The first adventure was trying to find a way to get some cash, so we could all take care of our tabs at the Iguana. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, just hit up one of the ATMs in town. But power was still down from the previous night's storm, and not expected to return until the afternoon. We needed to get an early ferry to get started on our multi-pronged journey. Hm.
We walked into town to see what was shakin', figuring we should be able to at least go into a bank and extract some Quetzales that way. Along the way we checked both of the ATMs on the main road. Both had power, which was great, but both also displayed the "No funciona" message indicating they were outta service. Not so great. Evan and I waited for the bank to open while Helen walked back to get her other card. I've been pretty fortunate in that my debit/Visa card has worked with just about every ATM machine so far, but that's not always the case with cards from other countries. The bank actually opened around 9am, and they must have rebooted something because the ATM started working as well. We had no hope of getting the 9:30 ferry, but at least we'd be able to pay our room/bar tabs and catch the 11am boat. This is progress!
After settling up and saying some sad goodbyes to the Iguana staff -- gonna miss those guys! this was another fabulous place to stay -- we packed up and headed for the port. We caught the 11am ferry to Puerto Barrios with no trouble, and it was actually a very enjoyable one-hour journey. Traveling by boat is so much more fun than land-based options! When we landed in Puerto Barrios, we were immediately swarmed by touts offering directos to Corinto, our next stop along the way. We still needed to find a bank for Helen, plus we figured we could handle the local buses instead of the tourist shuttles, so we shook 'em off (took a while, they are persistent buggers!) and found our way to a bank. From there, it was a matter of heading in the direction of the market and we soon found a micro heading for Honduras. Crammed into the van with two dozen locals, our bags securely (we hoped) lashed to the roof, we headed for the border.
The first stop was migración in the town of Entre Ríos. We were expecting to have to pay something, but the ayudante merely took our passports (always a little scary to let your passport out of your possession, even for a short while) and we stayed in the car. A few minutes later, we were off again. OK. We drove a bit further and got to the Honduras border. End of the line! It was just a barren stretch of asphalt, like an empty mall parking lot, with a flat concrete building on the other side. We marched across the border, presented our passports and $3, and once again I had to explain the situation with the stamp on the Dreaded Page 11, and then we were off.
Ehm, OK, now what? According to the book, Corinto, which is the closest town, where we were supposed to catch a bus to Puerto Cortés. As we walked towards a small area with snack vendors and taxis, we noticed a figure heading towards us. He was wearing funny clothes... a strange Honduran fashion statement? And big floppy shoes. What the... Sure enough, as he approached, we noticed we was wearing face paint and carrying a big trash bag full of... well, full of god knows what strange clown accessories one carries over the border between Guatemala and Honduras. Just when you think you've seen it all. A Honduran border clown. Dear me.
Anyway, after gathering our wits (as much as possible in a situation like this) and exchanging some Quetzales for Honduran Lempiras (which I can't help but think of as Lemmywinks) we headed towards the bus. Turns out this particular one was heading all the way to Puerto Cortés. Sweet! We piled our stuff on board, and after grabbing a few snacks, hopped on the bus along with the clown and an albino ayudante. All we needed was a fat lady or a midget, and we'd have ourselves one helluva circus. But I digress. As in Guatemala, the bus was a revamped US school bus, but seemed much much larger than its Guatemalan counterparts. Not only was there a bit of legroom, but we each had our own seats! Oh, the luxury!
At Puerto Cortés we easily caught a bus heading to San Pedro Sula, the next stop on our journey. And this bus, more of a shuttle even though it was public transport, was pretty cushy. Even had air conditioning! Swoon! Unfortunately there was no roof rack so we had to smush our bags in the aisles. But otherwise it was a very swank ride indeed.
Finding the right bus in the sprawling noisy lot at San Pedro Sula proved a bit more challenging. But we employed the tried-and-true method of wandering around looking lost and asking for help, and eventually we got pointed in the direction of the bus to La Ceiba. OK, last vehicle of the day! Whew! It was a 3-hour ride to La Ceiba, and the bus looked like it'd be pretty comfortable, with reclining seats and everything. But it was hot as an oven on that thing. The last leg was a lonnnnnnng one.
We finally arrived in La Ceiba, and after a bit of mucking around, finally found a hotel. We got a basic and fairly clean room for all four of us, and sacked out early. What a day. Tomorrow, the Islands!