Day 2 - Copán, Honduras

We were woken at 4:00 AM for our shuttle across the border to Copán. The person working the hotel at that hour packed us each a bag with a sandwich, water, a banana, and a juice box, which was a very kind gesture. Our shuttle, which was a minivan crammed with other tourists, picked us up and strapped our luggage to the roof of the vehicle, and we embarked on the four-hour journey to the Guatemalan border. I might mention that the entire journey there, my laptop was in an outside pocket of my backpack, and every time I heard a vague thunk, I saw it flying off the roof and toppling down a mountain in my head. But somehow it survived. Between the early hour lulling me to sleep, but the excitement of the journey keeping me awake, I'm not really sure what was real and what was a figment of my sleep deprived mind, but the entire drive was up and down and around mountains, all the while through the most breathtaking lush jungle countryside.

We made it to the border and stood in the line for the office that would give us our departure stamp from Guatemala. Then we walked twenty feet over to the the next office building that gave us our entry stamp into Honduras. I had to ask for a ninety-day visa, due to the length of my internship. Apparently, depending on the day, the Honduran government will issue out either a thirty-day, sixty-day, or ninety-day visa at random, depending out their mood. Luckily it was not a big deal.

Ten kilometers later we reached Copán, and with it more cobblestone streets, and quaint little buildings. Where Antigua radiated with history, Copán was bursting with a rich culture and vibrant life. I don't know how any of the vehicles navigate these narrow streets, especially our shuttle with hundreds of pounds of luggage strapped to the roof. My skepticism comes not from the fact that the streets are wide enough only for one lane of traffic, or from the fact that they are cobblestone, but rather from the crazy discovery that half the streets in this city are angled at 45 degrees (I kid you not, I have pictures to prove it)! So after riding the brakes all the way down one street and putting the pedal to the metal all the way up another, and repeating this process several times, our shuttle finally dropped us off at our hotel, La Casada Rosa.

By the time we had checked in and dropped off our luggage it was noon and so we left in search of lunch. We found a place where the locals ate (always a good sign) and I ordered some dish with a small serving of every typical Honduran lunch food: beans, rice, cheese, tortillas, fried eggs, avocado, and much to my delight, fried plantains (don't get me started on the plantains again).

After lunch we walked around a bit, did some shopping, and then found a tourist office where we spent a good hour trying to figure out how we are going to get from Copán to Roatán on Saturday. You see, there is no bus, shuttle, private taxi, plane, anything, that goes straight there, which is remarkable as Copán and Roátan seem to be two of the more popular destinations in Honduras. But to get there, whether by plane, or bus, or private shuttle, we have to go though San Pedro Sula, which I've heard from multiple sources is a rather dodgy place. To complicate matters, the journey from Copán to San Pedro Sula is a good four hours, and then the journey from there to Roatán is another good four hours. There are exactly two ferries that leave the coastal city of La Ceiba for the island Roatán. One is very early in the morning, and the other is at 4:30 PM. Well, the majority of busses don't leave Copán until around 10. So you do the math; we would miss the last ferry and have to spend the night. I think we finally found an early enough means of transportation though. I guess we will find out on Saturday.

After some more walking around and shopping we decided we were in a mood for chips and tequila. I asked the doorman at our hotel in my terribly broken Spanish where we might go to find tequila, and he literally walked us to a little place called Sol de Copán. The owner was a tall white man, with a long blonde ponytail, Harry Potter glasses, and a strong German accent. He showed us into his establishment and when we ordered tequila, he laughed at us and said we were in a beer brewery where he brewed his own beer. Obviously our friend from the hotel was having a good laugh right now at the joke he had played on us. But we stayed, and this German named Thomas with the Harry Potter glasses told us all about himself and his brewery and how he was the only German beer brewer in Central America. Obviously it was all incredibly intriguing and though I am not a beer drinker, I ordered a glass of what he was serving today, a black wheat. Boy oh boy was it delicious, and this is coming from someone who thinks all beers taste the same. Not this one though. I'm no beer connoisseur so I won't even attempt to describe it but my next trip just might have to be to Germany. And then he served us his homemade sausage with potato salad, and yes, I ate meat, because I will not deny myself good food if it is something I may never have the chance to try again. It became a joke all night that this was the best chips and tequila we had ever had.

This little beer brewery occupied a small space downstairs that only had two large communal tables, so the entire evening we were joined by people from all over the world: a couple from Oklahoma, a man (also named Thomas) who was also from Germany, a young couple from Australia, a man from Washington, and at the end of the night a couple of local girls. We spent the entire evening enjoying good German beer and the company of these fascinating people. Half the fun of traveling is meeting other travelers, and hearing their stories, and learning about their backgrounds. We all sat there for a good three hours having the most enjoyable time. The wife of the Oklahoman man was a native of Honduras, and upon hearing that I was going to Roatán to become a divemaster, told me that many tourists go to Roatán and never leave, because it is so perfect and everyone who visits wants nothing but to live there. I am walking into dangerous territory because this sounds like the sort of crazy thing I would do...