Tuesday, November 26, 2019


So at this point our crew of 5 split into 2 groups.
Not because of any animosity, but because we were honoring the rules of group travel:

1. Everybody agrees to do their own thing
2. Communication is key
3. Have fun

So Stefi, Franzi and I really wanted to goto the Copan ruins in far western Honduras. And Hannah and Fabian, since they’ve been driving through Mexico, Guatemala and more have seen a LOT of ruins so they wanted to check out this lake. (Amazingly Hannah and Fabian didn’t have any plants grow under their skin and devour them, even though they went to Coba. Happy they survived!  (That reference will make sense to a few of you who have seen THE RUINS… those who haven’t. What are you waiting for? :)

So after an 8 hour shuttle ride on some crazy roads, with crazy traffic, and crazy random speedbumps in the middle of nowhere — with no warning. (You gotta pay attention), Franzi, Stefi and I made it to Copay Ruinas Town. A cool colonial town 10 miles from the border of Guatemala. I won’t lie, my safety meter was tuned in about where we might be able to walk after dark. When I was in Antigua, Guatemala 13 years ago, a place much like this one, there were some scary incidents just off the square (READ HERE), but this place… was a-ok. So that’s great!

The next day we went to the Copan Ruins.
This is one of the great Mayan cities.
The ball court where prisoners would play a game like volleyball and soccer combined. They couldn’t use hands and arms or feet, but could use every thing else to knock balls up slopes and hit target. The winner: glory. The loser: Death. Yep. Welcome to the Mayan World!

Truth is the Mayan’s down here were more about art and agriculture than sacrifice. That was more for the Aztecs up in what is now Mexico. But they still had their times were they needed to appease the gods, and they did.

We took an English guided tour around the ruins, and they really are spectacular. Copan is the only place in the mayan world where they had full 3 D art and carving. Out of stone. And they did it with stone tools! Not sure how they got things that elaborate, but they did. It’s cool.

Another Indiana Jones place to be!

And it was filled with Macaws. These gorgeous red birds with blue and yellow tails that are important for the Mayans, and really lovely. They feed them at 1:30 and you could walk right up to these big birds, and be like 2 feet away and they were cool with it.

The day ended with a sunset on the roof of our hostel. Nice!


The next day began at 4:50am.
The shuttle van picked us up at 5:30. And it was the same driver who drove us 8 hours from Jungle River two days ago! (Man I wish I spoke Spanish. He seemed like such a nice guy).
We drive about 15 minutes to the Guatemala border… pulled to the front of the line of semi’s that was waiting all night for it to open.


We race into the passport control. Get stamped.
And drive on through a GORGEOUS mountain sunrise valley jungle awesome-sauce.
It was absolutely lovely.
We were in Guatemala for about 3 hours.

Now, on the shuttle, we heard some good jams.
Africa by Toto.
The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.
Gloria by Laura Branigan.
Bettie Davis Eyes,
The Driver would check with me for approval, lol. Was funny.

Now the thing is… we heard all those songs on the 1st shuttle we were on.
Makes sense. Same driver.

And the real thing is… we heard a lot of those songs on the 3rd shuttle too! Different driver!
Not some streaming radio. It must be what the shuttle drivers jam too in Central America! lol.

El Salvador here we come!
Another border.
No stamp.
But in we go!

Now, I won’t lie, I never really thought I’d end up in El Salvador.
It has an even more nefarious reputation in the USA than Honduras or Nicaragua.
I mean, it’s completely overrun with GANGS!  People exiles from the USA who were part of the 18th street gang and the Pico Union gang in LA. And they took over the country. They run drugs. They “Tax” drivers. They cause a lot of problems for a lot of people. (These are the same gangs that have drifted into the cities of Honduras too). There was  big article in National Geographic about it.

So we stopped at a gas station that served breakfast and ordered from a super friendly gal.
And then were dropped off at El Turco, one of the “best surfing beaches in the world”, where everyone was… super friendly.

(Are you noticing a pattern?)

Now, to be honest, we walked down to the “beach”, and I use that term because it’s actually completely covered in round stones about 3-6 inches across. No sand at all. Sort of odd.
But on those stones there were 3 soldiers, fully decked out (and checking their cell phones). And there was a building with a COPIOUS amount of police in it. I mean, like 30. So it is a reminder that all the friendly is real… and likely so is the danger that might exist if you get too far out of the little towns.

El Tunco -- The PIG!

Self portrait.... lol

Still, it was a nice stop over. We had lunch. Watched some surfers. Took pics. Bought magnets and waited for the next shuttle to pick us up to take us the next 10 hours plus to Leon Nicaragua.

And on that drive we had no AC.
Oh boy.

Fortunately the sun sets early, so the air got cooler and with the windows open, it was actually really nice. Minus the crazy traffic, dirt construction road madness and all that good stuff. :)

And we cross another border…

Back to Honduras.

Yep, El Salvador does not border Nicaragua, so it was back to Honduras.
Another stamp, another border pass.

Drive another 30 minutes and
We made it!!!

At the most apocalyptic border. Just construction. Dirt roads. Hand painted signs. Guards sleeping in hammocks. A 25 cent bathroom. We waited by the shuttle for 30 minutes till the driver came back with our passports and we were in.

Another 2 1/2 hours and we pull into Leon.
Former colonial capital.
One of the great Spanish cities of the “new world”.

And there’s Hannah, Fabian and Fluffy at the hostel.



We spent the next day in Leon.
Had some breakfast.
Walked around the square.
Enjoyed the markets.

Volcanoes are everywhere in Nicaragua

We went to the

Which was about… some revolution in Nicaragua.
I’m not lying, our guide spoke spanish, and the translator, bless her heart, had such a heavy accent that none of us could understand what the events were. (Again, I need to know Spanish!).
The guide was VERY passionate about the Sandista’s and taking over and this and that.
About Bazookas and guns and killing the enemy. Turns out, later in the museum there is a picture of a group of revolutionaries in 1979… and he was one of them.
Man I REALLY wish I knew Spanish, to hear some of his stories.

We had lunch, and there were some really poor folks, who you could tell have a hard life and a hard struggle. This one teenager asked me for food, and I gave him some of my lunch. The folks at the restaurant chased him off… but still let him have the food. Wish I could do more.

Art museums. Beer on a rooftop at sunset.
Chatting with other travelers.
Eating at street food markets (wow it was good!)
Enjoying the square at night solo.

And then there was a parade! Yep! Why not! Music bumping off the back of semi trailers driving down these narrow colonial streets. And I thought “Pickpocket safeguards on high!”
So backpack in front, Camera in front. All stuff secure and I plunge into the crowd. Dancing along. I didn’t know any of the words, but it was a blast to see everyone singing and dancing and celebrating!
What? Not sure.
Doesn’t matter. :)
Guys selling beer out of coolers on dollies as they walked with the crowd.
what’s that?
A tug at my pocket!
I slap my hand down and know there is no reason to even look for the person. I’ll never spot them.
Good thing I was prepared!
Nothing stolen.

As the parade ended, I went back to the hostel, past the band in the house practicing their death metal (lol). And I gathered Hannah and Franzi and we headed to this street party. Music. Beer Pong. And TONS of the travelers from:  Utila, Copan, the Shuttles. lol. Was fun to hang and salsa dance and other dance. Good times indeed!


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