Journey from Honduras to Belize – always interesting – May 2009

– I knew I wanted to leave Utila on Sunday morning and chose the death ferry at 6am. This way, it allowed more time to let the unexpected happen in Honduras as I knew it would. I tried to buy my ferry ticket the night before so I could sleep in a little bit, but the ferry company said they weren`t selling them as “they were expecting some weather”. I tried to figure it this meant a storm, rain, wind or what, but all they said was weather. So I knew there was a good chance we weren`t going, but I needed this boat. Lucky for us, it did leave on time and we had a much smoother sailing trip vs the way out two weeks prior.

– Once we got to La Ceiba, I was able to get us a taxi as Adam, Lindsey, Kirsty and I were all heading out together for the next few days. We got to the bus station and found out we could grab a bus in ten minutes, so that was perfect. What ended up happening was the 8:00am bus didn`t show up and when the next one did, we had to wait for the next departure bus and this bus was packed and kept picking up more and more people. Plus is was Sunday, so many families were off to the beach and the bus was so full and we couldn`t stretch out and sleep as I had hoped.

– At a quick rest stop along the way, I ran into the bathroom and as I was in the stall, I felt something wet on my right foot. What could it be??? I looked down and saw a little boy in the stall next to me, and I guess he really had to go and couldn`t wait for his mom to finish. So he started to go and he landed on my foot. Gross…but I just came out and cleaned myself off. I did see the little boy, sister and mom come out together and I had to feel bad as the kid had to go. Oh well, not the end of the world and it was funny.

– After 3 hours, we reached San Pedro Sula and this was going to be a quick transfer for us as we were heading north to Puerto Cortes to get to the port town. We got a wonderful air conditioned mini bus that was express to Puerto Cortes in about an hour so we were excited. Even though there was so space for our bags, we paid for an extra seat to stack them on. It was the best 50 cents we all paid. When we arrived in Puerto Cortes, the mini bus conductor asked where we were going and we told him the hotel we wanted. He didn`t know of it. Then he asked another lady in the bus and she didn`t know of it either. The conductor got out to ask some locals and we found out it went out of business. Luckily, we were able to find the other hotel in town that was listed in our guidebook and even asked a police man for directions.

– The hotel looked really run down from the outside, but we expected that. Worst case, it was one night. To our surprise, the rooms were pretty nice. That means we had Air conditioning and our own private bathroom. These are real luxuries! Plus…the bonus was we got a tiny cable TV. We did laugh as it was locked up in a cage and I thought only animals live in cages, but in Puerto Cortes…TVs live in cages too. We didn`t care as we got to watch some movies, TV shows and the news and I learned a few things like who won American Idol. No other interesting news at this time.

– Now that we were in Puerto Cortes, we were hoping to find out more on the ferry to Belize. That was a silly thought for us to have. We know it leaves on Monday and we were hoping to be on it. Only problem was we really didn`t know what time if left. Plus this town was completely closed. Since it was Sunday, no one works so finding information was hard. We were told it left at 8, then 8:30, then 11. Then we were told you had to call them to pick you up but the office was closed on Sunday. What sort of business runs on Monday, has little information available and then doesn`t answer phones on Sunday. Crazy. So we figured we would leave the hotel at 7:15am and try to catch the 8:30 ferry.

– Since we had time to kill, our big adventure was walking around the town. There was so nothing to see besides the main plaza and it was sad. We did find a pizza hut and knew this was going to be our big night out. We even discussed dressing up to our best clothes (which doesn`t say too much). We had to check what time it was open to so we didn`t miss out as there wasn`t much else in town for dinner or to do for that matter.

– In the meantime waiting for dinner, we had way too much fun in the hotel. We also met Sarah who was traveling on her own and we invited her to our little adventure in town and dinner. So the five of us were Kirsty and my room (since it was the largest and had A/C). Adam and Kirsty had picked up tattoos at the bus station and were ready to apply. Adam got huge eagles and was going to apply one to each side of his chest. The funny part was both eagles faced the same direction and would have looked silly but he didn`t care. Too bad tattoo application is not Adam`s strong suit and he failed the first time as he didn`t peel off the plastic and ruined the tattoo. We were just laughing and enjoying the rest of the bottle of rum as we talked, watched TV and laughed.

– After the bottle of rum was done and we were all having a fun time, we left for Pizza Hut and I can`t say how good this pizza was. I think it was more since I have only eaten local food, and way too many baleadas, for the past two weeks. It was nice to have something normal…if you call Pizza Hut normal.

– Finally we head out to the port at 7:15 in the morning and are hoping to get a ferry. When we get there, we find out we were somewhat right. Check in for the ferry is at 8:30. Then around 9:00, they take us back into town (a block from our hotel) to see immigration. Funny as they tell us to get into the back of a truck as they drive us the 5 miles back to town. I felt like an illegal immigrate in the back of the truck as we went to immigration. I was also trying to switch citizenship again from US to Canada. I wanted to enter Belize as a Canadian as a way to set up my entrance into Cuba. I knew I had to buy my ticket to Cuba once I got to Mexico and wanted to leave Belize and enter Mexico as a Canadian. After much discussion and explanation in Spanish, I was able to get the immigration officer to stamp my US passport out of Honduras and then also add an exit stamp in my Canadian passport to make it easier to get the entrance into Belize. Complex…but I made it work. Once I got back to the ferry boat, the captain even changed the manifest to my Canadian passport. Good thing he had white out, but I can`t imagine taking an official immigration manifest with white out, but the Belize side did. All is good.

– Once we were back from Immigration at 9:30, we still had to wait a few more hours. The boat wasn`t allowed to leave until 11:30 or so…we found out so many locals come for this boat and they have to allow them time to travel in the morning. Only the tourist come the night before and have to deal with immigration. So what do you do at that hour as you sit by the boat…we decided to start drinking beers, and we even got a photo of the first beer at 9:45am. That`s when you know it`s wrong to drink when you need proof that it was that early. In the end, we had a fun time and passed time till 12:15pm when we finally left.

– The ferry was only 3 hours and pretty uneventful. Glad we were heading out as it`s time to move on.

– At the end of the day, we traveled a long distance to get from Utila, Honduras to Dangriga, Belize. The whole journey would have only taken 8 hours, yet we had to allow 34 hours including the overnight to make it happen. I was just glad to have fun people with me.

Logistics
Puerto Cortes Hotel – El Centro Hotel. We had $15US each for a double room with TV, private bath and A/C. One of the best nights sleep in a long time!

Ferry company to Belize – Water Taxi. Check in was at 8:30 but the boat was scheduled to leave at 11:30 or so. Boats leave on Monday for Dangriga or Palencia (other company D Express). Both check in at the same time under the bridge.

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