Saturday, April 11, 2015

Copan and border crossings

This is Elise.  Mike is doing such a great job of keeping the blog updated.  I can't believe he had the energy to do the last four or five posts after driving 4 hours on really hairy roads and spending at least an hour and a half at the border crossing yesterday.
 We have had a great time this past week.  We have seen a lot of interesting, different things.  We have been in three different countries in five days.  Yesterday, a 2 hour drive took us 4 hours.  English is NOT widely spoken in Guatemala or Honduras so we have to conduct our border crossings, hotel searches and currency exchanges in Spanish.  By the end of the day my already poor Spanish skills had degraded to gibberish due to fatigue.
The border crossings here in Central America are SO different from the US/Mexico border.  Leaving Belize and crossing into Guatemala there were English speaking touts helping us navigate the complex paperwork needed to bring our car into Guatemala.  We have been lucky and have not encountered any lines at the borders.  It still takes about an hour to do.  Copies of documents are often required so after leaving one country (Belize for example) we then walk around the toll booth type barrier and heavily armed guards to cross into the next country to get to the copy shop.  Then we just walk back through again to complete the paperwork.  There seem to be no man's lands after we exit a country and before we enter the next country.  These spaces can be a few hundred yards to a kilometer or more.  The officials and men with big guns are all helpful and nice. All the heavy weapons kind of scare the girls though.
You do have to be careful in these countries.  There are a lot of hazards.  From suicide showers(exposed electric wires in the shower head are used to heat the water, if you touch them, you die) to sidewalks that end abruptly in three foot drop offs.  There are security concerns as well.  We have to be careful about where we go and ask someone to make sure it is safe.  We have not had any problems so far, but we have been told to stay in the center of town here, don't drive on certain roads, and don't walk around Antigua at night.  It is so unrestricted here compared to the states.  People ride on the back on pickup by sitting on the side of the bed.  I have seen toddlers on motorcycles.  The speed limit is simply as fast as you can go and still stay on the road.
I am getting used to doing math in my head all the time to do all the currency calculations.  Changing quetzales to limpiras was challenging yesterday.  I know the exchange rate of dollars to each currency but Guatemalan money to Honduran money in Spanish had my head spinning.  All the rooms in town seemed to be smallish hotel rooms and we wanted something bigger with a kitchen.  Even the lady in the tourist office didn't speak English.  At the end of the day though there is a sense of satisfaction.  We crossed the border!  We found a two bedroom house with a full kitchen!  I walked to the grocery store and bought food!  I was finally able to withdraw money from an ATM after the third try!  All the small victories.  Everyday things back home require all my resources here.  I have to pay attention to what I am doing.
I am loving this townhouse we found.  Daily maid service and full breakfast included.  The coffee in Guatemala and Honduras is really, really good.  I am looking forward to sampling some more yummy cheap street food tonight.  Then there is the totally random stuff like a big, white rabbit sitting in the street in the middle of town.  Is it a pet that someone let go?  I expected stray dogs, not stray fluffy bunnies.

The corner of the zocalo or main square in Copan, Honduras

Typical zocalo with open spaces for all to enjoy the beautiful outdoors

Town was bustling for the Saturday market with vendors coming from all the surrounding pueblos

Spanish colonial architecture is everywhere and the bright colors are pleasing to the eyes

When nature complements a dwelling it can be quite nice

1 comment:

  1. Amazing journey and beautiful pics. If you are planning to head to Nicaruaga soon, let me know. Some close friends recently returned and I'm sure they would love to share some tips with me if you need any