February 19th and 20th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1

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.

  1. Pamela Blair

    Hitchhiking is one of my fondest memories when I was traveling. I made friends that I later visited, and learned so many lessons–the most important being that, if you wait long enough, someone will pick you up. I hitched for hours with a guy I met in a youth hostel in Thessalonaki, and was about to separate from him to see if we’d have better luck on our own, when a VW camper van stopped for us, owned by a guy from Jersey, and we stayed with him for a week, all through the former Yugoslavia, camped along the Adriatic, played bridge until 3 in the morning, laughed harder than I had in ages. He later invited me to go to Russia with him, but by then I’d bought my own VW van and was traveling through the Middle East, picking up hitchhikers, paying back my good fortune the best way I could.

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