San PedroSula Honduras
Up Belmopan Belize

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20 August 2005

Greetings from San Pedro Sula,


During my two night layover in San Pedro Sula while shopping at the Multiplaza mall I observed an astonishing incident. Public restroom attendants are always women, usually ladies so old they could care less about the men answering nature's call. As I walked into one this time a rather attractive twenty-something girl busied herself with mopping. As I approached the bank of eight urinals currently being used by three men, this lady set her mop against the wall, tilted her head over the urinals and peered down the row of men checking... what? I suppose she must have been looking to see if any of the white ceramic fixtures needed attention, but for all the world it looked to me like a "short arm" inspection had taken place! I gave her time to move on to other endeavors before proceeding with my own business.

I used the day between my two nights stay in SPS to check out the boat docks in Puerto Cortez and the bus connections to get up to the port. No problem; in fact there were several small boat operations offering transport north starting late in the morning three times a week, including the next day. So, next morning about 9:30 I presented myself to the Captain, paid my 700 Lempiras (about $36) and waited. Finally, the several of us waiting for departure were taken by pickup truck several miles back into town for processing by the Honduran Immigration department.

The agent looked at my passport and visa shaking her head and began jabbering something about 20 June in Spanish. One of the other passengers got the substance of the tongue lashing and informed me I had over stayed my 30 day visa and had a big problem. Well, the big problem with Immigration turned out to be a hefty fine of about $60... which had to be paid in US dollars at a specific bank somewhere in town. Our taxi driver had an involved conversation with the officials and indicated he would stop by the bank on his way back to the boat with the other passengers. However, he dropped me off at the wrong bank, an error which cost me a half hour of anxious time.
Worried the boat might leave without me I dashed around looking for the correct bank. When I found it I discovered a line thirty people long moving at a snail's pace. Asking someone to hold my place in line I dashed over to one of the officers and using my most urgent Spanish while waving the Immigration form indicated "mi boata solida pronto e problemo para mi." The bank officer understood and indicated I should move immediately to a line with only three people waiting... a line where individual transactions were taking even longer than in the first line. Finally, after getting the fine paid at the correct bank and receipt in hand I discovered I had forgotten the way back to the Immigration Office. Eventually, I made a couple guys on the street understand my problem and they pointed the way back.

Immigration greeted me like an old friend, stamped my exit visa and announced something totally unintelligible. With gestures they indicated I could go... without my passport! "żMi passporte?" I stammered. The agent picked up my passport and put it with a stack of others replying something in Spanish that included "Capitan." I guessed they were going to give all the passengers passports to the boat captain, so I left. The "taxi" pickup truck had completely disappeared by now so I searched out a real taxi and bargained his first fare of 40 Lempiras down to 30, having already paid the first guy 30 for a round trip. Back at the boat other passengers were still waiting. An hour later around 11:30 we finally left the dock on our four hour trip north.



Fred L Bellomy






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Puerto Cortez Honduras: Passengers assemble by the boat in preparation for leaving on our trip to Belize.

Puerto Cortez Honduras: Passengers assemble by the boat in preparation for leaving on our trip to Belize.

Puerto Cortez Honduras: Passengers assemble by the boat in preparation for leaving on our trip to Belize.

Puerto Cortez Honduras: Passengers on board the boat during our trip to Belize.


Reference photo: author
 August 2002

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