And so our life of travel officially begins…
Wow, what an unexpected day, travelling to El Salvador, through Nicaragua and Honduras. Not that it wasn’t planned, but the things that happened I’d have never anticipated. For example, the El Salvadorian brothel. I may have been on mushrooms the whole time it all seemed so strange.
The day started at 5am, with a rush to catch the ferry. We crossed the dilapidated football court, which seemed normal at first as I see it every day, but then I realised I was surrounded by hundreds of chickens and roosters milling around, the tide parting for us. As I was exiting a chicken with the most magnificent large billowey bloomers pluckily stepped up to me. I was sure I was either dreaming or tripping, it just seemed so weird but they were acting completely normal. I wish I’d taken a photo. It was as if all the chickens in Nicaragua were on this court and they were walking around in circles clucking.
We were still on Ometepe Island. The TV turned on in the ferry and appeared to give us more convinced-you’re-hallucinating visuals. It seemed that our timing couldnt be more crazy, there were massive floods on the Nica mainland after the night’s rains, straight after a large earthquake, and to top it off the volcano was erupting, with slo-mo visuals of very unimpressive sized rocks falling down the mountain. hmm.
I can’t even tell you how many buses, tuk-tuks, minicabs and taxis we caught altogether there were way too many to count. On one of the buses Thiago bit open this strange green fruit bursting off a bunch of sticks. It looked like a tiny lime but inside was this juicy pink thing that he popped into my mouth saying in his Portuguese accent, “this is SUCH exotic fruit,” and I started to laugh it was so unintentionally over-the-top sexy. It tasted like a lychee in pink flavour, way jucier, and with a tang that pulled the sides of my cheeks in. We ate a bunch of them. The trick was to let them burst into your mouth. My fingers were left incredibly sticky like they were bonded with superglue.
About an hour later on the same bus I noticed an older man sit down. He looked exactly like Julio Eglisias, if he had grown up poor and nobody knew or cared about him. He had the most woebegone expression I have ever seen on a grown man. It was as if he lost his mommy in the supermarket when he was a tiny boy, never found her, and the expression never left his face. I was so entrigued. He looked SO sweet, it broke my heart. But then he noticed I was staring and started to stare back with the hope of the whole universe in his eyes that I could make it all better, which freaked me out a little, because 10 minutes later he was still staring and looking a lot more confident this time. After that I didnt dare look at him again.
We paid 3 Cordobas to go to the bathroom at one of the stops. It was incredibly scarily dark, dingy, dirty, no toilet seats, no door locks, I had to wait in a queue, it was worse than an outdoor longdrop. I was convinced this was the worst toilet I would ever have to use in my entire life, but I was wrong. Later on the trip I paid 15 cordobas to go into a room that looked like it had somehow survived the zombie uprising, it was in a narrow passageway, the roof was collapsed in with broken wood all over the floor around me, the toilet masonry was partly broken with no seat again and didnt flush, and of course the floor was flooded with water dripping from the walls and the toilet… and … I was in flip flops. But it wasnt the worst toilet experience because I LEFT MY PURSE in the first one, with my passport, my US greencard, all my money, all my credit cards, on the floor. I was TERRIFIED when I realised maybe 10 minutes later, rushed back, Thiago ran in another direction through the market, studying peoples hands for my purse, and by the time I came out of the bathroom empty handed, he had already found it. Thank GOODNESS for how unbelievably dark it was in there because my purse was safely hidden where I left it, in the darkest shadowy corner you could imagine. It may have lay there for days. Since this experience it has been permanently strapped across my body, and I’ve been overly paranoid, but don’t plan to reduce the level of paranoia. As apparently I cant trust myself with a purse in a foreign country unless I’m completely paranoid.
The border crossings were crazy and interesting. I’m relieved Thiago was with me, as we breezed through and he knew which buses to catch and where the stations were. A trip that took from 5am – 9pm crossing the whole of Nicaragua and Honduras took one day that would have taken me probably 3, as I figured it out as I went along.
As we entered Honduras I thought, “wow, this looks exactly like Nicaragua! How disappointing.” and then the same with El Salvador. The only difference being that this sadly, is the land of Walmart, Burger King, and the American Dollar. Yes, everything here is paid for in US Dollars. I expected the countries to look and feel different but they are identical except for the box stores that you would never see in Nicaragua. So now I feel like Im in Nicaragua but paying for things in Dollars. Gas here sells for $4.65 a gallon. So anyway, apparently man-made borders mean nothing. Nature decides when its going to make a new country.
After searching we found a relatively un-creepy hostel to sleep the night in El Salvador, the beds were covered with a loose sheet and a pillow stuffed skew into a slip that looked like it has rarely been washed. It was BOILING hot in the room with a fan and no windows. I was dying of thirst and realised that I left the giant bottle of water at the restaurant. It was nearly 11pm and I was getting ready to go outside to find some. Thiago who was nearly asleep realised this, jumped up, got on his jeans, wrapped his tshirt around his head to blend in, and told me not to go with him. I waited what seemed like forever and started to worry. I had no idea the adventure he was about to go through.
As he left the hostel, the streets that were colourfully lit with endless fruit markets and vendors earlier were now abandoned, littered, dark and scary. He passed a group of guys smoking crack, and kept walking, then a group of guys playing cards in the alley. He asked them if they knew where he could buy a beer. They said that nothing was open, so he kept walking and found a woman on the street sniffing glue. He asked her the same thing, she said she knew of one place open. She got up and started to walk with him. Along the way she told him she used to be a prostitute. They came up to a building lit up with an open sign and entered. For the first time in his life he found himself in a brothel, and as if that wasnt freaky enough, in El Salvadorian brothel, a country world-known for human trafficking, in the middle of the night. He ordered a beer but didnt open it, and water. The women there tried to sell to him.
As he left the brothel a big tall guy approached him and asked him what he was doing. Thiago told him he was getting a beer. The guy asked him where he was staying, so he told him he was sleeping on the street a few blocks down. The guy started to walk with him towards said sleeping spot. He asked if Thiago wanted to buy anything. He said no, he just wanted a beer and to go to sleep. But the guy kept following him. Fortunately they walked past an alley where some of the guy’s friends were smoking crack and called them both over, but Thi declined saying he just wanted to have his beer and go to sleep. He checked to see if he was being followed, then headed back really quickly, buzzed at the security gate and slipped through the hostel door.
He mentioned to the hostel owner that it was kindof dangerous around here. The guy said, “Dangerous? No. Why? Did something happen?” (in Spanish of course) and he told the guy that I wanted to go out and buy water, and the guy was like, “Ohhh no no no no.”
The next morning we left early and caught a 3 hour luxury bus with AIRCON!!! UHHHH! All for $5 all the way to the surf camp where we are now staying, in the cutest little private room you can imagine, all breezy with windows on all sides, high up in the air. It feels like a treehouse. And just a short walk to this luxury resort where Thi’s uncle is staying, and where I am now spending my days with him, watching the waves, working from the free wifi (for guests, shhh!). This is the first time in YEARS that I have seen the ocean. I used to crave the ocean until I couldn’t bear it anymore and then it left me.
We will be in El Salvador, at surf camps for the next 2 weeks. I guess I’ll put some new photos on facebook soon. I should be better about taking photos of the odd stuff.
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