And a big ol’ taxi it was: there must have been about 20 people onboard! But again, I sat down and found myself facing the ever-present sign, “In God We Trust.” I wanted to say, “Yo Captain, I’m trusting in you, okay, to get this dang boat to the other shore. Show me what you’ve got.”
Argh, it was a long travel day on Feb.4th. This blog post is full of practical details for other travelers doing the same route, though.
The available verbal, written and online information on the departure time of the Nesymein Neydy varied between 9, 9:30 and 10 a.m. I showed up at 8:30 to get a ticket and hand in my passport for immigration. The boat, however, didn’t leave until 11:30. Apparently, that’s a normal delay.
One passenger attempted to take an eight-week old pit bull puppy with him. “You allowed to do that?” I asked, as his puppy’s head popped out between the top flaps of the cardboard box in which he was being transported. “I think so,” was the answer I got. The pit bull never made it on to the boat. I’m still not sure if that was a good thing or not: stay with clueless owner that keeps you in a box, or stay with unknown person for unknown length of time until clueless owner can retrieve you. If I was the puppy, I would have made a break for it.
We pulled up to Puerto Cortes, Honduras at around 2:45 that afternoon, and a good chunk of the passengers went over the bridge and around the corner to the bus stop. The downer about wanting to travel the northern coastline of Honduras is that you can’t! There is no road. (Same with trying to get from San Pedro Sula straight to the Guatemala border: must go through Puerto Cortes).
And hence the bus portion of the day began. I got a collectivo to San Pedro Sula (SPS), but despite many attempts at asking, it was still unclear to me from which terminal the bus to Tela left – I think there are a couple. Finally, the man sitting next to me jumped up and said, “Here!” He escorted me off the bus and two blocks down the street to the correct bus station. I really don’t know if my stop was his stop, but he sure helped when I needed it!
Unfortunately, at that time of day (about 5 p.m.), there were no more direct buses to Tela, so I had to get one bus to El Progreso, and then another to Tela. Bear in mind that these are the repurposed Blue Bird school buses, packed to the gills, and I had to stand for a long while on the last bus. I also hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so was getting a little bit weary.
Following about 100 paces behind me and my gentleman escort (who eventually went on his way) was another Canadian, a fellow named Curtis that had started out from Dangriga that day as well. Once he caught up to me, we rode the rest of the way to Tela together, arriving at about 7:30 p.m.
Our first two attempts to find a hotel room were a fail. It was Friday night, and Tela is the place where Hondurans from SPS get away for their beach weekends. On our third attempt (at the Hotel Sinai, based on our taxi driver’s suggestion), we got lucky. My room was cramped, mostly clean, and $15 USD. The rooms without private bathrooms were $12.
Curtis decided to shower and hit the sack, so I went out for a little wander to find some food. Tela has a reputation for being a little dodgy at night, so I only took a couple of dollars in my pocket and my room key, and off I went. The streets were so empty that it was a bit unnerving, and almost no businesses were open. I felt better when I reached the Central Square area and saw a group of people practicing Honduran folk dancing in the lobby of the City Hall building. After going a couple of blocks further I found three or four basic restaurants. I bought a deep-fried thingy (have yet to find a name or description for it online) from the front counter of one and ate it as I walked back to watch more folk dancing. I was thus far underwhelmed with Tela, though, and hoped that it would look a lot more inviting during the day.