February 21st 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
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.

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