Sunday, 13 January 2013

2 day bus marathon

We left the grandeur of Hacienda Pinella and entered a totally different type of world.  Dropped off our car rental and immediately felt the shift in pace as we waited on the side of the road for about 1 1/2 hours for our bus.  The boys did great and it was the beginning of our adventures so everyone was in good spirits though I did start to wonder if we should have flown or maybe rented a car to get to the border.  But the bus arrived before I really started to regret our decision.

Waiting for the bus in Liberia, Costa Rica    
Nice comfy seats, A/C, luggage put away with luggage stubs, reserved seats and hollywood movie  (with english subtitles) playing... all was good.  Settled in and Liam and Sean were in Minecraft bliss on the ipad and Eric and I watched movies (they all seemed to have a spiritual theme to them).  The border crossing at Nicaragua went smoothly as the Tica Bus staff handled the passports formalities, entry fees and stamps etc...  We had to get out, wait, remove our backpacks  but we weren't sure what for as it didn't seem like anyone was checking luggage.

Nicaragua side.. not sure what we had to do here..but we had to take our luggage out.
For the most part, at the border crossings into Nicaragua and then also into Honduras, we simply followed the other travellers, like sheep, and it all worked out fine.  The money changers were on hand with their big bundles of bills and calculator that they use with lightening fast fingers as we moved from Costa Rican Colones to Nicaraguan Cordobas.  What a difference once we crossed borders... we had gotten used to Costa Rica's relative affluence and the poverty and garbage and absence of basic infrastructure was a bit of an awaking for us.  Hand written immigration signs, broken down buildings, kids coming around to beg for food or a coin.  People selling their wares on the side of the road or at any junction (there seems to be a market for tv converters... we see them being sold everywhere), dusty open spaces with little or no shade.  It all seemed so sad as we wisked by it all in our nice air conditioned bus.  We did get glimpses of the many volcanoes, many with white clouds looming over the top like (Sean thought it looked like kleenex so the volcanoes won't sneeze). We know there is more to Nicaragua, so we'll be back to explore a bit and visit with my uncle but for now all we had was the road side view of the country.

bicycle rickshaws and corner fruit sellers

so many volcanoes.. we'll be back to explore later

the little comida next to the bus station in Managua..
a new kind of normal and the people were lovely - they liked Liam's red hair.

We stayed at the Tica Bus hotel in Managua which was very convenient as we had a 4 am wake up call the next day to catch the 5 am bus onward to San Pedro Sula.

Day 2... again more comforts of the bus, movies, snacky foods, Minecraft and watching the country wisk by on the bus.  Crossed into Honduras and the level of poverty and degradation went down a notch further (I wasn't fast enough to take a photo of the Welcome to Honduras sign which was behind a big rubble pile of dirt and debris).

enjoying an orange all prepped for easy eating
- 3 Cordobas.. about 10cents

little coffee stall on the Nicaraguan side or in no-man lands between borders.. wasn't sure..
coffee dealer was also the person you paid to use the washrooms 

Honduran side..picture taken at immigration border
old man with foot missing asking for money..
we gave him some and I think he gave us a prayer.
Not sure if you can see the paper "Migracion" sign.. this was the  immigration office
Honduran Immigration officer.. stamping our passports

We changed money once more now working with Honduran Limperas and then onward to the capital Tegucigalpa (a dirty and sad looking city), short stop there as we were running late and the bus lightened to just a handfull of us going on to San Pedro Sula.

plastic everywhere! This was not an uncommon view.

look at the wiring!  Capital city...Tegucigalpa

can't see it in the picture but the river was full of plastic garbage. 

The kids had the freedom to switch seats and spread out and Ice Age 4 was the movie selection - English with Spanish subtitles- perfect!  The ride was getting long at this point... we had been on the road since 5 am and the afternoon sun had come and gone and it looked like we would be entering San Pedro Sula in the dark.  The kids were getting antsy after the movie ended and it just seemed like the bus ride was never going to end.  Outside the window, we did notice that things started to look greener, cleaner and more prosperous... things looked a little more normal... San Pedro Sula is the economic engine of the country and I assume it had it's effects on the surrounding districts? Not sure.

We arrived around 7:30 pm (after 14 1/2 hour on the bus)... took a taxi to the hotel I found in our guide book and had booked in advance.  We blindly accepted the price the taxi said it would cost for the ride... having no idea if we were getting scammed or if it was a fair price (as it turned out... we didn't get gouged too badly).  The hotel ended up being a really run down, old, tired, worn, weathered, dark, etc... etc... hotel really close to the railway tracks and where, just on the other side, we were told was "peligroso".. dangerous to go to.  There was a strange guy pacing up and down the lobby and it reminded me of my volunteer times at the Queen Street Mental Hospital.  The hallway to our room was long and dark and the doors were chipped and worn at the lock... like they had been abused a few times.  We were way too tired and it was too late to do anything about the accommodations so we just dealt with it.  I really didn't want to think about the sheets... and I had to keep a positive face on for the kids.  The kids were actually pretty oblivious to the dire state of the room (the tv kept them captivated) and they seemed okay with it all! We were feeling a bit apprehensive of what we had just allowed ourselves to enter. The contrast of the last two days to our experience in Costa Rica is striking and our sense of safety and certainty was now rattled and upturned... just a little, to keep us on edge and to realize that we have to up our game!  It's not going to be as easy and as comfortable as the last few months.


  1. Hi All - I know all about the Mind Craft - Maria and Anna are really into it! Before playing the game maria watches you tube videos to get tips. I really have to limit the time they spend playing it! That wiring was amazing in that city...I have seen some crazy wiring but nothing like that! I understand how you must be feeling but I guess in the end it will make you stronger.


  2. I have a feeling that the boys will remember the diamond they found in Minecraft more than the trip. But it does make bus trips go really smooth :>

  3. The girls are just trying to figure out how to build houses. They could use some help figuring out the game. Are you on an I Pad? Can the girls get your message name so they can ask questions? Thanks

  4. I'll get them to e-mail you. The boys are using ipad- Survival mode. Sean is pretty good at building.