Day 57: Copán Ruinas - San Pedro Sula - La Ceiba – Utila (1)

La Ceiba Travel Blog

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As I had decided not to spend another day in Copán I figured I might as well take the earliest bus out to my next destination. At 5.30 in the morning I took a chicken bus to San Pedro Sula, which is the second-largest city in Honduras. There isn't an awful lot to see in this city, but it is the crossroads of almost all traffic in the country. To the north lies the Caribbean coast, to the south El Salvador, to the east the country's capital and Nicaragua and to the west Copán and Guatemala. It is said that every traveller visiting the mainland of Honduras will have to pass through San Pedro Sula at some point.

But not many people stay here. I certainly didn't! I spent two hours waiting at the bus station waiting for my next bus, to the coastal town of La Ceiba.

There are three islands in front of the Honduran Caribbean coast, called the Bay Islands. One of these islands, Utila, was my destination for the next couple of days. The only problem is that despite this being one of the prime tourist destinations of Honduras, they haven't really found a way of getting the tourists to the island.

There is only one boat a day. Utilia lies only 16 kilometres from the mainland, but for some inexplicable reason Hondurans prefer a monopoly of one ferry, which circles the three islands on a daily basis, above a much more efficient water taxi system like they have in Belize with Caye Caulker for example (which lies 35 kilometres from Belize City, but has transportation twice an hour). En indeed, the ferry trip to Utila costs twice as much as the trip to Caye Caulker, even though in general this country is a lot cheaper than Belize.

So I was forced to spend the night in La Ceiba. Ah well, guess it's good for the local economy, but it's not the most exciting town in the world...

I checked in to a hostel which is run by an old Dutch sailor, who had been living here for the past 20-odd years. According to my guidebook this hostel has a nice homely atmosphere, with the old sailor and his wife acting as some sort sweet grandpa and grandma, pampering the visitors. Unfortunately, reality was slightly different. I checked in, paid for the night, and then the old man came with the great news that the ferry had broken down and was not running. The only way to get to the Bay Islands was by plane and the local airline had scheduled extra flights. So basically if I wanted I did not have to wait until tomorrow, but I could take a flight right this afternoon. Only... he wouldn't give me my money back which I'd just paid for the hostel. How's that for a warm welcome?

“Now wait a minute, I have been here less than 5 minutes, isn't that a bit unfair?”

“I am not giving your money back...”

“And it didn't occur to you to give me the recommendation of going to the airport before I paid??”

“I didn't know you wanted to go to Utila...”

That motherf..... I bit my tongue and didn't argue. There was no point really. Amazing really, 57 days of travelling and the first time I get ripped off it is by a fellow Dutchman.

Well I had some errands to do anyway, so I figured I could entertain myself for the rest of the day here. There's a national park nearby which could be interesting, so I went into town to find myself a bank and a lunch, and looked at my options for the rest of the day.

Well, an hour later I had changed my mind. I'd seen enough of La Ceiba and I wanted out as quickly as possible. What a horrible place!

I took a taxi back to my hostel to pick up my luggage. The old sea prick started swearing at me for leaving, once again telling me I wouldn't get my money back. Up until this point I had been conversing in Spanish with the guy, and I switched to my mother tongue to tell him in no uncertain terms just where he could stick that money. It didn't seem to register, so to be sure I repeated it in English so that at least the other travellers sitting in the lounge would understand. An English girl came up to me, “what? There is no boat?” I explained to her what happened and she immediately went up to her dorm to pick up her bags as well and joined me to the airport.

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La Ceiba
photo by: giotravel