Never pack a bag that is too heavy for you to carry on your shoulder while running down a freeway to catch a bus. If it is too heavy, you will be left standing on the side of the road in a torrential rainstorm.
I have no idea where to start to try to explain my adventure that has caused me to reconsider my packing philosophy. My unexpected adventure last night in San Pedro Sula, Honduras was an exhilarating, terrifying, amazing adrenaline rush that pushed me to new limits and made me extremely glad that I was able to communicate in Spanish.
When my day started at 4 AM in Antigua, I was traveling alone, but over the course of the journey, I met an elderly Honduran cowboy who was also heading to La Ceiba. We became friends and talked for hours over the course of the adventure that neither of us expected.
Let's start in the middle of the journey. That makes the most sense.
Our bus is running late from Copan. When we arrived at the bus terminal in San Pedro Sula, I quickly found out that our bus for La Ceiba had left 30 minutes earlier. In addition, no other buses were running until the next morning. That created a dilemma for both of us.
They told us about an option on the other side of town, so the cowboy and I got into a taxi for the slim chance of finding a bus to La Ceiba. We pulled up literally as the bus we needed to get on was leaving. Luckily our taxi driver drove the taxi right in front of the bus so that it could not move. We basically blocked in the bus.
As I was paying the taxi driver, two men grabbed our bags and threw them into the back of the bus as we took off. I could not watch where the bags went because another gentleman was yelling extremely vulgar phrases at me in Spanish to hurry up and get my “insert multiple words of your choice here” on the bus.
As I stepped on the bus, I had an initial sense of panic come over me. I was not sure if this was the correct bus for us, and most of the people on the bus could be classified as "shady" characters. Those fears were quickly drowned out by this rolling techno party of wheels. It was far from the typical chicken bus I had ridden on many times before. LED lights flashed from multiple points inside the bus and were complemented by the rotating beacon of bright lights on the top of the bus. The earlier bus from Copan played typical Latino music for 6 hours, but this one was a party on wheels.
After about 30 minutes of the party on this bus, we came upon a large traffic jam. Instead of waiting, our driver cut across to the other side of the freeway and drove against traffic, weaving in and out of cars with a bus fall of passengers. It was an adrenaline rush like I had never had before.
About 5 minutes into this adventure, he came to a concrete roadblock that eliminated the possibility of further driving. In turn, he ordered all people off the bus. Immediately I spotted another bus that said "Ceiba" on the front so I grabbed my bag as quickly as possible and began running with all of my things down the wrong side of the highway to attempt to flag down a bus that had now started moving out of the traffic jam.
Oh yeah, grandpa was still with me as well. I can only imagine what this looked like to the hundreds if not thousands of people watching from the roadside or in their cars. A gringo and cowboy hat wearing Honduran grandpa were sprinting down the highway trying to get on a bus.
By the time I finally caught up to the bus, I was physically exhausted. I scared the guy at the door by showing up in the first place. Most people do not expect customers to appear with luggage on the side of the road. As expected, everyone on board was laughing.
Minutes after we got on the bus, a torrential downpour started that made me very happy to be on the bus and not outside on the side of the road.
Hours later we arrived in La Ceiba, and I got to my hostel safe. That was an adventure that I do not want to repeat.