Monday, December 10, 2012

El Estor to Copan + Another Border Crossing

From El Estor we expected to get to Copan in one day, but with several transfers and a border crossing. I was researching furiously when we learned from the very nice owners of the Calle Real Hotel that there is a direct bus to the Honduras border (El Florido) that leaves from Rio Dulce at 9AM. But... will we have to pay a bribe to leave Guatemala? Enter Honduras?

We set out from our hotel at 6:30AM. Since it was early in the morning there were field hands riding the El Estor to Rio Dulce colectivo (van) with us, going to work at the rubber plantations with their machetes shielded in fancy leather cases or simple plastic woven bags.

We got to Rio Dulce around 8:15. Our onward bus pulled out just after 9:00 We picked up and dropped off passenger making steady progress. We made the 187 kilometers to Chiquimula at 1:15PM, decent time, where 90% of the bus got off. This is where the bus changed pace completely (with the same driver); gassing up, cigarette breaks, leaving the main road to stop in villages. We went the next 38km in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Somewhere along the way to the border, we realized that the people in the know got off the bus at Chiquimula and switched to swifter alternatives. Well! But we did see a cool procession.

At the border, the Guatemalan Immigration guy asked for 10 Quetzales (~$1.25US) of bribe; this time we are leaving Guatemala. Once again, we asked to see where it is written down and can we get a receipt. After a close reading of our passports, especially mine (I'm worried that I won't have enough space to last me the rest of the trip and I'll have to bribe a border official to squeeze in a stamp), they decided we were free to exit Guatemala, without paying. Yeah!

Entering Honduras was much more straight forward. A sign clearly states that non-Centroamericanos have to pay $3US and we got a receipt without asking. I wish Guatemala would simply change their rules and start charging all the tourists, forgoing the sleazy bribe business.

It was almost 5PM where we finally pulled into Copan. It is dry and cooler here at 2000 ft elevation. Nice. Stay tuned for our experiences in the Mayan Ruins of Copan.

Rio Dulce has a Caribbean vibe with sailboats, harbors, docks, and water. [John walked to the top of the bridge while we were waiting for the bus.]
View from Bridge - Rio Dulce, Guatemala

The procession that stopped us for 10 minutes or so near Jocotán, Guatemala, very close to the Honduran border.
Procession near Jocotán, Guatemala

The view of the border from the Honduran side. Not very impressive. The yellow building with the wide roof is Honduran Customs.
Honduras-Guatemala Border

1 comment:

WQZ said...

sunling's spanish has really been put to the test. any pictures on the boat with machete carrying plantation workers? you just proved bribery is due to bad policies.