Lost city of the White Monkey God

After a cold and wet cayuca ride down the Rio Motagua to the sea, Jose stashed the cayuca in the reeds and we walked along the beach where I cleared customs at an isolated kiosk at the border. Hopped back on my bike.

20 January, Thursday

I buzzed off the 40 kms in no time, hitting Puerto Cortez at 3pm. Went straight to a bank and cashed $20 of Travellers Checks for 40 Lempuras, the Honduran dinero. Then to a hotel. I picked a crummy one.

I straightened my stuff out, drying it off. Went for a walking tour of town. Kind of a funky town. Lots of pool halls. Lots of big boats. Ate a good meal for 1.40 Lemps (.70 cents), not bad at all. Retired to my sleazy hotel and read and wrote a bit. Manana to Migration then rail connections to La Cieba, port gateway to Roatan.

Well, I’ve been on my trip for three months, 90 days. $437 left, I’ve spent $425, or $4.72 per day average. Not too shabby.

Kms                 40                                To date                        1375

21 January, Friday                  San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Rather a strange day, even for me who is used to strange days. Started off by waking up. Walked over to the Migration Office where I got a 90-day tourist card. No problem what-so-ever. Great. Went to el banco and changed US$50 for 100 Lemps. Toured the port city of Puerto Cortez. A real nice mercado, bought some excellent cheese for 50 centavos. Finally found the railroad station. A train left for Tela at 3pm for 2 Lemps. A good deal.

So I went back to the Hotel Formosa and packed my gear, wrote some letters and read a bit. As 3pm rolled around I rode the Silver Dawn down to the station and bought a ticket. But, alas, as I went to board the tarin the conductor said ‘no way.”

“there must be a way,” I replied.

“Sure,” he said, “tomorrow on the freight train.” Foiled again. However, being the resourceful type, I rode down to the bus station and hopped a bus to San Pedro Sula where I was certain I could catch a bus to La Cieba. 1.5 Lemps to San Pedro.

Let me say a few words about the weather: $%@)*&&%. Just terrible. Rainy and cold. However, the road between Cortez and Sula was real interesting. But they charged me an extra Lemp for my bike. Booo.

Pulled into San Pedro around 5pm. Found out that the bus line didn’t run to La Cieba but supposedly one down the street did. So down I rode. Couldn’t find it. I don’t think I know a more frustrating activity than asking for directions. Ask 10 different people and get 10 different ways. I must have ridden around for an hour. Finally, by accident, I stumbled on to the terminal. The last bus left 10 minutes agio. Arggg. By this time. By this time I was pretty disgusted.

I rode around and found a likely looking hotel. I pushed my bike up the stairs and asked “10 Lemps,” they said. “You’re crazy,” I said. “5 Lemps,” they said. “I’ll take it.” Not a bad room. But I was still kind of upset so I went to take a shower. Wouldn’t you know it: no hot water. Ready to kill.

So I stormed out, looking for a place to eat. I’d written the day off as a total loss. Should have stayed in Cortez, taken the freight train and saved at least 5 Lemps. Oh well.

As I was walking down the street a wino said “How’s it going, friend,” in English! Far out. Got to talking and he had a whole bunch of tales of buried treasure and lost cities. Shades of B Traven. I bought him supper at a sleazy little joint…great food, though and cheap.

This guy, ray burke, had been all over the coast and had all sorts of neat stories. Had some good insights into Honduaran life. All in all a very interesting chap.

Well, that put me in a much better mood. I returned to my hotel and waddya know. The water was running. But still too cold for a shower.

22 January, Saturday                         Coxen Hole, Roatan

Well hot damn. I’m sitting in the zocalo in La Cieba, the funkiest town I’ve seen so far. Pure Caribbean. 50,000 plus people. The new King Kong is playing at the flicks. A neat place.

Got up real erly, packed my gear and rode over to the bus depot. Bought my ticket to La Cieba at 8 Lemps. Also an extra 2 Lemps for my bike. That’s one Honduran custom I don’t like. Loaded my bike on top and soon we took off. The ride was interesting enough, but crowded. The little kid behind me kept pulling my hair. Lots of nice mountains, clear rivers.

Pulled into La Cieba at 10.30. Stashed my gear on the Silver Dawn and rode down to the docks. Found out that the boat to Roatan might leave around two…that is if it gets here in the first place. So I just rode around, ending up on a bench in the square eating all the goodies the vendors had.

Well, hot damn twice. I left the zocalo and hit a pretty good restaurant. Then I went back to the pier and waited for the boat. About an hour. Bought my ticket and hopped aboard. 10 Lemps plus 5 Lemps for my bike.

Real nice ride over. The boat was a 70 ft 1930s style converted pleasure boat. All Mahogany but falling apart. We cast off and left La Cieba behind. Pretty rough. The Honduran coast is fantastically beautiful. High jagged palm-covered ridges running down to white sand beached. Just how I would imagine the Caribbean coast to be.

Felt good to have the rolling decks under me once again. Wasn’t long before Roatan appeared on the horizon. Long with hills. Looked good. Soon the clouds broke and the sun came out. All right. Making about 15 knots, the trip took three and a half hours. Pulled inmmto an incredibly beautiful harbour right at sunset. Coxons Hole. Yippee!

Disembarked and found a sleezy joint for 4 Lemps. Ate a good rice / meat / banana / cerveza meal for 2 Lemps. Kinda walked around a bit. Things are hopping here. Sabado noche. I might be able to off El Biko for 200 Lemps. They’re a hot item here. Manana, I explore the island.

Hung out for three weeks on Roatan. Sold my bike after clocking up 1535 kilometers. Flew to Tegucigalpa and hitched south along the Panamericana. Picked up a great ride with two Canadian guys in their old Plymouth Fury all the way to Panama.

Published by Phil Parent

Phil Parent is a geographer residing in Queenstown New Zealand.

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