A Breath Of Fresh Air
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras
Shoel and I watched through the window of the ferry as the rising sun slowly illuminated our last glimpse of Útila.
Thankfully, just a day or so before we departed, the ferry that operates between Útila and La Ceiba reduced their fare back to a reasonable 200 lempiras (about US$11), down from the ludicrous US$24 (one-way) that it had inflated to over the prior 18 months. People on the island are happy, as they might actually be able to afford to leave it for jaunts into Honduras from time to time.
Highway in the Clouds
After negotiating a familiar ferry–taxi–bus–transfer–bus routine, Shoel and I found ourselves cruising window-side through some of the most spectacular vistas the country must have to offer. Our destination: a small town in the mountains of Honduras (selected to be our overnight stop on the way the capital city of El Salvador).
I'm still impressed with how well maintained the roads in Honduras are—hardly a crack to be found or a pothole to be felt. The buses too were quite manageable and affordable (typically US$1 for each hour traveled).
Locals boarded and departed periodically as our final bus of the day snaked higher and higher into the radical topography of northwestern part of the country (where ranching appears to be the most common profession). Several aging ranchers caught rides on the bus from time to time—with their weathered skin, cream-colored cowboy hats, and gentle eyes, they're easily distinguished from the other passengers.
The Town Less Traveled
The small, Spanish mountain town of Santa Rosa de Copán sits atop a sharp hill, about a kilometer away from the highway where the bus drops you. After getting our bearings Shoel and I decided to walk it (10 hours or so of travel makes you want to exercise your legs).
As soon as I started walking around the cobbled streets of Santa Rosa I was hooked. The crisp mountain air, the clean and attractive streets, colonial buildings, and the friendly locals all made a great first impression on me. Even the thunder and lightning show that turned each street into a river was entertaining to watch.
Santa Rosa de Copán is (discreetly) ready for tourism, but nary a single traveler was to be found. Aside from the town and the friendly atmosphere, it has little to offer the typical I'm taking 7-weeks to visit all of Central America tourist. Warren Post, a chatty former American embassy worker from Seattle (who's now the owner of quaint pizza restaurant), confirmed our suspicions.
Warren told us that during his past 12 years in Santa Rosa he's watched the relatively nearby (and exceptionally popular) towns of Copán Ruinas and Gracias turn from sweet to sour. Sandwiched between the two, Santa Rosa de Copán seems to have been spared the curious devastation that thousands of weekly travelers can bring.
I definitely plan on spending some more time here in Santa Rosa after I get done exploring southern Guatemala (and resume traveling through Honduras and Nicaragua to meet up with my brother in Costa Rica in July). Before we head off to the bus tomorrow morning (bound for El Salvador) Shoel and I are going to try and take a peek at the local cigar factory, which a clipping on the wall of the Warren's pizza restaurant boasts as being listed as one of the 10-best in the world. Perhaps I'll pick up one of their hand-rolled specialities and judge for myself…
Web Site Woes
I'm sure you've noticed the mess my hosting company has made for me to try and coordinate/repair while traveling in a developing country with sporadic Internet access.
It was late in the afternoon the day before Shoel and I were depart the island, when some support technician jumped the gun and turned talks of switching Travelvice over to a different server (better suited to handle its increasing needs) and went ahead and proceeded without warning—the aftermath of which I'm still experiencing.
Incoming e-mails were lost for over a hundred hours, and connectivity to the snapshots gallery was completely lost. Travelvice still isn't back to 100%, but I'm working on it when time and Internet access is available enough for me to do so.