Just north of the town of Siguatepeque, a good paved road heads west from CA-5 to the village of LA ESPERANZA, the centre of commerce for western Honduras and the capital of the department of Intibucá. During the week there's nothing much of interest here, but the town livens up considerably during the colourful weekend market (Sat & Sun), when Lenca farmers from surrounding villages pour into town.
It's likely that if you're heading to Gracias you'll need to stay overnight in La Esperanza due to the lack of buses. The centrally located Hotel Urquia (Tel:783 0435; US$6-10) is a reasonable bet. Some bathrooms only have a three-quarter wall and aren't the best if you need privacy, but newer rooms on the first floor are considerably nicer. For food, the local daily market sells a multitude of fresh fruit and vegetables, while Opalaca's restaurant has good-sized portions of international food (club sandwich and chips L68, burgers L55). For the more adventurous, barbecued meat dishes – including huevos de toro (bull's testicles; L110) – come to the table on a sizzling plate. La Esperanza has one ATM that takes Visa cards.
From the desvío (turn-off) to La Esperanza, just north of Siguatepeque, buses run to the town every couple of hours until mid-afternoon (68km; 2hr). Buses running between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula can drop you off at the desvío.