On the next morning, Cinthya and I had to get up early, as she had to go to work. After a quick breakfast, we left home and drove to the big bus terminal, which is located right next to her work.
Once I arrived at the bus terminal, I started my long search for buses to Guatemala. There were a lot of options in a lot of different price classes. Anyway I’ve known, that the way will be a long one … probably 8 hours or more.
I finally decided, that the cheapest and fastest way from San Pedro Sula to Guatemala would be the one over the Copan Ruinas.
As I arrived there after 8am, I had to wait until the next bus, which was going to leave at 11am. I used the time to organize lunch, walk a bit around, change some money and try to motivate people for my travel video. Only the travel video didn’t work out over there. I’ve been able to motivate a big group of young girls to be part of my video, but they were working in a shop and their chef wasn’t motivated enough.
Anyway, I took the bus and looked forward to a 4 hours bus drive. As the bus driver was one of the worse bus drivers I ever seen and the bus without much engine power, it took us an extra hour and I arrived at the Copan Ruinas around 4pm. The city was crazy and there were thousand of people on the street celebrating, as Honduras just won an important soccer match.
At the bus station I got picked up by a tourist guide, who offered me and another traveller to give us a hotel room for the night plus the ride to the border for only USD 10,- …
I’ve known, that this price is way to high and anyway been motivated enough to do a very crazy trip on my own – it has been sure to me, that I will go to Guatemala this day, doesn’t matter, what it will take me …
So on I just crossed the street and asked a restaurant owner, who stand there in front of his place on the street, celebrating the soccer match, how I can get best to the border.
The tourist guide already explained me earlier, that the only two shuttles to Guatemala already left at 2pm and the only way would be with a mini bus.
What has been weird to me was, that whoever I asked to the border in my professional Span-English told me how to get to “Frontera” …
So after I heard it about 20 times, I decided it has to be the right way and I will need to find a way to this strange city “Frontera” I never heard about before …
The restaurant owner told me, that there are mini buses leaving all 30 minutes and that one is just about to go – and pointed down the street.
I thanked him for the information and started running to the mini bus. Within one minute, my big pack bag was on the roof of the car and I was inside the mini van bus.
Right there I then took out my small Spanish dictionary and looked up, what the word “border” would be in Spanish, as I will need to tell the people in “Frontera”, where I want to go.
… guess what – it was there, that I realized “frontera” is just the Spanish translation for “border” and I’m on my right way to over there! =)
The mini bus drove quite fast on the empty street to the border and arrived there about 20 minutes later.
I’ve known that the price should only be something between 20 and 30 Lempiras. (money in Honduras … 19,- Lempiras pretty exactly 1,- USD)
The bus driver asked me for 50 Lempiras, but as that was exactly the money I had left, I just gave it away, as I’ve known I will probably never need it again. If I would have changed it, I might have become 0.50 USD cents and anyway he brought me really fast and friendly to my goal, the border. It would have not been the effort worth, to start fighting about this small price … ;)
The border over there is really small … you first go to a desk of Honduras – and following that to a desk from Guatemala.
Very interesting is, that they all signed the same paper/deal (I explained earlier) so that travellers get a tourist visa over 90 days for 4 different countries in Central America. But only Guatemala doesn’t know anything about it … – I told this guy at the desk five times, that I got my visa already in El Salvador and it is still available. Tried to explain him, what so many people explained to me … but he didn’t believe it …
I had to pay another 10 Quetzales (pretty exactly 1,- Euro) and got a stamp with another 90 days tourist visa … =P
Guatemala has nice places, but they definitely suck at their border duty … ;)
Well, it’s not like it would be their biggest problem in the country, but it seems to be one of the problems for whole Central America. One guy explained me once, that because they just let everybody who wants into their country, all the bad people who are international searched are still able to stay, live and do their business in Guatemala.
Now I just crossed this border from Honduras to Gautemala, it was late afternoon and there was only jungle left and right from me. There was just nothing … – one street, which I’ve been told is about 60 km long to the next big city.
They got a small bus there, which would have cost about Quetzales 40,- and has been relative to the short way very expensive for Guatemala. I just sat for hours in the other bus and decided I’m motivated enough to just give it a try.
I changed my shoes from flip-flops to my Nike shoes and started walking on the only route there was.
I’ve known, that it’s not very dangerous, as the mini bus will come by each half hour or hour and in case nothing is working, I can still jump on this bus …
There weren’t many cars going at that time, but it only took me about 15 minutes walking plus 5 cars, until a pick-up truck stopped for me and I jumped on the back! =)
Just when I started walking, the mini van bus started as well it’s way and tried to pick me up. Later on, I went by the mini bus, as he had to stop many times along the way for people and the pick-up truck has been way faster! =)
He took me very long – long enough to take some videos, photos and eat an apple during the ride – enjoying the sun, which was about to go down and the beautiful jungle area – I would say he gave me a lift for about 40 to 50 minutes long to a big street crossing – when he stopped there, I thanked him and he asked me, where I’m planning to go to.
I told him Guatemala City and he showed me the way I need to take, as he was going into a different direction.
I walked just a few meters to a small group of people and asked again, which way I need to take. They told me, I best take one of the small city shuttles to the bus terminal and I should make sure to be there before the last bus leaves at 6pm.
I crossed the street to be on the right street side going to the bus terminal and rechecked with the people standing there, if I was going to take the right way.
Just in this second a small city bus came by and the people talked with the bus coordinator.
Like in El Salvador, most of the mini city shuttles have two guys – one driving the bus – one crying out the window, where they are going to – loading people on and off and collecting all the money.
I’ve been smart like always and asked the people standing there, how much it will cost me. The bus coordinator was one of the few nice ones and even jumped 20 minutes later together with me off the bus, to show me the bus terminal. This ride only cost me Quetzales 3,- ;)
In the very small bus terminal I bought the bus ticket for the last bus at 6pm and as I arrived there around 5pm, I got one hour time to organize dinner and upload money on my Guatemala mobile phone.
To give you an example about the prices – the big bus from this town Chiquimula to Guatemala City was supposed to go for 5 hours and only cost Quetzales 35,- … (compared to the bus from the border over 60 km, which would have cost me Quetzales 40,- ;) … I love hitch-hiking, but it’s not only about taking – it’s also about giving, like I helped out the hitch-hikers in East Europa, when I’ve been there in the summer 2008! =)
The big bus came a bit too late, I jumped on and enjoyed eating the cheese and sandwich bread, I bought in a small super market.
After only one hour drive, we got a big problem on the street and there has been a long traffic jam, which took us about one hour of standing and only moving very slowly.
It was then, when I realized that it won’t make any sense, trying to get to Antigua trough the night. As I couldn’t reach the girl I love (her mobile phone was out of battery)= I tried to call my good friend Luis.
He’s living in Guatemala City and offered me to pick me up and give me a place to sleep.
About 4 hours later, I finally arrived between 10pm and 11pm in Guatemala City. Still I had to wait for my friend Luis about 30 minutes long. Guatemala City is really not safe in the night, but glad fully there was a small police station in the bus station I’ve arrived.
There was only one police officer, armed with a big automatic gun, but more afraid than myself! =P
I just stood there on the side-walk in frond of the door and waited for my friend. In my back I got the police officer standing in the shadow and watching me through the big wire mesh door.
He was a friendly young guy, but preferred to stay back in the shadow, as many police officers already got killed during the past years.
One time a guy walked into my direction and started asking, if I want to by his jacket. Immediately the police officer stepped out of the shadow, shouted something into his direction and the guy walked quickly away.
He then explained me, that this guy pretty sure would have grabbed my small pack bag and start running. Anyway, I was alarmed before and took a position, I could easy defend myself and told this guy as well “NO” in a very loud and brutal way.
When you travel a lot, you learn and train with the time, to decide very fast out of the given situation, body language of the certain person and his words, if you can trust this person or not!
I didn’t see myself any second during that situation in danger, as I’ve already thought ahead, what I would do if he comes closer. The closest he actually came was still 10 meters away! =P
Very interesting is, how much you can tell from body language. For example, when I’ve been around with my friends from the USA in San Salvador and we planned to go to the volcano, we asked the bus driver there, how much it would be. Non of us understood at first, what he told us, but we all had the feeling and known, that whatever he told us is for sure not the real price. Later in the bus we just looked, how much other people paid and gave him the same amount of money. As we paid, we thought back about what he told us earlier and realized he put about 0.50 USD cent extra on the price. =P
Anyway, my friend Luis finally came, picked me up and brought me to his father’s house. His father is living somewhere else, but the big empty house got one room with a nice bed. We talked a bit, he gave me the keys of the big house and then he and his wife took off. They live somewhere else in the city and I had all the big house for my own this night.
The house is very nice and located in a safe area, as they have built a few years ago a big fence with security around the whole big block of houses in this part of the city.
I took a quick shower and went very tired to bed.
… one of many true travel days … =)