January 22nd 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Val on the train

As requested, our friendly hotel manager rapped on our door at 6 am – the train left at 7, + we didn’t want to miss it.  In fact, we were in plenty of time, enough to grab a breakfast cup of coffee before climbing aboard + bagging our seats.  And very hard seats at that: just plain, wooden benches.  The carriage was the most primitive we’ve yet encountered, with many windows broken, tho’ whether by accident or guerrilla intervention, I couldn’t say. 

The train ride was a long one – 15 hours – but really passed very well.  I’ll try to put down a few impressions.  Some wonderful mountain scenery, on both sides of the train.  Arses incredibly sore, despite sitting in just about every imaginable way to try + ease the ache.  Every time the train started, a lurch forward, checked sharply by the coach in front, then jerked forward again – a triple blow enough to throw you if you were standing.  The usual supply of live, trussed chickens under one’s feet.  A fairly common selection of fruits + foods; maddeningly tho’, we tried very little, since we were saving ourselves for the 30 min lunch break at Zacapa.  And certainly 30 mins there were… but no restaurants.  Also at Zacapa, me desperately searching for a toilet, since I had the runs again.  (Runs?  I could barely walk!)  Passing a small brush fire, right next to the tracks, giving out a searing amount of heat – can’t imagine what these things are like when they really get going.  The conductor coming along screwing in light-bulbs as darkness came.  And being so very, very cold – tho’ fortunately we arrived before that went on too long.  Oh, + I finished my book.  It was OK – entertaining enough.

We had thought we would arrive later, + sleep in the station, but this was not possible, since they just got us thro’, then closed it.  Tried several hotels, the first seedy, most full, then one very nice, + a little expensive, which we took.  A marvellous little bedroom, with beautiful fresh clean sheets on neat, comfy beds, + its own bathroom with a hot shower.  Bliss.

So, our troubles in Livingston now behind us, and re-equipped with a camera, we are back on our travels.  And re-acquainting ourselves with the pluses and minuses of train travel in this part of the world.  And it does seem to have been to our advantage not being allowed to sleep in the station, for we received instead the pleasure of hot water and a clean bed.

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