March 23, 2009

Muelle de Cabotaje / Muuaye yea - dey -Cabo tah hey

So these are the docks where you will find the ferries that take you to the Bay Islands. There are two transportation companies that service the two most visited islands which are Roatan and Utila. The companies providing the ferry service are Safeway Maritime Transportation Company with their Galaxy Wave catamaran yacht that takes you to Roatan and The Utila Princess, a similar but smaller boat that takes you to the island of Utila, with both terminals located next to each other in the Muelle de Cabotaje in La Ceiba.

There are two departures daily for each island but, you should always check with the terminal for departures because service may be suspended depending on weather and local holidays, so be sure to check in advance in the links provided in the Websites of Interest in this blog. Cost of the roundtrip ticket to Roatan on the Galaxy Wave is 1,025.00 Lempiras, or just about USD 50.00 which may seem kinda steep at first but its a good deal when compared to the airplane tickets which may cost three times as much.

Once you buy your tickets you will need to check your bags if they are too big and you will be given a stub to claim them once you arrive in Roatan. Be prepared to have your hand baggage go through an x-ray machine and you passing a metal detector as well. Security is always essential, very much airport style here.

Another very important item to consider which I already mentioned in an earlier entry, is the seasickness factor. The effects can be terrible for a first timer... just ask our friend who made her first trip on the ferry, how bad it got for her. The sea can get very bumpy even on a nice looking day and specially when you are taking the afternoon ferry, so take precautions. There are some measures that can help, for example have a very light meal or just do not eat anything at all before getting on any of the ferries. You can also ask for a free Dramamine pill at the counter in the terminal that will help control your dizziness and nausea. Just make sure you take it one hour before departure. Staring at a fixed point such as the horizon can also help. I have never experienced any problems myself but I have seen many people having to rely on the little plastic bags handed out to each passenger to prevent any inopportune mishaps.

The ride to Roatan takes about one hour and 35 minutes and you arrive to the terminal in Dixon Cove which is located near the middle part of the island. Depending on the amount of passengers, claiming your bags can be a hassle so be prepared to wait a while considering they return each bag one by one via the stub number.

Once we got our bags, it took us another 35 minutes by taxi to get to West End, our final destination, and the taxi cost approximately 20.00 USD per group. Taxis here have a fixed rate but since there are no meters in the taxis you might as well try and bargain a little. You can even pay in U.S. Dollars instead of Lempiras since it is a widely accepted

Best part was that we were already in beautiful Roatan, Bay Islands... YEEEEESSS!!!

March 06, 2009

Leaving Copan towards La Ceiba

So, our trip to Copan was almost done. We paid the hotel the night before, got up round 4:00 am with just enough time to gather our stuff and drop off the keys at the front desk, all because our bus left at 5:15 am! Yes, the bus left pretty early but that was necessary if we were to catch our next mode of transportation at 4:30 pm that same day in La Ceiba, (a city located on the northern coast of Honduras). I highly recommend that if you are taking that early morning bus, you should make friends with a local moto-taxi driver and get their mobile number so you can arrange for them to pick you up at your hotel and drop you off at the Hedman Alas Bus Station. The station was just about a seven minute walk from the Hotel Yaragua but since it was so early and it was still dark, the safest and most practical recommendation is to be dropped off at the bus station's doorstep considering the town is practically empty at that time. We thought we had that covered by jotting down the mobile phone number from the moto-taxi guy who drove us around for the entire two days, but I guess he overslept or over partied since he never showed up. We tried calling his mobile with no answer until we could not wait any longer and ended up walking to the station anyway. We had no problems and it turned out to be closer than expected, yet relying on a moto-taxi is the safest bet, even if he does over sleep; so make sure you get the mobile phone numbers from at least two or perhaps even three moto-taxi drivers and you won't miss!! However, I'm sure that transport can be arranged in some hotels at a specific price.

Now the trip to La Ceiba is a killer considering we needed to be at the Hedman Alas bus station at 5:15 am. We got to San Pedro Sula close to 10:00 am with a wait of about 15 to 20 minutes. We then got on another bus headed to La Ceiba which we finally reached around 1:00 pm. Now, the station in La Ceiba is very close to a shopping mall, and since we needed to be at the Muelle de Cabotaje before 4:00 pm to take our ferry towards Roatan, Bay Islands, we had more than enough time to walk the short distance to this mall and head to the food court where you will find a large selection of restaurants, with some local as well as some American franchises for a good greasy meal. If you are taking the ferry I do suggest that you do not eat that much or you will pay dearly if you are not good with sea sickness, but we will get to that part later.

After a good Wendys Menu Meal we asked for a taxi in the main entrance of the Mall
to take us to the Muelle de Cabotaje, which are the docks where you will find the ferries that take you to the Bay Islands. The taxis charge about 40.00 to 50.00 Lempiras or about $ 2.00 to $ 2.50 and the ride takes like 20 to 25 minutes. All in all, we made it to the docks at 3:30 pm with a good hour to spare since our ferry left at around 4:30 pm. Of course, first timers should be at the docks with at least two hours before departure, in case of any inconvenience.

We were so ready to go to the islands!!!