La Antigua, Guatemala to Santa Rosa, Honduras to Tegucigalpa, Honduras
We got an early start out of Antigua, leaving our lavish hotel behind us as we rode down nearly-deserted cobblestone streets.
As we climbed into the mountains, we could see the clouds below us.
We got a good view from above of some of the precarious Guatemalan residential developments – houses built out of brittle masonry materials on steep inclines – not particularly resistant to earthquakes. They will all fall into the ravine below when the next big one comes (like occurred in Haiti).
This Guatemalan police car has the capacity to scold, but not to chase.
Here’s a motorbike whose panniers make ours look shy and diminutive.
We were very surprised at how easy it was for us to cross the border into Honduras, but the crossing didn’t look to be ideal for everyone. Here are a couple of truck drivers who rigged their hammocks for their wait at the border.
There were immediate differences upon leaving Guatemala and entering Honduras. Honduras is definitely a step down in prosperity.
We’ve seen a decline in transportation options as we travel farther from Mexico: In Mexico there were some very run down cars, in Guatemala there were fewer cars and more motorbikes and in Honduras there were mainly horses and wagons led by oxen.
Guatemala has approximately twice the public revenue of Honduras - $5 billion versus $2.6 billion and Guatemala has a population of 13 million versus 8 million in Honduras. They are both about the same size – approximately the size of Tennessee. As we will find out later, Nicaragua has even greater poverty than Honduras.
Sanitary conditions were a notch down from Guatemala – how would you like to drink this potion offered by this street vendor in a plastic bag – who knows what was in it before? Helge looks like he’s considering it for a moment.
We were short of time after clearing the border and did not have the time to visit the Copan Mayan ruins. We were in fact in such a rush to reach Santa Rosa that we did not even stop for lunch – I missed our usual luncheon talks which cover subjects such as:
Women – Helge’s wife, Karen, who planted a lipstick kiss on his rearview mirror very precisely positioned to not obstruct the lane of traffic.
Technology – The group was prodding me into getting an iPhone rather than the TMobile for international travel, allowing me to step into the world of modern information systems. But there’s a hitch - they explained that an iPhone is just the opposite of a woman – very complicated in the beginning but after getting to know it and getting used to it, it’s much easier and sheer delight.
Work ethics and rewards – A type-A business mogul is talking to a Mexican fisherman:
Investment banker: “My gosh, you caught ten fish in an hour – what will you do with them?”
Fisherman: “My family and I will eat some and we’ll give the rest to the neighbors.”
Investment banker: “If you fish longer you could get more and then sell them. You could then purchase another boat and hire people to catch more fish and sell them outside your neighborhood, get more boats and get more money.” Fisherman: “What would I do with the money?”
Investment banker: “You would have more leisure time to relax and sun yourself on the beach.”
Fisherman: “That’s what I do now.”
The remainder of the day was spent on beautiful roads winding through habitats that varied from lush and tropical to rugged and mountainous.
In both Guatemala and Honduras, we saw babies everywhere…
And lots of young children
The statistics bear this out – in both Guatemala and Honduras about 40% of the population is 14 years and younger, and the median age of both countries is between 19 and 20. The birthrate for both is approximately 27 per thousand per year (versus 20 in Mexico) – these guys are even friendlier than Mexicans!
We arrived late in Santa Rosa, Honduras and had to settle for a fleabag hotel. Not the hotel Helge will use on next year’s GlobeRiders adventure – after all, this is what reconnoitering is all about. The towels had the loft of a handkerchief, the bathrooms were designed for midgets, and upon stepping into the shower, mysterious water oozed out from the cracks in the tub. This was a big switch from our lodging in Antigua.
The next morning, we were packed and down for breakfast by 6:30 a.m.
We headed up out of the valley for Tegucigalpa, Honduras…
And for the first time were asked for our papers. The officers were gruff at first, but we soon became buddies. They were even willing to pose for pictures (the lady was the boss).
We visited a fabulous farmers’ market where you can buy fruit from everywhere (including apples from the state of Washington).
Apples are out of season here now, but when Honduras apples are in season, they will be half the price of Washington apples.
The market town was very active and crowded.
This guy arrived at the market with his wife and two children – all three of them in the back of his pickup as he sat alone in the front.
We rode for part of the day on dusty dirt roads filled with trenches and ruts.
I snoozed a little on a hammock…
Had a great lunch…
And noticed a couple of amorous Latinos.
We saw a couple of farmers hauling two live cows in a rather undersized vehicle.
Heading into Tegucigalpa, Helge perfected lane splitting and slid in behind a policeman with his siren running, allowing us to dash through the rush hour traffic – saving perhaps an hour.
We are 100 miles from Nicaragua and will cross the border tomorrow.