Recently, I found myself reminiscing about a journey that I made a number of years ago.
Caribbean Air, a Honduras-based carrier, had just started a service between Belize City and the island of Roatán. Since I was in Belize City at the time and Roatán was exactly the place that I wanted to go, it seemed like manna from heaven.
I had booked my Caribbean Air ticket in advance through Florida-based Roatán Charter, the booking agent in the US for Caribbean Air, and so calmly presented myself at the check-in desk at Belize’s Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in good time on the appointed day, only to discover that the flight had departed several hours earlier. I cursed my own stupidity: too much time spent in Belize’s laid-back surroundings had made me carefree, and I had neglected to confirm my flight time and reservation.
A nervous hour followed, during which time frenzied negotiations with a TACA (formerly Transportes Aereos del Continente Americano, now Avianca El Salvador) representative, secured me a seat on that airline’s next flight to La Ceiba and Guanaja, with a promise that “we might just touch down in Roatán, too.” It was my only hope of arriving that day.
Several hours later, a TACA-seconded Islena aircraft took off in the midst of an appalling rain-storm with me, my luggage (I hoped) and 12 other passengers on board for an as-yet unspecified destination in Honduras.
The omens were not good from the start. The passenger count of 13 seemed to unnerve the pilot, who kept on counting us, I think in the hope that one of us would have disappeared and left behind a more auspicious number. The seats that were unoccupied were piled high with packing cases bound for the Honduran mainland and, in the midst of the chaos, a small Pekinese dog roamed the gangway, yapping mournfully. I looked enviously at a man sitting across the aisle from me, who was studiously absorbed in his reading matter: Dean Koontz’s Sole Survivor. Whether he was reading it as fact or fiction I didn’t like to speculate.
The weather worsened, and it became apparent that a landing on the Bay Islands was going to be impossible. The plane diverted to La Ceiba. Here, though, TACA showed its colours.
We 13 fortunate souls were treated by TACA to good quality hotel accommodation, airport transfers, evening meal and breakfast, and finally set aboard a plane to our correct destinations the next morning. As a TACA veteran said to me: “TACA might not get you there on time, might not even take you to where you want to go, but they sure do take good care of you.”
© E. C. Glendenny
Travel writer E. C. Glendenny takes time out for a spot of quiet reflection.