Monday, December 22, 2014

Adventures in Honduras & Nicaragua

With our friend Roland, we arrived at the Guatemala-Honduras border around noon and spent the longest time crossing yet: three hours. Most things are written by hand, some with carbon paper, always with several stamps and signatures. Also, we decimate a forest at each crossing with all the copies required of each important document we carry along with new important documents created. The copying process at this particular border was even more interesting because, as Matt learned after trying unsuccessfully at three different tienditas, the power went out on the Guatemalan side of the border. Evidently, this is a regular occurrence because the Honduran side had backup generators, so with a cheerful attitude and a little finesse, everything worked out.

The destination for our first night in Honduras was the large Mayan ruins at Copán, which were happily just a few miles in from the border. The town of Copan Ruinas itself is quite small, all hilly cobblestone and quaint. We stumbled onto a nice, family-run hotel, who even greeted us with complimentary coffees! Soon enough, we were all enjoying some Honduran beers and complimentary nachos. 

In the morning, we hiked to the ruins, and they did not disappoint! Before we even reached the remains of the archaeological site, we were struck by all the macaws flying—and shrieking—around. Turns out, the Copán ruins site is also a macaw refuge with the goal of restoring the macaw population to its former glory. Macaws were clearly worshipped by the Mayans, as we saw repeatedly in their ruins, so it'd be great to see more of these beautiful (and noisy!) birds around. We spent several hours wandering all over and even through some caves that archaeologists have dug into the temples as they investigate what's inside. A very neat morning indeed.

Eventually, we got back on the road and soon pulled off to put on our rain gear. Turns out, the whole country is flooding with landslides everywhere, making for a wet ride. We didn't have a firm destination in mind for the day, which was helpful because between the morning at the ruins, the weather, and a minor mishap I had on the bike made for a short riding day. My bike got a little beat up, but the neat thing is—as has been the case this entire trip—the locals were helpful, curious, and lent us a covered workspace for some quick, roadside repairs. Our friend Roland was very helpful, too. Something we love about traveling by motorcycle is the unique situation it puts us in to meet people, and we have certainly been doing a lot of that along our way. 

Back on our way, we thought it'd be poetic to end in the town of Gracias, Spanish for "thanks," as today was Thanksgiving. No turkey and potatoes for us this year; carne asada and enchiladas instead. Nevertheless, we all recounted what we have to be grateful for, all of our friends and family being chief among them.

We got to know the family running our hotel there, and the next day, Matt and Roland went over the map for route recommendations… and then we proceeded to accidentally go down the route we were warned against. The highway quickly turned from pavement to gravel to mud and beyond. At some point, Matt noticed that no tire tracks were present, probably around the time we had to negotiate around a tree across the "road." After navigating through mud, sand, rock, and water, we finally connected back up with paved highway. What appeared to be a shortcut on the map ended up taking a couple hours. Adventure!

Photo by Roland Traub (

Photo by Roland Traub (

Photo by Roland Traub (
After suffering through the traffic of Tegulcigalpa, we decided to push on to a small border town for the night and crossed into Nicaragua the next stay. This crossing into Nicaragua took the typical 2-ish hours, and then we were on our way again. The first thing we noticed was the greatly improved road conditions! It also got hot and sunny, which was certainly a welcome change. As the sun started to set, we pulled into Granada, set on the edge of Lake Nicaragua.

Our usual protocol is to pull into the central plaza and then look around for lodging. One of us scopes out options while the other stays with the bikes. While Matt was checking with nearby hotels and hostels, I met a handful of folks interested in our bikes and travels, which is always fun. One group was fellow riders headed down to Ushuaia on the same timetable as us. I'm sure we'll all bump into each other again along the way. Another person was a local Deaf guy who offered advice on where to find affordable lodging. While I know American Sign Language, I definitely don't know Nicaraguan Sign Language. Still, we got along at least on a rudimentary level, and his advice was much appreciated!

We spent a night on the town with Roland, stumbled onto an opening ceremony of Christmas festivities, and ended up enjoying the town so much we decided to stick around for another day. Roland's timetable is a little tighter than ours to get to Panama, so we bid farewell. After spending the last nine days together, it felt a little sad. Again, though, I'm sure we'll bump into each other again down the road. 

Our rest day in Granada was a mix of sightseeing and a more complete workup on the 650 with the luxury of time on our side. We even wandered down to a ferreteria to help straighten some parts, which was a very local experience and pretty fun.

Tomorrow, we cross into Costa Rica. It's ironic that Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, yet we spent the least amount of time in it. It's no slight on Nicaragua—we enjoyed our time here and see its beauty. Perhaps we'll have the opportunity to return and explore more in the future. For now, though, we'll have to settle with two-ish days and look forward to more adventures in Costa Rica and beyond.


  1. Y'all keep on livin' La Vida Loca, alrighty??? Great trip, thanks for keeping us in your loop. Really nice pics too, please keep them coming! Glad you are having a really good time as is apparent from your posts.

  2. I hope we have the chance to ride in Europe together again. Sardinia is great !!!
    Safe travel and Merry Christmas 2014 !!!