We officially made it to Honduras. I’m not sure what you’re thinking, but my first thought was, “Holy crap, I’m in Honduras.” Audrey, Trent, Evelyne and I got up bright and early to head out to Guatemala City to catch the coach headed for Honduras. Well, perhaps it wasn’t bright but it sure was early – our alarms went off just before 3. The shuttle picked us up at 3:20 outside of Holistico, the Hostel we were staying at. Eight minutes later, the driver had our bags loaded and the four of us safely in the shuttle, and off we zoomed to Guatemala City. A quarter after 4 we arrived at the Hedman-Atlas bus station and got in line with our printed tickets. The man at the ticket counter asked us individually for our tickets and passports, typed our info into the computer and printed out our “official” tickets.


One of his colleagues came by to grab large bags to go under the bus, and three of us patiently waited to board the bus. Unfortunately for Audrey, the man checking the larger bags disliked her bright orange, carry-on backpack. He continually insisted that she could not take her backpack on board the bus. She took a few items out, shoved them in her checked bag and headed outside to get some fresh air. She came back in where he grumpily reiterated that she could not carry on her bag. She just kept saying no and shaking her head (seriously, dude, some things you absolutely do not check – especially going to Honduras – and her bag was carry-on size)! It was nearly 5 and time to depart, so everyone lined up with their carry-on outside the bus, where tickets were verified against passports. Bags were opened and quickly inspected on a dinky fold-out table; we were then free to board the bus, find our seat and “relax” for the next four or so hours to Honduras.


I will admit, the bus was pretty comfortable. It was certainly better than a hot and crammed chicken bus. There were movies that you could plug headphones in to hear (on sale for 10 Quetzales, which is a little over a dollar, but we had our own that worked just fine) and a delicious breakfast was provided. It was absolutely freezing, and you were only given one blanket to share between two seats, but Audrey and I each had our trusty Delta blankets, so life was good. And then we got to the border.

Getting up before 3 am, we were all exhausted. However, once the bus reached the border, we were all wide awake; adrenaline had us wired. The border crossing was absolutely terrifying. A great deal of it had to do with fear of the unknown, but realizing that border officials can be untrustworthy and the entire area being shady were contributing factors as well.

Once the bus came to a stop at the edge of Guatemala in El Florido, we grabbed our carry-on bags and proceeded to Migracion Salida. This is the exit immigration office to get out of Guatemala. Men were all around yelling “Cambio, Cambio!!” to change currencies. We had no idea what the exchange rate was, so we just walked past them and entered the Migracion Salida office. We showed our passports and the immigration cards we filled out on the bus. We paid the 10Q fee (about $1.30) and our passports were stamped. We trudged along the no man’s land that is known as a border crossing. This one is particularly desolate. It is mostly filled with truckers, change men, Honduran police and small tiendas.

We continued on up the road to Oficina de Migracion Honduras. This was a nice, new building where we went inside and waited in line to have our passports stamped. Evelyne was first in line and handed her passport over. The immigration official barked for her to pay the fee. She looked around at us and we were all a bit dumbfounded – we thought there was only one fee, the fee we had already paid to leave Guatemala. Conveniently enough, we had all planned to spend all our Quetzales since we weren’t returning to Guatemala. There were no ATMS at the border crossing, and the official would only take Lempiras (Honduran currency) or Quetzales. No dollars. Lovely. Fortunately, Trent had some Quetzales stashed and we paid the higher rate (it should have been about 21 Q or $3, but to pay in Quetzales opposed to Lempiras, the fee jumped to 30Q or $3.85). I should add that “officially” there is no fee to enter or leave Honduras, but, as mentioned previously, it can be shady. If you read many travelers accounts, $3 seems to be the going rate. At one point, Audrey and I paid a bit more, but $3 is average. Better to be on the safe side and just bring extra cash for border crossings.


The immigration building entering Honduras. After our passports were stamped and our 90 day tourist visas were issued, we were on our merry way. (If you’re ever traveling to Honduras, it’s important to note that Honduras is part of the C-4 Agreement. This means you can travel up to 90 days in total between Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua without checks or restrictions. The only problem with Honduras giving you a 90 day visa is your 90 days in the C-4 starts the day you arrive in any of the C-4 countries. So if you land in another C-4 country, go to Honduras and stay 89 days there, you’re going to have to fly out since all land-bordering countries of Honduras are C-4, which you would have overstayed your visa for. Just food for thought!)


We finally made it to the other side of the border. In total it took about an hour. Short lines and relatively painless, if you exclude the stress of having to find emergency money. Then we get to the best non-matching picture ever (seriously how many colors of green-ish is that)! Traveling definitely brings out your fashion sense. ;) One pair of flip-flops + one jacket + a freezing bus and not able to change shorts = awesomely mismatched border crossing picture! Terrified to take pictures, once Audrey and I had our passports stamped, our fees paid and our carry-ons back on the bus, we ran (literally) to the front of the bus and snapped a couple of pictures of the border crossing. It turns out that snapping pictures at a border crossing is completely legal (contrary to what I was told crossing into Mexico in 2010). So if you’re ever crossing into Honduras, take tons of pictures. ;)


Border crossing complete, we were on our way to Copán Ruinas. Only ten kilometers to go!

Since I had not crossed a land border since Mexico in 2010 (other than Canada and in Europe, which are pieces of cake), the Honduran border crossing was definitely intimidating. But we made it through without any mishaps and the great news is that after Honduras, crossing other borders is easy peasy. :)

After we arrived in Copan, we hired a mototaxi (Honduran tuk-tuk) at the Hedman-Atlas bus station to take us to Via Via, our hostel. Via Via is owned by Evelyne’s friend from the Netherlands, and it is a quaint place for backpackers and travelers to come and hang out, eat, crash or do all three. Plus, for 8 bucks a night, it is quite a steal!


We settled in, roamed around the small city a bit, took ample pictures and came back to Via Via to chill and watch the World Cup. Random side-note. Anyone notice the lady walking down the hill (bottom right of the picture) with the laundry on her head? It’s pretty crazy; you’ll walk down the street and see dozens of women in Guatemala and Honduras carrying things on their head.


This is the center of the square and at the heart of Copán Ruinas. There are mototaxis zooming along everywhere. Honduras played Ecuador that day, hence the Honduran flag at the front of the mototaxi.

I used this photo in my Antigua post, but I think it’s worth sharing again. Need a mototaxi? No problem.

World Cup is serious stuff. The inside of this little tienda was completely packed and men were literally lined up outside of it. That wasn’t just for Honduran games either. That was every single game. As soon as the games were over, they would disperse and go about their business, but as soon as the next game started, there they were again! That particular tienda had a teeny tiny television, but at least fifty pairs of eyes were religiously watching that little screen.

We ordered dinner and watched the Honduras v Ecuador game at Via Via. You can see the arms go up when Honduras scored its first and only goal. They ultimately lost to Ecuador, but it was still amazing being there when they were competing in the World Cup.

We were exhausted and apprehensive to roam the city at night (a fear that turned out to be foolish), so we hung out with fellow backpackers, threw down a few Cuba Libres and devised our plan to see Copan. ;)

Check back Monday to hear about mud baths and making friends with Honduran military!

In regions throughout Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Belize and part of El Salvador, the Mayan Culture is one of the largest in the Americas. Of those five countries, Guatemala is the heart of the Mayan world. Although it is certainly modernized, you can still find traces of Mayan culture in Guatemala, including Antigua.

However, present day Antigua is quite touristy, but still amazing. There are several Spanish schools, hostels and it is close to several sites to explore and other cool things to do. Add that to the fact that it’s a quaint, small town and is quite safe and boom: gringos! Everywhere you turn, there are people selling things. Fruit, bracelets, bags, hand-made scarves, etc. One lady is on the same corner every day with her basket of fruit including watermelon, platinos, cauntelope, pineapple and more.   335 The closer to the center you get (even though Antigua is not very big), the more people you will see. The women carry huge baskets on their heads, babies in a sling around their backs and things to sell in their hands. It’s crazy. 334 You can also sit and get your shoes shined if you desire. 336 Many Latin American countries have many similarities, and Antigua is no different. But it’s such a nice little place and it’s definitely a good place to start if you’ve never ventured into Central or South America. Besides the fact that it’s easy to get to, the people are nice and will try to help you if you ask (at least attempt Spanish, but hand motions do wonders as well). Even though they’re nice, boy will they try to sell you something. And they’ll say anything to get you to come look. A couple of different times, a lady would say “One dollar, one dollar!” One dollar is quite cheap, so naturally you want to check out what she’s selling. Once you start looking, the she says the price again… but this time it’s $21. Trent, Audrey and I were walking around and there were some bags hanging outside of a small shop.
Trent had said previously he needed a bag, so we stopped outside to look. Within twenty seconds, a lady had us iniside and in the back of the shop, pulling down bag after bag after bag. The rest of her family proceeded to swarm us, asking which one we liked. I can’t even explain how insane it is, seven or eight women surrounding you, bags coming down and the newspaper that stuffed the bags flying everywhere. Then the magic words: “Quanto cuesto?” Twenty dollars was the answer. Twenty dollars? For a bag? No, thanks. Of course when you start to walk away the price comes down. 15. 14. 10. Trent setlled at 50 Quetzales (about $6.50). I had six bucks USD and asked if she would take that. Nope, she only wanted Quetzales and she wouldn’t take less than 50. I got three feet from the door and she changed her mind. With that said, you can get some great deals, but you can also get ripped a new one. They know how to negiotiate. Plus, there’s always seems to be a different price for the locals than for the Gringos.   324 And then there is the market. Hundreds of little tent spaces filled with everything you could imagine. Jerseys, souvenirs, meat, fruit, clothes, shoes, everything. Just like with the street vendors and the small shops, there is always room for negotiation at the market.   322 There’s also amazing food. If you’re brave enough to try it, you can get some delicious food for next to nothing.   323 325 And lichas! You can get lichas at the market. A spiky looking strawberry, you break them open and inside it’s similar to a grape with a seed. I’ve never seen them in the US, but they’re all over the place here!   328331    333Behind the market, there’s the chaos of the chicken bus station. There are dozens and dozens of them. And while you’re waiting for the bus, you can always grab something to munch on at the street stand. 330 Antigua has been great. Definitely a great place to start my Central American journey. And the next stop? Honduras. Audrey, Trent, Evelyn and I are taking a bus (not a chicken bus, a coach bus) to Copan Ruinas, Honduras. Check back soon to “hear” about the border crossing, the town and the Mayan ruins!

For a full set of pikchas, click here!

I like to think I’ve traveled a fair amount. Certainly not as much or to as many places as some, but I’ve seen a good number of places. In all that time, I have never stayed in a hostel. I have Couchsurfed, hitch-hiked, moved across the Atlantic alone, traveled Europe by myself and many other things – but I have never stayed in a hostel. At least, not until Central America. And I must say, it’s actually quite nice. The rooms are inexpensive, the locations are superb and you meet a crapload of fellow travelers. It was in Holistico that Audrey and I met Brittany and Evelyne. Brittany is from the US and Evelyne is from the Netherlands. Along with Trent, the five of us roamed around Antigua. Brittany had loaded a travel guide offline that mapped out a walking trail to Cerro de la Cruz. We all knew that the walk can be a bit dangerous in the mornings and at night because of thieves. Even though we were in a group during the day, we decided to take two tuk-tuks up the mountain, just to be safe, for 20 Quetzales per person (about $2.50).

I’m going to stop right there and attempt to explain what a tuk-tuk is. A tuk-tuk is a three-wheeled contraption that resembles something between a motorcycle and a lawnmower. They are cheap and a great way to get around a smaller city. Tuk-tuks are covered and have a passenger seat in the back. They can fit three smaller people comfortably (as comfortable as you can be bumping along cobblestone streets on the back of a lawnmower thing, that is); in a pinch, I’ve used a tuk-tuk with two other people including all our travel gear and we survived. Although this was taken in Honduras, a picture is worth a thousand words. Feast your eyes on a plethora of tuk-tuks!


Anyhow, taking the tuk-tuk was an experience. Our tuk-tuk drivers raced each other, up the mountain, but the second tuk-tuk barely had enough umph to get to the top. However, once we reached the summit, it was unquestionably worth it. The view was absolutely incredible.


Unfortunately pictures don’t do it justice, but you can see the entire city stretched out below. It was an interesting feat trying to get a local lady to take a picture with my camera, but she succeeded and the following is of the five of us are standing at the edge of the overlook. (Brittany, Audrey, me, Trent and Evelyne.)


Of course Audrey and I had to snap a selfie at the top.


We decided to attempt to walk back down the trail. There were guards posted along the way to deter thieves and mischief-makers, and we had a fantastic walk down the mountain and through the city.




The above picture is of the Arco de Santa Catalina. Originally it created a passageway from the Saint Catalina convent to a school, which kept the nuns from having to walk on the street. Today it pretty much leads to the center of town and is a focal point for getting around the city. Antigua is essentially a big square with even blocks throughout. You’d think it would be easy to get around, right? Wrong. It gets so confusing with every block being the same and every corner looking similar. But if you can get to the arch, chances are likely you can get to where you want to go.

Antigua is quaint and picturesque. Full of cobblestone streets, brightly painted homes and businesses, the mountains as the backdrop and motorbikes parked along the side. Now imagine a chicken bus driving around with tuk-tuks flying by and you’re picturing Antigua.



What is a chicken bus? That, above, my friend, is a chicken bus. It’s a revamped old American school bus with crazy colors and an interesting paint job. They come in a variety of different colors and names. They are the mode of public transportation here, and they were dubbed the name “chicken bus” because locals will bring – you guessed it – chickens aboard to go to and from. They are cheap and insane. Made to fit two school children per seat, chicken buses stuff as many people in them as they can hold – be it shoved under the seat, standing in the aisles, on top of the bus or hanging on to the back, chicken buses are an experience. A guy hangs out the side door shouting where the bus is going. It stops for a matter of seconds; the guy throws your bag on top of the bus and starts going before you’ve had time to figure out where you can fit. Then you hold on for dear life. I have yet to ride a chicken bus; I admit, it’s intriguing as well as terrifying. I’ll let you know what happens when I experience one. ;)


I finally made it to Antigua. After making it to the airport shortly after 2 am, I scrunched up on a bench and tried to sleep since the Spirit ticket counter didn’t open until 4. Go figure, half an hour later, a girl in her twenties thought it would be fun to sit across from me and blast her music – even though every other seat in the airport was empty. Sleep was clearly not an option, so I got up and sat in the dark line lane in front of the ticket counter. At 4, employees started turning on computers and lights; at 4:11 I was the first customer called up. Exhausted, I gave the lady my passport and the print-out of my journey. Spirit is a budget airline. That means you pay through the nose for anything “extra.” Need something other than a personal item? No problem, but there’s a charge. Get thirsty on the plane? No problem, but you’ll have to pay. Forget to print out your boarding pass? No problem, but there’s a charge for that, too. Since it was my first international flight with Spirit, I had to go to the ticket counter to verify my details (or so I was told when I called the previous day). Since I had the paper Spirit had sent me, no charge, but one heck of a wait. Guatemala is one of those countries that wants to see proof of exit… meaning before you fly you have to prove that you’re not going to stay forever. However, depending on the airport agent and who you ask, this is incorrect and no proof is actually needed. According to the lady behind the counter at Spirit, I indeed needed to provide proof of onward travel. Since I had purchased only a one-way ticket, this was quite a problem. So there I was, at 4:20 in the morning, trying to show this lady (literally, show the printed ticket) that I had purchased a bus ticket to Honduras. She kept trying to make me buy an actual flight out of Guatemala. This simply would not do, since I planned to travel around Central America, not just Guatemala. Finally, she called a supervisor and agreed that my Honduran ticket would suffice. Phew. I made it through security and to the gate just in time to watch the sun rise over LaGuardia.


An hour later I boarded the plane bound for Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Generally with a domestic flight followed by an international flight, you have to change terminals. You can imagine this is a big problem when you only have an hour and a half layover and your domestic flight takes off late. But in Fort Lauderdale, Spirit flies into the same terminal. I got off the plane in Florida at gate G, right next to gate H headed to Guatemala City. I waited fifteen minutes in line for the bathroom (you’d think they would have more than six stalls for women!) and headed to gate H. Except gate H was now headed to Bogota, Colombia. Last minute -terminal- change. Awesome. So I run to the exit and run to the next terminal. Thank goodness it wasn’t like Heathrow or JFK where you can’t walk (or run, in my case). I had twenty minutes to get inside the terminal, through security and to the gate. I was immediately taken to the front of the security line, but my backpack had been painstakingly packed and was already about to pop. I had to pull out my laptop and all my liquids, take of my tennis shoes, and do the normal security procedure. I got through with no problems and start to put on my shoes when I looked at the time. Five minutes. Shit. With no time to repack my bag, I’m sprinting through the airport with my bag half-open behind me, Ziploc bags full of bottles in my hands, laptop shoved under my arm, passport clamped between my teeth, and one shoe on and one shoe off. I made it to the gate with just about ten people in front of me – just enough time to put on my other shoe and shove my stuff in my bag. After a long, long day of traveling, I finally touched down in Guatemala City just after 11 am local time (1 pm EST). I overheard someone talking about how they didn’t know any Spanish, but were going to be traveling around Guatemala. Interesting. While waiting to get off the plane, I struck up a conversation. That’s how I met Trent, the eighteen-year-old from North Carolina who was on his first trip abroad and was headed to the same destination as me: Antigua. We got through immigration and customs without any issues, although I did get some interesting looks when I was trying to speak Portuguese to explain what I was doing instead of Spanish. Oops. Since Trent and I both flew Spirit, neither one of us had any checked luggage, so we went directly to the exit. We got on the shuttle (more like an old mini-van, but comfortable enough) to Antigua for ten bucks a person (and yes, they actually take USD). We waited about ten minutes for any other travelers looking for a ride to Antigua; after one more girl got on, we were on our way to Antigua, which was 45 or so minutes away. We arrived just before 1 (local time). The view stepping out of the shuttle was beautiful.


After meeting up with Audrey, the three of us headed to Hostel Holistico, where Trent had made a reservation for the duration of his trip in Antigua. It looked quaint and for 90 Quetzales per night (around $11.50) that included breakfast, Audrey and I decided to crash there as well. And so begins the journey of my Central American trip.

I’ve been back in the United States for six days. Yet at the current moment, I’m sitting on a bus from Pittsburgh headed to New York. And in about ten hours, I’ll be on a plane to Guatemala (country number twenty)! I’m meeting Audrey there, my first Couchsurfer who stayed with me in Ireland and fellow adventuring friend. I bought a one-way ticket and all I really know is we’ll be making our way from Guatemala down to Costa Rica through Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. It’s been an interesting week, that’s for sure. I arrived in JFK from Shannon, Ireland, Wednesday afternoon and took various trains to get to New Jersey. A friend picked me up and took me to my car, which was in Pennsylvania. I then drove the five or so hour drive to Pittsburgh, the city I “moved” to but had never actually been. Of course it was during one of the worst storms I have ever had the pleasure of driving through; by the time I arrived, I had been up nearly twenty-eight hours. The next few days were a whirlwind, consisting of unpacking everything from the move, unpacking everything from Ireland (to be fair though, it was only a backpack), repacking for Central America and making sure I had everything I would need while there.

With some help from Adam, late last night I had everything that I would be needing together.


The pile includes from far left clockwise:

- an umbrella
- make-up/toiletries bag
- poncho
- five pairs of shorts
- two t-shirts
- sleeping mat
- two microfiber towels
- pair of sunglasses
- sleeping eye mask
- padlock and key
- Lifestraw (don’t drink the water!)
- ear buds
- “cracked” phone (essentially, an international phone)
- flashlight
- money belt (I used to make so much fun of people who used these, but I definitely want to keep my passport safe, so I’m jumping on board that train)
- Spanish pocket guide
- passport
- Dell Inspiron laptop
- light jacket
- long-sleeved thermal tee
- six pairs of socks (non-cotton)
- swimsuit
- five tank tops
- pair of leggings
- scarf/skirt/light towel/purse (I’ve used this in particular for a multitude of different things)
- travel book and pen
- toiletries (two mouthwashes, two hair mousse containers, two shampoos, one conditioner, sunscreen, face wash, lotion, toothpaste and Neosporin)
- toothbrush (and cover)
- cotton pads (these are great because they’re lightweight, disposable and can be used in the place of a washcloth)
- Advil
- three sink-stoppers (necessity for Hostels)

The things not pictured are chargers (laptop, phone and camera), undergarments, a brush, two flips flops, one pair of sneakers, a small blanket (thanks, Delta!), the tiny brown backpack that goes on every trip abroad I take (it has double zippers, meaning it locks – invaluable!) and obviously the camera that took this photo. ;)

Audrey has a converter and plenty of bug spray that I can use when I arrive.

With the exception of the electronics, the travel book and my passport, I could care less if I come back home with any of this. Well, and perhaps the sleeping mat. Audrey might not appreciate me ditching that. :) That’s one amazing and also one depressing thing about traveling. Whatever you bring, you’re going to be carrying it on your back. So the more stuff that’s loaded in means more weight and less room for cool things you might randomly pick up along the way.

Believe it or not, everything fit in the backpack. Since I’m flying Spirit, I can bring one “personal item” on board for free. However, that personal item must be no more than 16 x 14 x 12, and my backpack it slightly more than that. If it doesn’t fit in the baggage slot, the fee is a whopping $100 at the gate (it’s less if you purchase online or at the check-in counter, but who wants to pay for a carry-on backpack at all?). With that said, I may end up looking like a crazy person boarding the plane. Leaving Spain with Ryanair, I wore multiple shirts, jackets and stuffed my pockets full – and it was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But, it worked. :) So I may be doing the same thing this time. Either way, I’m sure it will be an interesting flight to Guatemala.

Anyhow, I’ve rambled long enough. I should probably attempt to sleep. Of course, in the midst of the craziness, I walked out without my laptop charger. The bus arrives in New York shortly after midnight, then I’m making my way to the 24-hour Best Buy in Manhattan to buy another charger, then catching a series of buses and such to get to LaGuardia hopefully somewhere around 2. Since this is my first international flight with Spirit, I have to check-in with the desk, which of course doesn’t open until 4. Then my flight leaves just before 7 am. I’m sure all of this will definitely make for a great story later, but it makes for a long night tonight.

Since my trip to Europe and Central America are back-to-back, Ireland adventures will be posted in between. :) See ya’ll on the other side, in Guatemala!


Please log in to vote

You need to log in to vote. If you already had an account, you may log in here

Alternatively, if you do not have an account yet you can create one here.