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#437056 - 05/03/12 10:57 AM Flying from San Pedro, Belize to San Pedro Sula
Marty Offline

Relatively recently, Tropic Air (the domestic airline in Belize) added a new route to their international roster. You can now fly directly from Belize City to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Honduras? So close and yet I´ve only visited once. This flight I need to try out. The current fare is $107.50 USD each way when booking a round trip ticket.

San Pedro Sula is a huge city in Honduras...about 800,000 people (or 2.5x the size of Belize). It is considered the economic capital of the country. The international airport in SPS is serviced by flights to and from the US on airlines like Continental, American, Delta and TACA. The city is also a great kick off spot for flights around Honduras. Aerolino Sosa, CM Airlines and TACA Regional all fly from San Pedro Sula to places like Roatan, Copan (one of the great Mayan sites) and Utila (a hugely popular diving destination). Honduras, as I am finding out, also has an extensive bus system...from first class buses like Hedman Alas to old, old, OLD chicken buses.

I had to take the 7am flight from San Pedro, Belize to the Belize International Airport. For my own sanity, I will gloss over the part where I got to the airstrip at 6:52am, didn't have my wallet with me and had to race back home. I am still attempting to regulate my blood pressure after that little incident.

It was a beautiful day. We flew right over Caye Chapel, which I hear is reopen for golf by appointment.

Up, up and away. The plane plotted a course directly south along the reef to San Pedro Sula. Nosy as ever, I parked myself in the front seat and peered over the pilot´s shoulder the whole time. (It makes me feel like I am flying the plane myself plus, I like watching the map).

I arrived at International Airport 20 minutes later, did a quick check in and went through immigration and security.

You DO NOT have to pay the exit fee from Belize to Honduras since the cost is already included in your ticket.

The view was stunning...we spent very little time over land. When in the air, you remember how sparsely populated Belize is.

We moved over the Caribbean quickly and the view was incredible. Reef on the left and the tiny islands dotting the left hand side. Most are unpopulated...barely above sea level. Gorgeous.

We landed in San Pedro Sula about 45 minutes later. Easy. Outside looked quite similar to Belize City airport.

But after customs and immigration (which took about 10 minutes), I entered the main terminal. A totally different world. Dunkin Donuts? Wendy´s? Rebecca, you are not in Belize anymore.

I went to the ATM machine to take out some lempiras (about 19 per USD). I was certainly not going anywhere without money. I went to find a taxi to the bus station in town. I was meeting my friends in Puerto Cortes (a large city about 45 miles away on the coast) and a bus was going to take me there.

The taxi from the airport to town (about 10 miles) cost me $15 USD. On our way, my taxi driver stopped at a roadside stand to buy a watermelon...probably a 10 pounder. 40 lempiras (or about $2 USD). CHEAP! I think I am going to like this country.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop

#437131 - 05/04/12 10:07 AM Re: Flying from San Pedro, Belize to San Pedro Sula [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Puerto Cortes & Omoa, Honduras and Turtle Eggs...Seriously?

So where did I stop with my last post...I had taken a taxi from the airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras to the bus terminal and I was ready to meet friends at the beach, in Puerto Cortes. The bus station is enormous and there are probably hundreds of buses and collectivos (the smaller ACed vans) going in every direction.

I told my taxi driver that I was going to Puerto Cortes and he dropped me off at the right van. Easy. I boarded, we waited until it was filled and took off for our destination. I guess I chose the local bus. Rather than the one hour the internet had promised, we stopped OFTEN and it took almost two hours. Oh well. You pay your fare to the conductor on the van...only $55 lempira. Or just under $3usd.

Puerto Cortes is not the Riviera of Honduras as Puertocortes.hn touts. It is a HUGE industrial port. Massive ships were being unloaded and the small city looked...well...a bit depressing.

Dani and Cesar picked me up in their super vehicle and it was off to Omoa. Omoa is a small beach town distinctive for its old Spanish fort dating back to the 1750s, its Garifuna population and the hordes of people that arrive from the inland San Pedro Sula each weekend. It is situated on a very pretty bay of crystal clear water surrounded by perputually haze covered mountains. Here is the bay during the week...

And this is the bay on May 1st, a public holiday Labor Day in Honduras.

At first, you wouldn't know the water is so clear...the sand is fine and chocolate brown...okay...let's admit it. The sand is the color of dirt. But it is good swimming.

My friends had set up shop at Roli's...a hostel, campground, small hotel and gorgeous garden about 200 feet from the ocean. Roli is a Swiss gentleman with a pretty big chunk of land.

And the prices are cheap, cheap, cheap. (19 lempira = $1 USD)

I pitched my tent under a big fruit tree.

For those of you who like orchids like I do...look at all of these flowers hanging from the trees and bushes around the garden.

If you prefer staying right on the ocean, the nicest looking hotel is Sueno Del Mar. Owned by a Canadian couple, it has a huge airy lobby, a beachfront deck and sitting area and nice garden in the back.

We woke up the next day to find a waterfall. We headed to one that had been described by another set of Canucks who own Henry's Bar in Omoa. (Why does every town...no matter how small or remote it is have a Canadian bar?) About 5 or 6 miles out of town, Rawacala is a hiking area, zip line ($25USD fee), picnic area and waterfall. There is a slightly tricky stream to cross on the way to Rawacala. There were plenty of cars there so it seemed like no problem for Hondurans.

There was a $100 lempira entry fee and we hiked up the path along the river.

It was about a 15 minute hike. Pretty...and straight uphill. When we got there, we found tons of families picnicking and enjoying the holiday. People had carried cases of beers, grills, coolers, babies, 5 gallon water bottles...they meant business.

The water fall was perfect. Honduras' Caribbean coast has been incredibly hot. Just 1/2 a mile up in the hills, the temperature is so much nicer.

The darker item is the clams...but what are those eggs? The guys explained it...sea turtle eggs. For sea turtle egg ceviche. Oh good grief. Ick.

I tried to focus on my favorite Honduran beer, Barena.

The soup arrived and it was so good. Crab, shrimp, conch, whole fish...and of course, plantains come with EVERYTHING down here. There was green plantain in the soup and fried yellow plantain chips on the side...you just can't get enough.

That soup knocked me out. It was 10 meals in one.

Up early the next day to visit one of the oldest and biggest forts in Central America, the Fort at Omoa. And then on to our next stop near Tela.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop

#437223 - 05/06/12 09:54 AM Re: Flying from San Pedro, Belize to San Pedro Sula [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Fort at Omoa, Tela, La Ceiba, Honduras and Barf Bags...

Omoa has an incredibly old but well preserved fort and museum on the way into town. Apparently, this northern Carribean coast was first explored by the Spanish in the early 1500s but it wasn't a viable town until the 1750s when the fort was built. This whole coast was a hotbed for pirate activity. Particularly the Brits.

There is a really nice museum right next door to the fort. The museum is free. $80 lempira (about $4 USD) will get you into the fort.

There were rooms, living quarters and storage areas all around the thick walls. It was also surprisingly cool on a seriously HOT day.

Interesting fact: the fort was used as a serious (and dreaded) maximum security prison for the first half of the 20th century.

The view on top of the walls was gorgeous. Ocean on one side and mountains on the other...but I guess the view is what the fort was built for.

After the fort and the pick-up at the San Pedro Sula airport, we headed to Tela...it was about an hour and a half drive.

This whole coastal area and particularly Tela, has some of the oldest colonial towns in Central America. It also has some of the oldest Garifuna communities. (The Garifuna people were exiled by the British to Roatan from the island of St. Vincent in 1797. They are descendents of the Arawaks, Caribs and West African peoples. Now living along the Caribbean coasts of Honduras, Guatamala, Belize and Nicaragua, they have their own language, awesome food and music. The culture plays a very big role in Belize, particularly in the south.)

We drove into the sleepy Garifuna village of Triunfo del La Cruz set right along the beach. There was not very much going on. Small wooden houses and some crumbling cement buildings, it was set on a very pretty strip of water.

We cruised into the Hotel Colon...a restaurant and hotel (apparently the only one in town). There were about 15 Danish college aged students staying there...teaching English to kindergarteners and learning Spanish in return.

The beach was pretty but also pretty littered with garbage. These pictures don't really reflect that but what do you want me to do? Take pictures of trash?

The village life was LOW KEY. There weren't very many cars. Our hotel had wood delivered for the oven the next morning.

We woke up relatively early for a swim and to make the drive to La Ceiba, the third biggest city in Honduras. Set between the ocean and the moutains, it's quite a pretty location.

We did have a great meal at a place called Mango Tango across the street from our hotel. An outside deck and restaurant under a HUGE mango tree, that dropped delicious mangos constantly on their sheet metal roof. We had to fight a three year old boy for each of the delicious fruits.

La Ceiba also has an airport and a huge ferry area for catching the boats to the Bay Island. We woke up for the 9:30am boat to Roatan. A HUGE boat. I'll explain that process later...

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop

#437639 - 05/10/12 09:53 AM Re: Flying from San Pedro, Belize to San Pedro Sula [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Ferry to Roatan, Honduras and A Look at the West End

The boat from La Ceiba, Honduras to Roatan seems simple enough. Relatively cheap at $500 lempiras, fast at only 1 hour and 10 minutes and huge, holding about 400 people, the boat leaves twice a day.

As soon as the boat pulled out of port, an employee came around and handed everyone a small striped plastic bag. A sick bag...as well as a paper towel. We all thought it was a joke...or at least we thought it was funny at the time.

This boat is ROUGH and most of the passengers are stuck inside. Though it is air conditioned, you need to be in the fresh air for this kind of sea. If there are three stages of sea sickness, midway through, I was at level one (spittle in the mouth), Cesar (who was in the US Navy!) was at a one, Dani was at two and Emily? She got full blown sick. ...dramamine is a must. I couldn't wait to get off the Galaxy Wave. I wasn't the only one...the trash bin was quite full.

Lots of food shopping. The grocery stores in Roatan are well stocked. Time to unpack and have some Pain Killers...a recipe Danni and Cesar brought back from the British Virgin Islands. These drinks are seriously good.

Pain Killer

1 part Orange Juice
1 part Coconut Cream
4 parts Pineapple Juice
Dark rum...as much as you like

Pour on ice and stir. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

We tried the most popular rum down here, Flor De Cana...it's actually from Nicaragua and seriously good. It comes in about 5 different ages...2 years, 4 years, 12 years, 16 years.

We headed down to maybe the most popular bar in the West End of Roatan...Sundowners. They have a crowd at all times and a great little beach.

We met up with Karl who went to high school with me. He built a submarine down here, takes it out for trips (down thousands of feet!) and has lived on Roatan for 13 years. Check out the information here: Stanley Submarines. It is crazy that Karl started building submarines at age 9 in my hometown of Ridgewood, NJ.

And then watching the sunset at this bar isn't half bad...

The entire West End of Roatan is very very cute. One main sand road, lots of restaurants and bars, mostly hand painted signs...they have done a really good job of keeping the beachy charm that attracts tourists and residents.

There is a water taxi to the West Bay...a long, white beach with bigger resorts.

Prices in the West End are generally quoted in US dollars and lempiras. And, though I hate to be a dumb gringa, my Spanish SUCKS. Roatan, and all of the Bay Islands, speak Engligh. $1.00 tequila? Oh my.

Slightly different rules than Ambergris Caye, Belize. We have a rule against public alcohol consumption (not really enforced) and Roatan is more concerned about the glass bottles.

We headed to Guanaja, a very sleepy, GORGEOUS island next. Potentially the most beautiful place I've ever been. I am headed back to Belize on Friday. Thursday morning ferry to La Ceiba, bus to San Pedro Sula and my Tropic Air flight back to San Pedro, Belize.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop


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