Honduras: Copán Ruinas to La Esperanza – “there might be a bit of pushing”

Honduras has thus far been an ‘adventure’ cycle touring paradise. You do need to work pretty hard for the rewards though. We had plotted our route using Ian Benford’s very handy Cycle Central America guide, so set off with maybe slightly less planning than normal. Much physical hard work was rewarded with incredible scenery and splendid isolation from most things touristy. It can easily feel as if you’re not making progress despite all the effort. Our moods swing wildly during each day. We’re surrounded by precipitous beauty, with multiplying vistas as we crest each ridge. Despite ongoing progress with our spanish, every conversation risks disheartening stumbles and the ever-present embarrassment at our ‘baby-talk’. We try not to avoid interactions, but the temptation is there. We’re sure that more extrovert people don’t find this aspect of travel so difficult.

While I pick up some dinner food in Cabañas, Sarah gets to explain the maps we have to the local small boys. They're always fascinated by all things map and bike, though they don't always get that we don't know all the words they do in spanish!
The slow climb up from Rio Negras brings us into prime coffee growing hillsides.

Even with our reluctance to prolong meetings with people, some of our most satisfying moments are when this happens. Chatting to the small boys who come over to check us out about their school day, our bicycles and why we’re not riding horses. Sarah very much agrees that horses are much better than bicycles, and we struggle to make excuses for our lack of foresight. Confirming and seeking directions is core to our journey. We try to pick a target town, but this sometimes back-fires when they become anxious that we won’t get there before dark. Our preference for sleeping in a tent is a bit of a mystery. We even ended up telling a couple of farm-workers who wandered past us while we were eating breakfast one morning what a tent was called in spanish as they’d never heard of one before. We get broad grins when we reply to small children trying out their ‘hello’ in english. A group of children waiting while their teacher drew a very useful mud-map wanted us to speak some english for them – we happily complied.

Coffee beans where they came from - the bushes are co-planted with a variety of other plants such as bananas or trees. We presume to give shade
A gratuitous mountainous evening shot - nearing the top of the climb from Rio Negras to Santa Cruz. We ended up accepting the offer of a room in a house just off the road as the light was going. All the land near the road was either fenced coffee plantation or too vertical to put a tent on.

As definite introverts we find the usually silent audience that rapidly appears whenever we stop to fix something on the bikes, push the bikes up a hill or stop to eat very difficult. Providing entertainment in places where nothing this exciting ever happens isn’t something we think we’ll get used to. A bit of a problem, given how and where we travel.

In Corquín we stopped in the Parque Central for me to sort out my rear brake. Within minutes the entire mobile male population was observing in concentrated, uncannily quiet proximity (Photo S.Hedges)
Afternoon rain approaches. We found an animal shelter, sat for half an hour, then realise that this time it was going to pass us by so we ventured forth again
One of the easy bits of the track beyond Belén Gualcho. This section of road, that is marked as being fairly major on our map see almost no mechanised transport. Horses are the way forward apparently
The track wasn't flat for long, with nicely technical plunging descents alternation with uphill pushes
There were some nice rolling sections before further downs-that-must-go-up-again

We’ve also definitely hit the rainy season. So far we’ve had some sort of rain most afternoons, or seen and heard it nearby. It varies from relatively light to a proper tropical down-pour. With the latter we’ve tried to seek shelter with varying success. The first of these found us standing under the eaves of a farmhouse when a head popped out of the door. The ensuing conversation about what crops we grew in Australia resulted in a couple of chunks of un-refined cane sugar for us to try. A more recent tormenta (storm) proved just how worn our ground-sheet has become; letting more water through that we would have liked. The aftermath of rain can either be gloriously clean bikes that stay that way, or a much more temporary cleanliness that soon gets submerged in thick mud. We’ve both acquired a stick to be used for declogging our bikes from the sticky clag that brings us to a stand-still. Sometimes the dirt road is well-used enough for the mud not to be deep, but instead turns the smooth surface into a skating rink. I found myself sliding backwards downhill having done a unexpectedly graceful, but entirely unintentional 180° turn on the way down into La Esperanza.

Chugging along in the remains of the early morning cloud - nice and cool :-)
with children walking to school near San Marcos
That was before the road, which was marked as a major non-asphalted road and was supposed to have a bus a day, deteriorated into a rain-runnelled and rock-strewn bike-hauling fest.
Everything out to dry after a night of heavy rain
The rooftops of La Esperanza - a good place to dry out and plan the next few days

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s