Nina’s Travel Rule #26: When the Pirate Says Drink, Just Say Aye…

The Booze Barge

So I’m dancing in a bikini and grass skirt combo on a booze barge, floating somewhere slightly off the coast of Honduras, which is hypothetically being captained (to a greater or, as at the moment, lesser extent) by its drunken Canadian pirate builder and distractedly being bartended by his crew of teenage Honduran hotties. I’m considering getting concerned that it looks a lot like Cap’n Perry is letting my brother drive the barge (I love you, Jballs!), which clearly can lead nowhere good, but then the Tequila Bell rings and I think “Fuck it. The pirate said ‘free tequila’, and I say ‘aye’!”

Our first day in the town of West End, on Roatan was a rough one, as we were suffering like, three-day hangovers from our New Years’ on the neighboring island (and that, my friends, is a tale for another blog…). My bro and I had survived the “vomit comet” coming over perfectly well, despite the smells and sounds (and sights) of 400 locals regurgitating their lunches into handily provided little baggies. I told myself the crew was mopping as fast as they could, and spent the trip passed out on the deck, as usually happens when Ninas meet Ferries. Blah blah, then we checked into Valerie’s, which literally everyone in town warned us was the worst possible place to stay, absolutely shouldn’t do it, death will be imminent, etc. We found it lovely. I mean, the owner (yes, Valerie) is bat-shit, the toilet is nominally gravity-based, and the place is constructed out of a tree… But it was the biggest room we’d had in weeks, and it cost like $4 apiece. I’d go back. Also in part (giant shout out!) cause the sub-manager Sai Luz, is probably the most interesting human on Earth. Also a tale for another blog… So after inhaling some amazing baleadas (not tacos. so much better…) we quickly discovered that Valerie’s is additionally the closest lodging to what appeared to be… A floating bar? Yeah, we’re going there.

The Capt’n. And friend.

Once across the gangplank to The Reef Rider, we encountered Capt’n Perry, who is insane (see left). Over the course of the night, and the next, and then next, we got the story of said insanity out of him. He’s Canadian (who is actually from Niagara Falls? Like, really, sir??) and came down here for no apparent reason, then hand-built a barge on which to drink, mainly with himself, but also with anyone else willing to pay. Sometimes he takes his hand-hewn barge out of its “port” and drinks in the bay. Occasionally he pays bribes, ooo, shit, I mean “taxes” to the local cops. I can’t quite recall why the barge had to be floating, something about licencing, blah-de-blah, but I definitely remember a discussion regarding his shallow draft, ’cause he for sure mentioned something about pulling up to shore to acquire additional drinkers while floating about the bay… Anywho, then the Capt’n dinged the Tequila Bell, to which we said,

“Dude, what’s the bell for?”

Capt’n Perry: “Well that’s the tequila bell, man.”

Us: “Oh.”

Capt’n Perry: “Free Shots for Everybody!!!!!”

And then the Honduran Hotties passed out tequila shots. Which it would’ve been rude not to accept, I say…

So the barge is… interesting, even given that it’s hand-made. There’s a bathroom on board, but yes, it’s a port-o-let bolted to the deck. Like, it has a door though! There’s a real steering wheel and everything, though it’s hard to tell who’s running it when the Capt’n passes out mid-night from tequila in his deck-top hammock. The various and sundry decoration is really what makes for a homey kinda feel, however (see right).

The Decor

It was shortly after the third dinging of the bell, I believe, that Honduran Hottie Number 1 informed us that the Hotties were actually lesbians, but that she very much wanted to go on a date with my gay brother. Tomorrow. On the boat. Who can say? Not us, that’s sure. At a later point, which I do not exactly remember, we also possibly signed up for an all-day Booze Cruise on the Booze Barge? Well, we’ll just hafta figure this all out later…

Soldiers that Capt’n Perry DEFINITELY DOES NOT BRIBE…

So the next day we arose, ’round about the ass-crack of noon, Jballs got stood up by the Honduran “lesbian” Hottie, and we embarked on our booze cruise. Now, the amazing thing about this “cruise” was that: no one attended. That’s right, it was us, the Capt’n, the Hotties, and one other tourist couple. We were pretty sure we’d been told the cruise was 50 bucks for free drinks and “cruising”, but how this was gonna go down remained to be seen. Have we been had by a pirate? Or have we stumbled on the best deal in Central America??

So we all started drinkin’, claro, since it was all indeed on the house, and the sun continued to rise into the perfect winter Honduran sky. The Capt’n was hungover, claro, and lounging in his hammock, with no sign of movement being made by the boat. We chatted up the other two passengers, turned out he’s a Mexican from Vancouver (don’t ask, I really don’t know) and his giant mound of a woman (not fat, just… enormous) was an Aussie who’d been captaining her own sailboat around the world until running out of money and washing up here. The Mexicanook was clearly head-over-heels about his lady friend, (increasingly physically so as the day wore on), who equally clearly could not be bothered with her short bag of money. Is it really still “using” someone if they know it and you’re also being really mean to them? Whatever, there goes the tequila bell…

The Honduran Hotties

After a couple five beverages and about three hours, we finally embarked, and ever-so-slowly barged down the coast to the bit where all the rich ole’ people hang at their resorts. We were all fairly sloshed by the time we get there, claro, so much so that Perry thought ‘twould be a grand idea to blast the party music, get the Hotties up dancing on the bar, and rain the liquor all around. The fact that there were seven people on a barge built for a hundred made no dent in his party. And, omg, it worked? The entire beach of fat rich whiteys is now sitting up and staring in awe? “Oh my! It appears to be a Booze Barge!”, I can just see them thinking. Never one to pass up a customer, Perry cranked it up a notch, and boated slightly further away, like a professional bouncer staring past your oh-so-passé fat-jeans as he slams the door. A bit more party and a reappearance of the Tequila Bell, and those tourists were nearly foaming to get on board our boat. God I’m cool… And now the boat edged closer to the shore; it seems this drunk-ass pirate-Canook really can drive a barge! So close, so close, the rich folks are actually starting to swim out, and… fuck me, they’re swarming! The Tequila Bell’s off the hook, the Hotties can’t keep up, Perry’s suddenly become charming (??), and the boat has maxed out its capacity times two. At one point we actually hopped into the ocean to carry a wheel-chair-bound gentleman aboard, followed by his wheelchair. I mean, who’s to stop the old or handicapped from drinking with the Capt’n? Ah, so many good pics of these shenanigans used to exist, too bad the brother lost that camera*.

A Typical Night on the Booze Barge
Night… Twelve? Quien puede decir…

Now, this went on for a good while. I mean, I’m pretty sure our 50 bucks got us a four-hour cruise, but I certainly wasn’t about to complain about getting more than my money’s worth. No, I’d have to say that when I hauled back onto the barge after what may have been my fourth trip “to the ocean. Don’t watch. I’ll be right back” and the Hotties put a grass skirt on me, then cut it into a lop-sided micro-skirt and the Massive Aussie started passing out the hugs, I thought “YES to THIS”. But all things have to end, I suppose, so eventually we threw the tourists off the boat and headed back to our dock. Ah, and I can still remember the sounds of our arrival: they consisted mainly of Jballs dinging the Tequila Bell while Massive Aussie vomited into the ocean and poor Mexicanook sobbed in a corner over just being dumped. But then we had to leave: the night crowd was storming the gangplank, and it was time to take my new outfit our partyin’ 🙂

PS- if anyone’s got a spare 150k lying around, the booze barge is up for sale. Sadness! West End will never be the same…

*My brother has run through approximately 14 cameras and eight iPhones in his travels. By which I mean over the past, say, four years. I’m sure that’s not really all of it, but I long ago gave up trying to count the various other items fallen valiantly by the wayside…

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