Somehow I Survived the Vomit Comet Ride
I hardly had any idea what was going to follow when I was handed two anti-emetic tablets with the ferry ticket. I did not even pay attention why those pills were given. I was excited to ride the ferry to Roatán, a Honduras’s Caribbean Bay Islands. However, the excitement turned into uneasiness just 10 minutes into the ride. Remaining 110 minutes on the boat were unbearable. Nothing was pleasant except the thought in my mind of a beautiful island on the other side.
Honduras is definitely not for the fainthearted travelers. Like other Central American countries, it went through tough time in the recent past fighting with violence and drug crimes. However, it has been able to improve its tarnished image in the last decade. Honduran beaches, jungles, towns and islands were not something I wanted to miss, even though some parts of the country are still relatively unsafe for tourists. A nine hour long bus ride from San Salvador to San Pedro Sula, the capital city of Honduras, was mostly smooth except a few hiccups on the borders. The entire bus was emptied and all bags were searched by the Honduran border police. They were a bit confused to see an Indian passport in the pile of Salvadoran and Honduran passports. They matched my face with the passport photo a few times before the visa was stamped. The view of beautiful country side from the bus window compensated for the bumpy ride on the Honduran roads.
San Pedro Sula is known around the world for its clothes. Many of us may have worn shirts made in Honduras. After having been to other crowded Central American cities on this trip, I spent just a little more than 24 hours in San Pedro, saving remaining four days for the coastal towns and islands. Like San Salvador and Guatemala City, San Pedro is a big marketplace for the western brands. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and alike were jam-packed by locals whereas tourists were satisfying their taste-buds in local restaurants and roadside eateries. The Guamilito market, however, makes San Pedro special. You can sense aroma of the Honduran flowers and enjoy the best Honduran cigars here.
A Honduran experience would be incomplete without a chicken bus ride. A series of insanely packed chicken buses to the coastal city of La Ceiba was an experience; we were like chickens in the bus trying to get our heads out of the bus windows. La Ceiba is where Hondurans party. That is why they call it Honduras’ good-time town. It is a transit town for many international travelers who take ferries to the Honduran islands. I was ready for the adventure in one of those ferries.
Around hundred people with smiley faces boarded a ferry named the Galaxy to get to Roatán. I was fair to expect tranquility in the sea, at least the name of the boat suggested so. As we left the dock, the choppy water began to play with the boat. I could hear some babies cry in the front. 10 minutes into the ride, people started throwing their breakfast out. The staff got busy distributing vomit bags and paper rolls. In less than half an hour, a good clean boat turned into a big vomit dumpster. I could see people hold their bellies and mouth as tightly as possible. The pills did not work at all for many island dreamers. I was sitting in the backside watching this vomit comet cruising like an uncontrolled roller coaster. I resisted hard not to throw up. The whole boat was stinking, making it unbearable to stay there. I wished it was not air-conditioned. I decided to go to the open back side of the boat even though it was very difficult to stand there. It was okay to get wet and cold than to suffocate inside the vomit comet.
It seemed as if the captain didn’t care for what was happening in and to his boat. Maybe it was not uncommon for them. More travelers joined me in the back side. Some of them were regretting why they did not take a flight. It was an experience, however ugly it was. It was worth going through all of this to see the beauty of Roatán. The island was washed in rain before we reached there. Coffee was more refreshing in a small cafe surrounded by lush green trees. It was hard to imagine if it was the same calm sea I experienced a few hours ago.
I was wondering why I did not throw up in a boat in which almost everyone did. I think it was my curiosity to observe what was happening or simply skipping breakfast that morning.