Costa Rica introduced legislation in 2013 that prevents any right hand drive vehicles being imported into the country, and although we were seeking to drive across the country, not to import the vehicle, the legislation has been written in a way that also prevents any temporary passage, so we have known that Nicaragua was about as far south as we would get with the van in Central America.
Having done some research as we travelled through various countries, we knew we could ship from Puerto Cortes on the north Atlantic coast of Honduras, so having extended our G4 visa by 30 days in Managua, we headed back to San Pedro Sula, with another little stop in Tegucigalpa and a weekend break in Lago de Yojoa, this time ostensibly to see some Quetzals, the national bird of Guatemala, in the Montana de Santa Barbara.
Well the quetzals did not disappoint. I think we must have been extremely fortunate as we didn't see just one of these beautiful, elusive birds, there were about 11 around We saw them from various angles, with varying plumage, males, females and young. The luck continued when Declan received a gift from above, a first for our guide Leonel, who is a great ornithologist and is actively working to protect the area and the trees in which the quetzals breed, an area under pressure from coffee cultivation.
We camped at the Cortijo del Lago, a lovely little lodge right on the lake and it was also an amazing place to see other birds, the Mot-Mot (Honduras' national bird), various hummingbirds, a jacana walking on the lily-pads, a green heron and a collared aracari, part of the toucan family, amongst many other bright coloured birds that call this very special place home.
Back in San Pedro Sula we were warmly welcomed back to the Madrugada Hostel - a place we would highly recommend.
We started the almost daily commute to Puerto Cortes (55km each way) as we negotiated with shipping agent and customs agent. After a week, the paperwork was done. We needed to wait for Interpol, Policia and Aduana inspections. Interpol concluded there was nothing to report. The police, rather vexed by the mounting political situation decided that they really didn't need to report and when aduana decided they were not even going to give the vehicle a cursory search, the shipping agent went into meltdown. With a pressing political situation and no way to get back to San Pedro Sula due to road blocks and protests, we managed to persuade the shipper that the vehicle should be moved dockside Thursday night. We stayed in a hotel and on Friday the van was finally put into the container.
We paid our bills and our customs agent, knowing we really needed to get back to San Pedro Sula, hooked us up with a great bunch of guys. Ten burly truckers found room for us in the back of a rather beaten up pick-up truck. They all desperately wanted to get home, so when we could only go so far with the road blocks, they found a farm track that took us some 20km around the major obstacles and back into town, where sadly there was plenty of evidence of rioting and looting.
Despite our desire to travel over land or sea, we do need to meet up with our van in Colombia, so given the political situation, the curfews in place and the lack of buses, it is with a heavy heart that we will try to fly out of Honduras tomorrow. Despite its current political troubles, it is a truly beautiful country, full of lovely, generous people.