The only thing that struck me immediately were the buses. The local 'Chicken buses' were now mostly beakless, (as in flat fronted) loosing their big macho cool bonnet. Many of the characterful, colourful 'rides' had in fact sadly been replaced by super naff Hyundai Coaster buses and worst of all, roof racks were definitely not de riguer. Now I have to say that I'm a bit of a roof rack man, especially when travelling in a mountainous country on a heavy bicycle....
Gleefully tearing the used pages from the Lonely Planet in a futile attempt to shave weight
Kate (while searching on www.crazyguyonabike.com) has found a really useful blog of a couple (Alan & Wendy) who rode through these parts a few years back on a tandem. Their blog (from now on to be referred to as AWB as in Alan & Wendy's blog) couldn't be more different to ours. No waffle or silly mutterings, just loads of straight facts & info about distances, road surfaces, climb rates and food stops. Bloody good on em I say, it's well handy!
So, with AWB's info in our head, we rode an easy 25km to Puerto Corres and got on a bus.
Local biking dudes
So, back to the roof racks. After riding the hot, mean streets of town for quite a while we finally found the bus station. The guys working there almost ripped the bikes out from under us. Within minutes both bikes were stashed across the back seats and we were on our way.
We hadn't asked the price but then when Blakey (the conductor) came to collect the fare he explained that we needed to pay 7 times the normal rate as we were taking up 7 seats. But as we bowled along, feeling a bit ripped off I changed my mind. The bloke was actually really friendly and courteous, helping women & children on and off the bus and generally being nice. So what if they'd tucked us up? The busy dual carriageway looked horrible to ride on and after 1.5 hours, our destination town of Pedro de Sula looked hotter, more sprawling and more unwelcoming than any place we'd been so so far.
We not only changed buses here but also changed our undershorts, cunningly using Kates skirt as a 'this is how we do it in England' disguise
After a quick bit of lunch in the shopping centre food court (first time for me to have my bike in a food court) we were off.
This time it was a proper big bus. We reclined (yes seriously) our slightly faded and dirty luxury velour seats, slid the window open and enjoyed 3 hours of gorgeous countryside flying by. The bikes however were unceremoniously chucked in a locker under the bus and by the time we arrived they'd 'mated' quite well. This didn't stop the over zealous driver just grabbing any part of either bike in a reasonably mindless attempt to separate them. A few more scratches and dings were chalked up but they still soldier on.
The next abuse they got was the cobbled streets of the little town of Copan. We pretty much took the first hotel we found just so we could get off them. A quick 'street food' dinner followed by a milkshake rounded off the day nicely. They take their milkshakes pretty damn seriously in Honduras!
Copan is a nice little town and home to some very well preserved Mayan ruins which has turned it into a little tourist hub.
The main square
We went to a shop to check them out. We thought they'd be straw type hats that let in the breeze but they seem to be made of something thick and woven and then lacquered. It wasn't a tourist shop, these were the real mc coy. Check this one out, something got a little lost in translation...
So, on to the ruins. I have to say I'm more of a BC man than AD but when in Honduras eh... They were actually a really nice and peaceful place to visit. First came the Macaw sanctuary bit then onto the real deal.
Huge 400 year old trees kind of half hold the place together and half break it up in a kind of "I don't care which civilisation you are, I'm a tree and I'm in charge" kind of way that I like. The archeologists think that this site was abandoned by the Mayans after they over populated it, deforested it causing drought and basically wiped themselves out. Sound kinda familiar???
I mean once you've seen one fully hyroglifficked staircase you've seen em all ain't ya?
Another crumbling old ruin