For your morning nap, we let you sleep until the last possible moment, and you woke up just twenty minutes before our bus was to leave. Normally we are not that concerned because chicken buses come so frequently, but this time we had prepaid to take a direct bus to San Pedro Sula. Copan is only 5km from the Guatemalan border but not wanting to leave this beautiful country, we decided to take the northern border crossing so we could spend a few days on the coast. We have become very good at estimating times between cities. We use the directions feature in google maps, determine the time it would take a car to drive the distance, then double that to find the chicken bus time. It is a 3 hour drive in a car from Copan to San Pedro Sula so we did not want to tackle six hours on a chicken bus, but we realized soon into our trip that the chicken bus is better for us in more ways than one.
Though the seats are ultra roomy and plush and it takes half the time to arrive at your destination, the downfall for us is motion sickness. Being able to see the road ahead helps with motion sickness but on coach buses, large curtains block the front view and since Honduras is literally one mountain range after the next, the speedy coach bus took those sharp corners fast, only adding to the problem. We could both see the dread in each other’s eyes and wondered how we would survive three hours with a baby on our lap. Your champ of a mom held you the entire way. I found closing my eyes helped and your mom found that singing to you helped her. About an hour into the trip, you laid relaxed in your mothers arms, looking up toward her angelic voice. You both fell asleep simultaneously and stayed that way until we pulled into the bus terminal in San Pedro Sula.
At 1.5 million people, the greater San Pedro Sula area is the second largest city in Honduras and has a poor reputation to say the least. We did not want to continue 3 hours on to Omoa, which includes a transfer in Puerto Cortez, but we were hesitant to stay in San Pedro Sula. We agreed that we would only stay in the city if we found a good Couchsurfing host. David Diaz has hosted over 300 Couchsurfing guests and he accepted our request without hesitation. When we showed his address to the first taxi we saw, the driver quoted us $25 dollars. He must have thought we were fresh off the airplane. It wasn’t long before we bargained another taxi down to $6.50. The taxi took us through the heart of San Pedro Sula and there was definitely a shady vibe (probably instilled from all of the San Pedro stories we have been told) as we crawled through the streets lined with pedestrians and trash in the market district. The taxi knew exactly where to go and even phoned David to let him know we had arrived.
David greeted us with a firm handshake and a smile full of perfectly straight and white teeth (a rarity in Latin America where there is more gold and silver than ivories). We met his parents, his sister Raquel and her 8 month old son Matthias. When we asked his birthday, we were stunned by coincidence to learn he was born on April 10th just one day before Asher. David is a well sought out photographer and his tastefully decorated two bedroom apartment accurately reflected his love of art. As we showered up, he darted over to his parent’s place and returned with delicious, homemade, savory and sweet tamales. This was the first time we tried tamales and it has now surpassed pupusas as our number one Latin American typical food. Delicious.
David knew we were on the hunt for peanut butter, so he drove us in his sleek SUV to a huge supermarket that had everything we could find back home. We ended up also getting hummus and hard apples, two treats we have been missing dearly. But the spoiling was not over. David knew how much we loved cinnamon buns and how difficult it is to find a good one in Central America, so he drove out of his way to treat us to a classic icing drenched Cinnabon! Come on!
We played with Raquel and Matthias when we returned to David’s boutique apartment, and you had a blast getting around in Matthias’ walker on wheels. David had planned to go to Utila for a mini vacation the following day but canceled his plans so we could spend more time with Matthias. He ended up postponing his trip another day because you and Matthias were having too much fun together.
For two days you played with Matthias’ big red car and his walker on wheels while he loved using your jolly jumper. Each afternoon, your mom and Raquel would fill up tubs of water and you and Matthias would splash around in the cool water which was your only respite from the 33C 94% humidity San Pedro Sula heat wave. You have not had a lot of time to be with other babies so it was great to spend such quality time with this beautiful family.
The highlight by far was the photoshoot David and Raquel arranged for you and Matthias in David’s professional studio. Raquel picked out some matching outfits and smiled with your mom as they dressed their little princes. With the umbrella lights set, David laid flat on his stomach while we all made crazy faces and noises to get you and Matthias smiling. To be honest, I think the adults had the most fun and the photos turned out amazing.
It was great to use David’s kitchen and to share some tasty meals with him. Asher, you enjoyed eating off of the wheelie chair tray and because you were feeding yourself using your newly developing pincer grasp, you ate more than ever. You especially enjoyed the Indian coconut curry with sweet potato, carrot and squash. You also devoured a full glass of a delicious green smoothie packed with spinach, fresh oranges and bananas.
On our final night, Raquel popped into our room with a special gift for you. She gave you a really cute and stylish outfit with the same teddy bear as Matthias so “you will never forget him.” If that wasn’t enough, David popped his head in and said “my parents insist on driving you to Omoa. You really have no choice but to accept the ride.” We were overwhelmed with gratitude. The final night was a doozy, requiring several cold showers before laying in front of the fan and as we flopped onto the large king size bed, we took a minute to assess the happenstance of our experience. San Pedro Sula was a last minute decision, having previously avoided it for concerns of safety, then we found David on CS just a few days before arrival, we find out you and Matthias are born only one day apart, and learned that David just happens to be one of the top photographers in Honduras.
The drive to Omoa was our most comfortable in all our travels. We felt spoiled in the nicely air-conditioned car and we enjoyed sharing our travel stories with Raquel and her parents, Sandra and Roger. You and Matthias were sitting beside each other on your mothers’ laps and you seemed to breastfeed on cue, popping off to glance at each other and connect with little kicks. This travel day would have included at least two tuc-tucs and a two hour bus followed by a trek through the small fishing village of Omoa to find our room and instead we were dropped off right at our door with big hugs and big smiles.
We still cannot get over the fact that people think we are crazy for Couchsurfing with a baby. The only thing crazy about Couchsurfing is that there are not more people experiencing it. Some Couchsurfers you meet, you may never see again, but we know for a fact we will see David Diaz and his wonderful family in the future. Asher, we hope you will grow up to have a healthy level of trust with others and that you will serve others as David does. We will never forget our days with David Diaz and look forward to our next reunion.