Good morning Honduras...well almost. At 7am, we checked ourselves/car out of Gautemala. That was a quick process. NB The border inspector may try to charge a departure tax (Gringo tax), which is NOT legit. As soon as I uttered the words CA-4, the fee was no longer a problem. Surprise, surprise.
For the Honduras side, there is a entry tourist fee of $3usd pp. We paid 30 quetzals for both of us, which worked out better for us (30 quetzals is about $4). There's a common theme that we have noticed on border crossings is that officers tend to have poor maths skills, so do the calculations yourself first and see which works out in your favour. There's no car spray, permit sticker or insurance required for Dougal in Honduras. The whole process took 90 minutes.
Again, like most border crossings we couldn't pre-order the currency for entering the country, so we asked a few exchange touts, haggled for the best deal and then hoped that we weren't too far off the bank rate. We only changed up the minimum needed for the day.
As it turns out, we got a good deal as the rate was marginally better in the banks. However, we were only allowed to change-up a maximum of $300usd each. If you have more than that you'll have to bank hop.
First on that agenda was the Copan Ruins, and again due to our early start was completely quiet. Only a handful of tourists were there. Although the temples or setting aren't as 'wow' as other better known rivals, the sculptures win hands down and it's impressive just how well preserved they still are. There's a lot of wildlife in the surrounding countryside eg loads of colourful macaws and cheeky squirrels. We didn't get a guide as they were pricer than other ruins (and we find they all say the same things about the Mayans, sacrifices, temples, ball court, etc). We got the chance to go inside a huge tunnel in one of the temples. We were meant to pay for this, but no-one was about, so we just 'accidentally' walked in. It was interesting to see what lies beneath, but we're glad we didn't pay for it.
Next stop was Santa Rosa de Copan. We went to this developed town to find the cigar factory, but we just couldn't follow the local's conflicting directions, so gave up and headed to Gracias. Gracias is classed as highlight in Honduras, but we were underwhelmed. It has some attractive churches and view point, but in comparison to Mexico's colonial towns and Antigua in Gautemala, it fails to impress. The town is quiet in the evening and has a couple of tasty cheap eateries, but apart from the hot springs nearby, there's little to do. Unless you are going through this town, we wouldn't recommend going out of your way.
Our first impression of Honduras is that it's surprisingly mountainous with vast greenery and an almost English countryside appearance (but grander). Unfortunately, it seems that Mexico's famous topes (speed bumps) are back and there's a hidden pot holes to boot. Hoping these are just the conditions of the road on western side of Honduras.