February 28th, March 1st

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The train to Limon (yesterday’s journey out)

Unfortunately, our pleasant evening was wrecked by a dreadful night.  Our hotel absolutely stank of piss, so badly that we tried to alleviate the situation by burning a mosquito coil.  It helped as long as it lasted, but we couldn’t keep burning them all night.  In addition, the place was incredibly noisy – people at it, kids screaming, stereos blaring (“Stars on 45, they keep turning in your mind…”)  And finally, our mattress seemed to be alive with things that creep + crawl.  So, somewhat the worse for wear the next morning, we ate a fair breakfast with our American friends, before finding the bus to head back to San Jose.  Fortunately, the bus was halfway comfortable, a sort of Pullman on the cheap, so the journey back was not too bad.

Arrived back in San Jose at 3 or so, checked back in to the Hotel Managua, + then set out to look for a sauna (we couldn’t find one) + some money-changers.  Took ages to find one, but then, of course, we were inundated with them.  In the evening we ate out at a mildly plush Italian restaurant.  It was most excellent, serving vast portions of lasagne with hot bread + butter, for not much more than  a dollar.  And then we had strawberries + cream, too.

The next day (another month, ho hum) we began by breakfasting in our room – porridge, bread + jam, coffee – + then was followed by a whole hodge-podge of little things, none of them really of any importance.  We made a couple of enquiries about teaching jobs, but one which might have paid well was filled, + another had vacancies but paid a pathetic wage.  We shopped, we tried to go to the National Museum – it was shut – met an acquaintance from San Pedro so chatted + drank tea, made enquiries about boats + planes, + finally found ourselves in our hotel room at about 4.  I had bought a Miami Herald, + greatly enjoyed reading that, then we ate (or over-ate) one of Val’s potato salads, before I went off to the pictures.  It was a very bad film – Die Laughing – but was massively improved for me in that Jim Cranna + Chris Pray were both in it.  Gave me a very pleasing jolt.

The two days recorded show that we were just passing time, waiting for a deadline to pass – a train, a boat, or, in our case, the approval of our new travellers’ cheques.  This is a normal part of travelling, but it normally was not our way; we had a restless streak, and once we had exhausted the cultural or other attractions, we were keen to mve on and experience something new.  But since we had to wait, there were worse places; we could live reasonably well.  And as before, we were on the look out for ways to supplement our funds.

You may not remember – Jim and Chris were two of the people who ran the improv scene in San Francisco, so it came us a welcome shock to see them on screen.

February 26th, 27th 1982

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The National Theatre

After breakfast in our usual haunt, a shopping spree, tho’ not for anything wonderfully exciting.  A couple of pairs of knickers for me, one of same for Val, a bottle of shampoo, + a bikini for Val – I suppose the last qualifies as fairly exciting.  Things are just so cheap here, that if you’re in need of basic things (and you can’t get anything more basic than knickers) it’s too good a place to miss out on.  Especially in a town as western as San Jose.  Our shopping took up most of the day, + with a couple of non-events – I tried to go on a tour of the National Theatre, but they didn’t seem to want to take me, +there was the inauguration of a new Arts Centre, but nothing seemed to be going on – that brought us to evening.  A splendid meal, in a fast-food baked potato shop.  During our meal, we were able to look over some photos we’d just received back.  We had one colour + one black + white, + to my surprise it was the latter that was really excellent: a really marvellous set of photos we’d taken in San Pedro.  And then an early night, or relatively so, since Val was suffering pretty bad from the shits.

The next morning, we dared to risk our stove once again, this time with considerable more success – we were able to prepare about a gallon of porridge.  (It’s known here, justifiably I’ll admit, as mosh.)  We then walked to the station to catch the 11 o’clock train to Limon, supposed to be an attractive trip, only to discover it left at 12, so we whiled away some time in a local café.  Then, thanks to good fortune + the vagaries of the system at the station, despite the crush I was able to get onto the platform in perfect time to get us a double seat on the right side of the train, facing the right way.  The journey was nice in places but much too long, so that the attraction had long since worn off by the time we arrived.  Teamed up with 3 other backpackers, got a ride from the station into town with them, found a hotel (of the usual standard) with them, and then we all went out for a meal together.  Chinese food, a good meal, pleasant conversation.

It is interesting how much of our enjoyment of a place is tied to how affordable we find it.  Mexico was difficult, and Costa Rica, despite being not wonderfully interesting, allowed us to live reasonably well, and all because of the vagaries of the international monetary exchange.  It was as well that we could afford it, since we were now committed to spending quite a time there, the trip to Limon being just a way of eating up a couple of days.

February 25th 1982

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San Jose, Costa Rica – the picture is fuzzy, but the sign on the left says Hotel Managua, where we stayed

Decided priority no. 1, among many high priorities, was to have breakfast, then find another hotel.  Breakfast was easily dealt with, in a cheap café we’d passed last night, where they served splendid fried eggs, + the most magnificent banana milk-shake.  Then, after much asking, were able to find the Tourist Info. Centre, to help us find a hotel, as well as supply us with other useful addresses for the day’s business – our lack of success in Managua left it all to be done now.  It seemed, however, that the lady in Tourism over-valued our wallets, because she directed us to some very expensive hotels.  However, we found one on our own, near the market, cheap + cheerful.

Next, American Express.  We’d decided to “lose” Val’s travellers’ cheques, so as to obtain some more – not for fraudulent purposes, you understand, but useful perhaps for entering countries who are over-fastidious about letting in paupers.  Some form-filling, of course, + then they told us to return in the afternoon.  Visited the market, where I bought a very cheap leather belt.  The exchange rate is such that Costa Rica is incredibly cheap for us, tho’ very expensive for the locals.  Wandered around a little, + down to the Red Cross, hoping to be able to get a jab for Yellow fever, but they weren’t able to help.  Back at AmEx, they told us we had to wait 8 days for the cheques – a blow, but we weren’t really in a position to argue… or change our mind.

Bought 2 MCOs for Central Am airlines – I only hope they’re as good as they promise, + the things can be used anywhere.  Put some films in to be developed, + changed some money – it’s crazy!  The official rate here is about 8 or 9 colones to the dollar, but you can get 42 anywhere!  We bought some cheap wine, which we drank in our room – it was revolting, but had the desired effect, since Val at least was very drunk, giggling + telling me stories all the way thro’ our dinner, a very cheap meal in a café (I couldn’t eat half of mine – I think it was the wine’s fault.)  Then we went to see “Tess”, which we enjoyed, tho’ with some reservations.

Hmm – not sure what I feel about our travellers’ cheque scam now.  Not with any fraudulent intent, I claim, but of course it was fraud, all the same, even though we regarded it as a sensible bureaucratic procedure at the time.  And it did come back to bite us, changing what we had imagined to be a very short visit to Costa Rica into an eight-day stay.  And I am a little puzzled why we were investing in MCOs, when they seemed to offer little more than the money they cost.  But I cannot account for our actions so long agol.

We begin… again

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Holiday Inn, Wembley

Lesson number two took place three weeks after the first, two separate outbreaks of Covid causing its cancellation in the intervening weeks.  Though actually the word “outbreak” is to overstate the situation; from what I understand, if any of the refugees housed in the hotel test positive, they are confined to their rooms.  Which is, of course, fair enough.  However, although the rest of the residents are allowed to come and go as normal, the Home Office has decreed that no-one else is allowed in to the hotel.  Which includes Care 4 Calais.  And me.  And, presumably, anyone else who would normally be there to provide guidance, assistance, etc.  It may be the result of an over-abundance of caution, but does seem to indicate a less than positive relationship.

Having undertaken the journey already, I was far more comfortable about that side of things, and I even arrived an hour later than on the previous occasion… while still giving myself plenty of time to spare.  I was invited to sit in the admin office, where I was able to observe the staff in something of a state of flux, with Ali, the manager who had been so supportive, being replaced by a new man – I have no idea if there is anything behind this.  But I was introduced to his successor, and he was polite and friendly, saying thank you to me (though heaven knows, I have done little as yet.)  He told me he was also called Mohammed – presumably his predecessor was Mohammed Ali.  Hm.

Partly because the management team was busy, I was pretty much ignored, but at ten to two, I suggested I should go to the room I had taught in before, and arriving there, discovered it completely empty, meaning I had to spend some time bringing in chairs from the vast dining room next door.  And then I waited for people to arrive.

At 2 0’clock, no-one had turned up, and I was beginning to resign myself to a complete no-show.  But then, ten minutes late or so, three Eritrean guys turned up.  And then Balan, the Sri Lankan gentleman I had met before.  And then, gradually, a few more trickled in as the session progressed.  And some of them trickled out again, presumably deciding that what I was offering was not for them.  Or because they had other things to do.  Or were receiving a phone call.  Who knows?

The lesson itself was based on basic mime techniques, involving an imaginary ball, and then a variety of drinking vessels, which lead on to creating very basic story-lines around this.  I even tried out something a little more complex: the magic object, in which the (mimed) object changes as it passes from person to person.  And, with a few minutes still available, I tried out a first go at “zip, zap, boing”, my favourite Drama game, which they picked up remarkably quickly.

Of course, they struggled, but this was hardly surprising.  Only two had been before: Balan, and an elderly lady from Pakistan, who spoke only Urdu, whose sole contribution was to wave her hand in front of her face and say “No English.”  And pretty much everyone was trying to get to terms with an alien concept, delivered in a language of which they had limited understanding.  These are, however, early days, and there were three in particular of whom I have high hopes… unsurprisingly, the ones with the best English.  They are Balan, a young Syrian man called Ibrahim, and a Turkish lady called (I think) Mahaini, who is, she tells me, a Drama and English teacher.  If they can be persuaded to keep coming, we might get somewhere.

February 24th 1982

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Nicaraguan cordobas – with apologies for the quality of the picture

Up with the lark, packed, + on our way.  Well, we had a long way to go, heading all the way to San Jose in Costa Rica.  We didn’t even stop for breakfast, tho’ not really from choice – we just didn’t pass anywhere that was open.  However, with quite remarkable efficiency we immediately located our first bus of the day, which whisked us direct to the bus terminal we’d arrived at, where we immediately switched to bus no. 2 – perhaps we were getting the hang of this bus lark after all.  The second bus took us to Rivas, towards the south of Nicaragua, where – yes, correct – we changed buses.  No. 3 took just a little while coming, enabling us to buy a loaf of bread for our breakfast, + turned out to be a converted pick-up truck, with wooden benches.  An hour’s windy ride, + we were at the frontier.

We had been warned, both by passing travellers + their own Tourist office, that Nicaragua imposed a 100c levy for leaving the country, so when we found a money-changer, offering an appalling rate of exchange (tho’ better than the official) we changed $10 worth.  And were then rather peeved when we were dismissed from Nicaragua without them requiring a penny.  So, spent some of our ill-gotten cordobas on a couple of tasty, tho’ not sufficiently cooked, hamburgers, + thus fortified, prepared to enter Costa Rica.

Was rather worried when the Costa Rican border guard seemed to be asking for $150 – ah, he only wanted to see it.  The Costa Rican border post very modern, very efficient – they whisked us thro’ pretty promptly, even taking the trouble to blood-test us + whop 4 anti-Malaria pills down our throats.  We then changed some money with one of the flock of black-market guys there, operating quite openly under the full view of the officials, + whiled away some time in their cafeteria, waiting for our bus.

A long, tho’ reasonably comfortable ride to San Jose, tho’ travelling does tire you out.  We arrived pretty well shagged at about 8.30 pm, took the first hotel we came across – a real dive, + expensive, as we later discovered – then strolled a little, to get some air.  I saw, I fell – they had a McDonalds there, + I indulged myself.  I apologise.  Horrible places, but I like them.

Little to comment on today, apart from the patchy way one received information from wherever one could get it, and its unreliability as a result.  And we submitted cheerfully enough, I imagine, to them sticking needles and tablets into us; it was not as though they gave us a lot of choice.  And apologies for falling for the dubious attraction of McDonalds; even in England, they were relatively exotic at this time, and did provide, at least, certainty.

February 23rd 1982

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Viva la Revolucion! – Sandinista mural

A long + tiring day.  We began by heading first to the Tourism office, where we bought a map, + then set out to perform various city tasks – the sort of thing one can only perform in a city, to do with banks, airlines, etc.  We didn’t realise that Managua was the wrong sort of city for such things.  First of all, we took some pictures – the place is so strange.  Mostly, it’s a huge wasteland, with here + there odd buildings sticking up, some new developments, + the odd old building which survived the quake.  In these – some whole, some just shells – families can be seen squatting.  The government has got around to laying out roads, + various new + attractive parks (quite a far-sighted policy, really) but not much else.  Oh yes, + political slogans too, all over the country, everywhere – painted on walls, on banners, on billboards.  Nonetheless, the evidence we’ve seen suggests the government, Communist or no, is making an effort, + managing to get things done.  However, from our point of view, the biggest hassle of a city without a centre is that everything is so far apart.  We took a long bus ride, had breakfast, + then another one (bus-ride, that is) to visit the Bank of London, which we’d heard gave dollars (they didn’t, at least to us.)  Bus again to Post Office, as marked on our map, to buy stamps.  Turned out to be Admin Office only, hence useless.  Another bus, and much walking back + forth, to find an air-line office, to buy an MCO (an open ticket)… once again, our map was at fault, so we didn’t really find a place at all.  What was more, with all our walking, riding, + frustration, we got angry with each other, + had a flaming row.  Val wanted to leave this afternoon, I wanted to put it off till the morning.  And the worst of our day was yet to come.

Rather than retrace our route, we tried to find a bus which would carry us back more directly, + ended up in the wrong place.  It didn’t look too far tho’, so rather than fuck about with more buses, we walked… about 3 miles.  We were shattered when we got back.  But a rest soon healed things, enough for us to venture out again, to the (real) Post Office.  A cheap but dull meal in the evening, then cards.  I had my way – we stayed till morning, tho’ thro’ force of circumstance, not argument.

As I said yesterday, a very strange city indeed – though I expect it looks much the same as any other by now.  And my comments on the efforts of the government are a little more generous today.  One of the buildings which had survived – or, I suppose, had been built since the earthquake, was a very futuristic looking American hotel – it might have been a Hilton, but actually I can’t remember.  The word was that they served an all-you-can-eat American breakfast for just $5.  We were sorely tempted, but with the cost – taking up our daily budget – and the difficulty of getting there, meant we didn’t bother.

February 22nd 1982

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Downtown Managua

And today on to Managua.  Not an auspicious start to the day tho’.  Yet again, a frustrating amount of walking, even before we could find some breakfast.  In the end we settled for a somewhat unsatisfactory meal in the same comedor we’d used the night before.  And then, to find a bus.  This proved even more of a problem.  Eventually, we were able to find the bus stop, but bus after bus passed by, all full to bursting, + most of them proclaiming they weren’t going to Managua, + in any case they didn’t even stop long enough to give one a chance to pick up one’s bags, let alone ask a question… let alone get an answer.  If a young man who lived + worked in a cake shop on the corner hadn’t taken pity on us, we’d be there now.  He was able to forewarn us of a Managua-bound bus, + then stop it for us.  It was just as crowded as the rest, but somehow or other we struggled aboard, + managed to find a place for our bags where they didn’t knock the bus out of gear every time we went over a bump.  Eventually, in fact, we were able to get a seat, + tho’ we were extremely nervous about our bags, one of which (we hoped) was jammed under the dashboard, + the other (we hoped) on the roof, the rest of the journey was cramped but relatively restful.

Our fears were unjustified too – arriving at the outskirts of Managua, we found both safe + sound.  And then… fun + games, fun +games, tho’ it didn’t seem so at the time.  It was our own fault, really.  From the bus terminal, we asked for a bus to the city centre, + were indeed directed onto a bus.  We then spent over an hour on this bus, travelling round + round, never passing more than suburbs.  Eventually, out of frustration, we transferred to another bus – or glorified pick-up – which did the same with us.  And nobody would tell us where the centre was!  Then we got out + took a taxi – and he didn’t know where the centre was.  Eventually, Val had an inspiration, + got the driver to take us to the Tica bus terminal, + from there we found a gringo hospedaje, where we sat, angry + frustrated.  Stupid us!  Managus doesn’t have a centre.  There was an earthquake 10 years ago, + they haven’t got around to rebuilding yet.  Still, after a couple of beers, a meal, + watching Superman II, we started to calm down a little, + even enjoy the place – it is cheap (when you change money on the black market.)

Trusting that all will be well when you consign your bags to wherever they will fit has increasingly become normal, and as yet has proved reliable.  But it is hardly surprising that we found Managua so confusing, when it was unlike anything we had ever encountered.  My comment about them “not having got around to” re-building is almost certainly unfair, but I don’t know enough about the economic and political organisation of the Sandinista government to make a meaningful comment.

I need to go through a couple of pieces of “housekeeping” regards the site, to let those of you who receive these posts as daily emails what has been happening.  You will have noticed that, in parallel with the daily posts of 40 years ago, I have now begun to add more occasional posts which document the work I am doing with a refugee group housed in the Holiday Inn in Wembley.  There shouldn’t be any confusion as to which is which, but if you want to read the introduction to the Wembley posts, you need to visit the actual website.

In fact, as I messed things up with posting my own comments on the travel diary yesterday, that is also where you need to go to read them.  I have updated that post, and it now shows my own modern commentary, but by then the emails had already gone out, comment-less.  

I hope that’s not too confusing

We begin!

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The first task, even before turning up for my first session, was to try to drum up some enthusiasm.  I sent Matilda some suitably enthusiastic text, and a couple of photos, and she created a poster, which would then be distributed throughout the hotel.  I recall that that approach had not proved particularly successful when we had attempted to offer a similar course at Mosaik, in Lesbos, but there did not appear to be an alternative.

As our opening approached, I was a little nervous, not having taught any Drama for quite a while (even two years ago in Ioannina, I had never really had the chance to do any practical work.)  But actually, I tend to be like that before every lesson; it is only when I begin that all of that drops away.  And in fact, my initial concern was more about the logistics of getting to the right place at the right time that worried me…   Looking back, once again, at my blog for Ioannina, there it was the mechanics of making my way to Thessalonika that concerned me most; comparatively speaking, Wembley ought to be a doddle.

I gave myself plenty of time, and arrived at Wembley ridiculously early, even with the problem of making my way to the Holiday Inn – easily seen, less easily approached.  It is an enormous hotel, and given over entirely to housing refugees – I suppose, on reflection, that it would not really be possible to operate for both refugees and regular guests at the same time.  The main entrance was blocked off, with just a small door to enter, manned by a security guard. 

Being early caused me no problems; I made myself known to the management, was shown the space where the class would take place, asked for the chairs to be arranged in a circle, and then sat down and read.

The lesson itself went much as I had anticipated.  People drifted in for about 20 minutes at the start, meaning I had to start over a couple of times.   I had begun with some name games, to warm people up, and for me to grab a name or two, but actually these were less than successful, in either respect.  Things were much improved when we moved on to some actual drama activities, though of the most basic kind.  We worked on various uses of stillness: learning to freeze, creating statues, and then more elaborate tableaux.

Observation one: language is more of a problem than I thought it might be.  Despite many of the participants having been in the UK for a while, their English is weak.  I have encountered this before, in Lebanon and Lesbos, but in both those cases all the participants spoke the same language, and it was possible to have an interpreter, or at least the weaker helping the stronger.  Here, there were several languages, and some people had no-one who could help them.

Two: there was quite an interruption when one of the hotel employees arrived to take a couple of photos, presumably as a record of one of the activities on offer.  This caused chaos, with half the class more or less hiding around the corner.  One imagines they have concerns that such a photo, if published, would have unpleasant consequences.  It seems a little unlikely to me, but what do I know.

I was not expecting too much.  But we had begun, and for virtually everyone there, it was their first experience of anything of this kind, and as they were adults, they were rather more wary.  And by the end, those that were left – we did lose a few, as some wandered away – seemed to have enjoyed it.  That, at least, is my hope.

February 21st 1982

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Our lift from the border

The usual beginning to the day, with milk + cereal (only Frosties this time, as a step up from corn flakes.)  We also attempted, for the first time, to light our new stove, + near as dammit burnt down the hospedaje, with huge flames leaping out of the thing.  We think (+ hope) we know what we did wrong, but the incident made us nervous enough to put off trying again for another day.

In fact, Guatemalan Frosties – that has to be Tikal – they’re gr-r-r-eat!

It was a bus ride from here to a town fairly near the border.  Very annoying to discover that the town towards which our friend from yesterday had been heading, but we hadn’t realised… never mind.  Consolingly, the bus was very comfortable – they seem to go in for such things in Honduras.  Tho’ only to a limited extent, as we discovered when we transferred to the bus to the frontier – very crowded, very uncomfortable.  Honduras seemed to be relatively prosperous.  At least, the standard of housing was certainly much improved from Guatemala.  At the border, no problem at all leaving Honduras – there very rarely is to leave a country – + far less problems than we’d anticipated in entering Nicaragua.  It took a little while, of course, especially since we had the ill fortune to arrive just after the Tica bus (the big trans-country bus) especially as we were visa-less, + exit-ticket less.  However, as it turned out, no trouble, + many smiles.

Just beyond the border, we did have to face the problem of how to advance further into the country, as there didn’t seem to be any buses.  There was a pick-up truck, which it may or may not have been a good idea to take (but we didn’t), but after a while the lady soldier in charge of the border helped us out by “asking” a passing lorry-driver to give us a ride.  It was a tanker, but had a platform on the back where I sat – Val rode in front.  This was only for a few miles tho’, till we arrived at a small town (more glorified truck-stop.)  There the guys stopped for “something to eat”.

3 hours later we were still there, + our drivers (3) were pretty drunk.  We could have caught a bus from there, but expected at any minute to be leaving.  When we finally left, it was dark.  We both rode on the back this time – quite pleasant, except for one time we nearly lost our pack.  They dropped us on the outskirts of Chimandego, so we had to walk, + walk, + walk, + ask, + walk, + ask, + walk, + walk to find a hospedaje.  When we arrived, we were just about dead.

First of all, the stove! It was a small, brass primus stove, and needed to be primed first, then pumped, then lit… but as it was the first time we had ever used it, we weren’t really sure how it worked, so the flames coming out were most alarming, all the more so since it was a wooden building, located in a largely wooden area – we felt we could have been responsible for burning down Tegucigalpa! However, we enjoyed our brief stay in Honduras, which seemed clean, and relatively prosperous. And it ticked off another country. In fact, the only Central American country we avoided entirely was El Salvador, partly because we could – it does not spread from ocean to ocean – and partly because, by all accounts, it was easily the most dangerous country in the region.

I’m not sure how sensible it was to consign Val to the cab while I rode on the back of the lorry, but in the event they were gentlemen, by all accounts (ie Val’s). And it may not have been the wisest for us both to ride on the back of a tanker driven by a drunk… but there weren’t many alternatives, and, in the end, it turned out all right.

February 19th and 20th 1982

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2 days of travel more or less solidly.  Our mate from the customs office gave us a rap on the door at 5.30 am, so we were able to be off and running at a respectably early hour.  An uneventful journey, more or less – your average common or garden Central American bus ride holds little excitement for us any more.  On arriving at Guatemala City, we headed straight away for Inguat, the tourism office – all we had to do this time was retrace our steps of a couple of days previously.  However, all we were able to discover there was from where to catch the next bus (tho’, en route for Inguat, we did discover a supermarket, so could sit down + enjoy our corn flakes by the side of the road.)

The next bus ride was a little more interesting, tho’ once again we were retracing our steps, this time eastwards, towards Honduras, following much of the route we’d taken from Puerto Barrios.  I chatted for a good part of the way with a well-educated guy, a cartographer turned economist, about various things, + tho’ I found it tiring, my Spanish being weak, it helped to pass the time.  The bus left us a few miles from the border, so we were forced to undergo a short triple series of mini-bus rides, from this town to the Guatemalan border, across to the Honduran border, + from there to the next town – the border was passed with the minimum possible fuss.  This left us at a latish hour, just across the border at Oestopeque.  We considered taking a hotel, + then resuming our journey in the morning, but the going rate seemed to be 4 limpira, so we took up the option of a bus to San Pedro, en route for Tegucigalpa, which left at 4 am, + cost 8l, but had the advantage of allowing us to sleep in one of their other buses.  This way we got really a respectable night’s sleep, transferred to their very comfortable Pullman bus at 3.30 am, + had a comfortable ride on.  In San Pedro, once again we found a park + some milk, breakfasted… + then decided to try our hand at hitching.  Too hot for it really, + too much walking to find a suitable spot, but we were lucky.  After quite a while of big smiles + thumbs, first one, short lift, then another longer one, all the way to Tegucigalpa.  Our second chauffeur in particular was very friendly, tho’ we had to keep breaking our journey for side-trips.  He bought us drinks + various local delicacies – seemed very anxious to show off his country, in fact.  Dropped us off in the capital, where we were able first to find a very cheap hospedaje, + then a friendly local bar for hamburgers.

Like it says, two days on non-stop travel, but we were able to organise things so that we cut down on hotel costs.  And two occasions to practise our… well, mostly my… Spanish, though I did find it tiring.

Our hitch-hiking technique has now been honed: no matter how miserable, tired, despondent one feels, you have to keep giving big smiles, to demonstrate what nice friendly people you are, what good company you promise to be.  Generally, people don’t pick up hitchers out of sympathy, so it’s no good looking miserable.

Anyway, at last, another country… though for a very short time.