Another Day, Another Country….Or Two
It’s been a pretty busy week or so since the last update! A few long days on the bike combined with lots of power outages where we are now has delayed this post. We’ve since traveled out of Guatemala, through Honduras and are now relaxing in the coastal town of San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua.
We spent our 2nd week in Antigua doing the same as the 1st week, it was nice to have a bit of a routine after so long on the road. We would go to school in the morning, maybe do some chores in the afternoon and then head out into town in the evening……and we threw in a Salsa class too. It was quite entertaining – the room was tiny and there was at least 12 of us so after about 45 minutes of laughter and stumbling around, all that was left was a room full of very sweaty people. I would imagine that it would take a lot of lessons to make our stumbling look the way Salsa should, we definitely were not moving like Latinos 🙂
On the 1st November, Guatemalans celebrate ‘Day of the Dead’ which mostly involves the locals visiting the graves of their family and celebrating their life. Our school organised a trip to see some of the celebrations in the nearby town of Santiago Sacatepequez – the celebrations involved a huge kite festival and party in the local cemetery.
Transportation to the town was by an old American school bus, aka ‘Chicken Bus’. Central America is where all of the old US school buses are sent when they’re knackered, they then continue to use them for many more years so most are falling apart and emitting plumes of black smoke!! Anyway, it was a funny experience, especially when they parked on a steep hill and made us get off the bus via the emergency exit at the back – okay for most, but there were a few older people on board.
After over an hours walk through crowds of people (almost being crushed) and busy market stalls, we made it up to the cemetery to the kite festival. One of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. There were some huge kites strapped up and thousands of people wandering around (and over) all of the graves.
It was like ‘Party in the Park’ only in a graveyard!! I saw a pizza delivery man wandering around, I guess someone had ordered take out 🙂 And an ice cream lady pushing her cart over the graves whilst wondering around trying to make a sale.
Apparently, fancy dress was also an option for these celebrations…..
From superhero costumes to wearing a bucket on you head – anything goes here!
Amongst the crowds Dan was trying to discreetly take some photos of the locals – sometimes they spotted him though, like this lady – and I don’t think she was too impressed 🙂
Back in Antigua, one of the nearby volcanoes, Volcan de Fuego, decided to show a little bit of activity. It erupted few weeks ago and is still pretty active. It was only a bit of black smoke, but we did watch for a while from the hotel roof terrace to see if it was going to put on a proper show…..but unfortunately not this time. I want to see some lava 🙂
We enjoyed our last few days in Antigua wondering the streets and eating great food.
There was also another street procession – you just never know what’s going to happen next in these countries – there seems to always be some sort of celebration, procession or fiesta going on. As we were sat planning out some more of our route, this procession went by. Apparently in remembrance to the death of Christ. When we first saw it the large float was being carried by women, and some of them looked in pain with the weight, but we were told that it is an honour to be able to carry it. The was some sombre music being played by the band that follow on behind.
We bumped in the procession again 3 or 4 hours later, I think the whole town was out following it by this point.
So, eventually, the time came to say goodbye to Antigua, we had thought about changing our plans so we could stay longer, but that would only just delay the inevitable! Here’s me looking pretty unimpressed on the morning of departure. We’d had the best time and met some great people too.
One of the people we had met was Mike, an overland biker from Canada. He is on a pretty similar route and timescale so we decided to head off together to Honduras – a bit of company on the road and someone else to talk to other than Dan 🙂
The border crossing to Honduras was pretty simple, just took a while, but once processed we were on our way to Copan Ruinas – a small town just over the border from Guatemala (see border crossing page if you want more info about this border). At the border, I practiced my Spanish skills on some locals kids whilst Dan and Mike sorted the paperwork – apparently my Spanish is not yet up to the standards to talk to children!! 🙂
Copan Ruinas is another colonial town with cobbled streets – and very steep streets too!
We checked into a hotel for a couple of nights so we could go and explore the nearby Maya ruins. A nice hot shower was in order after a long day on the bike – you just have to be careful not to get electrocuted in the process 🙂
Here’s a few shots from the ruins.
And as is the norm for this part of the world, seeing things you don’t expect, whilst wondering around the ruins we seemed to stumble across what appeared to be a Miss Latino competition. There were photographers, cameramen and a group of girls wearing sashes from different countries around the Americas.
We also saw some Macaw parrots near the ruins….really pretty birds – although Dan was probably more interested in the Miss Latino ‘birds’. 🙂
The following day we rode with Mike right through Honduras down towards the border with Nicaragua. It was good to have company on the road – especially as we had read that Honduras had the highest rate of intentional homicide in the world in 2010 & 2011. That always makes for a ‘not’ very relaxed days riding. There were loads of police and military check points too, a few of which pulled us over, but then allowed us on our way – especially after Mike discovered a tactic of fumbling around trying to put his kick stand out and then making it look difficult to get off the bike – by that time the police were bored and sent us on our way without even looking at our documents….good work Mike!
We arrived in the town of Choluteca pretty late and by the time we found somewhere to stay it was getting quite dark – not really ideal in this country – but it was good to have got down near the border ready for the next day.
The next morning, after eating some left over pizza for breakfast (urgh), we headed for the Nicaraguan border of Guasaule – along one of the most pot-holed roads in the world – yes, even more than the roads the UK 🙂
We went through all of the necessary border processes once again (see border crossing notes).
Here’s the bike being fumigated (who knows what chemicals they were spraying!) and Dan & Mike riding to the immigration office.
And without too much hassle we were on our way into Nicaragua.
This country had a much nicer feel to it than Honduras did – it instantly felt safer and more friendly. The landscape was pretty cool too….more volcanoes.
Some of the roads weren’t in the best condition, but that’s as expected as this country is pretty poor.
We decided to head straight for the coastal town of San Juan Del Sur so that we could enjoy a few days off the bike (again) and also enjoy some sunshine 🙂
From here, we head to Costa Rica and then onto Panama….although all I really want to do is go back to Guatemala!