Summary: I had heard some warnings about Honduras being a lawless place, full of unrest around a recent, contested semi-democratic election and remembered reading in cycling books about the possibility of taking a ferry from El Salvador to Nicaragua, thus bypassing Honduras altogether. On the other hand, I had already spent 2 days in the country while taking the bus and then climbing its highest mountain, and other than a minor bus accident I felt safe. Plus, I would not pass the capital (Tegucigalpa), the only capital not situated along the Panamerican Highway. So I decided to cycle on through the country, where I only spent one night, warmly welcome by a local family in the home behind their little street corner grocery store.
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Monday, December 7
El Triunfo to San Lorenzo (Honduras)
154km / 12188km; 7.3h / 661h; 1450m
I set the alarm early at 5am. That’s actually a bit too early, as the sun doesn’t come up until about 5:45am. I’m ready to ride and on the road by 6am. Beautiful low angle sunlight illuminates the surrounding volcanoes, in particular the symmetric cone of San Miguel. My first goal is the town of San Miguel. I stop at the hotel Florencia, where they offer a breakfast buffet and wireless Internet – Bingo! So I get to check email and my SPOT pages while feasting over multiple plates and 5 glasses of pineapple juice and as many cups of coffee, plus 2 yoghurts, fruit, cookies and a plate of hot food, incl. plantains and
beans, tortillas etc. Hands down the best buffet since Fast Eddie’s in Tok, Alaska.
At 10:30 I resume the ride. Now fresh and fully nourished the ride feels great. It does get very hot, but that’s par for the course here. The next goal is to reach the border to Honduras. Near the town of La Union the road turns sharply to the left towards the border. I run low on fluids. So I decide to stop at the next store, no matter what. I come upon a tiny little shack with only a very old woman there, but it has a promising coca cola label outside – indeed one of the most widely recognized brands in the world! Once I make myself understood, the old lady produces a mini bottle (197ml) of coke – that’s not nearly enough! Then I see big bottles in the room, 2.25l to be exact. I buy one such bottle of pineapple / coconut juice: Rarely did a juice taste any better, ever! And since it’s room temperature and has no gas, I can drink more than 1l right away pretty much in one huge gulp. Awesome. The rest goes into my Nalgene bottle for the road.
Fresh juiced up I reach the border at near 100km for the day. Again, water and coke, that’s my mix… Now the border crossing, which poses no problems. From various reports I always expect these crossings to take up a lot of time, but so far I hardly ever waited more than 10-15 min.
I start using the iPod for additional motivation during the many hills Honduras still has to offer. I feel good and it is still about 3 hr to sunset, so I push on towards San Lorenzo, some 55 km after the border. I realize again how much attention my unusual bike is drawing from practically everybody along the road. At times it can get too much, especially when I’m tired and thirsty, and not always in the mood to smile and wave and greet hundreds of people… I get to San Lorenzo at sunset and check out two hotels. They charge 600 Lempiras per night, roughly $35, which surprises me as really nice rooms in Santa Rosa de Copan were only half that. I don’t commit and instead buy a coke at a small store. When I get to talk with the shop owner, he spontaneously offers me to pitch my tent in his home! He lives there with his kids and one grand child, but no wife (separated). A very friendly man named Barto. I accept and offer to invite him and his son for dinner in return. We all have a fish filet with garlic sauce – yummy.
Tuesday, December 8
San Lorenzo to Somotillo (Nicaragua)
95km / 12283km; 5h / 666h; 500m