Published: February 19th 2011February 18th 2011
February 17, 2011
We crossed the border from Guatamala to Honduras on Valentine's day ("Dia D'amore") without too much trouble except for the usual snarl of "tramitadores" (men/boys offering assistance for a price). On the Honduran side, the border official insisted we remove the front license plate which we had attached before we left Nova Scotia -- it said "Brasil" and had been a gift from our Brazilian exchange student, Eduardo. The plate was confiscated. Apparently it is a crime to have non-matching front and rear plates.
The countryside in Honduras has been beautiful -- mountainous, full of dry hills and tall pines. A lot of it looks like the BC Kootenays. The roads have been highly variable -- some great divided highway, some ox tracks.
We have been stopped by the national police at every road check -- at least 20 times, and after they inspect our papers (Honduran car registration and international driver's license -- insurance is not compulsory here) they always want to know why we have no front license plate. Tarjei explains in his "excellent" Spanish that in Canada, we are given only one license plate (we don't confuse them with details about how
Katy and Gaetane at Copan Ruinas
When a new ruler took over in the Mayan era, monuments built by previous rulers were evidently not destroyed but just built over. The exact recreation in the background is of one elaborate structure found within a pyramid.
SOME provinces have 2 plates). The police always look skeptical, scratch their heads and sometimes consult their superiors but so far no one has given us a ticket or demanded money. We have not washed the car since we left the states ( though we HAVE wiped off the license plate), and the last policeman looked at Tarjei very seriously and said "In Honduras, it is illegal to drive a car this dirty". Tarjei was very taken aback, explained how dusty the roads were, promised that we would get the car washed tomorrow, and waited for the guy to ask for money. Instead the guy gave a big grin, shook our hands vigorously, and said "Mucho Gusto!!" which translates to "Much pleasure" but in this case I think means "I'm joking!".
It's hard to take a joke from a guy carrying machine gun.
TT: We stayed three days in Santa Rosa de Copan with Gaetane Carignan, a former grad student from NSAC. She is working with CUSO on food security in Guatemala. She is rapidly improving her Spanish and loves her job. NSAC folks will remember Gaetane, a great outspoken young woman who did her MSc in organic
Many unearthed items were moved from the original site to the on-site museum.
agriculture. Gaetane is gutsy and has signed up for 2 years with CUSO in Honduras. Luckily she seems to have an excellent support group in her boss and neighbour Edwin and his wife Miriam, and her housemate Adriana. Thank you to all of them for their friendliness and hospitality while we were in Santa Rosa.
We visited awe-inspiring Mayan ruins from the 500s to the 800s. A few photos are included. Among other things we learned that the Mayans did not predict the world will end in 2012, but only that a new sequence of their long range calendar would need to be started then.
As usual, we also ate lots (terrific Mayan tortilla soup) and drank lots of Imperial (Honduran) beer.
KF: Tarjei took the Central American look to a new level with a Honduran Haircut. He looks just like I remember him from tenth grade -- ears protruding very slightly at the same jaunty angle! Looks great with his Columbian drug lord hat.
Next stop: Nicaragua!!
There are more photos below