Monday, 14 April 2008

Holy Crapola

For those of you who think this travelling lark is an easy peasy lemon squeezy, rola cola barrel of fun, sun and margaritas, let me tell you about our weekend.

It started off ok on Saturday morning as we left Copan Ruinas to drive across Honduras to Tela, on the Pacific Coast, touted as the best mainland beach in the country. It took about 5 hours, passing several tempting Pizza Huts, but when we got there it was such a grubby, down trodden, poo-hole of a place that we just didn't want to stay. The whole town gave me the heeby-jeebies. So poor hubby had to get his driving gloves back on and take us to San Pedro Sula, a city we'd passed about 2 hours earlier. Things improved markedly when we checked in to the Intercontinental. Lovely.

Sunday was a very bad day. Perhaps it had something to do with it being the 13th? Anyway, despite my claim in an earlier post that we were going to spend 2 weeks in Honduras, we reverted to our first plan and decided that 1 week was going to be enough after our discovery that the whole country wasn't as lovely as Copan Ruinas. So, our plan was to get the boat (which only runs on Mondays) from Puerto Cortez, about 45mins from San Pedro, across to Belize. Consulting the trusty (not) Lonely Planet, we headed off to Puerto Cortez as the book told us we needed to go to the boat office a day before the sailing to buy our tickets and show our passports. The instructions for finding the boat office given by the LP assume that you are travelling by bus from Puerto Cortez and go something like this "take any Omoa-bound bus and get off after about 3km. the office is in the fish market under the bridge about 200m from the highway". Does that sound helpful to you? No, us neither. So, about 1.5hrs later after pretty much going off-road at one point, we finally found the bridge from where the boat departs. We asked in the restaurant next door if they knew anything about the boat to Belize - "yes, sure. just come along tomorrow about 10am and the boat goes at 11.30am. no, there is no boat office and, no, you don't need to come the day before." Makes you wonder if the LP author has even been to this place. Hmm, anyone see the article on the BBC website about the LP author who says he didn't go to Columbia even though he was writing about it for a guidebook???

Anyway, we felt better for the fact that we knew where to get the boat from, and decided to drive back to the hotel. On the way we went to the Hilton where we had been told we could drop off the hire car. When we got there, the Budget desk was closed as it's only open Monday-Friday. The hotel receptionist called the Budget desk at the airport and we were told we had to take the car there - great, another 45min drive, but as I looked at my watch I realised it was only 1.30pm which actually made me feel much better. That was until hubby told me it was 3.30pm and I discovered my watch had stopped. Grrr. Anyway, we headed off for the airport. At one point we were driving over a really noisey section of road and it sounded like we had a flat tire, so I twisted around to lean out of the window and promptly broke my flip flop. Grrr. My favourite, most comfy pair as well.

When we got to the airport we found that the lady from Budget had set off to drive to our hotel to meet us and take back the car. GRRR. So, we had to wait for her to drive back. When she finally arrived back, she tried to charge us an extra $40 drop off fee (hubby got v angry and she changed her mind), but, to top it all off, we were then presented with a bill of $680 because we got a small chip on the wondscreen where a stone had flown up several days previously. Allegedly, they don't repair chips over here, they have to replace the entire windscreen (which may account for the inordinate number of vehicles you see driving round with great spiderwebs of cracks all over the place). Let's hope to goodness that we can claim it back on the car insurance.

It was pretty much 6pm when we finally got back to the hotel. What a day! You'll be pleased to know that we are now in Belize and things have improved markedly. But that's a whole other posting...

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