Sunday, April 18, 2010

Climbing the Cordilleras

March 29th to 31st

It's getting a bit repetitive, but it's hard to convey in words just how much the heat is starting to have an effect on the trip. Lugging 20 kilos of bicycle carrying 35 kilos of kit plus an additional 10 kilos of water up a hill can be tough enough. Doing it in 95 degrees makes it tougher and the difference between the shade and direct sunlight really is just unbelievable this close to the equator. I have no idea how hot it is on the road under a cloudless sky, maybe 120 degrees. After an hour or two of climbing, that really takes it's toll. We ride at dawn and once the sun rises to here, we melt....

Fortunately the road side is lined with fruit stalls, loaded with ripe bananas, coconuts, melons and pineapples, some kept cold in refrigerators. Don't think supermarket pineapple that has traveled half the globe and spent days and weeks under climate controlled conditions. These were probably harvested this morning and their juice just bursts out as you cut them - they taste absolutely amazing.

An 18km diversion from the main road takes us along the north coast of Lago Yojoa to D&D Breweries where the best beer in Honduras is brewed. 'Bob Dale' a US army vet from Oregon set up his own micro brewery inside an old shipping container close to the lake shore and it's a tranquil oasis set amongst beautiful gardens with dozens of orchid species....

We meet Phil and Kasey - a couple of the guys we first met diving in Utila and swap stories over a couple of cold ones.

The weather in Honduras can be fickle and we go from tropical heat to tropical storm in less time than it takes to read this sentence. Our planned rowboat trip out onto the lake is cancelled as the far shore disappears beneath angry black storm clouds. It's a shame as the area is a renowned wildlife sanctuary with over 400 bird species and hundreds of butterflies....

It would be nice to spend another couple of days hiking, but Phil told us he and Kasey were fined $150 each for overstaying their visas and we have just 12 days left to get out of Honduras, through all of Nicaragua and on to the Costa Rica border.

Early morning mist clearing over a tributary river as we ride back to the 'Carr del Norte' highway....

Back on the road, and with clearer skies we are afforded much better views of the lake....

Every 500 metres or so, the catch of the day hangs from rough wooden stands enticing drivers rushing by in speeding vehicles. Better sell up soon - it's 8:30 and the smell is already rising. These are 'Galaxia', allegedly caught by hand not 200 metres away from this very spot, though one slightly more candid vendor reveals she bought hers at a market 30 miles away in the next town.

After the lake, we begin to climb again in earnest as we approach the 2500m peaks of the 'Cordilleras de Montecillos'. The vegetation begins to change from mixed deciduous trees back to pine mono-cultures and agave. It's all very green in the North West of Honduras with frequent rain storms keeping the land lush.

In amongst the green is a smattering of bold colours....

The road forms a hot dusty scar zig-zagging up the mountain side.

Last year Honduras suffered a military coup where Manuel Zalaya the incumbent president tried to change the constitution to allow him to run in elections to win an illegal third term. The army objected and forced him out of the country until democratic elections could be held in November 2009. The rock walls at the roadside advertise potential candidates....

Others raise awareness for the Honduran red cross's efforts to provide free testing for HIV sufferers in what seems to be a concerted campaign supported by the Canadians.

After 80kms and a sustained climb of 20kms we finally reach the town of Sigatepeque and collapse drained and dehydrated under a cold shower.


dirt merchant said...

A kind hello from Oregon,

This is Alec, we met at Lago Atitlan, last year. It seems your bike tour through the tropics is treating you well. It is interesting to keep up with your adventures. If you guys get the chance travel to La Esparanza, Yamaranguilla and Santa Rita. We have friends staying nearby who we could link you guys with. Thanks for the "loan" in Guate.

Alec and Hill

Sween in SAmerica said...

Hey guys
Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately we are already past La Esperanza - we're in Granada Nicaragua now - the blog is always a country or two behind by the time I get round to writing.
The friends in Yamaranguilla, are they Piotr and Vanessa by any chance (or Harrison Tucker). It's only a small village and we came across these guys in Belize. We never got chance to visit as we are running out of time on our visas and had to dash. It would just be weird if it was the same people.

No worries about the "loan". I must have been drunker than I thought - just remind me what it was again?

Hope you guys are enjoying being back home

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