We set up most of our trip from Puerto Cortes to Plancencia through a Honduran that Joseph met last time he and his family had to renew their passports. There is only one commercial boat that leaves Puerto Cortes for Belize, and it's only on Mondays. We wanted to leave Friday, so we asked Amillio to see if there was a private boat that could take us there on Friday. Otherwise, we would have to travel through Guatemala or wait until Monday to get to Belize. He said that he knew how to get us there and named his price. It seemed reasonable for a private boat, so we accepted the offer.
When he picked us up in the morning on Friday, we started driving in another direction than we expected, so we asked where we were headed...Guatemala he said. Odd considering he said we'd leave from Honduras...At the Guatemalan/Honduras border he asked for another 500 Lempiras (about $25 US) for Olivia because he didn't know that she was that old. Made me angry because we explicitly told him that she was 4, and we had one of our students setting it up with him, so language barrier was not an issue. Even though we wanted to say no, what could we do? If we say no, and he says ok, see ya later and leaves us at the border we are worse off than losing $25 bucks, so unfortunately and angrily, we paid him. When we finally made it to the port, we were told to go to Immigration and get our stamp that we were leaving...and more problems arose. There is a $10 exit fee to leave the country. We could pay in US or Guatemalan money, but we only had enough to pay for 2 passports, and we had 5. So we finally convinced the guy to pay for the other 3 passports and we were able to make it to the boat. He did ask for another 500 lemps because he had to spend some of his own money to pay for the passports...seriosuly...we were supposed to be leaving from Puerto Cortes (Honduras) in the first place, so we wouldn't have to pay for any of this...ugh.
During the whole passport fiasco, we were asked by the boat captain to pay for our tickets and he started to write a receipt that said the price was 500 Guatemalan dollars for me and Sarah and the kids, but I told him Amillio was paying. He then changed the price on the reciept to 400 Guatemalan dollars. It's rediculous to think that almost everytime you try to purchase something as an American they are trying to scam you out of a few more dollars. We talked to another American that sounded like he's made the trip a few times, and he confirmed the price as 200 Guatemalan dollars and kids were free. So not only was the captain trying to screw us out of a little extra cash, we found out that Olivia, even though she is 4, didn't need a ticket either. So Amillio lied to us about needing to pay for Olivia. Stressful!!! But in the end we finally made it to Belize, safely and with all of our stuff minus a few extra bucks.
It's sad to think that there are so many that try to scam gringos (or rich Central Americans), but that is not to say that everyone in Honduras (or C. America) does. We have also experienced the kindness and genorousity of several others in the country. Many are very thankful for the things that we are trying to do for the students and for the country. We try to remember those people when things like this happen to us. Honduras and C. America are beautiful places, I mean really beautiful. In my opinion Honduras has a ton of potential to become a better and more desired place for people to live. I hope that what we are doing in Honduras with the girls can use some of that potential to become a better place to live.