The great escape!!
Aug 19, 2012
|We ended up spending a fair chunk of our time in Utila figuring out how we could actually get off the island itself! Not in a bad way as if we were dying to leave but it was turning out to be fairly impossible to make a connection up to Belize!!
I think we approached every fisher man and punter with a boat offering them money to do the 2/3hour journey north but they were all so bone lazy none of them were bothered! The ones that even entertained the notion were charging insane prices like a $1250us per boat so we swiftly told them to jog on!!!
Anyway the main problem arising was the fact we wanted to skip Guatemala for time reasons and the normal tourist route to copan took minimum 3 days travel combined to get to Belize with no stops to see anything! So we decided to boldly go where no gringo has gone before and take the northern coast boarder into Guatemala and save ourselves nearly 2 days travel!
Everything was grand and we were on the gringo trail of buses until San pedro sula where we cut off down the VERY back corner of a bus station the size of dundrum shopping centre to Porta Cortez. The "bus" was no more than a mini-van which we were packed into with our backpacks on our laps and only short of being passed a child to hold on our laps as the bus kept on picking up mor and more people on each street corner! Now the option was to go to Porta Cortez spend the night and get a 50USD boat to belize the next morning or try and get into Guatemala and hit Belize from there... The conductor overheard us talking about the boarder and start staying "frontera we take you there!". Well we couldn't believe our luck we landed on our feet again! That was what we thought at least until we got to just outside Porta Cortez and the bus stopped under an overpass with a load of Hondurans sitting on a bench... What the conductor forgot to mention was that we had to change bus and that he wasn't going to the frontera at all! So off we hoped being greeted by quizzical stares from all the other people as we were definitely the only gringos and had been for many many miles at this stage! So we braced ourselves and waited out for a bus!!
For the hour or so that we were there (felt a lot longer!) we watched hundreds of cartoon coloured mini-vans pull up with the conductors hoping off shouting the destinations with the bus slowing just enough for him to say it and get back on!!
The two lads standing behind us were getting ancy and were planning how to get back into Porta Cortez while myself and becs chilled out on the bench watching the spectacle before us!! As luck would have it the next chicken bus that pulled up had frontera scrawled across the top along with the rest of the destinations! Myself and becs jumped up and got on with the two boys trailing behind!
So there we were again the only gringos on a chicken bus standing in the isle with all of our bags! The journey wasn't the worst as people started to trickle off and we eventually got seats!
When we got to the boarder it was very much in the middle of nowhere especially when the police had a mildly shocked look on their face when we showed up looking for stamps! All in all this turned out to be the easiest boarder crossing as we hopped in a van to get from the Honduran boarder to Guatemalan side 8km away with a load of locals! When we made it across to the boarder only about 7 passports where handed in including our 4 out of 20 or so people which gives you a bit of an idea what kind of boarder we were at!!
Porta barrios is an old shipping town so as you can imagine there isn't much to the place! Either way after checking in we did the usual locking away the valuables and headed out for an explore and more importantly food as we were also celebrating James birthday! The streets were empty enough but we definitely hit the jackpot on the food front!! We ended up getting the biggest tortilla I have ever seen covered in 5 different kinds of meat with all sorts of beans and veg to go with it! See the photo, amazing to say the least!!!
After that we had a drink in what we think was an attempt at a sports bar with two big old school tube TVs in each corner to celebrate the bday and then it was off to bed for the boat to Belize the next morning!