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The Boat Ride From Hell

Occasionally, we like to take a gamble. It was a big one: taking the boat from Honduras to Belize. The catch? We had heard of a boat going between Puerto Cortes (Honduras) and Placencia (Belize) but the boat was only once a week, could only take about 30 passengers and the schedule was subject to change. We couldn’t buy the tickets beforehand either—we basically had to show up and see if there was actually a boat.

That’s why we ended up in Puerto Cortes on Sunday.

On Monday morning, it was pouring rain. The first rain we had since we left home and it had to be the day we needed good weather…!

We took a taxi to the boat terminal where we learned there was indeed a boat scheduled for Placencia. Soaked from the rain, dirty from the mud and sweaty from the heat, we bought the tickets and did the migracíon to exit Honduras.

Then we waited. We even had a quick breakfast—a baleada at the only food place around.

I’m a sea person. I grew up by the Atlantic Ocean and I can’t even remember learning to swim. I’ve always liked water, salt water preferably, and I spent most of my childhood playing in the waves and later surfing and windsurfing when I was a teen.

Needless to say, I’m usually very comfortable on boats. I’d take a boat ride over a bus ride anytime and I’m not scared of water.

So I was feeling pretty good about our 2.5 hour long trip to Belize.

That said, the boat did look small.

We all climbed aboard and off we went. I quickly felt like we were a cork jerked around in the huge waves. A tiny boat in deep open water.

Okay, maybe not such a good idea.

Feng and I held hands.

I looked at the woman seating in front of me. She looked really sick. “Please don’t puke on me,” I begged mentally.

It got worse and worse. “Quieres una bolsa?” I asked her. She nodded. I handed her the plastic bag I got when I bought drinks at the supermarket in the morning. Hours ago. On dry land.

She got sick. In the bag, mercifully. Two seconds later, it was Feng’s turn.

I looked away. When someone gets sick, you feel sick too.

I was getting soaked from the waves. Hot too. The smell of diesel was overwhelming. I couldn’t breathe.

I got sick too. For a moment, I didn’t think we would make it.

There just wasn’t any comfortable position. My shorts were soaked, I was sliding towards the back of the boat, my muscles ached from absorbing the shocks and my hair was plastered to my face. Not a pretty sight.

And everyone in the boat was getting sick, some puking overboard, other staring blankly in front of them.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on something.

Revolutionary songs.

Una mattina mi sono svegliato
e ho trovato l’invasor

More waves.

La cucaracha, la cucaracha
ya no puede caminar

Quick glance at Feng, whiter than a sheet.

Ya se mira el horizonte
Combatiente zapatista

Can’t see land anywhere. Breathe.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido…
De pie, cantar
que vamos a triunfar.

Eventually, the boat slowed down. Big Creek, Belize.

The engine stopped and we all looked around us, confused, dizzy and still sick.

A Belize immigration officer climbed on board to stamp our passports and all the bags were unloaded from the boat. Half an hour later, we were back in for the final ride to Placencia—a mercifully short ride.

I can’t even think of food right now (highly unusual for me). I can’t even think, period.

This is the second time in all of our travels that we get sick in a boat, bus or whatever. The first time was in 2003 in Mexico between Oaxaca and Puerto Angel, a long ride that we never forgot (and later learned that everyone is sick in that bus). I guess we will add the boat ride between Honduras and Belize to our list.

The Boat, the D-Express
Puerto Cortes Harbour
The Migracion Office
Before the Ride in Puerto Cortes...
... After the Ride From Hell in Big Creek, Belize

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