Some Soap and a Serenade

We have been on the move the last couple of days, working our way toward the Gulf coast. We may be regretting that with Hurricane Dean on its way, but as of now it´s heading north of us. We´ll be keeping an eye on it.

Here´s an image from the National Hurricane Center with the projected path of the storm.

Tuesday we biked from Copan Ruinas to a town called La Entrada. Our guidebook claims that “something must have gone wrong for you to end up here,” but we didn´t think it was that awful. The book is just biased against non-tourist towns.

Our journey to La Entrada was kind of interesting, so I´ll detail that before launching into the highlights of the town. I got my first flat tire of the trip, but it conveniently happened just feet from a good lunch spot. We ordered, patched the tube, and then ate our perfectly-timed meal. Shortly after lunch we had to wade our way through the aftermath of a small landslide which meant we got a little dirty. We managed to find a small waterfall on the other side though, so we cleaned up fairly well. The only other obstacle we encountered was a hoard of small children chasing us and asking for money. “Money,” “bye-bye,” and “thank you” appear to be the only English words that locals know in these parts. We get thanked a lot just for biking down the road. A couple of the kids even had a short speech rehearsed, as they stood at the edge of their fence in a row and recited in unison “Give us some money so we can buy clothes” in Spanish. It´s a bit awkward responding to such requests. When I told them I didn´t have money they started asking for clothes — as if either of my two smelly shirts would even fit them… Obviously things are a little rough in Honduras compared to the States, but thankfully we haven´t encountered much extreme poverty. At least not as much as I expected. I´d like to do a little volunteer work once we settle up in Peru, I think.

The river of mud we had to wade through.

Me on the other side, looking pretty clean….

….except for my feet.

Anywho, we made it to La Entrada that evening and holed-up on the third floor of a hotel facing the main drag. The traffic was a bit noisy, so I went to sleep with my ear plugs in. Alas, those “construction worker orange” foam sound barriers did little to block out the 4 a.m. serenade that woke us. Mike ventured to the window and reported that a man had pulled up in a pick-up truck complete with two 4 ft. speakers and a microphone. He must have had a karaoke machine or something as well, because he had the accompanying tracks playing at top volume as he sang along. This man did not stop at singing one song, oh no. He sang a whole set of at least 5 songs. Meanwhile, Mike stood on our balcony screaming “¿Por qué, amigo? ¡¿¡Por qué!?!” (Por qué = why). I don´t know what woman would appreciate a serenade at that hour, but there was little we could do. Thank your lucky stars you live in a country where we have laws against things like that.

Check out the system this crazy man had set up. These speakers had approximately the output of those at our infamous Desert Party.

We woke on Wednesday a little reluctantly due to our interrupted sleep. We also realised that our route for the day was a bit too fuzzy. We didn´t have good info on the road ahead, so we hopped on a bus for a bit. The bus brought us to Nuevo Chamelecon and we took over from there on our bikes. We pedalled the last 30 kilometers to a town called El Progresso. It turned out to be one of the most Americanized towns we´ve been in on our whole vacation. It came complete with Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin´ Donuts, Burger King, KFC, Popeye´s, and our particular dinner choice — Wendy´s. We both had a caesar salad and a baked potato. Unusual fare for Honduras.

Today we sweltered in the oppressive heat, but we made it to the coast. We are in Tela tonight. It is nice to see the ocean again, although the beaches here aren´t the prettiest. The water is incredibly warm though, and we went for an afternoon swim. Our plan was to move on to La Ceiba tomorrow and then the Bay Islands the following day, but we may have to revise that plan due to that bastard, Hurricane Dean. I guess we´ll just wait and see for now.

Here are some pics in the mean time:

A structure at the Copan Mayan ruins.

This is one of those Stellae I mentioned in my previous blog. It´s quite intricate. Originally the Stellae were painted as well.

This carving didn´t really seem to fit in with the rest of the decorations at Copan, but I thought it was cute.

There were a lot of macaws being kept at Copan and Mike got quite a few pics. Here´s a close-up.

And here they are just chillin´ on the fence.

Here´s a crazy construction project going on in Copan Ruinas. You see, in Honduras you always have more than enough workers bustling about. Unlike in the States where there are 5 supervisors and only one person actually working.

Okay, since I´m so impatient I´ll reveal the answers to both the Jeopardy-style game and the trivia question now. If you haven´t had a chance to guess yet and you wanted to, STOP READING NOW! The poll officially has one more day, so I´ll leave that be for now.

Drumroll, please.

First, the trivia question. According to our observations, the Xylophone is the most popular instrument in Guatemala. These aren´t your ordinary xylophones, however. Most of them are at least 8 feet long and they are played by 3 men simultaneously. At a music festival of sorts in Antigua we saw one being played by 2 men and a boy who was about 6 years old. Then, on our way between Chiquimulilla and Cuilapa we stopped for lunch and were surprised by 3 men practicing their xylophone next door. They´re beautiful instruments too. I´m so sorry we don´t have a picture of one…

And now the Jeopardy question. “How many used bars of soap did Mike and Jackie find in their hotel room in Esquintla, Guatemala?” You already know the answer, of course: “19 bars of soap”. Many of you guessed that we needed that much soap to clean up; ironically, the soap actually prevented us from showering that night. A lot of times we can get pretty decent hotels for pretty cheap — especially by U.S. standards. Every now and then we get exactly what we pay for though. With extremely limited options we chose this hotel, which was only about $6. The bed was okay and we had a fan in the room, but we decided against showering. It´s standard practice everywhere here for hotels to provide guests with a towel and a small bar of soap; it´s not necessarily as common to remove the used bars of soap from the showers though. Or to clean them, period. We peered in this particular bathroom to discover 19 partially used bars of soap covering the shower, the back of the toilet, the window ledge, and the floor. Gross.

I don´t think you can see all 19 bars of soap in this picture, but you get the idea. Now do you understand why we´re not always squeaky clean? Thank your lucky stars you live in a country where bleach not only has been invented, but is put to proper use.

P.S. I´ve been meaning to mention for a while that you are to disregard all ridiculous spelling errors. I´d use the handy spell-check feature, but since it´s for the Spanish language, nearly every word shows up as misspelled. Sorry!

3 Responses to “Some Soap and a Serenade”
  1. Karen Brady says:

    Very interesting blog, Jackie! You make it so fun to read your posts. And the pictures are always great. Looks like that bastard Dean just might interfere with your scuba plans. Sounds like you hit the jackpot with the American eateries – you might have to stay there an extra day! I might have guessed you’d have a potato! And I’m glad you did not shower with 19 bars of used soap! Keep up the great blogging. Love, Ma

  2. Dr_Omega says:

    Glad to see Dean is not heading too close to you!Hope you scrapped the scuba plans.Loved your story about the 4 am seranade!Could actually picture Mike yelling at the guy!Think you need to check out the rooms before you check in? The bathroom photo was my least favorite so far~ gross!Call when you can. Take care of each other. Love, Mom

  3. jenn says:

    i was wondering when you were going to “realise” that you were making sp. mistakes (you being an english major and all)…just teasing…the first day of classes started today and it was josh’s bday (sarah myhotchick, trisha, courtney, josh, me, and some art friend of josh went to royal taj. do you get to eat any spicy indian food? :))…i’m glad to actually be doing something with my days now, but i wish i could avoid the costs and the crowds of students, oh well, you win some and lose some…stay safe, i’d like to see you guys in one piece…

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