Siguatepeque – Villa de San Antonio

V siguatepeque to villa de san antonio
It’s quite chilly in this area at night, and it was wonderful to use a thick blanket and feel the weight of it when sleeping. So cozy, just like in Sweden!

Leaving the mountain town Siguatepeque on a bike is a joy. Since it’s high up, it’s all down down down the first 15 kilometers! A lot of fun.
Weeee
Weeeeeee!

But the fun is over quickly, because what follows is a looong period of constant uphill again, and with my almost-crumbling-apart bicycle and a blazing sun, it was really tough.

Each turn of the road, I hoped to see it going downhill again, but faced only more uphill.

Not worth it,” I thought.

The peak and then down
Then came this view. The peak of the road. That’s the one I had been waiting for.

After that, it was crazy downhill again all the way to Comayagua, and it had totally been worth the climb!
Woooo
Wooooo!

After that, there’s just a long straight highway, though it goes up and down over small hills. The strange thing was that this was exhausting too! Was it the weather or the bike that made this so much tougher than all my previous distances? “I need to find a repair shop,” I thought as I took a short break under the shade of a big ad sign, and drank my last water. “And more water.”

Only minutes later, I had to stop again a gas station to get more water and regain my strengths for half an hour. Even so, the last 13 kilometers were excruciating, and I don’t even know why! I wondered if I needed to oil the gears, adjust the breaks, or if it’s simply me being all out of energy.

Tiny Villa de San Antonio
Finally I did arrive at Villa de San Antonio, where my next couchsurfing host lives. Lots of people in the house this Sunday, and no one spoke English! But it was perfect practice for me, and I feel like I’ve improved a lot.

They told me that the road to the capital, Tegucigalpa, is even tougher than the one I had just passed, and I dreaded the next day.

But I was lucky once again, because the daughter happens to live in the capital, and she was going to drive back early the very next morning, at 5am! Quite early, but she agreed to give me a ride, and I’m now going to bed early.

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La Lima – Siguatepeque

U La Lima to Siguatepeque
I had planned to leave at 9am, but I kept being delayed, as it was the mother’s birthday, and they wanted me to eat lunch with them. Then my new tire (they insisted on helping with getting a fresh back tire) got problems, and I was delayed further.

group photo
It was a nice farewell, we took a group photo (I wonder if they’ll hang it on their wall, as I’m pretty sure they thought I was a visiting angel in disguise, or that’s what the father kept joking about), and at 2pm, I finally got going. Only four hours until sunset; I was dangerously late once again.

Tiresome roadThe first part was tough. The sun was very hot, and the drivers were not nice. One actually threw something at my back as they passed me. It hurt a little.

Also, I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with the bike, like some resistance making it slightly slower. A new constant noise when going fast confirms this.

It took a little more than an hour to reach Villanueva and the highway. Lots of hills, and I hoped it would get better from there.

Good highway
And it did! The main highway is very straight and a lot of space to bike on!

But with 30 kilometers left to my destination; Lake Yojoa, I faced this by now familiar view:
Darkest clouds
These looked like the darkest clouds so far on my trip, and I was a little worried. These Honduran highlands actually get quite cold when it’s not sunny, and in a storm, I would be freezing!

But just as the rain began, I saw a car standing still on the side of the road, and it had the perfect trunk for my bike! I asked him if I could join him, and he said sure! The passenger seat was full of stuff, but I could sit back in the trunk with my bike. I had been very lucky.
Rainy ride
And as we drove through the crazy storm, I saw how much uphill this road is, and realized I had been even luckier!

The weather got better quickly though, and I was ready to get off and continue biking. I had said he could drop me off at La Guama, because he was continuing south and the place I’d stay the night was to the west from there.

But. He never stopped!

And by the time I was sure we had gone too far (my fingers were still wet, so at first I couldn’t check the map on my phone), he couldn’t hear me as I knocked and shouted for his attention!

Once he finally did and stopped, I was far from my destination, and I would have to bike the wrong way. So I decided to change plans and continue hitchhiking with this guy to the next city; Siguatepeque, even though I had no host or hotel planned.

“I was probably lucky with this too,” I thought when I realized just how impossible the road to Siguatepeque would have been to bike. It seemed to be mostly uphill, and quite steep too! So I don’t recommend taking this route when biking! Take a bus, or hitchhike.
End of ride
It was basically dark when we arrived. He dropped me off and I said thank you, and then I started biking towards the center, asking around for WiFi and/or cheap hostels.

The first roadside hotel I walked into, called Hotel Plaza de Fuente, turned out to have WiFi, and a big private room is 280 Lempiras, which is a decent price.

So there you go, everything turned out fine in the end, this time as well!

La Lima and Tela

La Lima house
I’ve stayed 3-4  nights with this Honduran family in their wooden house now, and it’s been pretty great (the daughter’s goal was to be my best host in all of Central America, and she might just have succeeded, surely top 2), but tomorrow it’s time to get going, and begin the final stretch of my biking challenge.

banana chipsI’ve mostly just relaxed, played a whole lot of card games, tried all kinds of Honduran food (the biggest surprise is that the coffee is really good here, and I normally don’t like coffee!) and started watching Dragon Ball, the original anime!

As a banana producing region, they make everything out of banana here. Instead of potato or rice, they often have fried banana with their food. These banana chips were really good, and banana soda wasn’t bad either. Bananas, bananas, bananas. (I think I’ve had enough of bananas for a while.)


We went to the “dangerous” city San Pedro Sula to meet friends and have pizza. I survived!

Tela
We went on one day-trip to the Caribbean coastal town Tela, and found ourselves in a small Garífuna community right by the beach.

guifiti
We had seafood and tried guifiti; a strong local liquor a little similar to tequila. But much worse. Everything else was great though!

When we got back to the house, the father had arranged a Christian gathering with people from their church. He insisted on having me join them, and as I’m not religious at all, it was an odd but interesting experience to sit among so many strangers, singing psalms and discussing passages from the bible. And of course he introduced me to the group and told them about my trip, and they will pray for me! Goodie.bible group

The final tidbit of this update is that I was convinced to finally get rid of my beloved blue bottle. I got it in Spain exactly two months ago, and although I would have liked to keep it for the rest of my life, it was time to let go. These things get cancerous, I’m told!
Trashed bottle

Next up, I’m biking to lake Yojoa, and will probably spend the night in a tent! No WiFi, so I’ll post again when I can!

Puerto Cortés – La Lima

T Puerto Cortes to La Lima
My host in Puerto Cortés left early for work, and my co-surfer left for Belize with his motorbike. I was all alone and could relax and just take it slow all morning, which was much needed!

furball
I woke up with this little furball sleeping on my bed.

Then I learnt that my next host Ana Lucia, living in La Lima 74 kilometers away, had volleyball practice in the evening, and I had to arrive by 4pm. I felt stressed, because I didn’t get going until noon!

Was I really going to make the whole distance within 4 hours?

road from puerto cortes
I had forgotten that I used to avoid biking during the hot midday hours, because it had been cloudy and rainy for several days. But of course today, the sky was clear blue! The sun combined with the initial steady climb of the highway made me exhausted already within an hour.

But after that, the landscape leveled out and it turned out to be a very easy route, except for all the big trucks that insisted on driving very close to me. Minutes and kilometers flew by!
puerto cortes straight road

At 3pm, I didn’t have much distance left to bike, and I stopped outside a Pizza Hut for their free WiFi, to brag about my accomplishment. “I did all 74 kilometers in less than 3.5 hours!” I planned to write on my blog.

I had avoided the center of San Pedro Sula, because it’s considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Wikipedia explains it in a funny way in its tourist section:
“It has a cathedral that was built in 1949. Besides that there is nothing else unless you want a bullet to the head.”

la lima
I did bike through La Lima though, which is quite a cute town that also happens to have a Western Union office, which I will try to get money from tomorrow. I haven’t had any money for two days now, so it’s about time!

The last stretch was out in the country again, and my Google Maps app didn’t even show the road! (I will complain another time about how the app is lacking a lot of roads compared to, say, the Facebook map.)

football field
I had been told to look for the second house next to the football field. I was getting close!

And then I found them, standing outside their gate, just as the clock turned to 4pm. I don’t know what had happened to my estimated 3.5 hours (there was a lot more traffic and streets to navigate though), but 74 kilometers in four hours isn’t bad either!

I said hello to the parents who only speak Spanish, but the two daughters went to a bilingual school, so they speak English perfectly! Or well, almost perfectly. 🙂 🙂

They live in a wonderful old wooden house, and the whole family is working with banana transportation. They taught me things about bananas.
bananas
In Honduras, these are called platano, banano and manzano.

Then we went to their volleyball practice, and it was uh… okay! I brought my kindle, so I could keep myself entertained.
volleyball

All in all, they have been so nice and welcoming! I will tell more about that tomorrow, because I will stay here for a while.

Puerto Barrios – Puerto Cortés

S Puerto Barrios to Puerto Cortes
The first 15 kilometers to get back on track were peanuts except for a bit of uphill just outside the city. I had felt it was mostly slightly up when going the other direction, and I had been right. Well felt, Fredrik!

Just a few kilometers on the road towards the border, there’s a motel called Hotel Escorpión, and out of curiosity I went in to ask for the prices. They charge 125 Quetzales per room, so that might be an option if you want to bike 30 kilometers less, especially if you’re two people!

I also stopped at a motorbike repair shop and had my handlebar screwed tighter. It had gotten dangerously loose lately. He didn’t want any money for it.

Straight road
After passing a few buildings, there’s just a long well paved road; a surprisingly calm one.

Palms
The road continues through enormous amounts of African oil palms and banana plants. A big sign said Chiquita. How nice that some American company is making profits off of land in other countries.

Coming storm
With two kilometers left to the border, the clouds got threateningly dark again. Luckily I only got a little wet, as it didn’t pick up for real until I was under the roof of the immigration building.
immigration rain

I’ve traveled a lot, and as far as I can remember, it’s only here in Central America that they have fees to cross borders. Greedy people! At least it’s only 30 Quetzales to enter Honduras, so it’s not too bad.

Immigration went smoothly, barely any people there, and I was officially in Honduras before noon. I changed my last 40 Quetzales for 126 Lempiras, and waited for the rain to stop so I could continue my journey.

Honduran road
There, this is Honduras! Looks the same as Guatemala.

I had planned to rest and eat by the border, but somehow, none of the small eateries seemed inviting, or manned. I just kept biking and biking.

CuyamelSuddenly I had arrived in Cuyamel; the town where I had planned to make my first Western Union withdrawal in the country. I only had 42 kilometers left to get to Puerto Cortés, and it was not yet 2 pm! Biking has become a piece of cake!

Unfortunately there was a power blackout in the whole town, and I couldn’t get more money. But I sat down at a small eatery and got a big meal for only 60 Lempiras! (About 2.5 USD)
Honduras seems to be even cheaper than Guatemala.
fried banana
I ended up getting this typical northern Honduran dish. Rice and beans (called casamiento), chicken and tajadas, which are super tasty fried bananas. I want more of those!

I must say the entire road from Guatemala to Puerto Cortés is an easy distance. Long, but constantly good roads and no uphill to talk about.

Omoa
I passed through the coastal town Omoa and saw cozy little beaches (that I didn’t take a picture of for some reason) along the road. I thought of taking a break and swim a little, but decided to keep going and reach my new couchsurfing host.

And I arrived in Puerto Cortés! It’s a big city, but easily navigated. To reach the center, you have to pass one of several bridges.
Bridge to Puerto Cortes

I found the house of my host, but she didn’t show up, so I went to a park nearby and got free WiFi, but she didn’t reply!

It was getting dark, and the bugs were getting frikkin’ annoying. I was waiting at that park for more than an hour, and she didn’t answer.

bugs
I entertained myself by taking bug slapping selfies.

It had gotten dark, and I couldn’t wait anymore (I had already been asked for money by men with alcoholic breath, twice), and I decided to go back to her house. Maybe to shout her name and hope for the best?

Just as I arrived, a man shouted my name! I was confused at first, but it turns out that he’s another couchsurfer, and that my host had not replied because she was at the gym!

And so, I finally got inside and could take a shower, and when our host came back, we went to have some traditional baleadas (big tortillas filled with beans and other things, not unlike what I ate several times in Guatemala).

I had survived yet another day!

Couchsurfing people
Why on the floor? I don’t know. It was for the blog!

Rio Dulce – Puerto Barrios

R Rio Dulce to Puerto Barrios
My legs still felt tired in the morning, and it was hard to decide if I should continue my trip, or stay another night to get fully restored. The rain didn’t help to motivate me.

But after relaxing up until noon, and the sky getting blue again, I decided to get going after all. 77 kilometers should be doable before sunset despite starting late!

Rio Dulce stretch
This distance starts with 15 kilometers of very long straight road with not much elevation, and no civilization either. But after reaching the village Buenos Aires, the road gets more hilly and varied, with small houses and stores spread out along the road.

dusty road 1
After that, the road gets frustratingly bad, and since I’m still paranoid about getting another flat tire, I biked very slowly. Adding to that, all the passing trucks make the air very dusty. My eyes hurt and I felt sand between my teeth. Worst experience so far!

dusty road 2
Can you see that cloud of dust? It wasn’t nice.

After a few kilometers it changes to a super nice and newly paved road, but it’s also constantly uphill… I was no longer sure which one was better.
uphill
It doesn’t look like it, but this is the start of a very long uphill section.

After a lot of sweat and suffering, I reached the top of the hill, and bought a bag of freshly diced pineapples (only 3 Quetzales!) from one of the many pineapple sellers hanging there. I wish I had taken a photo, but I was too tired to think about that!

After that, it was steep downhill again, and it was a lot of fun! It almost ended too soon, as I reached the end off the road.
puerto barrios road split
Here, you can turn right to go south towards Guatemala City (there are supposedly some impressive ruins along that road, but I felt like I had seen enough), or left, which goes north towards the Honduran border, and Puerto Barrios.

Comedor Jennifer
There’s a Texaco gas station in this area, but their meals were around 35-45 Quetzales each, so instead I stopped at a small local eatery and had a tortilla with beans (they’re quite common in this area, tastes a bit like Swedish pancakes) and a delicious melon shake for a total of 20 Quetzales.
Tortilla con frijoles
I rested for an hour (watching the Disney Channel with the owner’s kids, or whoever the kids were), and then I was ready for the final 47 kilometers!

more curvy road
This entire last distance is quite pleasant, some ups and downs, but nothing too demanding. A light rainfall cooled me down just the right amount, and the hours and kilometers flew by

As I passed the road that goes to Honduras, I felt bad. Though it’s only an additional 15 kilometers (well, 30 kilometers since I have to go the same way back tomorrow), it felt like a waste to go in the wrong direction!

I kept my eyes open for cheap hotels along the road, but no such luck. I asked a bunch of old women by the road, and they said that I can stay at the nearby church for only 10 Quetzales! But when I went to ask the church, they said no, it’s not a hostel! I wonder what the deal was with that…

Puerto Barrios Trucks
I finally arrived at Puerto Barrios, and it felt like the end of the world, where all the trucks go, and then turn back again.

It’s definitely not a touristic place, as I couldn’t find any hostels in the area on the internet. I did read that there are some if you ask around though, so that was my plan.

hospedaje
Just as I entered the city, I saw the sign “hospedaje” on a building, and stopped to check it out. There was a whole bunch of people sitting there, hanging out, and they said that they have a private room for 50 Quetzales! No WiFi though, but I could borrow from them in their house. I’m part of their family now, they said!

“Sounds good,” I answered, and told them that I’d be back later.

I wanted to see the city while there was still sunlight, and also see what other hostels were available.
Puerto Barrios wide roads
The city turned out to be a real city though, and felt endless to bike through! The roads are huge, and the smaller market streets were busy even as the sun was going down.
Busy Puerto Barrios

I reached the water, part of the small Caribbean coastline that Guatemala is in possession of, just as the sun was setting.
Puerto Barrios sunset

It got dark quickly, and I stopped at a few hotels and asked for their prices. They were around 65-75 Quetzales, which is not bad, but none of them had WiFi! I decided to bike back to my new family and stay at their place.

When I returned, they had no rooms left! But, since they were impressed by my biking trip, they said that I could stay in their house! It turns out that they were having a family gathering, and that’s why it was so busy there by the entrance.

I felt quite odd, standing in front of all these strangers, telling about my trip, and then coming back from my room now and then to ask for the WiFi password, the bathroom, a blanket, etc! But it was an experience! I don’t think they’re used to non-Guatemalans, and they were very curious.
Hostel family

Now I’m gonna get some sleep, because I will continue across the Honduran border tomorrow! I know I’m traveling at a very fast pace these days, but I have a new friend in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, that I want to arrive to as soon as possible, so I can rest a few days there!

Let’s hope this border crossing will go well.

San Luis – Rio Dulce

Q San Luis to Rio Dulce
I just realized that there’s a big difference in temperature here in Guatemala compared to the Mexican and Belizean coasts. The bananas stay in much better shape even after a long day of biking!

Also, it gets a little chilly at night which is welcome, but this morning, my swim shorts and exercise shirt (which I always wear when biking and then wash when I shower upon arrival) were still not quite dry!
I think it’s okay though, I keep being chilled a little longer before starting to sweat.

Because of the lack of WiFi, I went to bed early last night and set the clock alarm to 6:50, to get going early this time!

Yeah right. I didn’t leave the hotel until 9am. Was so sleepy…

rollercoaster road 1
The road here is a lot of fun to ride, twisting and turning through the vegetation, mostly going downhill. It’s hard to take a picture that does it justice, but I tried.rollerocaster road 2
And doooown, just like a roller-coaster!

It’s usually very narrow though, so big trucks and buses sometimes pass dangerously close.

During one of the steepest downhills (I was going full speed!), a big bug crashed right into my forehead. While confused and distracted, I wasn’t looking at where I was heading. But when I did, I was a millimeter from driving off the road, which would have ended very badly! Luckily I managed to turn back to the road, but it was probably the closest to an accident I’ve been so far.

Oh, and also a few minutes later when I looked behind me for some reason, I wobbled a little just as a motorbike passed me, and we almost crashed into each other.

After that, the road Gods decided that they had tested me enough for one day.

Half-way to Chocon, there’s a long steep hill, and I wasn’t able to climb it without starting to walk. I still need to improve, it seems! (Just needed to pointed this out, in case you’re biking the same distance some day in the future. Be prepared!)

Before Rio Dulce
When nearing Chocon, the landscape flattens considerably, and gets a lot more monotonous. And I started getting hungry. I had passed a few eateries along the road, but had decided to go all the way to Chocon to eat and rest there.

But no town ever came. I took up my phone to see where I was on the GPS. I had already passed it! And my stomach was now screaming.

Eatery near Chocon
Luckily there’s an eatery 6 more kilometers south, and I stopped to have a big good lunch for 30 Quetzales, plus 5 for a half liter citrus drink.
Chocon food
I was reading a little in the restaurant after I had finished eating, and I dozed off again, just like yesterday! Is this really exhausting me that much?!

I continued my journey at 2pm, and the rest of the distance was pleasant, with more downhill through forests, save for a few uphills. There’s an especially long one with 15 kilometers left to Rio Dulce. This one has lots of people walking about, and I felt the pressure to get all the way up without having to walk. Would have been lame if I failed, but luckily I made it!

Maybe Rio Dulce
I crossed this river and wondered if it was Rio Dulce. Would I bike too far again?

Then came this quite busy village, which is apparently the Rio Dulce village?
Rio Dulce Village

And then I reached it, and let’s just say you can’t miss it:
Rio Dulce
It’s a huge bridge over a big big river! The view was great. I stopped at the top to take a selfie. (Also look, my new baseball cap is now introduced to the blog!)
selfie on bridge
There was a cute girl hanging there at the top, and I asked her to take a picture of me:
On Rio Dulce
Then her friends came rushing over, and wanted to also be in the picture! It was a little crazy. (They also took many pics with their own phones.)
Selfie with girls

Today, my plan was to stay the night with a couchsurfing host. He actually lives on his boat, and it seemed like it would be a cool experience.

I had passed the bridge and started looking for his location when I came across a hostel right next to the water, called Hostel Backpackers.
Hostel Packpackers
It was really pretty (the dorm is inside that green building), and only 30 Quetzales per night! I realized that I was tired and not really feeling at all like being social, and was indecisive for a while;

Stay with a dude on boat but have to be social all evening, or pay a small amount to get some privacy?

Bridge from Hostel
View of the bridge from the hostel.

The sun was going down quickly and I wanted to swim before sunset, so I made the decision to stay at the hostel! Not as cool of a story, but hey. Hey.

See the guy sitting by the water in the picture above? He turned out to be a friendly Spanish guy, that I ended up joining to have some cheap food with (big tortillas with beans for 14 Quetzales) in the village. So much for not being social…

I also bought my typical bread and bananas for tomorrow.

When I came back, I asked for my pillow and sheets, and they said it’s 15 Quetzales extra for that… Oh well, 45 Quetzales is still a very good price. (About 6 USD.)