Sunday 2 April 2023

Guatemala and Honduras

The border crossing into Guatemala from Belize went smoothly. We have now got used to the way they work. However, our poor understanding of Spanish always adds a little more stress to these situations. 

It was the usual procedure. Check out of Belize and Then check into Guatemala and get the Temporary Import Permits for the Truck and the Motorcycle. It's always a hot sweaty few hours but we were eventually spat out the other end successfully.

In 2006 the Central American Nations of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua ( Known as the C4 Countries ) all signed the Free Mobility Agreement that allowed their citizens to pass from each of the countries easily. This also means that once you enter one country the Visa clock  starts to count down. We were granted a total of 90 days of entry to the C4, which meant that we had to get ourselves down to Panama and be back in and out of Guatemala before the 90 days expired. You can apply for an extension but in our case, it hopefully won't be required.

We headed for the Lago Peten Itza. It's the third largest lake in Guatemala, being about 100 square Kilometers in area.

Parking on the lakeside for a few days was exactly what we needed. 

Lago Peten Itza 

Unfortunately, whilst we were basking in Guatemalan paradise I discovered that I had a rear Brake Cylinder leaking. After a few quick calls to my favourite German mechanical resource "Perrypedia" I decided that it needed to be fixed as a matter of priority. 

Having tried a few garages we discovered a "Hino" Truck dealer called Codaca in Santa Elena near Flores and the two Mechanics Luis and Rember got stuck into it. As suspected, being 35 years old, it needed a little persuasion, which meant that we had to stay outside for the night. Santa Elena is not a place we would usually choose to stay in but we slept better knowing that we had an armed guard with a pump action shotgun watching us all night. We moved on the next day all sorted. Luckily we carry all these spare parts.

All looks good for 35 years old 

The Mayan empire spanned over 300,000 square km from Mexico to Honduras and included all of Guatemala.  You could spend years visiting all the archaeological sites, so we had to be selective and the largely restored ruins at Tikal were our next destination.

The National Park of Tikal, which means "City of Voices," was created in 1955 and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. It's one of Guatemala's largest and most popular excavations.

We set off into the park early as we knew the temperatures would be off the scale by lunchtime. 

It was amazing but quite a hike around all the temples.

Now you could be mistaken to think you are actually on Yavin IV ( If you know, you know ) 

The Rio Dulce, Sweet River,  runs for 43 Km between Lago De Izabal and the Carribean coast at Livingstone. For most of this distance, the River is very wide, so it actually feels like another lake.

The town of Livingstone was a little disappointing. It had a lovely Caribbean feel about it but in General, it was quite dirty. We chose a highly recommended restaurant but came out, 2 hours later, wishing we hadn't. 

Crossing the border into Honduras took forever. Checking out was delayed as the Immigration Officer when we entered Guatemala, had stamped Pat's entry stamp very faintly over another stamp. This caused lots of head scratching and discussion as they couldn't find it. 
Immigration into Honduras went well but getting the Temporary Import Permits for the vehicles, ground to a halt quickly. The very nice lady behind the screen was obviously struggling. After about an hour, with help from everyone in the office, she looked up and said "I'm sorry but Great Britain isn't in our system, I cannot check you in". If she had declared this an hour ago I could have told her that in Latin America The United Kingdom is known as Reino Unido. 
With this problem solved we then waited another hour to discover that the computer said no because the system had entered an extra digit in Pat's Passport number. Basically, it took three and a half hours to complete about 15 minutes of work. She was very pleasant about though.
At several stages, during this process, you are handed forms and told to go to the shop over the road to get copies. You even have to pay the entrance fee in the shop with a big slice of commission added on top. 

Whilst all this was going on Pat was entertaining bored kids 

The Main Road from the border delivered us to another great Archeological Site in the town of Copan Ruins. This was again another great example of the power of the Mayan Empire.  Although a huge amount of restoration had already taken place, this site wasn't as advanced as the previous one in Tikal. Nevertheless, It was a really interesting place. Its Big attraction is its collection of very well preserved Mayan Carvings.

Set in woodland, the trees were filled with noisy Macaws reminding you that this was their city.

We visited a Macaw rescue centre nearby

Honduran Coffee and Craft beer were very pleasant at the D&D Brewery in Los Naranjos

Lake Yojoa is the biggest lake in Honduras, being 285 square Km in area.  All along the shoreline roads are dozens of small stall selling fish ( Tilapia I believe )that they are drying in the sun like decorative mobiles. I would imagine that the road dirt and diesel fumes in the air must be used to enhance their flavour. 

Comayagua wasn't the prettiest town we have visited but the town square and church were very nice.

Ricardo's Restaurant, adjacent to the church, was a quirky place for lunch. I would more accurately describe it as a museum, which happened to have a restaurant in it.

Unfortunately, whilst in this town, our cab Air Conditioning failed and we had to spend a day getting a new Compressor fitted. As I am writing this blog the problem isn't completely resolved.

Whilst trying to fix it I had to visit several truck breakers yards to try and locate a hose fitting. 
Their parts filing systems are bit poor 

"Do you have any Hoses?"....... "Yes just a few"

Or Maybe in there 

Long Hot Day
Whilst all these repairs were happening we were  camped crammed into the corner of a Hotel Car park. Next to the hotel was a Gymnasium that played extremely loud pumping music starting at 6am and finishing at 10pm. 

Overlanding isn't always Big Lakes, Oceans and Mountains 

Guatemala and Honduras were really great places to visit and I'm sure we may well spend some more time in them on our return Journey. 

We are now In Nicaragua, and our first Impressions are that we love it. 

Hasta Luego