Adventures in Driving
were fairly exhausted when we arrived in Guatemala City's
small airport. The flight from Los Angeles had been 5 hours
long and fairly uneventful, but neither of us was able to
sleep, so we had watched the movie, "The Kid."
did manage to have a free sample cup of the local beer.
Then we just sat and waited for our small plane, a 48 seater
to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It was not as bad as I thought
it would be, and only a 45 minute flight
reached San Pedro Sula, waited for our bags, got waived
through customs, and walked through the tiny arrivals terminal
into crowd outside. The humidity and the heat were surprising
since it had not been that warm in Guatemala City. We were
supposed to be met by a local representative who was to
give us out onward tickets to Roatan for Monday. After 10
minutes, I looked at our vouchers and determined that we
should go into Departure terminal to the airline listed.
took us a moment, but we finally figured out that we had
to walk around outside of building to go inside the main
departure terminal. It was much nicer than I expected; here
we found ticketing agents, car rental counters, a Wendy's,
a frozen yogurt counter, a cigar shop, and a coffee kiosk.
Not to mention the all important ATM! No baggage storage
that I could see. At a pay phone I was able to use my MCI
card. I don't know what the privilege will cost though.
waited for 45 min for the Maya tour agent to arrive with
our tickets. After that we were able to pick up our rental
car; a Nissan pathfinder with "new tires". This
car had already seen some action but it held up well for
road to Copan was longer than expected, mostly due to our
exhaustion and unfamiliarity with the location. It was,
however, beautiful scenery filled with forests, jungles,
and horse drawn carts. In addition, there were all sorts
of people along the road, working, walking, and playing.
There were also Grandmas with machetes, young men with machetes,
and, you guessed it, even 3 year olds with machetes. Everyone
here seems to own a machete, the tool of choice.
pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, mules, cows and even an
iguana, competed for space along the two lane highway with
big, smoke belching trucks, old american school busses,
and taxis held together with coat hangers and duct tape.
Add to the mix, children playing in the road, people walking
with firewood on their heads, and the occasional horse drawn
cart, and driving was truly an adventure.
the drive we were stopped at police checkpoint for "donation"
to build a new "temple". When we politely declined
to contribute we were let pass easily. However, later along
the route we were stopped again, this time by 5 year old
children holding a blue rope across the road. They bluntly
demanded money from us to let us pass. We said no. They
didn't move. Finally it became a showdown and we just had
to drive through so they'd let go of the rope. Nothing like
an attempted mugging by a 5 year old to shake up your day.
we drove I thought that this appeared to be the poorest
country I have ever been in. Supposedly, Honduras is the
second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti
is first. Both David and I agreed that it seemed poorer
even than Nepal. Maybe it was all the poorly constructed
houses that could barely be referred to as a "hovel".
At least the one room homes we saw in Nepal were made of
stone. These "homes" in Honduras were made of
sticks, random boards nailed together, and corrugated metal.
It just looked like the definition of the term "abject
poverty". Yet, one of the odd juxtapositions we saw
was that most of the women were fairly well dressed to be
living in such conditions. Many wore outfits that would
be at home in any major city, complete with skirts and heels,
walking along the muddy roadside.
long road seemed to take forever and we were just so tired.
We arrived in Copan about 4 PM and promptly got a little
lost trying to find our hotel. We needed to use the 4 wheel
drive to get up hill but we finally found it.