Ever missed an international flight?

Ever missed an international flight? I want to share my memories from our two-week Honduras trip. We visited the Mayan Ruins of Copan on the mainland of Honduras and then spent a week at the dive resort, Utopia Village, on the Honduran Bay Island of Utila.

Ever missed an international flight?

The Bay Islands of Honduras are made up of eight islands. Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja are the largest and most well-known islands. All are situated along the second-largest barrier reef in the world and provide spectacular diving and snorkeling.

This trip came about when a “not to be ignored” Groupon offer appeared in my email with a deal for a seven-day stay at Utopia Village Dive Resort on the Island of Utila.

Combine the Groupon offer with our love of snorkeling, the history of the Ruins of Copan, and the fact I had never heard of Utila – a trip was born. Great memories, but what a challenging and stressful beginning we had!

We missed our flight!

Ever missed an international flight?

We’ve taken several international flights, and we know how much time is required to drive to the airport, get parked, shuttled, check in at the airport, go through security, and finally arrive at our gate.

How were we to know that every school-aged child in Texas would be there that day with their parents, in line at the airport at the crack of dawn, heading out for their spring break trips — two full days before the end of the school week?

The airport was so so crowded! We had allowed over two hours to get checked in and did manage to get to the ticket counter with 43 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, for international flights, luggage must be checked in within 45 minutes of the flight time.

The gate agent would not budge on this. For the very first AND ONLY TIME, we missed a flight!

Domino Effect

Ever missed an international flight?

Now what? We were magically able to move our San Pedro Sula flight reservation to the following day at the same time. We decided to stay at a hotel near the airport and not take any chances the following day.

That was a wise choice because back in the car, as I was on the phone canceling our driver pick-up in Honduras, I spilled coke all over my cell phone, and it quit working. We spent several hours at the Apple store because we did not have that all-important appointment and purchased a new phone!

What budget? More international phone calls resolved our missed flight issue with our other drivers and with our hotels. Still, these adjustments were not straightforward and included splitting a hotel stay into two locations: a six-hour cross-country drive and an hour-long ferry ride to replace the 35-minute flight from mainland Honduras to Utila.

It sounds daunting now as I write this, but it seemed like a great adventure to us at the time – and it certainly was.

The following day we managed to timely get ourselves and our luggage on our flight, and we were met at the San Pedro Sula airport by the hotel driver and driven three and a half hours to the Hotel Hacienda San Lucas. Our first impression of the Honduras mainland was just a little scary.

Armed soldiers, gates, and barbed wire were everywhere. San Pedro Sula today is known as the most dangerous city in the world. Although that title did not apply when we visited, we did not fully appreciate how dangerous it was to travel in Honduras.

Hotel Hacienda San Lucas

Ever missed an international flight?

As soon as we arrived at the family-owned Hotel Hacienda San Lucas in the hills of the Copan Valley, our stress melted away. The over 100-year-old Hotel Hacienda San Lucas is in the hills above the Ruins of Copan on 300 acres of tropical forest. Just look at the fantastic views.

The staff took such good care of us as if we were part of the family. The food was terrific and we had all our meals outside in the cool breeze.

Copan Ruins

$15 fee
Open 8 am – 4 pm

Ever miss an international flight?

The Ruins of Copan, a Word UNESCO site, is the most important cultural attraction in Honduras and the reason we traveled to the mainland of Honduras. The ruins at Copan were a Mayan capital city built between 400 and 800 AD and occupied for 2,000 years.

The complex contains 4,500 structures in a 15-mile area divided into two sections, the “Principal Group,” the part for the nobles, and “Las Sepulturas,” the residential complex. You can easily spend hours here roaming through the ruins.

One feature of the Ruins of Copan that sticks in my memory is the Ball Court. The story related to us is that a solid rubber ball weighing about 10 pounds was used in a game made up of two teams, with the object being to keep the ball in play while hitting it with only your hips.

This fast-paced and brutal game sometimes ends with the losing team becoming a human sacrifice! 

If you make a trip to the Ruins of Copan, be sure to take a look through the Mayan museum at the entrance. There are many replicas of sculptures on display here. Look for the mouth of a snake – that’s the entrance. 

Ever missed an international flight?

Tuk Tuk – our transportation from the hotel to the ruins

Macaw Mountain Bird Park

Ever missed an international flight?

Macaw Mountain Bird Park, very close to the ruins, is a great park created to provide a place to care for unwanted captive birds. Its current mission is restoring macaws and parrots to the Copán valley. The birds were brightly colored and beautiful. 


Ever missed an international flight?

Since we were behind schedule because of our missed flight, Hotel Hacienda San Lucas did not have a vacancy for the last day we needed to stay at their hotel. They kindly booked us at Terramaya in the town of Copan, a small, beautifully luxurious boutique hotel in Copan. An overnight stay in the city allowed us time to wander the hilly cobblestone streets of Copan, and we even watched a rodeo in progress that evening.

On our way to La Ceiba

Since we were a day behind, there was no flight to take us from mainland Honduras to the island of Utila. Our only option was to take a ferry.

Although we were no longer guests at Hotel Hacienda San Lucas, the staff stepped up, offered, and arranged for their drivers to pick us up from Terramaya and drive us over six hours to Le Ceiba to catch a ferry to Utila. We did pay a minimal fee for this service. We will forever be grateful to these great folks for saving our vacation!

Ever missed an international flight?

What a trip! One alarming incident was when two drivers placed our luggage in the back of the shiny red pickup and covered all the bags with a baby playpen and other children’s items. They explained they did not want our luggage to be visible because that would call attention to us being tourists.

The second alarming incident was that as we drove along the way, enjoying the beautiful scenery, a police roadblock stopped us. The two young drivers and Steve were required to get out of the vehicle and be searched. Then the officers, guns at the ready, searched through the vehicle I was sitting in.

They did not look under the items covering our luggage, so it wasn’t a thorough search. We never had and have never again been stopped by armed police at a roadblock.

The third alarming incident, although we were unaware of it for over 24 hours, was that we both, oh so regrettably, contracted Traveler’s Diarrhea! We stopped for lunch at a restaurant that was a favorite of our drivers.

They assured us the food was completely safe to eat, but still, we ordered the same food as our drivers. We did not drink the water. Although I cannot remember what it was, it was truly delicious. It was more than 24 hours before we realized the error in judgment we had made! Oh, dear!

La Ceiba Ferry

Ever miss an international flight?

We made it to the ferry landing with time to spare, and our drivers left us at the ticket office, which was not yet open. We had quite a time purchasing our tickets, but thank goodness, we muddled through the luggage weight, cost, and all that was required to get us on that ferry – that fully enclosed tin can floating box!

Steve didn’t mind, but I was very nervous about being confined on this ferry. (Can you say claustrophobia?) I did not understand why there was no outside deck area until two or three minutes after we left the dock, and the waves were crashing over our heads.

Deckhands came by with seasick bags, and they were needed by many. We are both comfortable with boats and spend a lot of time on the water, and we did not get seasick during the hour ride.

Utopia Village Resort

Ever missed an international flight?

The La Ceiba ferry got us safely to the tiny island of Utila, and someone from the Utopia Village Resort, our home for the coming week, was at the dock in a small boat to take us to the end of the 17-mile area island where the very isolated resort is.

Utopia is an excellent name for this beautiful white sandy beach resort. We were met, of course, with rum drinks and shown our spectacular cabana. We did not plan to go on dive trips, so our only schedule for the week was mealtimes.

The next day, we developed our “illness,” but we felt reasonably well and could still enjoy the beach, snorkeling, and relaxing in hammocks, with limitations. Sand fleas were a massive problem in shady areas or after dark, but only if you failed to spray generously with repellant.

The staff here, everywhere we stayed, were fantastic and beautiful people. After Covid, however, Utopia decided not to reopen to guests, unfortunately.

The Jade Seahorse

Ever missed an international flight?

We went into the town of Utila one day by boat, rented a golf cart, and wandered around the little town. We happened on The Jade Seahorse during our meandering, one of the most unusual properties I have encountered on such an end-of-the-world tiny island.

It is a hotel made up of six individually crafted cabins within a very colorfully decorated group of structures. We were fascinated!

At the end of our week’s stay at Utopia Village (shortened by that one lost day), we took a small plane back to San Pedro Sula, where we spent one night at the Intercontinental Real Hotel. We left very early the following day for our flight back home. We did not want to miss this flight for sure!

Ever missed an international flight?

Here’s a great example of the character of the people we encountered. I paid the Hotel Hacienda San Lucas clerk with a credit card for our six-hour transportation service to La Ceiba.

Steve did not realize I had done that, and unknown to me, he paid the drivers personally, with cash, after they delivered us to the ferry dock. We also had left our binoculars behind at the hotel.

When we arrived at the Intercontinental Real Hotel in San Pedro Sula, our binoculars and the entire cash payment were in a package the Hotel Hacienda San Lucas had delivered.

Was this a good trip?

Yes, indeed, it was. We had problems, safety concerns, hassles, illness, and sand fleas, but we do not regret our whole experience in Honduras. I do not believe we will return to the mainland of Honduras anytime soon. Still, we did enjoy interacting with the great people in Honduras, and the Ruins of Copan and the island of Utila were terrific.

We have traveled to Roatan, Honduras, multiple times since this trip and enjoy our visits here. The islands are great, but we are not currently fans of the mainland.

Also, you can learn a lot of Spanish during a six-hour driving trip. The entire trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. I understand from the Utopia Village website that it is now closed and will not reopen for guests in the future.

Instead, the resort will be converted into a Marine Research and Conservation Center and continue to provide a home for the staff.

Memories are the best, aren’t they? We are heading out very soon on another RV adventure, this time to South Dakota, but we sincerely hope to travel internationally again one day. All travel is wonderful and exciting for me, though, at any time. I do always want to go!

Ever missed an international flight?Ever missed an international flight?

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