I did a lot of research before my trip about the safety of the roads between Guatemala and Honduras. More so than the other roads in Guatemala, this path seemed to suffer from the majority of road blocks and robberies. Therefore, I asked one of the employees at Antigua Tours, which had set up our transportation from the airport, where we could go for the safest transport into Honduras. He directed us to the Hedman Alas office in Antigua, 502/919-7473. Click here for their website.
This had to be the most expensive bus ticket I would ever buy in Central America. The cost was nearly US$41, or Q323.50, each. I had no idea what made this bus company so special, and I could barely bring myself to hand over the money. But my respect for Antigua Tours' recommendation, along with the fear of possible robberies going another way, enabled me to bear the high price.
We were up early for transport to the capital to catch the Hedman Alas bus. Amazingly, our hotel staff in Antigua knocked on our doors a full 30 minutes before we expected the shuttle to arrive. There was a first: an early bus! We were taken swiftly to the capital, avoiding traffic or running around to pick up other passengers. Our driver helped us with our bags into the Hedman Alas terminal, which was small, clean, and quiet.
Immediately, I noticed the fresh coffee brewing in the waiting room. I confirmed our seats on the bus with the receptionist, who directed a staff member to tag our luggage and stow it underneath the bus. I was immediately weary (as I always am) of my bags leaving my sight, but I knew that there was something much different about this company. Dad and I sipped coffee while we watched the Discovery Channel and waited for the bus to be ready.
It was apparent that we'd be the only gringos aboard the bus that day, and it seemed that only the Guatemalan middle and upper classes were taking Hedman Alas. We were witness to a very touching scene of a family who was obviously parting ways for a long while; the mother and grown son could barely let each other go. The mother cried quietly while her son kissed her forehead and petted her hair. After several "final" goodbyes, the son would always rush back to his mother and hug her once more, until she finally boarded the bus and he had to stand and watch her go.
A security team checked all the bags being carried into the bus, and we had to cross a metal detector. We noticed they searched us far less than they did any of the other passengers, but I'd expected that to be opposite the case. I had heard once that the Guatemalan government trusts foreigners much more than they do their own citizens, and suddenly I wondered if that might actually be true.
The bus was definitely first-class: it was immaculately clean and a Jennifer Aniston movie played for our entertainment on overhead television screens. Our ayudante was dressed in a collared shirt, tie, and a badge holder that said "I Love Jesus." He served us a small loaf of cinnamon bread and juice, gathered our passports, and handed out appropriate forms so he could do all the work at the border for us.
At one point, Dad and I caught a glimpse of our real security team, which was following behind the bus in a personal vehicle. As we stopped to get gas, we saw the truck pull in with four male occupants, each with an automatic weapon. We gasped, and I felt again the pang of nervousness for my decision to travel here, but realized then why the great expense and felt a little more secure. By the time we reached the border, the security men had gone, and we were left alone for the final 30 minutes of travel on Honduran roads. Even in the dusty dry season, the scenery along the way from Guatemala City to Copan Ruinas is interesting and varied.
Pleasant, comfortable, and safe, I'd recommend this company for the traveler who can afford it, or for someone whose sick to death of the slow and cramped conditions of chicken-bus travel.