Copan and our first Darwin Award

We woke up at a reasonable time and started the half mile walk from our hostel to the ruins at Copan. See my blogroll for more info. Alex was hesitant to walk but I told him I needed the exercise. We walked for about 10 mins and then rounded a corner to a long straight away. The stretch had a couple of places where there were speed-bumps and Alex started moaning about the walk again. Along comes a semi-truck that slows down to go over the speed-bumps and Alex has the bright idea to run up behind it, climb on and hitch a ride to the entrance to the ruins. I struggled to get my camera out and just managed to catch a picture of him headed down the road.

I just shook my head and so did the policeman as we watched Alex head down the road and disappear around the corner. So now I am walking down the road and thinking that Alex must be getting off the truck at the next entrance because I am standing at the entrance to the ruins and he is nowhere to be found. Ah well, he will be back.

I went inside the park and got to admire the many fine ruins at the site. About 45 mins later, Alex calls down to me from atop one of the ruins. It turns out that Alex did NOT get off the truck because the truck kept speeding up and never slowed down. So here he is hanging on the back of a truck that is going 60 miles an hour in the wrong direction and he has no way of getting off. Now he is starting to panic and he attempts to get off by putting his feet down on the pavement. His feet get taken out from under him and now he is hanging on to the back of the truck with his toes dragging on the ground and him holding on for dear life! Think a combination of James Bond and Indiana Jones. Thank God he is in shape because he pulls himself up and back onto the truck. This happens a couple of times before the truck slows in a curve to about 30 miles an hour. Alex drop both feet down on a mixture of pavement and gravel and is literally skiing behind this truck. He gets his balance and then lets go. Somehow he manages to remain upright and not kill himself. Damage sustained was dirt, grease, badly bruised toes, worn shoes and a bleeding elbow. He managed to hitch a ride back in a pickup with the biggest injury sustained being the beating his ego took 🙂 Having to explain that story to the Kiwis must have made him feel like a right fool. He was very fortunate not to have been seriously hurt and while we joked and teased about it later it definitely shook him up. SOOOoooo… first Darwin Award goes to Alex. Way to go buddy 🙂

After finishing the ruins we headed had to get a taxi ride back in one of the Rickshaws. Check out the video below.

We left Copan and headed north and then turned south again to go to Santa Rosa de Copan. There was a cigar factory there that Alex had found and we decided to see how it was all done. We whizzed by trucks and cars and potholes galore on our way to the factory and Alex convinced the guy to give us a quick tour since it was late in the day. The tour was simply amazing. I had never really thought about how cigars are made but it was a fascinating look into a factory setting in Honduras and how 750 people make over 50,000 cigars a day! The smell of the place was worth the price of admission alone. Watching the ladies roll the cigars on the same machines that have been in use for 50 years was timeless. The skill and speed of the people who did the final wrapping of the cigar was outstanding. We got to watch the label ladies put a label on every cigar by hand. We got to go to the boxing area and watch the ladies carefully pack every different type of cigar possible. They make their own beautiful boxes there as well. The factory manufactures cigars under its own brand (such as El Rey del Mundo and Flor de Copan) as well as for private label clients and some big name cigar brands like H. Upmann and Romeo y Julieta. I cannot say enough about the tour… something every cigar lover should do. Only drawback was that they would not allow any pictures except this one.

We left the factory just before 4pm and we knew it was going to be a two or two and a half hour drive to San Pedro Sula. This meant we were racing against sundown. We flew down the roads at breakneck speed, passing trucks, cars, bikes, buses and potholes. Well… it seemed like breakneck speed but in reality the roads are so bad here we never got over 60mph but it felt much faster. Having ridden in the dark for 2 hours in Mexico, I foolishly believed that we would be ok. What I didn’t factor in was that the city we were headed to was the second largest in Honduras and also the industrial hub of the country. What did that mean? TRUCKS, TRUCKS, TRUCKS, DUST, DIRT, BUGS and more TRUCKS!!!! 20 mins of riding near the city and I could not even see out of my helmet. We had to stop and clean our shields just to continue.

Poor Alex had already had a nerve racking experience this morning and here we were riding at night on a horrible stretch of road in probably the worst traffic in all of Honduras. Roads here are a joke. Potholes everywhere, no shoulder to speak of just dirt and sand, usually no lines delineating the lanes or center of the road, and certainly no working street lights. In other words, real dangerous at night. At one point, I was leading along a straight away and there is a long line of traffic coming the other way. All of a sudden, this semi-truck pulls out into my lane with his lights glaring. He is closing fast at probably 50 miles an hour and I think, he’s got to see me… my friggin’ lights are on!!!! Well, he didn’t seem to care one bit and actually had the balls to start blaring his horn at me to get out of the road. I started to pull to the shoulder when something caught my eye. I flicked my high beams on and there was an idiot riding his bike on the sand shoulder in the pitch black. Now I had nowhere to go. It was either run of the road and hit the moron on the bike or crash head on with a speeding semi! I sucked in my gut in an effort to shrink my bike down and somehow squeezed between the truck and the bike. Alex was behind me and said the truck missed my back pannier by less than a foot! Interestingly enough, that was about the fourth time that had happened to me in Honduras but being forced onto the shoulder by an oncoming truck in the daylight is far different then what had just happened. Anyway, the stress level of riding at night was unbelievable and we tried to stop at two different hotels well before the city. However, the first one had no secure parking and the second one went a little like this when Alex went in to enquire about a room.

Alex: Hi, I am looking for a room.
Hotel clerk: Do you want two hours?
Alex: Ahhh… no, I want it for the whole night
Hotel clerk: Do you have company?
Alex: Ahhh… no.
Hotel clerk: Would you like some?

Turns out the guy was very gay and he was hitting on Alex who beat a hasty retreat and didn’t tell me about the story until later 🙂 So on we rode but this time we wised up and found a line of cars to tuck in behind. No more riding out in the open for us. We made it into the city and I spotted a sign for a hotel. We whipped onto a side street and came upon a nice boutique hotel. I cannot begin to tell you the relief we felt getting off those bikes alive.

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