Thursday, December 23, 2021

[LA CEIBA] Honduras' Girlfriend

And now on this episode of “There’s Nothing to See in *insert wherever dafuq you ended up this time” we feature La Ceiba, the capital of the Caribbean department of Atlántida. Not originally on the itinerary, I thought it was a cheaper alternative to taking a flight to Roatán which would have cost a little over $100. For those headed to either Útila or Coxen Hole, La Ceiba has ferries plying those routes for around $30. The caveat is you have to pass by La Ceiba, which many people actually do. They don’t stay here, though.

In my case, I decided to stay for two nights just to take it slow. The bus ride from SPS took almost 5 hours, but it wasn’t because the bus was always stopping. In fact, this bus only had one major stop in Tela halfway through. Most of the next stops were for passengers getting off at random fields and sections of the highway en route to wherever it is they reside. The bus does not pick up passengers, though, because it is strict when it comes to its seating capacity. The bus I took was Transportes la Cristina which cost HNL150 (~PHP315).

The aircon on the bus was for display only. Eventually, you are going to have to open the windows for fresh air to come in along with scorching sunlight. After 5 hours or so and an excruciatingly  mandatory viewing of Adam Sandler's Jack & Jill dubbed in Spanish, we finally arrived in what is supposed to be Honduras’ third largest city, except that it doesn’t look anything like its homicidal and murderous sisters. La Ceiba looks like a really sleepy small town with a large population. What you get is a small city with limited options as far as tourist infrastructure is concerned. I find it to be a shame because this capital of Atlántida actually has potential for a tourist boom, what with being the de facto city along the country’s Caribbean coast.

But let’s not kid ourselves here. The crown for Honduras’ Jewel of the Caribbean Sea has always been held by the Bay Islands. La Ceiba is like the less fortunate sister in terms of charm and beauty, the one you just establish a friendly relationship with to act as a bridge to the prettier sibling. Literally, that’s what La Ceiba has served as for most tourists, namely a stopover to get to the Bay Islands. If they don’t want to splurge on flights, that is, because Roatán arguably has better air connections than La Ceiba itself.

If heading to the Bay Islands, you have two options for your ferry ride. Útila Dream and Galaxy Wave. The former arrives in Útila from La Ceiba in under an hour; the latter, in Dixon Cove in 70 minutes. Once you reach the islands, it’s easier to get out of Honduras from there by plane. Both ferries leave from the same port in La Ceiba, but different terminals.

Since there is nothing much to see, an afternoon stroll sufficed to check out the main locations where locals tend to converge. That area is the Central Park and its immediate vicinity. The park has busts of Lempira, Francisco Morazán, and Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, who now have to share the limelight with Santa Claus and his reindeers because it’s almost Christmas. Catholic country, y’all. Pizza Hut, Church’s Chicken, and Little Caesars are among your choices for western fast food, all just a stone’s throw way across the adjacent streets.

Once done here, head north to get to the Malecón, which made me sadder than happier because it felt a bit run down. I imagine the place could be a lively venue for local community life. Or perhaps I was just there too early when the sun was at its starkest? There you will see La Ceiba’s bold signage declaring itself as Honduras’ Girlfriend, unless “La Novia de Honduras” has some other hidden connotations I am not aware of. Bold assumption, but we love the confidence. Walk around a bit more and you will stumble upon colorful wall graffiti which I guess serve as La Ceiba’s edge over Tegus and SPS. Other than that, nothing to see.

[LA CEIBA] Honduras' Girlfriend

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