Road trip - San Pedro Sula – Hotel Colonial, Coban (Part 4)
So at some crazy hour of the morning, I set off on the final leg of this endurance test of a trip. Yoly was at the wheel and her dad remained steadfastly on the back seat. The roads were absolutely dead and we made good progress eating into our 4-hour marathon. Almost imperceptively we gained altitude as we headed towards the coffee growing territory.
The roads although quiet are not that easy to navigate on account of the number of potholes. Swerving to avoid them found us on the other side of the road on numerous occasions but at least the suspension remained intact.
We came across our first and hopefully last experience of the Honduran military. An apparently innocuous checkpoint turned out to be controlled by a number of armed soldiers. I thought this might make for an interesting photograph but checked with the driver first. The last time I had such an experience was in Bolivia where I nearly had the camera ripped from my hand as I endeavoured to photograph a military roadblock. On that occasion it could have ended badly so I took the view; once bitten twice shy approach and checked with the driver. No problem I was assured, “they’re checking vehicles coming in from Guatemala”. I still took a cautious approach but got my picture and with a toot from the driver we were on our way.
There is no getting away from the fact that Honduras is a poor country, the evidence passes you by for mile after mile. Simple mud-brick homes, ingenious uses for corrugated iron and lots of horses being used for transport. The saddest part is the amount of fly-tipping you see along the roads. Destroying your own environment just doesn’t make any sense. Even animals don’t poop in their own bed.
By now we were on the look-out for a coffee stop which proved to be a bit of a challenge. We did, however, pull over at a very intriguing looking gift store. Lots of hand-made objects ranging from the sublime to the absurd. The owner also did a line of half-naked women, not something you’d find in your average gift shop that went form Disney characters to the Virgin Mary.
A coffee stop duly arrived. I say coffee shop but it’s nothing we’d recognise in our part of the world. It was more of a general store with a selection of local bakery products and all sorts of home-made produce. This included a vast selection of pickled fruit and veg all beautifully presented. I was told that many of the goods were made in surrounding homes by families looking to supplement their income. The coffee was great and the recommended local patisserie, a type of sponge was tasty although it did need the coffee to chase it down.
On these adventures, I’m always looking for a picture that captures what I’m seeing. This usually involves a number of stops on the road. To save time I thought it might be helpful to simply wind down the window in the car. I put in my request only to find that the windows couldn’t be wound down as they were bulletproof. Oops!
A further coffee stop and around 5 hours after we left the airport we arrived safely at our hotel Colonial. We were greeted by Delmy, the sales and marketing manager of Cocafelol, a co-operative we were going to visit the following day.
Throughout the rest of the day other members of the coffee trip arrived. A French couple from Auray in Brittany, France, Julien and Nolwenn, Paul and Aleaume from Café Lomi in Paris, and Cassia from Swedish roasters Nystrom. Quite an international mix were sat around the table for mealtime, with conversation switching constantly between English, French, and Spanish. Coffee is truly an international language.
Image Copyright: David Warr