Page 51: - No Return Ticket - Just a Ride Report /w Pics - From the beginning
Honduras Border Crossing:
We had the alarm set for 5:00 AM at our hotel in Ocotal. Border crossings are always a big question mark as to how long they will take. We are looking at a long ride today so that’s why the early start. The plan is to ride through the capital city Tegucigalpa the same day we cross. Then deep into southwestern Honduras to an area we haven’t ridden before.
First we stop at a gas station convenience store right next to the hotel, V-8 juice, yogurt, a croissant and coffee. We are set. The border is only 25 miles away. This is a small and we think, not too busy crossing. We hope we will be one of the first vehicles to clear through.
We get to the border before 7:30 AM. I hand our Nicaragua motorcycle customs papers to the Nicaragua official. He takes the papers then lowers the chain and lets us pass forward. We ride ahead and park in front of the immigration building. The bike is right next to the building so no need for Heidi to stand guard by the bike. We pay $3 each and get our Nicaragua passport exit stamp. The Honduras immigrations office is in the same building in an adjoining room. The Nicaragua immigration guy hands the Honduras immigration guy our passports. We pay $6 to him and get our passport entrance stamp for Honduras. That was just too smooth.
Now I ride forward to the next building, Honduras aduana (customs) to declare the bike. First I change the $100 in twenties I had ready. No rip-off attempt this time. Next a young well mannered guy behind the aduana counter takes my title and passport and fills out my motorcycle customs paper. 10 minutes later he hands me the form and rattles out some rapid Spanish, I didn’t quite understand. He motions me to go down the building to pay. I walk to another window and that guy motions me back to the original window. Back at the first window the first guy walks me outside passed the Honduras border chain and behind some buildings and down an alley. He points to a blue building and says something about paying there but nobody is there right now. I need to wait. I sit back and wait. 10 minutes later a guy shows up at another building and I think tells me I need to go back to the aduana office. Back at the aduana office the same guy who filled out my paper work tells me something else. I wait. 10 minutes later he walks back out and says the bank does not open until later but I can pay him. He hands me a slip of paper with itemized hand written amounts totaling $29.00. Heidi is right there with me next to the bike and quickly waves him off. She says in Spanish “We will wait for the bank to open. We need a receipt” The guy smiles and walks back inside. A few minutes later a young kid with an official aduana helper badge around his neck offers to help. At this point I was ready for a little help. Everything was low key here and not at all busy. I give the kid an OK and hand him my filled out aduana papers, title and passport. Heidi is ‘freaking out’ saying this is just exactly what we don’t want to do. I tried to assure her that everything is mellow here and he is the only helper around. I tell her that I don’t think we will have a problem here. The kid walks around the chain into Honduras and behind the buildings where the first guy led me to. 5 minutes later the kid rushes back to me and says that the bank will not be open until 9:00 AM but that if I’m in a hurry I should give him $40 and he will get it done right now. Now I change modes from ‘mellow and all is cool’ to my ‘No fricken way, give me back all my papers right now’. Heidi and I both tell him that we are in no hurry “No tenemos prisa” The kid got the message. Now he starts telling me what I need to do. I need a copy of this and that and this. I had everything except a copy of my passport exit stamp from Nicaragua. He walks me to two copy buildings before finding one that was open. Next he walks me to the bank (which WAS open at 8:00 AM) I hand the bank guy all my papers and copies. He says I owe $29.00. I pay. The bank guy puts a hand full of stamps on my motorcycle aduana papers and hands them back to me. All the while my helper was trying to intercept the papers coming back to me. I assured him to not worry and that I will pay him when I’m all done. I give him a ‘knuckle knock’. He smiles and relaxes.
Next my helper walks me back to the first guy who filled out my aduana papers. I hand him my stamped papers. He puts his own stamp on the papers then fills out another small piece of paper and puts a stamp on that. I get everything handed back to me and am told I’m done, okay. Now I pull out a wad of bills I had ready in my pocket ($6 and a few coins) and hand it to my helper. He smiles while a few guys hanging around him are asking how much he got. Everyone is happy…
During one of my waiting sessions this kid offers to shine my boots. They needed it bad and I was glad to give him a job.
We are all done and on our way into Honduras. I ask my shoe shine friend to take a photo. He was glad to.
Heidi and our shoe shine friend:
The scenery here is breathtaking.
We make it through Tegucigalpa. Knowing the name of the highway you want to connect with does you no good here. There are no highway markings at all other then indications of cities you want to go to. I knew this and looked on the map ahead of time for the biggest city on the highway we wanted to take out of town, which was San Pedro Sula. We are not going anywhere near San Pedro Sula but I had a feeling it would be indicated on road signs in Tegucigalpa. I was right. We kept following turnoffs to San Pedro Sula and made it out of this huge city with not one problem.
The scenery kept getting better the further we rode into Honduras. Beautiful mountain roads lined with pine trees and cut rock. The roads are in great shape here and we were making good time. My butt was sore and I’m looking for a good place to pull over and rest. I get a ‘single jab’ signal from Heidi meaning ‘pull over at the next safe spot’. We were both ready for a break.
This ‘middle of nowhere’ gas station didn’t look open at first but was. There is a small store here and a guy selling sandwiches to whoever pulls through.
The sandwich guy (next to Heidi) enjoyed practicing his English while we practiced our Spanish. He worked in New Orleans for a year and told us all about it. He came back to Honduras to finish high school. He asked us all about our ride and translated our bad Spanish to his three friends. This was a nice break.
Before 2:00 PM we pull off the main highway and start riding high up into the mountains toward the village La Esperanza. We could feel the temperatures dropping the higher we rode. We both should have put on more clothes but were just too anxious to get there.
The ride kept getting better and better and the road is in great shape.
We ride into town and start looking for a hotel with parking. After rejecting a few, Heidi sees a hotel that’s down a side street. The roads in town here are rough coble stone and are mostly one-way. We circle around and pull into a sweet spot near the center of town, Hotel Mina. Oh Yeah……
We settle in then take a walk around town.
This is a mechanic shop right on the main street. The owners live on site. The kids have a bicycle ramp set up inside the fence while the mother watches off to the side. I see this as something my mother would do. These are lucky kids.
We found three markets in town.
It rained hard most of the night and the roads in town were sloppy wet. We had to ask directions to find our way out of town. First we are shooting for the village of Gracias today, another mountain village near a hot spring and hiking trails. It’s about a 50 mile ride. There, we plan on having breakfast before heading on to the Copan ruins near the Guatemala border. It will be another long ride.
We were hoping for more ‘great mountain roads’ on the way to Gracias. But No……
At least the scenery is fantastic.
The dirt road we are on is wet and Rough with a capital R. I did not get any photos of the steep sections of road riddled with deep gullies and big rocks. But let me assure you that this is some of the most challenging conditions we have ridden so far. I was ‘pulling out’ slow speed technical maneuvers left and right through some unbelievable terrain. Heidi again was right there being ’one with the bike and road’. It almost felt like I was riding ‘one up’. And I do have to say this 1995 Harley Davidson Sportster impressed me more than ever with how well it handled the extreme. I felt I should stay quiet about how much I’m enjoying this because I knew Heidi was having a rough time behind me but I did have to exclaim out loud once “Man, I am good” Heidi gives me a little confirmation squeeze which felt ‘real good’. I’m falling in love more every mile.
I can feel Heidi twitching a little whenever we approached the sloppy wet stuff. I don’t blame her one bit after I ‘wiped us out’ in Costa Rica. But she says nothing except “Let me know if you need me to get off and walk” I say “Don’t worry, I will”
This is the poorest area in Honduras. All the people we came across were smiling big and waving as we passed.
I asked Heidi to walk through this one. She went first then helped me find the best route for the bike. After, we parked to chill a bit. A passing truck stopped to ask if everything was alright. We said “todo bien” and thanked them as we all waved goodbye.
After a long 20 miles the road turned to rough pavement. Soon the pavement again turned to bumpy dirt less then 10 miles later. What a tease, we could not believe it. Back to bad and rough dirt.
15 more mile of slippery sloppy mud, the sky is looking very dark ahead. It’s already past noon. We just want to make it to Gracias now in one piece……….
The Ride Continues…….
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