In Central America – as I was soon noticing – you have to pay a small fee on each border of around $10. In Nicaragua it was $12. Borders are somewhat special. Since being to Asia I trained myself to pay the least possible amount. Especially if there are no official costs.
The officer did his job stamping my passport but before handing it back he was like “That’s 12 Dollars.” “What 12 Dollars. I don’t have any money.” Playing dumb. He was furious. Getting up, walking into the back office only to come out again walking into another back office. Finally he came back … and rescinded my visa. That was really amusing, never happened to me before. So I went to the nearest ATM withdrawing the necessary amount just to get back to exactly the same officer. He was still pretty angry. “Sure, first you say you don’t have money, now you have some… bla”. Well, he was right indeed. But i got it anyway.
Nicaragua. First country where hitchhiking was kinda easy again. Even though I waited 50 minutes for my first ride. There was another British couple hitchhiking on the street, same direction. I would see them again three times on my way. Either they passed me or the other way round. While I reached Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, at some point, i got a ride with a typical bullshitter. “I heard 70% of all Spanish employees are prostitutes and it is the biggest official business in Spain.” Even without those pearls of human imagination I somehow have a seventh sense for those trash-talkers. It’s an important skill, especially when hitchhiking. Those people always have the best hints. Like it wouldn’t matter in which direction I hitch on that street since both directions lead to Honduras anyway. Ever hitchhiked into the wrong direction? Here’s your chance!
I grabbed hold on my instincts, recalled the directions I was given by others that day, left the trash-talker talking trash and hitchhiked through the city. It was hot, the traffic light well-frequented, nobody stopped, some people gave me more hints. I started walking, smoked a ciggy, two girls looking like prostitutes wanted to have a cigarette but I didn’t feel like sharing. To their outrage I ignored them and walked along.
Cities are troublesome but there is always a reward for your effort. This day I found a motorbike. That’s the fun-jackpot and one reason why I am exercising in this kind of sport. I sat on that motorbike, no helmet, always a reason to grab hold tightly. There is a special thrill accompanying that. This ride really overcame everything. We were shooting through the city traffic. Between cars to the front of every traffic light. Accelerating again. Long traffic jams – no problem, going straight through. My way towards the end of the city where I had a better chance to get a good ride. Four minutes of motorbike racing. After that I flagged down a pickup roaring out towards the countryside. Next metropolis crossed. WRROOOMMM!!!
Accident, Chaos, Anarchy
I was going with a Toyota, the driver reminding me of my Ex-Girlfriends brother. We were driving for quite some time, had already bribed the first police check and suddenly: Traffic jam. Something rather new for me. You don’t find traffic jams in South or Central America (except in cities, but there always and everywhere). The had been an accident, around 200m in front of us. Frontal crash of two cars. “Barbar.”, was the comment of my driver. What I saw there was exceptional. At first there was a lot of contraflow traffic and nobody knew what was going on. Then we made some meters. Impatience was in the atmosphere and the first egoists used the road shoulder to get to the front. As there was no traffic approaching from the other side, some even used the opposite directed lane. Pretty chaotic. And the other side was doing the same. Everyone recklessly forward. That led to the situation where there was no more movement possible in any direction. Everything stopped. Pure chaos.
Sseveral people tried to untangle that knot, waving through single cars that had to stop 50 meters further anyway since the lane was blocked by cars from the other side. I don’t even wanna think about police or ambulance. Impossible to get through. At the crash site there was a cluster of people watching the spectacle. I couldn’t see any injured ones. I think some private persons already transported them off. We were relieved as we passed the crash site just to stop again after 50 meters at another crash between some egoists. Oh my Nicaragua…
Through drug-induced hell
I found a truck going to the border of Honduras and we drove until darkness. That border at El Triunfo was … and I am deadly serious about that … by far the worst shithole that I ever had to go through in all my journeys! Maybe the fact that it was the middle of the night and the border was 10 minutes before closing were adding up to that situation. Luckily the driver offered to take me further into the country, just a bit. I would have done anything to not be stuck there.
As we arrived to Honduras it was like Anarchy. No police, no army, just some ladies giving out stamps. Besides that: freeloaders, junkies and other lowlife. It is perfectly fine to use that words here. The atmosphere was terribly aggressive. As soon as a truck arrived 2-3 junks ran towards the window asking for money. I have seen trucks that tried to accelerate to shake off those wohlfahrtia. Not even that worked. Every time we went from A to B another junkie clinged to our coat-tails havering.
The perfidious thing is that those boys and girls are somehow representing the peacekeeping power. No police on the checkpoint. Some ask for money, others run around with clubs and big flashlights behaving like officials. If you don’t pay you will get robbed. Poor truckers who have to give some of their sparse income to that kind of mafia. I could watch Mr. Flashlight from inside my truck at work. Standing right in front of the driver’s cabin, in front of us, smoking some cheap fucked-up drugs in a glass pipe. And the shit people take there is really sick. It’s not like smoking a joint, doing some hallucinogens or other fashion drugs. This stuff really kills your brain and then your body (or the other way around). And in between kids and women, like a big drug addicted family living off blackmailing truckers on the border. Welcome to Honduras.
I was done after that border. The driver let me jump out at some Village and I went straight for the police station. People from the military and police install order with big machine guns. People were shouting at me. Everybody was drunk. Just near the police station it was calm and safe, everybody was too afraid to go there. I asked for a place to sleep was given a park bench on the outside of the building where I had to calm down a little. That border had really strained my nerves.
Little brats and a bath in the river
Honduras. I don’t know what to make of it. That country seemed extremely unappealing and unfriendly. As I walked along the road the next day I was cursed at by a horde of kids from the nearby football stadium. They insulted me heavily and sent out two scouts on bikes afterwards that asked for spare coins and t-shirts. Sorry guys. On the other side the country had a very wild impression on me. At night it was dark along the road. Not so overpopulated. Less civilization.
In the morning I scored a pick-up ride with a family. The father was speaking a little English. I shared the loading platform with his beautiful daughter and she made moon-eyes at me. They went to the river for a bath. I took the chance and did the same, also washing my suit. Well, after that on the way to the border I had my first ride with a funeral car. Besides that, at the border I gave all that was left of my money to the young lady making street food (and having beautiful eyes) and met the national football team of Honduras. As I recall my time here in Honduras I have to say, it wasn’t all that bad.
I crossed El Salvador pretty quick. I arrived at some lonely border checkpoint in the mountains (typical bullshitter lift into the wrong direction). Guatemala in front of me. My goal was Antigua, a beautiful, small city from the colonialist time. There I was going to rest for three days and relax before heading north. Highlights on that tour were: many many pick-ups, short waiting time and super friendly people. Hitchhiking was easy and fast in Guatemala. I had to wait only once, for 1 hour and 22 minutes.
Eat more Melons!
I was standing under a tree in the shade and on the other side of the road was a bunch of melon traders. One called something towards me, grabbed a melon and walked towards me. At first I wondered why he would come and sell me a melon. But he was giving it as a present. So very nice! Since I hadn’t eaten anything so far and no water I took it with relief. So I sat there, eating a whole watermelon for breakfast. Afterwards my stomach was sick.
In Antigua I checked in at the cheapest Hostel possible, run by a lovely Russian woman. On the roof terrace you could watch the daily volcanic eruptions and somebody (I suspect) has stolen my emergency 100 Dollars from my laptop bag. This will put me in trouble later but now it’s time to relax. My next goal was Mexico, and from there to the USA.