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Published: December 14th 2008
An early start this morning at 6AM to catch the 7AM bus. No time for breakfast today either, seems to be a trend with too many early morning starts. But I had brought along a supply of Cliff Bars to hold me over for the bus rides. The bus left pretty much on time for the 1.5hr ride back to the junction at La Entrada. When we arrived there we lucked out as a minibus was ready to depart to Santa Rosa de Copan, the next town where we would change buses to Gracias.
The driver was a speed demon, zooming ahead with a boy hanging out the side door announcing the destination. We kept packing in more people, at least 20 by my count before we reached Santa Rosa in a light drizzle. There was a bus waiting to go to Gracias at 9:20 but it looked very overcrowded and we hadn´t eaten yet. Found out the next one was in an hour so we had time to find a comedor and grab some chicken and rice. We wanted to go into town but decided against it due to the drizzle and we were lugging our packs around.
The next bus left at 10:15, much less crowded. Vendors come on the buses just before it departs, selling drinks, food, gum, etc. I´d hoped for a chicken bus, but alas, no chickens were to be seen. However, we did get a preacher raving away in Spanish for an hour standing next to us. The drive to Gracias was gorgeous, the landscape changed as we drove through pine forests. The drive was about an hour and a half, we arrived just before noon. We wandered about a bit looking for a hotel, there didn´t appear to be anyone in the first hotel we checked (hotel Erick), so we decided on Posada de Don Juan, the nicest hotel in town, and $35 for a double.. the most expensive place we had stayed so far! The room was quite nice with fan, TV and towels.
Gracias used to be the capital of Central America way back in the 1500s, not sure why as it is quite remote from anything. Antigua and Granada took over in importance so its been a backwater for some time. There is a national park nearby which is the reason most tourists come here. There are a
few old buildings and a castillo high up on the hill overlooking the town.
We dumped our bags then walked around town a bit, going through the market and then up the hill to the castillo. Good views from here. We then walked down the hill to the hotel Guanascos which had a decent restaurant. This is the place in town to come for good info on activities in the area.
We then headed back to the hotel for a catnap before heading off to the nearby hotsprings. They´re a fair distance out of town, several hrs walk or you can hire a mototaxi (tuk-tuk) for 100L, we arranged for him to come back to pick us up in 2 hrs. The hotsprings (30L) are quite nice, separated into different rock pools of varying temperature. Very popular with locals, there were tons of people here when we arrived. The setting is beautiful, in a forest under the trees. Its seems quite the party place as it is open to 11PM! The waters were very relaxing after the day on the bus, this place is well worth a trip.
It was getting dark as we headed back
to town. I guess it would have been possible to hitchhike back instead of hiring the taxi again. After a shower we headed out to dinner. The LP recommended the Rincon Graciano restaurant. We managed to find it after getting a little lost (how do you get lost in a town thats 6x7 blocks). The restaurant looked closed but we knocked on the door and they turned on the lights. The room was gorgeous, red walls and art hanging on the walls and tables. The menu looked delicious, it was hard to choose. I settled on the chicken in sauce with spinach, also trying the horchata(?) drink, made from corn and cacao. The owner makes everything from scratch, so it took awhile to prepare dinner, but it was well worth it. For an appetizer we had one of the best tamales I´ve ever eaten! The dinner itself was awesome, rich in flavor. Definitely a recommended place too! Dessert would have been awesome I´m sure but by this point we were stuffed. At $14 for two including wine it was also a great deal.
We headed back to the hotel to crash, again a very early start the next morning
as we were going to try to make it to Perquin in El Salvador. This again would involve 3 bus connections, the first one to La Esperanza left at 5AM!
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