Nina’s Travel Rule #36: No One Survives the Vomit Comet

Nina drinks Utila...
Nina drinks Utila…

Sooooo I was going to blog this back in January, in honor of the (then recent) holiday, and because I’d actually just made an unintended detour to Israel for a week solely in order to avoid a truly hellish-sounding ferry. And now it’s June. Fucker. Oh well, I’m gonna divulge my much mis-remembered New Years Fiasco 2011 anyway! In which I trample Honduras and all of its people, convert my brother’s ball-pain into a delightful sea-shanty, break into at least two separate Honduran house parties, drink liquor out of a trash can (shocking, I know…), and miraculously manage not to vomit on the second scariest boat I’ve ever boarded. Let the games begin…

*Full disclosure. The surviving pictures from these two weeks are meager and limited, owing to an unfortunate decision on my part to allow Jballs to take them all, as I do not own a (n unbroken) camera, and an unfortunate decision on Jball’s part to get shit-faced our last night, fall in a gutter all lost and alone, and violently misplace said camera, with all of its magical photos. So, yeah, there’s that.

So it’s coming up on New Years, soon to be the great ole year of 2011, and my brother Jballs and I have not yet been murdered during 10 days in Guatemala. Surely it’s time to try our luck in Honduras? After a total disaster of a trip, which involved a minivan, a shot-gun-assisted night-time border crossing (don’t ask. ‘Cause I actually don’t know), a gigando bus full of chickens and their peoples (accompanied by a truly amazing soundtrack), a bus terminal I wouldn’t wish on satan, another minivan, and a taxi… We’re at the ferry dock! Utila is our goal, the most backpacker-y of the Bay Islands of Honduras, and we’ve even been foresightfull enough to pre-book a hostel, what with it being New Years and all. All that remains is a single tiny little channel crossing, just one more short hour, and we’re good. And then…

I’m bored. They don’t tell you this when you leave for foreign adventures, but most of one’s travelling time is kinda like chilling in the anteroom to hell. Except more boring. Especially if you’re backpacking, broke, and unable to afford that private jet. Shit or, as in our case, even that shitty lil’ commercial flight. So we flop on the ferry deck (fuck me, it’s hot) and wait. People-watching time, I suppose. Now, I’m not saying everyone else was lookin’ amazing (I personally was wearing something repulsively ridonculous and did not remember the last time I’d bathed. Also this day-trip was now verging on 18 hours, and it was like, noon), but damned if the girl across the way wasn’t the most laughable thing I’d ever seen. Not like, her person, no, more her… activities. So she’s reading Eat, Love, Pray (which I have also read and which was not half-bad, in a self-indulgent, whiny-ass-bitch kinda way) Fine, as far as it goes. But…

Me: Hey. Check out Eat Love Pray Girl.

Jballs: Holy fuck, what has she done to it?

Me: Uhh, she’s taking notes?

Cause the girl had not only whipped out a pack of highlighters, she’d also sticky-noted like, 351 of its 352 pages. In varying and, I assume, color-coded colors. And was scribbling furious notes. So then this dude sits down next to her, and he’s kinda hot, but they pretty clearly have never met. And I’m sure not sayin’ one can’t go on holiday to get one’s groove back (hey, it worked for Stella), just that maybe one shouldn’t attempt it via an overly high-lit and scribbled-up copy of Elizabeth Gilbert. ‘Cause trust you me, that dude scooted his ass away pretty quick when she started waving it at him… And yes, that was the most entertaining thing that happened for the next three hours. Haha, actually that’s not true. The most entertaining thing that happened was when Jballs realized that the Latin American brand of lolly-pops are called Chupa Pops. Which means Suck Pops, in American. Which was funny. Uh huh.

Chupa pop!  Chupa pop!
Chupa pop! Chupa pop!

So we finally get on the ferry. Bless! Now, if you’re lucky enough to ever have met me, you’ll know that ferries are by far my favorite type of transport. No effort involved, shoes get removed by choice rather than T.S.A.-assisted force, there’s always some enterprising local with a cooler of cheap beer, and isn’t that sea breeze just lovely after all the heat? Well, not on this fucker, lemme tell y’all. Omg I just cannot properly describe the La Ceiba-Utila ferry, words are acutally deserting me. To start with, ‘Utila Princess’ my fucking ass. Backpackers call it the ‘vomit comet’, and they’re being fuckin’ nice about it. I’d go with something more like the ‘Jesus-fuck-me, I-paid-$25-one-way-for-the-pleasure-of-vomiting-all-over-your-rusted-ass, moldering-tin-can-excuse-for-a-vessel Boat’, but then, I wasn’t feeling very nice about it after about 2 minutes on the stupid thing.

Imagine, if you will, a small, enclosed, air-tight metal cannister. Now imagine you’re inside said cannister. With about 50 other people. Now imagine said cannister is somehow managing, on a glass-flat sea of perfect azure, for clearly no apparent reason, to pitch repetetively forward and back, easily in excess of 45° per pitch. Imagine the hardness of glass-flat water. Imagine thwacking your skull into said hardness. Imagine your cannister executing miraculous rolls, yaws, and other 5-dimensional turns I know not how to name, all at the same time as the aforementioned repetitive pitching. Now image the flight-path of the vomit being hurled from all 50 of your hardened-traveller friends. I never took physics at Uni, thanks Christ, but I swear to fuck that avoiding the movements goin’ on inside this ‘boat’ would stump Stephen Hawking’s ability to triangulate.

I don’t vomit. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Well, let’s just qualify that I don’t vomit from boat rides. But 6 minutes of this and I turned to Jballs and said:

Give that plastic bag of liquor to me RIGHT FUCKING NOW or I will add my vomit to all the other vomit spewing around our heads.

Jballs also doesn’t vomit. Ditto the caveat above, claro.

Jballs: Thank fuck you just said that, I thought it was only me. Also you can’t have my baggie, I’m going to puke.

the 'Utila Princess'.  Or so they call it.
the ‘Utila Princess’. Or so they say…

So we tried everything. We chugged some vodka (drunk people never vomit! Let’s get drunk!!), which highly entertained the girl next to us, you know, while she also tried not to puke. We stood in the back. We fanned ourselves. We lay on the floor, which it turns out was not any cooler (Utila Princess website be damned, there ain’t nothin’ even approaching AC on that miserable contraption). In the end, we actually didn’t puke, which I can only suggest must have been owing to divine intervention from a joint committee of every God ever invented by man. Through sheer willpower, I did not kiss the dirt of beauteous Utila upon arrival, much like Kevin Costner in The Best Movie Ever, but oooooo did I ever want to. I’d do it for you, Kevin.

And it’s New Years’! The Boat From Hades left behind, we promptly hit the ATM and then the liquor shop. Turns out this was good, mainly because I am BRILLIANT and had read somewhere that there was only 1 ATM on Utila. This is true. It is also true that we took the last money available out of that ATM. I’d never actually seen one run out of cash before, but oh dear, was everyone in line behind us pissed…

So it turns out our neighbors at the hostel are fantabulous! Despite being from _Minnesota_, they are club-music-loving crazy-pants travellers? (I love you, Lace & Jase! Congrats on the wedding!) Also they gave me glitter 🙂 New Years’ Eve with them started good, got better, then quickly devolved into something quite nearly as un-describable as the ‘ferry’. Rather than attempt to narrate this wreck of befuddlement, I shall instead present a few choice highlights:

  • The adorable girl we found on the road in a ditch somewhere, who made me swear on my mother’s soul not to lose her or she would die. 2.5 years later, and I’m STILL horrifically sorry, but… Yeah, I left her here:
  • The second house-party we crashed, that not only possessed a live dj, a giant tent, about 800 revellers, and at least 3 bars. Which I didn’t even mind paying for, seeing as I’d no idea whose house we were in and even less concern for the value of a Honduran Lempira (it’s about a nickel. Hahahahahaha).
  • The bit on the walk home (Jesus H, we didn’t even make it past 11:30pm…) where Jballs insisted to me and everyone else still alive that his balls did not in fact itch, they scratched. Turns out I was too incomprehensibly drunk to make him see the difference.
  • The delightful sea-shanty I invented in order to memorialize the whinging of Jballs about his itchy balls (irony: not lost). Video exists of this sea-shanty (yes, self-captured on my trusty iPhone, the dear lord alone knows why), but you’re not going to see it ’cause it might honestly be the most embarassing electronic recording ever made of anyone EVER. And you people know I’ve nearly been lit on fire by nasty Bulgarians for singing in public before. No, the horror of this video that y’all will never ever ever see is not so much that I’m singing. Badly. (As usual.) Nor that I sound drunker than I’d thought a human could sound while still able to speak. Or even that I’m signing badly, drunkenly, publicly, about my own brother’s balls, no…. It’s the bit where this happened:
  • The moment, somehwere between ball scratching and bed, where two drunken strangers stopped their pickup in the middle of the road to sing along with my delightful sea-shanty, as well as to inform me that the lyrics do not in fact run: “Do your balls hang low, do they wobble to and fro…”, as I had so charmingly rearranged them. And not to get on (any more of) a rant, but according to The God Otherwise Known as Wikipedia, “various theories exist concerning the origin of the lyrics [to said shanty], but no conclusive evidence seems to exist.” I mean, I was pretty impressed that our two shanty-saviours actually knew the phrase ‘continental soldier’ (’cause ohhhhh, I did not), but it doesn’t make ’em the arbitrators of all lyrics, now does it? And really it just sounds better when you sing it ‘can you throw ’em over your shoulder like an over-the-shoulder boulder-holder’! Prize to the internet genius who can discover the identities of these two kings…
  • And finally, the subsequent morning, in which we decided to drink beer out of a trash-can on the beach, in order to recover our composure. Seriously. Also, it didn’t work.
Jballs.  Pre-drinks.
Jballs. Pre-drinks.

And so, to close this tale of balls and woe, let me just point out that we did in fact take another Honduran ferry a few days later (to Roatan, the fancy-pants-iest of the Bay Islands) ’cause yeah, we knew better now, but yeah, we remained penniless. This one, however, was filled not with grungy hippies, but with remarkably clean and well-fed looking Honduran families and other assorted vacationers. And lemme just tell y’all, that ferry was a goddam mother-fucking miracle. It had a canteen. And stewards! It had a bloody television! It wasn’t exactly the smoothest transport I’ve ever been on, but it wasn’t particularly rough. Most importantly, it even had an outside part to the deck, which is where I spent the majority of the 2-hour ride, with the other 4 backpackers aboard, ’cause lemme also tell y’all, every single other fucking person on that boat vomited. Profusely. And claro this happens every trip, ’cause the stewards were totally prepared with vomit bags and mops (yes, seriously, they were swabbing the aisles). Jballs and I fuckin’ love that ferry, ’cause compared with our voyage on the Boat of Bile, we slept like babies the whole ride to Roatan 😉

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