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Travel Story Tuesday: How 20-year Olds Ruined the Entire Country of Honduras

For today's Travel Story Tuesday, we welcome back Jacqueline of French Press Mondays. Her humor is hard to pass up, and she has a plethora of entertaining stories from abroad. If you missed her previous Travel Story Tuesday feature, you can read it here

HOW 20-YEAR OLDS RUINED THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF HONDURAS

…Well, for me, at least. Let’s set the scene:

I’m in college, working at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort pushing cocktails. I’d show you pictures of the outfit, but there are none because I made sure of it. It was there that I met Jessica, who invited a whole bunch of us on a cruise she had a coupon for (we kept it classy over at Riverside) -- $400 for one for a week in the Western Caribbean. Jessica was into tanning and beer, so I don’t know what I was thinking. Here’s what a normal Riverside party was like:


Yeah, thanks…but no thanks. Really. Really, none. No thanks at all.
But when she asked me to go on this cruise I had to jump at the chance due to my never-say-no-to-a-travel-opportunity policy. You understand. In my mind, I was thinking, “Ooh, ocean! Exotic countries, exotic ruins, and exotic peoples! Buffets!” Maybe it was more about buffets than I’m readily admitting, but you get it.
Anyway. The time for the cruise rolls up, and we’re driving to Miami. We stay in a Red Roof Inn that didn’t even provide towels, which I should’ve considered to be foreshadowing. The next morning we get ready to port out and head for Belize, Honduras, Roatan, and the Bahamas. Our ship was the Norwegian Jewel. 




Considering we stayed at a Red Roof Inn, we’re in college, and we’re using a coupon, you can probably gather that money isn’t exactly something we, erm, wipe our butts with, if you catch my drift. I was broke, which means no excursions and no drinking. The group I was in didn’t do excursions either. Not because they had no money, but because they had no interest. They were the type to wake up at 7 AM every day to get the best chair on the pool deck to sunbathe all day. The type to take turns buying buckets of Coors Light. When we docked in Honduras, what was on their itinerary? To find the nearest bar. To get to that bar, you had to wade through the locals trying to get you to pay to get your picture taken with them and then haggle for a cab. Each cab comes with a tour guide – for us, that tour guide was an 11-year-old girl who maybe weighed 60 pounds sopping wet.
For the record, if you don’t take official cruiseline-approved excursions in the Western Carribean, the best you can get is a six-hour walking tour of the ghetto. If I were writing the paperwork each customer had to complete before signing up for a cruise in this region, the very bottom would read something like this:

WARNING: DO NOT GO ON A CRUISE AND THEN DECIDE TO DO THINGS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE CRUISELINE. ALL YOU WILL SEE IS SADNESS, HUNGER, AND BROKEN WINDOWS. MAYBE THE OCCASIONAL STRAY DOG OR CHICKEN.

Here’s essentially what Honduras looks like when not in the white-people, touristy part:


The taxi found us the nearest bar, and the majority of the party wanders in happily, seeing a sign advertising cheap margaritas. I saddle up as well, order a strawberry one, and can practically still taste the jam in my mouth as I’m writing this story much, much later. It was wonderful; don’t think I’m complaining. I’d much rather my drinks taste like jam than alcohol. Quite clearly, I was in the wrong company.
Shortly we learn that the bartender is from St. Louis. Cardinal country. Good ol’ Missouri. We left Iowa for a banal conversation with a bartender from 4 hours south of our little middle of nowhere. At the end of my jam-flavored margarita, I finally realize that this goes against my principles and I’m not wasting my first and likely only week in Central America regretting my choices and hating societal norms. It only took about 30 minutes for me to realize that a better way to spend my time would be to practice my Spanish with the little guide girl, who was sitting by herself at the other end of the bar, looking bored out of her teeny gourd. I sauntered over, asked her what she liked to drink, and she just shook her head in polite refusal. Orange? Grape? Coke? Finally, she mustered a shy nod to a Sprite. When I handed it to her, it felt like a band of Care Bears couldn’t’ve made her happier. After she laughed a few times at my lackluster Spanish skills, she took me to tour the shops down the “strip,” rarely leaving my side for the rest of the day, even after the other 6 joined us.
Going off on my own, I got to see wonders like this instead:



Travel tip: when you’re traveling in a tour group alone, wear a bright color. That way if you get lost, they remember to look for “that tall girl in ridiculously bright yellow.”

The ruins in Belize and Honduras were absolutely stunning and a bit hard to comprehend. Monuments constructed by ancient peoples who were arguably infinitely more resourceful than we are. Simpler people contented by simpler things. I doubt they tanned on boats much to feel beautiful. This is the side of these countries everyone wants you to see. Maybe it’s a good thing to see both?
I still remember that girl’s smile every time I see glass-bottled Sprite. You know, sometimes I rock. Sometimes, I don’t. The “don’t” instances are so much more salient; it’s relaxing to remember a non- “don’t” occasion. This story makes me simultaneously happy and sad, which might be the best kind of story there is.


Have a funny, adventurous, crazy, beautiful, or otherwise entertaining travel story? Email me at taylorpierce@comcast.net to have your story featured on the next Travel Story Tuesday!


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1 comment:

  1. Gotta love the people who go to foreign countries just to sunbathe and drink. Some places in Thailand are horrible for that - Koh Phi Phi at night is like an endless frat party gone wrong. But hey, you got to see a little bit of everything down there. . .and cool ruins are always a plus.

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