Several years ago, I spent a month studying Spanish and living with a family in the seaside city of La Ceiba, Honduras. I went back to visit my former host family, take a refresher course, and do some more scuba diving in the Bay Islands…this post (and a few others that will follow soon) is excerpted from my journal from the return trip.
Much like my first trip to Honduras, this journey involved a series of bizarre flight delays resulting in a domino effect that made me miss connections. Unlike my first trip to Honduras, my baggage actually arrived with me this time, so I decided to take the travel mix-ups as minor inconveniences designed to add nostalgia.
The small victory that is my arrival in La Ceiba is owed to sheer willpower, stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality, and a light refreshing nap in a steel chair in Atlanta. It’s a good thing I packed granola and my stepsister gave me an apple on the way to the airport—because it was a long damn day. Also, 24 hours without sleep or a shower have taken their toll, particularly because this should have been a totally sane 12-hour journey.
My grumpiness was alleviated when the amazing sight of Pico Bonito–a gorgeous, verdant mountain that towers over Ceiba’s lush, green coastal plain and the airport–greeted our landing. I was worried that I might not recognize my former “host pop” at the airport, but it turned out I spotted him instantly. He looked the same as I remembered him, somehow having managed to age very little. The plan was to have lunch with him, his wife, and their son Raul the following day before grabbing my onward flight on a puddle-jumper to Utila.
Host pop said Raul was excited to see me, but this statement lacked credibility because (1) he was 4 when he met me, and (2) I’m packin’ Playstation loot that host pop had me pick up for him. Hmmm… Also, those groovy, heavy-duty stainless steel kitchen implements I got for my host mom? Not such a great idea. My bag ended up being searched by TSA, and that gift was the only thing opened. I can’t imagine why they would have an issue with a heavy, solid metal canister stowed in checked baggage. Noted for future gift-buying and international travel reference.
As I mentioned, I consider myself fortunate that my luggage did arrive with me, instead of the 9-day “waiting period” when TACA lost my luggage on the first trip (to their credit, I got everything back intact, which I considered nothing less than a miracle after the first few days). Although part of today’s success may have been my somewhat stubborn behavior with various members of the Islena and Sosa airlines’ staffs—as in standing in front of them in the San Pedro Sula airport, arms crossed, insisting that they verify my luggage was being transferred to the ongoing flight (politely yet firmly, of course).
Some of the school’s other students were not so lucky. Two American women were supposed to arrive from San Pedro Sula on the same flight as me. They managed to get themselves stranded in San Pedro Sula, which is surprisingly easy and common. Unhappily for them, their luggage made the La Ceiba transfer without them and is sitting all alone in the claim area in the La Ceiba airport. I can sympathize completely: They are in for a fun night of barricading hotel room doors and invasions by cockroaches, if my past experience is any indicator.
My accommodations for the night in Ceiba were luxurious by comparison to Atlanta’s steel chairs and the fleabitten hotels of San Pedro Sula. The toilet sat upon a little platform that faces a window with no curtains, so I quickly figured out that it would be best to use the toilet and shower with the lights off so as to avoid giving the rest of the guests a show. The church next door was holding a big, noisy revival—so, free entertainment, too.
The plan for the next day was to get to Utila (luck holding), but host pop informed me that I wouldn’t be staying at the resort he’d originally booked for me. He would not provide an explanation, other than a resigned shoulder shrug, which I consider somewhat ominous. He told me I’m headed to Cross Creek Resort, which I know nothing about but which sounded pleasant, so I also considered that somewhat ominous.