At 3:20 a.m. (Yes, A-freaking-M) the shuttle driver banged on the door of hostel Holistico. We are off to Copan Ruins, Honduras! The Hedman Alas shuttle (which was really comfy compared to the usual shuttles here in Antigua) took our new friends, Evelyn and Trent, and Rhiannon and me to Guatemala City. That’s when the trouble began.
There was a grumpy guy who was in charge of getting everyone’s checked bags ticketed. I had a large backpack that I planned to check, and a small orange bag that I planned to keep with me. The orange bag contained my passport, a blanket (the bus is notoriously cold!), a change of clothes (ya never know!!), breakfast to go courtesy of the fantastic staff at Holistico hostel that arose at 2:30 A.M. to make all four of use each a fresh egg and pesto sandwich to go (para llevar)) and some other odds and ends that I considered essential.
Grumpy guy at bus station kept trying to get me to check my orange bag. He would walk up to me, point at my bag, rattle off some Espanol, and point to the checked bag area. I just shook my head and said, No!, each time. My bag was bigger than some, but smaller than other carry-ons, and definitely within the allowable size! It made no sense why he fixated on me and my orange bag. He kept coming back to me and pointing. Ugh. Finally, I put my bag on my back and walked outside. Interestingly, a large bill board by the bus depot announces the existence of the “Gun Depot,” but posted at the Hedman Alas bus station is a sign that indicates no guns. Just an observation I made while trying to avoid grumpy bag man and realizing I cannot throw a fit on him since I am a stranger in this country.
Anyway, they eventually called for boarding and I strolled right past grump man and got on the bus. Unfortunately, a few minutes later I realized grumpy man is, not only the bag ticket man, but also the bus steward. Uh-oh. Fortunately, el grumpo chilled out and basically ignored me for the 5.5 hour ride. Not so fortunately, none of us had prepared for the border crossing.
When we hit the Guatemala border the bus pulled over and everyone had to get off. El Grumpo pointed us toward an offficina and we obligingly started walking. We were immeditely accosted by cowboy looking dudes holding large wads of cash yelling “Cambio!” (change money). Not knowing the conversion rate,we kept going.
At the office we had to show our passport and the immigration tickets we had been given on the bus to fill out. We then learned it costs Q10 (about $1.40) to exit Guatemala. Luckily, between the four of us we had enough Quetzals to cover ourselves. We were then directed (via pointing and basically following the others on our bus) to that no man’s land between the time you check out of one country and enter another. I didn’t feel comfortable taking pics, but let me tell you, a border crossing has an odd feel to it. Just vacant, depressed and eerie, especially given the heavily armed guardia everywhere. (Next pic is from Copan not from the border, but is a sneak peak of the many armed military strolling everywhere in Honduras).
With no choice but to walk, we trudged into Honduras and found ourselves in a building where they again demanded our passaportes and more money. Now we were in trouble. It costs $3 to enter Honduras. They accept only cash, either Quetzales or Honduran Limperas. None of us had Limperas so we had to spend about $5 worth of Quetzales. We could have changed money with los hombres at the boarder who had wads of cash and kept saying cambio (change). But the whole scene freaked us out. We really had not prepared for this. Fortunately, Trent had a stash of Quetzales and we got our stamps and entered Honduras where our bus was waiting.
From the border of Guatemala and Honduras, Copan Ruins was only a short 10K drive.
Hooray! We made it! We are staying at Via Via Hostel which is owned by a man from the Netherlands that is a friend of a friend of Evelyn’s. Just $8 per night per person for a private (double beds) room. It is a fantastic place.
We are looking forward to exploring the Mayan Ruins in Copan Ruins, Honduras.
- Audrey, Rhiannon, Evelyn and Trent, four amigos who met in Guatemala and decided to board a bus for the border for an adventure in Honduras