Friday, October 8, 2010

16. Memos: the Evil Sea Captain (10/29/07)

If you ever run into a boat captain named ¨Memos¨ quickly turn the other way. I rode my motorcycle from Belize City to Punta Gordo to catch the ferry from the South of Belize to the bottom of Guatemala at Puerto Barrios. There are two captains who make this short journey accross the Atlantic. The legitimate captain is named Hueves and the local idiot captain is named Memos.

After negotiating with both captains Memos quoted me and my motorcyle at $60 US while Hueves quoted me $100. Naturally, I went with Memos even know his boat was slightly smaller at 30 ft and he seemed a bit more untrustworthy than Hueves. This was a big mistake!

Memos had assured me that he had ferried motorcycles across the ocean before, but as we started to load my bike he did not seem to have a clue of the man power necessary to lift a 500 lb motorcycle. I was forced to recruit a Swedish guy named Olaf, an Aussie and a group of German guys I had talked to earlier to help in the loading process. After we all boarded the boat Memos quickly started it and began to pull away with my bike untied and sitting on its kickstand. I yelled at him to stop so we could tie my bike and he gave me 1 minute to tie my bike while he lectured me on his tight ferry schedule and his passengers needing to arrive on time.

Having never tied down a motorcycle to a boat before, I did a crappy job of it. As soon as we took off the motorcycle began inching back and Olaf came to my rescue grabbing the other side of the bike so it did not roll back. For about 5 minutes things were going fine and than the sea became very choppy. The bike began to bounce and slowly inch back on the deck. Behind the bike were the legs of the Aussie tourists who many times during the journey came close to a broken leg.

Olaf and I with all our might held the bike down while I yelled at Memos to slow down. He would slow down for a minute and than go right back up to speed. As Memos continually  pushed up the speed the bike began to bounce worse and worse until the kickstand bent into a banana shape so that it was pointing up in the air. After the bike almost tipping over 2 times, Memos stopped and told me that he was changing our course for less choppy seas, but that I would have to pay him for 5 gallons of extra gas? Olaf told me not to give him anything.

When we finally reached Puerto Barrios I had lost my friend Olaf and most of the guys who helped load my bike because they got off at the last stop at Livingston. Memos kept mentioning the gas that I owed him and wanted the money before he got some Honduran teenagers to help us lift the bike onto the dock. I refused for 5 minutes until the situation looked grim and I than decided to give Memos my last 50 pesos which he complained about having to exchange. There was no better feeling than having my bike off that boat. Never again will I take such a small boat accross even a short span of open ocean!

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