Getting to Leon aka "worst day of travel... so far"

The guidebook used italics when it said Lake Yojoa is the place to stop between the bay islands and Nicaragua. Whoever wrote this was correct if a private car was used for transport but for us using the buses it was a complete disaster to get to the lake and beyond.

To get to the lake we hired a private car to miss the dangerous San Pedro Sula (the city was awarded the title of murder Capitol of the world last year!). It made getting from the ferry in La Ceiba to the Lake and brewery easy but was incredibly expensive.  We enjoyed our time at the lake immensely as detailed in this post

To get from the lake to Leon it took 2 long days of 4 buses that I'll detail here. On Friday we were at the bus stop (well really just sitting by the road) at 6a. The bus arrived at 6:30 with a flat tire so we had to wait an hour for it to be fixed. It also kept overheating so we stopped every 10 minutes or so for more water to be put into the coolant. This journey lasted over an hour longer than expected and we arrived to Tegucigalpa late. Trying to avoid staying in this dangerous (and really expensive city) we decided to take the local buses on to get to Leon that day. We were traveling with Manuela so also felt a bit safer in numbers and with her advanced Spanish!

Next we jumped in a cab and were the last two allowed on the bus (Manuela wasn't ready to leave so quickly so we parted with her there).  There weren't any seats left so I was on a 5 gallon bucket at the front of the bus and Eric as the back, sitting on the steps, wedged between people.  This two hour journey to the border wasn't even that bad and they were nice enough to take us as close to the border as they could get. 


We had to walk across a really chaotic border with trucks lined up for miles waiting to get through.  It was relatively easy to get across and it was at this point, around 2 in the afternoon that we were finally able to go to the bathroom!  (Not healthy!)  We waited there for 20 minutes and then got on a chicken bus going to the nearby town of Ocotol.  The bus was beyond crowded and we were sitting with all of our stuff on our laps.  In Ocotol we found out we'd missed the last bus to Leon.  At this point (now around 4p) we were worried about the quickly approaching sunset around 5:15 and traveling at dark.  We had found Manuela again at this point and all decided to go to the next biggest town nearby, Esteli.  At least this town was in the guidebook.  We got on another overcrowded chicken bus and went without seats for the first 30 minutes.  For us, who rarely took public transport before this trip, the bus was completely chaotic.  We had people pressing up against us in all directions and through the throngs of people there were vendors yelling out what they were selling.  At one point I burst out laughing when a man boarded the bus with chickens (hence the name of these buses, chicken buses).  It was quite the bus ride. 

We arrived in the dark to a completely deserted bus terminal with no lights.  On the street we flagged down a cab and went to a hostel for the night.  The hostel where Eric and I wanted to stay had all the rooms full so we got to stay in my first dorm room...   Luckily we were the only ones there!  The next morning we had a delicious breakfast and then tried to go on a cigar factory tour (but they don't have them on the weekends???).  After speaking to a guy at our hostel and being assured buses leave to Leon every hour we headed to the bus station around 10a.  Well, he couldn't have been more wrong as we waited for 3 hours for a bus to arrive.  We were the only tourists there and no one spoke English so we couldn't really understand why there were no buses.  When a small private bus arrived we were ready to throw people down to get two seats.  Luckily no fighting was needed and we were treated to an uneventful, and even dare I say, nice trip further South.  We finally arrived to our Airbnb in Leon around 3:30p completely exhausted but beyond happy to have made it and still have all of our stuff! 

I'm glad we missed Tegucigalpa but the guidebook really needs some work in naming Lake Yojoa "the" place to stop when there is no easy way to get beyond. We are trying to let the journey taint our opinion of the D&D brewery where we stayed or the Lake itself.  

We are now in Leon and will be avoiding buses for a while, setting out on foot to explore what is said to be a beautiful city!