I felt very tempted to take the affordable tourist shuttle bus from Antigua in Guatemala to Copan Ruinas in Honduras when I woke up the morning after I had come back from the hike up Acatenango. Sorry to go on about my hike, promise this is the last time I mention it! This would have been a 6-7 hour door to door trip in a mini van, costing me USD 20. But what is the fun in that? I knew I wouldn't save a ton of cash doing this trip on local buses but on the other hand I knew I would have to force myself to practice my Spanish that has taken five steps back since I left Mexico a few months ago. I also knew I would miss out on some fun experiences along the way, not all experiences are fun when it actually happens but after a few days you can laugh about anything. So I pulled up my maps.me app to check what option I had on roads leading to the border and where it would be logical to change buses to avoid going through the massive Guatemala City.
ANTIGUA to SANTA LUCIA -No you have to go to Guatemala City
Got on a chicken bus that was leaving towards Guatemala City and of course I was the only non-Guatemalan around. I had an awesome idea of getting off the bus in Santa Lucia to change bus here since it looked like there was a turn off towards Cuilapa here. This meant I could bypass going through Guatemala City. So I kept on repeating the question about this in Spanish in my head until the guy selling tickets came along. The guy kept on nodding his head and said "si" when I asked the question so that's what I did. But then I had to get on the bus again since it wasn't an option to change bus here in the end. I should have known that the guy didn't have a clue since the nodding actually started before I even started my question. So I had to admit defeat and go through Guatemala City and wing it from there.
I don't know why it is but chicken buses have a terrible reputation in Guatemala, if you believe what's online then you would think that if you not get robbed at gun point then you will have an accident and die because they drive these buses like maniacs. On the robbery point I can say that it never I have never met a single person who got robbed on a chicken bus and on the driving part I'm on the opinion of: I rather be in the big kind of robust chicken bus then in a shitty small mini bus if an accident would happen.
ONE PART of GUATEMALA CITY to ANOTHER -People are so nice here
After consulting the map again I now decided it was best that I go to the town of Chiquimula from Guatemala City. Not having a clue on where to go, I asked a taxi driver on where to take the bus from. It doesn't matter where in the world you are but taxi drivers are one of the least trusted people in my opinion. So expected him to say that I had to take a taxi and then he would drive me around for five hours and ask for a way to high fee. So was pleasantly surprised when he was giving me very detailed instructions on what direction to walk and what city bus to take to the GC North bus station where the Chiquimula bus was departing from.
This is when I admit that I'm very confident in asking for directions but unless the answer is a simple "around the corner", "take a left" or something similar then I normally only understand a third of what is said. So I sat out walking in the direction he told me and when I got out of sight then I pulled up the map and managed to figure out where I was heading. I was only met with smiles and hellos during my 30 minute walk through the city that you only hear is soooo dangerous. I asked another man on directions after reaching a spot where I thought I could take a city bus. Of course I had taken a detour so I had two do two buses but I was in luck because he was going the same direction so he got me on the bus and when I had to change to another city bus then he was waiting until that bus arrived. Of course he kept on talking to me in Spanish and we had some fun confusing moments when I sometimes would reply to a question with something completely unrelated since I think he asked something else.
Apparently you need a bus pass on some of the city buses in GC, something I naturally didn't have but that wasn't a problem in since a young guy let me use his. So once again I don't understand the bitching about Guatemala City!
GUATEMALA CITY to CHIQUIMULA -Go to Jocotan instead
So made it to Centra Norte, a medium sized bus terminal with an easy layout. Quickly found the bus heading to Chiquimula. Only a 30 minutes wait and then we were off, five minutes before scheduled departure time. This was no chicken bus but a second class bus so had a rather comfy soft seat. Another positive thing not taking shuttles is that on local transport, you have people coming on to the buses regularly selling drinks, food, fruit, cakes or what ever else you might need. So snacked on everything from mango to tortillas with chicken wings when I didn't sleep! When nearing Chiquimula I realized that I would probably be better off going to the end destination of Jocotan and change bus to the boarder there. After consulting the guy selling tickets on the bus he agreed so trusted him.
JOCOTAN to EL FLORIDO BORDER CROSSING -Nice gun you got there
My bag was thrown off the bus, a guy grabbed it quickly and loaded it on to the roof of a mini van before I even managed to get off the bus myself in Jocotan. Then people shifted around in the mini van so me the tourist could get a seat for her little booty. It amazes me that often locals gives up seats for us tourists when in more non-touristic areas. First thing I spotted when entering the van was the driver's very fancy hand gun sticking out from his pants. Better be safe then sorry, I guess. Anyhow, the mini van was of course overloaded with bags and people, with four guys hanging outside the open side door of the van.
We drive off, everyone talking to everyone and everyone seems to be making jokes about just about everything. I can't help but laugh once in a while despite understanding about 10% of what is said. Half way to the boarder and the driver get off and another guy takes over. This other guy also gets the gun from the previous driver so guess the gun belongs to the transport company. So at this point I'm thinking more on how out works in the office. Do they have a log for signing the gun in and out or do they just have it in the van when not in use??
EL FLORIDO BORDER CROSSING -Where is everyone
After crossing the El Florido border in record time, only had two people in front of me leaving Guatemala and no one in the cue entering Honduras so took about 15 minutes in total. This includes the walk between the immigration offices and the 5 minutes it took the immigration officer to find change for me, easy peasy.
EL FLORIDO BORDER CROSSING to COPAN RUINAS -Can we leave soon
Having hardly anyone crossing the boarder at this time of day also meant a long wait for the mini van to depart from the border to Copan. Never expect a minivan to depart without being full. But to my surprise we actually did depart only half full after just an hour... This was a short ride and I was very pleased when the driver drove me all the way to my hostel!
SUMMARY and COST
What to expect at the boarder crossing?
Total cost Antigua to Copan Ruinas: USD 14.30/ EUR 13.40
Where I stayed
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
WHERE AM I?