Author’s note: This post is part of my series on my recent trip to Honduras. To read past posts on Honduras, click here.
I arrived at the port of La Ceiba around half past three with a jittery stomach. I was a ball of nerves worrying about my ability to communicate effectively in Spanish and curious about what my host family would be like. It felt odd to just be dropped off all alone at the ferry station and have no idea what to expect. But I reminded myself I’d done it before and it turned out fine.
My first major culture shock had to do with the luggage collection. The hundreds of suitcases and bags were unloaded onto carts and wheeled into a large rectangular holding pin where one by one you had to yell out in Spanish what bag was yours to the three or four baggage handlers. You can imagine the difficulty trying to get my black piece of luggage! I was the last one standing until I finally got my belongings.
The next concern was making sure that someone would actually be there to pick me up. I had a minor panic attack when I arrived to volunteer in Guatemala last year and no one was waiting for me at the bus station at night. In broken Spanish I finally got the employees to call my ride and was relieved that I wasn’t left stranded!
I walked outside the La Ceiba ferry station into the humid tropical air and waded myself through the mass of taxi drivers trying to give me a ride. “No, gracias” was all I could say. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. But no one came.
In a slight panic that I was going to be left stranded again, I took out my cell phone and dialed the 24-hour contact line back in the States to find out where my ride was. Thankfully I got a call back in less than a minute. My arrival time had been mixed up and Manuel, the Honduran program director was on his way. Phew. I felt much better.
Fifteen minutes later and an hour after my ferry had arrived, Manuel pulled up in his white old minivan. I was extremely relieved that he spoke fluent English so I wouldn’t be completely immersed into Spanish just that instant.
We drove the short fifteen minutes to my host family’s house chatting about the program and La Ceiba. My first impressions of the town were that of alarm. It was just like it said in Lonely Planet, “ugly“. For some reason, I wasn’t prepared for this reality. I naively thought that Honduras would look just like Guatemala but perhaps just a little more rustic. I fell into the trap of having a certain set of expectations about what La Ceiba would be like. But I quickly adjusted to the new reality and remembered to take out that good old “third eye” approach of openness and acceptance. It would be just fine. So it isn’t as beautiful or interesting in this town as it was in Xela (Guatemala) but I’d make the best of it. Later I’d discover that there were some parts of the town that were pretty. But I couldn’t compare apples to oranges.
Here are some photos of my drive to my host families home in La Ceiba…
Finally, we arrived at the street where I’d be staying. My home away from home for the next week. Unfortunately it didn’t look like I’d do much walking around from there (not too safe) but my host family would over compensate for the not so great location, and they would be driving me to and from my volunteer work each day.
Generally I don’t like being “trapped” at a place and not being able to leave anywhere on my own. I can hardly spend an entire day in my own house without going crazy! But I would soon see that my host family was the best people possible to be house-bound with. They were amazing!