|Thanks for the lift, Luis!|
Andy had originally asked Luis to take me to the 10am Hedman Alas first class bus to Copan Ruinas. It's about 200km to Copan from San Pedro Sula, and I didn't mind paying an extra few bucks to take the nice express bus. But this morning, Luis said there was a bus at 8, so I thought "what the heck" and hopped in his minivan for the ride. His minivan, by the way, has the steering wheel on the right side. Every other car I've seen here has the wheel on the left like the rest of America, but hey, whatever works, right?
|Ready for my next adventure.|
Now I've traveled all throughout Mexico and have ridden on many many buses, including plenty just like this one. Except I always had friends with me, friends that could speak Spanish well. I swallowed, took a deep breath, stupidly asked the driver in crummy Spanish "Copan Ruinas" and he looked at the windshield, then at me, and sarcastically said slowly in an overly american accent "Yyeeessss." I showed him my ticket and he ignored me, so I handed my bag to the guy on the roof to be tied down with the other bags and got on board. The front of the bus was filled, but there were some open seats in the back. And here's where I made my mistake. I thought I'd like a window seat, so I could get fresh air, look out at the countryside, and maybe have a place to puke if I needed. What I didn't notice was that it was the "wheel seat" with no room for my legs, but it was too late. There was a line behind me and if I didn't sit, I might not have a seat!
But all my regrets washed away not five minutes into the trip when the bus pulled over. My god, we're not 5 minutes in and we're stopping already? Two guys dressed up as clowns got on board, then a kid with bags of fresh mango, the doors shut and the bus took off again. And now the show starts. "Mango mango mango mango" says the boy as he sticks the bags in each persons face as he walks the aisle. The two clowns start a comedy routine near the front, and all eyes are on them. I don't understand much, just a few words. And a little ways into the set, I start to hear words like "gringo" and soon all eyes are on me and the bus rumbles with laughter. Someone please get me off this bus!!!
|The joke was on me. Glad I could help a clown out.|
I love street performers, haven't been much of a clown guy, but I respect anyone willing to don makeup, ridiculously colorful clothing and put themselves in front of a crowd hoping for cash. These guys were obviously funny, and were taking advantage of my presence to gain more laughs. I like to think that they got more tips since I was there to be the ass of their jokes. Heck, I even pulled out my wallet and gave them a few limpira. They also pulled out some comic books and offered them for sale too as they walked the aisle. I was surprised how much they pulled in before they hopped off on the side of the road. They were replaced by a kid saying "pollo pollo pollo pollo" with an armful of homemade roasted chicken platters wrapped in plastic and a big fella with a huge bag of popcorn. You're darn right I bought some popcorn. I gave him a 20 fully expecting change, since I saw it was 10 from the people buying it in front of me. He took my 20 and walked on. I knew I deserved change, and other people saw it and knew it too. But I stupidly didn't say a word and he moved on. The rest of the people on the bus now knew I was a sucker, too. Not good. Sitting duck.
|Coffee drying next to the road wouldn't pass Organic inspection|
I enjoyed my popcorn and occasionally sipped on water. I didn't want to drink much, since I knew we probably weren't stopping for a bathroom break. But water is what I needed most. Oh well. Once out of the city, and into the fresh air, I started to appreciate the ride again and was really quite glad I took this bus instead of the express. This is Honduras. The people laughed at me, sure, but I was safe. My bag was fine on top, and the driver's helper was not menacing, just tired and working hard. As we approached each little town, or even just a group of people, the driver would make the horn go "beepity beep beep beeeeeeep beeptity beeeep" and the helper guy would open the door and yell out "COPAN RUINAS COPAN RUINAS" as if the people on the road couldn't read the huge letters on the windshield (just like me) that read "COPAN RUINAS."
And so the morning went, every possible type of food and beverage vendor came on and off the bus, or hassled me through the window. I was stiff and terribly uncomfortable, but did my best to enjoy the passing mountainside and focus on the good things in life, like the great privilege I have to travel.
|We passed a lot of fabric covered crops|
|Horses, cows, goats and chickens...|
Turns out, we were just entering Copan the state, not the city. A sign said we had another 52km to go. I was ready to crack, so I gave myself a pep talk, had some popcorn, refocused my breathing and massaged my knees and calves. As we ascended through the mountain, I put my new coffee skills to work. I was surprised how I could identify coffee plants from great distances, and even identify those with diseases. I saw a lot of plants devastated by la roya, just like in Rio Negro. I also observed coffee processing in shacks alongside the road - hand cranked depulpers, bags piled up, and beans spread out on concrete to dry. This is one instance where coffee processing and quality come into play. It's not enough to just worry about how the coffee is grown, we need to follow it through all the way home. And in many cases, I don't think you'd want to drink the coffee. Nothing against these folks, I'm sure they are doing their best with what they have, but when you see coffee beans drying on a driveway right next to the road littered with garbage, well, I don't think the coffee is going to be that good. And it's certainly not organic. Or clean, for that matter.
|My view from the tuk tuk.|
|Quaint cobblestone, and a tuk tuk.|
|Tomorrow, the ruins.|
I was exhausted, even though I was just sitting for 5 hours it took a lot of strength to make it through in the fetal position bouncing and swerving all day. After an ice cold shower (hot not an option I guess) I asked at the desk where I might find a shuttle to Antigua in the morning. Nobody spoke english, so I was proud that I got my question asked an understood the answer. I walked to the travel office, paid $20 for a reservation on the minibus to Antigua, and wandered the town.
On a map I have there was a small ad for a farm that sold milk, cheese and coffee in town. I went there and the place was empty. A nice woman asked if she could helped me and I pointed to the espresso machine. I ordered a mochaccino and it was stellar. Craving home, I stopped at Bob's Pizza Copan and enjoyed a pie. It was late. Time for bed.