Yes, even the best laid plans can crumble when mother nature decides to play with them. For me, it wasn’t so bad. Yes, I was stranded for an extra day on the beautiful island of Utila, Honduras, and I secretly hoped I would have been stranded for a few more days there. I kind of had a clue a week earlier that I may actually have issues getting off of the island, as I had not planned my exit strategy as good as I should have. I did have a plan though, and I had even figured for any scheduling mishaps or other delays. So to get home from Utila, my plan was to take the 2pm Sunday ferry (the Utila Dream), from Utila to LaCeiba, then transfer to a Hedman Alas bus for the 3 1/2 – 5 hour ride to San Pedro Sula where I would be flying out from. I would be flying out from San Pedro Sula on Monday at 1pm, so staying overnight in the city seemed like the smarter thing to do as there would be less rushing in the morning. I could have taken the 6am ferry on Monday, but then the stars would have to align, and the gods would have to smile on me to make it all happen with no delays (not a likely event), so I planned to leave Sunday afternoon.
For the prior week and a half there were many issues with the ferry from Utila to LaCeiba, as the weather had been a little rough on the mainland. I had several friends say they were leaving the island tomorrow morning, only to say it 3 more times (being stuck there for an extra 4 days). For most of my friends, this wouldn’t be an issue as they usually were backpackers and didn’t have a schedule to keep, or flights to make. Its so common that people get stuck on Utila (for various reasons, weather isn’t the only one), that its actually one of the “3 Lies of Utila”, aka “I’m leaving tomorrow”.
I wasn’t so nervous, as I had planned some extra time, but on the day I was supposed to leave, the 6am ferry was still at the maintenance dock, an hour after it was supposed to have left. Uh oh, now I’m thinking that I may actually have to do some creative legwork to make my flight, but the sun is out, the bay is flat and calm, and I am still hopeful that the afternoon ferry will be going to LaCeiba.
I manage to find a thread on Facebook on the ferry’s schedule that day, and see the morning ferry definitely had been cancelled, and that the afternoon ferry was pending. Ok, not what I wanted to see, so I start to look for backup plans. There is a Facebook group called Utila Buy and Sell that people find charter flights and boats to the mainland on, so I sign up for it, but wait to be approved. An instructor at the shop, Arjen, suggests that I go have a look at the Ocean Petroleum station, as he had remembered seeing something about a flight to San Pedro Sula posted on a sign there. I throw on some sandals and take a walk down the road, and see indeed, there is a flight, direct to San Pedro Sula, NOT LaCeiba, and its only $110, but the gate was locked and I couldn’t find any other information. Pretty much the same cost as I would have to pay for the ferry, bus and overnight accommodations in San Pedro Sula, AND I would be able to stay on the island for another day! The only catch, I had to figure out how to book it, AND I had to find out what time it would arrive in San Pedro Sula. Luckily for me, I stayed at an AWESOME Dive Center, Alton’s, and the staff in the office (Thanks Claudia!) were able to contact the pilot, find out the flight was 7 am (plenty of time!) and have the owner meet me at the shop in 10 minutes to get my information and take payment for the flight. Whoot Whoot! I get another night on the island! And, of course I would have told the lie “I’m leaving tomorrow” at least one time. One more night, and… a “Second Last Night On The Island” party.. But I will save that for another post.