Santa Ana Sucks

Published: January 23rd 2018
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Our morning was off to a rocky start with the second bad breaky in a row, though this time with eggs, but bad eggs are still.... bad. My patience was wearing thin with the Aussie girl joining us to Santa Ana as we were ready to go before she was even out of bed, she complained all through breakfast then insisted we go explore the market before the bus comes, even though we knew the bus would leave before 9am if it was full so we shouldn't leave. Then she was so obnoxious that she took up a whole seat for her backpack as we watched locals stand.... the whole 2.5 hours to Santa Ana. The driver then unapologetically dropped us off on the side of the road in Santa Ana, not the bus station. Fabulous.

Immediately, things didn't feel great. I was grateful for my moneybelt even though it had somehow managed to come undone and was just hanging between the crouch of my pants, I held my front backpack tighter and did my dont-steal-from-me-swing (I have this theory that if i spin slightly from side to side its harder to pickpocket me, so I do like 1/4 turns
so my backpack is never in the same place). We walked through the market-street not knowing where the hell we were and not feeling safe enough to bring out a phone to check the map. Even an old-fashioned map would've been little help with no street signs. After crouching under umbrellas and tents and avoiding cars along the streets we eventually found a safe-ish spot. Another 5 blocks in the blasting heat and we would be at the bus station, then only another 6 blocks from there. just what we wanted. The entire way to the hostel the Aussie girl was constantly bumping into me, thinking it was so bloody hilarious whilst i was sick to death of her presence. FINALLY we made it to our intimidatingly high-security hostel (two security doors, no windows on street level etc. Luckily she was in another dorm and as of a day later we haven't seen her since.

Apprehensive about going out but requiring cash and feeling that if we're in the city we need to see something Simone and I headed out.... then returned shortly after to return my handbag that we worried was in danger of being robbed. I put
my westpac card in his shorts and left everything else behind. It very quickly became apparent that this wasn't a city for tourists; there were no cafes, restaurants, bakeries, other tourists, attractions, nothing. The main church was beautiful from the outside but closed, the same square also had a theatre (also closed) and another pretty building that featured a tourist office, but that was also closed. We took two photos the entire time we were out, everything else was too dangerous. Hungry and we'd apparently finished off the entirety of Santa Ana's tourist attractions in a whole 30 seconds we headed for lunch. But apparently, everything closes for lunch, including the one touristy looking restaurant we past on the way here. Great. Our options were Pizza Hut and a few local places that looked extremely dodgy and all contained meat. nothing for vegetarians. We walked a good 30 minutes with no luck and returned to one of the first we saw where Simone could have a main of a baked potato.... with no dressings. I got a terribly oily lasagne, rice with veggies, pasta salad and pineapple drink (bloody delicious) for about $3 (probably overpriced for the area, it was
us and people in business suits, despite being a shabby place).

During our tour of the city we had tried every single ATM we'd passed and none were giving either of us cash out. Finally on our way back we found a bank with one inside, maybe we'd be able to get cash out after all! We were patted down and pointed to the ATM, where I put my card, only for it to be declined but when I clicked to cancel the transaction it came up with a "please wait" screen. By this point the line behind us was about 12 people deep. 5 minutes later we called over a staff member who reassured us that it was just slow. Bullshit but whatever. Another 10 minutes later the security guard decided we were acting suspiciously and came to investigate, then inform us that the machine was indeed broken. No shit. Unfortunately, the only people authorised to get my card out were currently filling the only other ATM so couldn't help. great. He was possibly the fastest speaker I've ever heard and I didn't understand a single word he was saying, Simone only about 50%!b(MISSING)ut we managed to
make do by doing all of the talking ourselves. The second issue came when the staff wanted the name and number on the card, just in case it wasn't mine. Bullshit. and my card doesn't even have a name on it... and i dont even know the number. Perfect. We were whisked up to an office upstairs with a very awkward but kind woman of who's we were now her problem. She made a few phone calls, offered us coffee and then pretended we didn't exist. I probably would've done the same. Though as she got back to work all kinds of confidential information was spread over her desk, of which we had full view.

We past time by looking down at the ATM as the guards explained to customers that it no longer worked, until they got bored of standing there so just abandoned it for customers to work out themselves. The line would grow and then someone would be smart enough to realise it didn't work and they'd all leave. Then a new group would come, look at the screen, ignore it and try to put their card in. At one point the guard made an out
of order sign on a piece of paper but couldn't work out how to attach it so after consulting two other workers screwed it up and put it in the bin. We also had full view of the three guys filling the ATM, which happened to use exactly the same bins we use at work in self-serve, of which I can fill 5 machines in 12 minutes. But no, one ATM takes over 1.5 hours - obviously. It needed a good oiling, a clean, the money had to be put in, then taken out, then put in, then taken out. All the while they knew we were waiting, watching. bastards. After what seemed a lifetime they came to my ATM machine and were holding my card within 20 seconds of opening it.... but I didn't get it for a further 20 minutes, just to fuck with my I suppose.

We headed out for an early dinner at 5pm, wanting to be back before dark, but every place we'd been recommended by the hostel was closed. We gave up, knowing that we could order into the hostel, but the trek back was through the Red Light District of Santa Ana (confession: I came back and googled if you could contract HIV/AIDS through air, I know you cant but dear God was that a rough area) then through Colon Park, well named as it was home to the druggos and creeps of Santa Ana. By the time we made it to the hostel neither of us ever wanted to step foot outside the door again. We decided on some pizza for dinner (the only affordable thing) but of course to make pizza vegetarian costs another 75c?!?!? aren't you saving money on salami and ham?!?!? The pizza was good, though margaritas shouldn't have tomato so Simone was unimpressed, though he still covered it with the pepper they supplied, after also dubbing that a crime against pizza.

DAY 2:

I was meant to be doing the Santa Ana volcano hike today but my hip is giving me a whole lotta grief so I decided it wasn't worth the pain and stayed in. Also, I had to get cash out (had success!!!) and have a lot of planning and travelpod catching up to do so didn't mind too much. OFF TO HONDURAS TOMORROW. I didnt think it was going to happen after I decided I didn't want to scuba dive (dont enjoy snorkelling enough and have heard some pretty tough things about the course like having to take your mask off 10m under water, having your oxygen turned off at the same depth etc. which I dont think i'd cope with). Then the hurricane hit that threatened tsunamis on the coast. then with the bloody election and all the protests but I thought that was over, not realising the inauguration on the 27th would bring a new wave of protests. A man died yesterday in a protest and things are properly heating up again. It's gonna be a bit of a waste of time and I'll have to go back to Antigua again, but it'll probably be worth it. hopefully.

DAY 3:
After a lazy morning we summoned the energy to go out and brave the mean town that is Santa Ana. We weren’t actually that scared and had somehow become used to our environment, though the lunch situation hadn’t changed. We began hunting lunch places around 1pm and everything was closed, by 1:30 all the food was sold out. Meaning we ended up at a touristy place (ironically we were the only foreign tourists). For $5 we got two pizzas, but it was shit. 2 tiny pizzas on crackers, an insult to Simone - or at the very least that’s how he was taking it. And there was no spinach, the only reason I ordered the one I did! We came home through the market, haggling for fruit and veg, ending up with a pineapple, 10 bananas and 5 avocados and 3 mangoes for $2.50!!! But.... we leave tomorrow so better get eating!

Which reminds me; we were meant to be leaving today, taking 6 chicken buses from here to Guatemala then into Honduras, around 7 hours in total. This didn’t quite happen after Simone’s bus to the volcano crashed yesterday! Completely on its side. No one was badly hurt, though he was saying the ambulance had nothing other than anti inflammatories and no idea what to do. One girl had a sore shoulder and they insisted on putting her on the stretcher, even though that would offer no help or support and she clearly wasn’t going to be a paraplegic or cause any nerve damage by walking. Thus, going on another chicken bus wasn’t really on his wish list!

Even braver, we headed out just before sunset to a pupusa place. We wanted them for lunch but none were open and it seemed a crime to leave here without one last pupusa! Leaving our phone, wallet and everything of value other than $3 each we set out three blocks, unfortunately once again through the red light district. To give an idea of how poor the area is, people steal the man hole covers to sell for hard trash, which creates the problem of no street lights and massive ass holes in the road. The puposas were great, garlic, bean and carrot, all before a quick rush home so we didn’t die (a semi-legitimate call) - we were very tempted to get some military with guns to walk us Home was saw whilst paying but figured if the military is like anyone else here they’re probably poorly trained and have no idea how to use their guns so it might be more Dangerous!


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