Honduras Bound

16 08 2010

Thanks to an alarm knock from the security guard at the hotel, I got up early and caught a taxi to the bus station. I was hoping to find an office for Nica or Tica buses so that I could get a single comfortable bus across the border to Tegucigalpa but there were no such outlets there. It was going to have to be a chicken bus to Ocatal. I expected to see Julia et al at the bus station; but as I sat in the bus and 7am approached it looked like they’d missed it. Suddenly at the eleventh hour they ambled up the hill: they’d made it.

On the bus I chatted for a bit to Franklin, a friendly local guy bedecked in a USA bandanna. I’m not really sure that was his real name He was a big fan of the US and had been around way more of it than I. At Ocotal we got another bus to the border at Las Manos. A preacher sat down next to Nicole and started chatting away. It was quite amusing watching them; since Nicole speaks barely any Spanish and he spoke no English. I think the basic gist of it was that she was damned! Occasionally Franklin would intervene for some translation services.

Passport control was a bit confusing, we didn’t get an exit stamp in our passport but instead got a stamp on a piece of cardboard which we had to hand in when we entered Honduras. I just hoped that I’d be able to leave Honduras eventually without someone saying, “But where is your exit stamp from Nicaragua?” At Las Manos (a very seedy place) we got another chicken bus to El Paraíso and then an express bus to Tegucigalpa. At Tegucigalpa I said goodbye to the others (I thought I might see Julia, Tara and Aisling somewhere again but it wasn’t to be) and got an exorbitantly priced taxi (100 lempiras) to a bus terminal the other side of the city to catch my connection to La Ceiba right in the North of Honduras.

I had a good hour or more to wait for the 3:30pm bus and I didn’t dare leave the bus terminal (I’d heard so many horror stories about hold-ups with guns). Fortunately there was a cafe within the bus terminal complex (it was actually across a car park but behind the iron fence) so I grabbed some tacos there and then continued to wait. The bus was really quite comfortable; although I was the only gringo so I didn’t feel 100% safe. About halfway through the trip with stopped off at a service station. It seemed extremely 1st world and I could have been in any roadside restaurant in the UK (except probably with better food) except for the presence of a security guard with a massive shotgun.

When we arrived in La Ceiba (about 11pm – it had been a long day!) I got another rip-off taxi with a couple of other guys from the bus. They were staying at Hotel Italia and handed their wheeled bags to the bell boy as they got out; my welcome at the Banana Republic Guest House was ever so slightly different. My dorm was full and everyone else was female but, much to my disappointment, I didn’t get any cheapies.