©2019 by Jelle.

Honduras & El Salvador

8/12/2018

After a last part in Guatemala, I arrived in Honduras. I quickly left the country for a short trip in El Salvador, but have returned to Honduras where I am right now. Read my experiences here.

 

 

The next city that I cycled to was Rio Dulce. I met Samuel and his nice family there via a friend. The following morning, Samuel and I rode together to Entre Rios, about 75 kilometers away and only 30 kilometers from the border between Guatemala and Honduras. His wife and his children took a bus all the way just to say goodbye another time, incredibly nice of course. Omar and Israel that I met in Mexico stayed here in ‘casa de migrantes’ and told me that I could stay the night there. At first, there was no reply when I rang the bell, but when I tried it again an hour later, I could go inside and stay there.

 

I met a group of 8 Honduran boys, the majority of them underaged. Like many Hondurans, they are travelling towards the promised land: The United States of America. I didn’t know that groups are still leaving Honduras to go to the border despite the hectic situation in Tijuana. It’s hard to imagine that these boys, with their age, leave everything that they know behind to try to create a better life in another country. They have nothing to lose and they told me it’s not important for them whether they cross into the country legally or illegally, as long as they arrive. And I can’t really blame them, I would want to go too in their situation. I’m curious about their progress.

 

A map with potential routes for refugees

 

When I woke up the next day, they were already gone. I went in the opposite direction towards the Honduran border. The environment in Guatemala and Honduras was tropical and beautiful. Evey once and a while, a Chiquita or Dole trailer passed me by towards the ports to fill our supermarkets with delicious bananas. Without any problems, I crossed the border into Honduras. Already the third country that I visit within two weeks. I was another 30 km to Puerto Cortés where I could sleep at the location of the Red Cross.

 

In two days, I advanced towards Taulabé. I went to a shop to repair my broken camera. When I wanted to show them the problem, the problem miraculously disappeared and it has worked ever since. Local people continuously told me that the roads are relatively flat, but I keep getting surprised by the mountains and hills. People still don’t know their own environment. The fresh and delicious pineapple and coconut milk kept me going. I stayed in a cheap hotel and that gave me the opportunity to do some bicycle maintenance within the room. I replaced the oil inside the hub in my rear-wheel, something that has to be done every 5000 km. So I should be able to reach South-America with this oil!

 

Mother and daughter selling fruit along the road

 

The US influence in Central-America is noticeable. The signs of Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonalds fill up the horizon when cycling towards a city. Pretty useful from time to time, because most locations have Wi-Fi. For example, I was communicating with Mery who could provide me accommodation in Comayagua. On my way to Comayagua, I communicated with her while enjoying a Dunkin Donuts coffee like I did in the US. In the meantime, my bicycle was perfectly secure.

 

 

I arrived just before dusk and introduced myself to Mery and her two daughters Grecia and Astrid, who were quite shy at first. In the evening, we walked around town and I tried some delicious local food. It was the first weekend with Christmas activities, so there was a lot going on in town. The ambiance was nice and reminded me of Hermosillo. I could stay an extra day to visit some museums and to know the town a little better. For example, I visited the oldest clock system of the entire American continent.

 

It furthermore provided a beautiful view over the city of Comayagua

 

Grecia and Astrid quickly lost their shyness and had a lot of interest in my camera. When I later uploaded the pictures to my laptop, I discovered that they took a lot of pictures with it while I was away. Here some examples:

 

 Grecia posing with the bicycle

 

Astrid

 

Maps.me, an app that I use for navigation, showed me that there was a route from Comayagua to El Salvador, via a highway that they are still constructing. I asked many people what part of the road was already finished, and I received many responses. I decided to just check it out myself and left early in the morning. Grecia and Astrid cried when I left, which touched me. Their father suddenly left at the beginning of this year, and I think that they thought about their father when I left….

 

The first part of the highway was finished and it was one of the most comfortable rides on this trip. The road conditions were excellent, it was quiet, the views were wonderful and it was a sunny Sunday. They were organizing a bicycle competition. After about 40 kilometers, I reached the end of the pavement and the road condition changed completely. I had to cycle through 25 kilometers of construction zones and rocky roads, which was not really pleasant. I couldn’t find any grip with all the stones on the surface, and some little hills made it extra difficult. At the end of the day, I had to deviate from the highway to cross into El Salvador. This road was even worse and I was required to walk several times and crossed through a small river to enter the country.

 

The new highway

Construction zone

 

The border crossing with El Salvador

 

I had another 5 kilometers to go to the first village, Concepción de Oriente. A small group of drunken guys told me to stop. I was a bit cautious at first, but I quickly saw that they were just drunk and had no bad intentions. I had to follow them to a small shop/restaurants that was runned by one of the guy’s aunt. I was welcomed like a king and they gave me a free meal and beers to accompany the meal. I could even sleep at the place, as if it was meant to be that I arrived there.

 

Julio in Concepción de Oriente

 

However, I was slightly worried about the fact that there were no customs at the border crossing, so I crossed into El Salvador illegally. My plan was to quickly see some places of El Salvador before returning to Honduras.

 

The environment of El Salvador was a lot hillier than I thought, and it cost me a lot of effort to advance. The heat didn’t make it any easier. I was exhausted when I arrived in San Miguel, which was the only big city close to where I was. A tyical meal are the pupusa’s, filled tortilles with chicharron and/or cheese. Delicious! I stayed here just a night.

 

Some people recommended me to go to Playa Cuco, a beach that is supposed to be uniquely flat. The beach can be flat, I had to go over some mountains to get there. The army was using the road for some kind of exercise because dozens of soldiers were walking alongside the road. I saw them again later that day, about 40 kilometers ahead. I took a detour via the beach but eventually ended up on another rocky road to get back to the main highway. My bicycle frame will have to suffer a lot like this. I ended the day at the fire department in La Unión, close to the official border crossing.

 

 

Vulcano San Miguel, El Salvador

 

I discussed with the firefighters what the best option would be to when I want to get into Honduras again. After all, I entered the country illegally. There were a couple of options:

 

1. This is the coolest option and it’s in James Bond style. Leaving early in the morning and go on a boat to the first Honduran island and try to remain unseen.

 

2. Go to the official border crossing and explain the situation, hoping that they would understand and let me go through without too many hassle.

 

3. Go back to the village were I entered and leave there gain.

 

I’m pretty boring and chose the most honest option, option 2. Once I arrived at the border area, one of the firefighters that accompanied me to the border region informed at the migration offices (at both sides) if there would be a problem for me. El Salvador would fine me about 11 dollars. Fine.

 

Honduras, however, wanted to give me a $200 fine. That’s just ridiculous because I already obtained my permit to be in Honduras, I just unintentionally left in an illegal way. And I have no doubt where that money will go. Straight into the pockets of the officer’s. I was happy that Carlos accompanied me towards the border and I decided to change my plan to the third option.

 

I took a bumpy bus to that village where I entered that country three days earlier. I went back to that shop were they kindly received me and they were surprised about the fine that they wanted to give me. They helped me to get back into Honduras unseen, via a different and even worse road and a river that was deeper. I eventually crossed on a boat and two guys took me to highway where I deviated. It was all paved from there.

 

Leaving in style anyway

 

I treated myself on a cheap hotel with the money that I managed to save. Maybe a bit too cheap, because a big scorpion welcomed me the next morning in the room. I took the bus from El Amatillo (Honduran side) to Tegucigalpa and I’m currently resting there a little bit. I happened to cross paths with Noala and Nancy again, I cycled with them in Mexico and they are part of the ‘Rodando Por América’ group. In a couple of days, I will continue my way towards Nicaragua and I might celebrate new year over there with Angel (also part of that same group).

 

 

 

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