteries. So I guess at this time, this is our only solution. For now, our Spot is dead, so you cannot track us anymore.
Then we kept riding until we got to Danli, just a few km from the Nicaraguan border. Danli reminds me a lot of San Cristobal de las Casas. A little town, with narrow streets and old houses, very nice. We found a hotel, and then we went for dinner. We found this very nice restaurant, that seemed to be very expensive. We were the only people in the whole restaurant. Well, it was not as expensive as we thought. With less than $10 CAD we both ate a lot, and very good food! And there was still a lot of food left. While we were eating we kept thinking of two good friends of ours, Cristian and Matt, and how they would have done some damage if they were thereJ Food in Honduras is very tasty, and very inexpensive. So far it was the cheapest of all the countries we’ve been through. And it’s surprising, since the country seems more developed than other Central American countries we visited so far.
Honduras seems a country with a lot of potential. I am sure if the government invested more in security and tourism a lot of tourist would come here, and they would not regret it. We have seen very few tourists here, almost none. And it’s too bad. We have seen a lot of armed people around here (not soldiers or police). Regular guards are all carrying guns and there must be a reason why. Even at Walmart in Tegucicalpa, the guys at the entrance were armed.
Another thing we noticed (in Belize and Guatemala as well, but not in Mexico) were a lot of stores that were selling through rod iron fences. But despite this, we had a great experience here, and the people we interacted with seemed very nice and friendly.