Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crossing the border to Honduras (From Guatemala)



I'm back :)
So once my friend and I left Livingston via Rio Dulce,we stayed overnight at Puerto Barrios for the crossing of border the next day. The next morning, we reached the El Florido border that divided Guatemala and Honduras. Being pushed to and fro to different lines, and facing people trying to sell me forms ( even the locals were buying them so we were wondering if it would help us cross the border faster, Surprisingly We managed to make it pass the Guatemalan borders quite fast. Then we tried to find my way to the Honduras customs. Some taxi driver tried to persuade us that the customs would require a long way of walking - thankfully we saw some locals walking and decide to try our luck and walk on.

Saw the Honduras customs after some time and then shifty moneychangers came, pushing money into your hands for exchange of the Quetzales (Guatemalan dollars) into Lempiras (Honduras dollarS)under the sweltering heat was indeed a very memorable experience. Honduras customs was relatively ok as well, after passing over some border cost of a small amount, they gave me a migracion coupon with a custom stamp on it and I waited and got on a bus to San Pedro Sula ( the nearest town with the most number of buses from the border)[ I know some of you might be wondering how come I am not going to the copan ruinas - which is really well known and I heard a must-go - But coming from all the mayan ruins which I had seen , I felt that it might be repetitive.]
Currency exchange: Important! : Though you lose a few dollars for the exchange, make sure you have enough local money Lempiras to pay for the bus into the nearest town in Honduras. In addition, always remember to bring your own calculator to do the exchange rate , some of them have tweaked their calculators and dont hand over your money unless you make sure its the right amount they have given you.

By the time we reached Pedro Sula,it was already quite dark. In the bus, they picked up locals along the way too, so we asked the lady beside us with regards to the address of the hostels in the guidebook. She looked at us in shock and said are you all going there now? Its too late and too dangerous. Her registered shock face made my heart jump a little. Looked around and looked at my friend and could see that she was worried as well upon hearing that comment ( afterall if a local says that, it must really not be safe) - so I quickly tried to come up with a plan. Wanted to find a place to stay near to where the bus stops but it seems that there was no hostels along the way and it was only available in the city which takes around another hour. She introduced herself as a nurse and recommended that we could tag along with her and she will try and find a place in the hospital for us to sleep for the night and make it out in the morning. We were so grateful. That night was indeed an amazing experience. She got permission from the doctor to let us stay a night in the operation room ( or was it xray room). In addition, she guided us to the staff canteen for a some food in case we got hungry. Such a nice lady right. My friend has the photo but I did not take. Shall post it up next time.
In the middle of the night, we could hear people screaming "rapido" and then pushing patients on the 'trolley' into the emergency room which was not too far from where we were. Indeed an experience of a lifetime :)The next morning after she ended her shift, even though she was so tired, she still sat on the bus with us to the main city and guided us to change some money in case we needed. When she left, our hearts were filled with gratitude.

Once in Pedro Sula main city, I was thinking of going to La Ceiba (Roatan) for some diving as recommended. However I realised it was too much of a trouble and I didnt fancy diving alone. So I made my way to to the Pulhapanzak waterfalls (Cascadas de Pulhapanzak waterfalls) which was termed as the waterfall to see in the guidebooks " a beautiful white water cascade that falls into a tropical canyon". Caught a bus to Rio Lindo, my high expectations of the waterfall made me a little disappointed. But nevertheless, it was an amazing sight. And the air was indeed very refreshing.



Quickly as night fell, I pondered and wonder if I should make my way back to Pedro Sula and then go to Lago Yagoa in the morning, however I decided that it was too messy and difficult to find an accomodation in the dark in such a big city.
I quickly made by way to Comayagua- a dainty little town that I really welcomed for a break away from all the travelling.




Next morning I bided farewell to my friend ( who was going back to Mexico to meet a friend) and caught an early bus to Tegucigalpa, the main city in Honduras.Personally I feel that all the major towns look similar. Even in Mexico, all the major towns look similar in one way or another- the main plaza, the cathedral, the palacio in the main central with the markets - with lots and lots of people.



Did some shopping and trying out of the local food specialities in the large markets


The next morning, I made my way to the nearest border town El Pariso to travel into Nicaragua.

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