My day started at 5:00 am. I had a 6am bus to catch to San Pedro Sula. My morning routine was interrupted during toilet time by a loud POP under my foot as I stood to flush. I jumped across the bathroom and saw I had just blown up a huge cockroach under foot. It’s always until that first bug encounter that you blissfully glide to the bathroom and plop yourself on the toilet or run barefoot all the way back to your dorm room. But then, it happens. You not only see a big bug but you have to DEAL with it. Even worse with your pants down.
Too early for coffee or breakfast in the sleepy town of Copan, I headed out with protein bites and Gatorade. I caught the 6am bus and as we were pulling away from the curb, I realized I had forgotten my head lamp – prized possession in the backpacking world. Bummer. It was the best piece of gear I packed and most used.
I got in to San Pedro Sula at 10am and bought a $4 ticket for the Casa Sola bus to La Ceiba to leave at 10:30am. MISTAKE. We left closer to 11:30 and I had spent an hour sitting on the bus at the bus terminal baking in the sun. I did have some entertainment from watching these guys working at a bus terminal next to mine. Every time a bus pulled in the would run screaming at potential passengers, “La Ceiba, La Ceiba, get on the bus, really cheap!!” And try to hustle tourists and locals alike onto their buses. They would whistle and hoot and holler and were very competitive with each other running out as fast as they could.
My bus was old and made a million stops along the way. About an hour in the bus shut down and coasted to the side of the road. The driver stood up, yelled some incomprehensible gibberish into his cell phone, threw it down and started rummaging in the overhead compartment. He pulled out about 15 different sized engine belts and stomped off the bus. After an hour of banging, hammering and the bus jerking side to side he walked back onto the bus, wiped his face on his shirt and re-started the engine. After the third try, the bus started up again and we were back on the road. We stopped for lunch about 10 minutes later. Sigh. I grabbed some peanut M&Ms and a diet Coke and tried to take a nap. It was HOT. We hopped back on the bus and were bombarded by people trying to sell sandwiches, pizza, and mango. I bought a bag of Mango for 10L and found them super sour and not what I wanted at all. Thy serve it with salt so it is supposed to be bitter but I think my over heated and tired body was craving some sugar.
We rolled into to La Ceiba at 4pm and hit a lot of traffic. I wasn’t sure of how to get to where I needed to go so I jumped off the bus at the second stop and I showed the driver a map and asked him how to get “here.” He told me best way was to take a taxi and pointed to a driver and said that he was good and reliable. I went to put my pack down in his car but he directed me to another car that a guy on a cell phone had just gotten in to. In Honduras, it is cheaper to take a taxi the more people pile in. The driver got in and seemed to know the guy on the cell phone so I settled in the back seat grateful to be off the death bus. We ran through traffic and almost rear ended a school bus.
We screeched around and the driver slammed on his breaks and made a hard left into a driveway that took us into a dirt courtyard and what looked like a bunch of houses. My instincts kicked in a bit and I was starting to panic a little. Where were we?? No one could see us from the street and no one was around. He started backing up to one of the houses and I put my hand on the door getting ready to make a run for it. This is what all the books warn you about as to what kind of situation you should NOT get yourself into. Heart pounding I was about to say something when the other passenger got out, grabbed his bag and the driver threw the car in gear and gunned it back to the main road. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and we rounded a corner to my hostel.
I spent a bit waiting for the taxi coordinated by Banana Republic to Jungle River by chatting with the owner of Banana Republic about the rest of my trip and best way, logistically, to coordinate. She gave some great advice on how to plan for Utila and back to the airport in San Pedro Sula and how to coordinate all the transportation, schedules and fares. Invaluable assistance.
I met Raul, my taxi, and we headed out toward Jungle River and Pico Bonito National Forest. As we jumped off the main road and onto a bumpy dirt road, I spotted La Cascada El Bejuco, the largest waterfall in Pico Bonito. It cascades down massive cliffs from about 2,400 meters above. I knew my stay at Jungle River was going to be fantastic.