The Long Way Home

Tuesday October 26th, 2010 – Roatan – San Pedro, Honduras/Miami, FL/Chicago, IL

These twelve to fourteen hour ‘off’ days are sure starting to rattle my cage. It’s harder to make it through these than the majority of my ‘work’ days, when my actual time working on stage in front of an audience is even on my busiest days at the most only 90 minutes.

Those days I can handle. Today’s days are like worldwide scavenger hunts. It’s a cross between days in the life of James Bond and Indiana Jones, with always a new unexpected twist around the corner to keep it interesting. It’s one giant mental and physical challenge, and one tiny miscue could leave me marooned in a foreign country without a way home.

Today’s adventure started in Roatan, Honduras. The first thing I’m going to do is look it up when I have a free minute, because before today I’d never even heard of it. I know it’s an island, as I had to take a rickety little puddle jumper propeller plane to San Pedro Sula, the capital of Honduras. Thankfully, I had the company of two very nice people to share.

One was the other comedian Will Marfori. He’s lives in Orlando, FL but grew up in the DC area. He’s half Filipino and half Irish I think he said, but whatever it is he was a great guy to work with onstage and off. Like most of the comics I’ve met out here so far at sea, he’s very generous about helping newbies like me learn the ropes. I totally appreciate that.

The other was a singer named Ron Joseph. He’s originally from New Orleans, but now lives in Houston with his wife and family. He’s another nice guy, and we became a multi racial traveling threesome. Ron is black, Will looks Asian and I’m Mr. Ragin‘ Caucasian.

I couldn’t have chosen two better travel partners, and we were off the ship by 9:30am to begin the journey home. We had to fill out all our paperwork, get our passports and find a taxi to take us to the airport. The cab cost us $10 each, but the driver didn’t have a receipt book so now we won’t get reimbursed. It was a minor glitch, but a hassle nonetheless.

The airport in Roatan looks like a flea market booth, and there was absolutely nowhere to hang out and wait the two hours for our flight to leave. The three of us literally stood in front of the ‘airport’ and shared road stories while a dog slept a few feet from us and three construction workers were fixing holes in the tin wall next to us. It sure wasn’t O’Hare.

As we were standing there a Honduran police officer came up to us and looked us over very closely. We nodded hello, and he shook each of our hands. Then he asked where we were going, and then he shook all three of our hands again. It was very odd, and we didn’t know why he’d do that, but nobody panicked and we just went on with our conversation.

Finally it was time to catch our flight and we had to go through the pain in the ass of the whole security process. Off with shoes and belts and empty pockets, and they ripped all of our bags apart like kids opening Christmas presents. Then they charged us each an airport tax of $2. I’d never heard of that before, but I’ve never been to Roatan before either. This is how it’s done. We heard our announcement that our plane would be leaving at ‘Gate 1’.

None of us looked very hard, but there wasn’t a ‘Gate 2’ anywhere in sight. ALL flights  from here would be leaving from Gate 1 until further notice, or another one was built. We had to walk quite a ways to get to our plane, which I thought was also pretty stupid, as the whole area was empty. I counted six planes total, including ours, but we walked very far.

I hadn’t been on a propeller plane in many years, and it felt like I was in a remake of the movie Casablanca or something. There were maybe a dozen of us total on the plane and it was about 100 degrees inside as we waited for the pilot to start the engines and head over to San Pedro Sula. It was maybe a 45 minute flight, but I was still glad when we landed.

San Pedro Sula’s airport wasn’t a whole lot busier. It looked like the stereotypical place drug lords would fly their planes from, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was named after a famous gangster. There were some gorgeous women everywhere though, and the three of us were rubbernecking as soon as we got into what they tried to pass off as the terminal.

It was about the size of your average dollar store, but the exchange rate between dollars and Honduran money was 19-1. I bought a delicious piping hot combo plate of tacos and flautas for only $3.50, with a drink. That was the cheapest most delicious meal I’ve ever gotten in an airport anywhere. That’s one of the reasons to keep coming on these trips.

The wait for our next flight was only an hour and a half, so we had time to eat and relax a little, and then it was time for another dose of security. How many bombs do they think we can acquire in the airport, as that’s the only place we were since our previous flight?

Still, off with the belts, shoes, watches, and through our luggage they went…again. I had my mouthwash, shampoo and toothpaste confiscated by of course the ugliest female we’d seen since we got into the country and then she scolded me for five minutes in Spanish.

I faced the ground and said nothing. I didn’t want to spend a night in Honduras with her on either side of the cell bars. I took my confiscation like a man, and moved on. I thought it would be wise to use the bathroom before getting on the plane, but it was all the way on the other side of the airport. By the time I got back I almost missed my boarding time.

Then, they checked our bags AGAIN. It’s ridiculous, but I’m sure there are probably all kinds of criminals hauling drugs in and out of this place. Now I just wanted to make it on the plane, which I did. Barely. Then it was another two hour flight to make it to Miami.

Guess what the first thing on the agenda in Miami was? Security? Nope. Passport check and U.S. Customs…THEN another time through security to catch my connecting flight to Chicago. How many times do they have to look at my funky grundies and computer bag?

In my opinion, too many.  But they did. It took way too long, and I had to take the tram to my gate which got me there right around boarding time. Then it was back to Chicago at 10:30pm where thankfully Jim McHugh was kind enough to pick me up. That sure is a lot of work to do to get home from work, and then I get to fly out Thursday and do it again!


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