(March 9 – written by Dave)
Welcome to Honduras – country number 6 for us on this trip.
We were up and out early. We even passed on the hotel free brekkie – even though we could have it delivered to our room. They couldn’t deliver until 7AM and we were peddling down the road by just past 6AM. I would have liked to try the brekkie but with forecasted highs in the 90s and an international border to cross, we didn’t want to linger this morning.
The ride out of town was easy. We got a sunrise photo, plus an almost obligatory photo of the morro tree. A photo of a morro tree (otherwise known as a crescentia alata) is found on just about every bicycle journal we read from Central America. It is a striking tree with yellow grapefruit looking fruit growing out of the trunk or large branches. The fruit itself actually more gord-like and is not edible. Humans have used the empty shells as cups or food containers for 1,000s of years. Where the trees currently “range”, only humans and horses have the ability to crack the fruit. And the trees will not regenerate without seeds from inside the fruit. So that begs the question – how did they get here and how have they spread? They are fairly common and worth a photo stop for sure.
We stopped at a servo just before the border for a nature break and to do one last money check – so that we were ready for money changers at the border. We stopped at almost the first money changer near the border and did a deal – we got an ok rate and picked up a day and half’s worth of Honduran lempira. That sorted, we moved onto the border.
We were at the El Salvador side before 7:30 and there was a short queue. It probably would have gone quickly had the woman at the front of the queue not had some sort of issue. Her and her two friends were not having any luck and there was only one agent. Eventually the three-some sort of gave up and another agent came. We had no issues and at least this time, they made me get off my bike and go to the window myself.
We next rode across the bridge dividing the two countries and found two open windows at Honduran immigration –no queue here either. The Honduran process was simple, we paid our $3USD each and were admitted after the obligatory electronic fingerprinting and photo. Just as we were getting organized to leave the building three buses pulled up and instantly there were massive queues. Our timing today was perfect as we were riding off into Honduras before 8AM.
We had heard about the smooth roads in Honduras but we were even surprised how smooth they were. For the next 55k we had 95% brand new black asphalt and a super smooth ride. The only issue developed just as we reached San Lorenzo when we reached the very end of where they were paving. But even here, we were able to ride on the unfinished side of the road – having a shoulder that was close to 20 feet wide between us and the traffic. It was really our own traffic lane.
The first impressions of Honduras, other than the roads, have been surprisingly good. Almost everyone smiles and waves at us. We got lots of hellos or holas. We heard a few “gringos” but they were mostly friendly. If anything, the people seem more engaged and friendly than they were in El Salvador. It’s weird how the people you meet or don’t meet, purely by chance, color your view of a country. We’ve had a couple friends pass through that had not so nice greetings thrown at them and not surprisingly, they didn’t enjoy Honduras as much.
We reached San Lorenzo and started the motel search. We had one picked out but had this gut feel that the hotels near the highway would be nicer. We checked out a couple of the highway hotels and they were not nice. Not even nice enough to inspect the room. So we headed into town, stopped at the grocery and made our way to the first hotel. It is actually pretty nice. It has another pool but I didn’t get in today so you don’t have to suffer through more photos of me topless.
Tomorrow we head for Nicaragua – and another border crossing. This border is by far the one we’ve heard the most stories about. Some of the folks ahead of us have taken as much as 4 hours to get admitted – we read about one cyclist who was there for 6 hours! Knowing this in advance and setting our expectations low makes it easier for us I think – anything better than 4 hours is a win.
We think we’ll be in Nicaragua for about a week or so, depending on how many rest days we take. There are a couple of nice cities – Leon and Granada – that might warrant a day of exploration but we’ll see how we feel when we get there.