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Published: April 7th 2005
My first nice, air conditioned bus ride in Central America was completely empty except for myself and Mike and unfortunately, it made me sick! I don´t know if it was entering a confined, far too air conditioned space after weeks of heat, the winding moutain roads, or the blue gatorade and salty plaintain chips I had downed just before climbing aboard, but for the first time on this trip, I threw up, twice! I felt much better afterwords though, and enjoyed our whirlwind trip through El Salvador, the tiniest but most populated country in Central America.
We left Honduras, cut though Guatemala briefly and entered into El Salvador, stopping for every border crossing and for the police several times along the way. Hondurans and Salvadorans have a long and checkered past and apparently the Salvadoran police didn´t like the looks of our big, almost empty Honduran bus.
As we rode along in silence, I noticed the differences in the terrain. While Guatemala shows some signs of U.S. influence, it is still very much it´s own proud country with indigenous Mayan influences evident in many parts. Honduras, on the other hand, seemed strapped under U.S. fruit company control, with Pizza Huts and Wendy´s signs floating above fields of banana trees. In contrast, El Salvador seems to be more developed than both Guatemla and Honduras, but it seems to have developed on its own accord. It is a crowded country, with the highest gun ownership in Central America, yet it felt safe and serene. Its capital, San Salvador, is packed and polluted, and Mike and I agreed that we could have been entering Los Angeles from the looks of it.
We got into town, took a taxi to our dingy hotel and ventured out for dinner. It was getting dark and we had no idea where we were going. A Mister Donut sign caught our eye, and out of hunger, desperation, urban sketchiness and uncertainty of our whereabouts, we opted for eating there. Yum, yum! We returned to our hotel, I killed at least half a dozen roached and ants and then took a shower standing over the toilet. Literally, the back of my knees were touching the toilet as the water poured out of the wall above my head. It soaked my towel, my clothes, the toilet paper and anything else within sight... I have never seen anything like it. Ah, the joys of travel!
Finally, Mike and I parted ways. I woke up around 4 am the next day to catch my bus to Managua, Nicaragua. I tried to sleep, but was enthralled by the scenery. El Salvador is understated, but so beautiful. I´ll have to come back some day.... As we entered into Nicargua, the land became dramatically more dry and sparse. I felt smacked in the face by poverty. At the El Salvador-Nicaragua border crossing, I stepped off the bus into a crowd of people trying to sell me something or simply beg for money. It felt much more desparate from the rest of Central America, or maybe just more honest.
Along the way I met Verna and Angela, who were also on their way to Leon. We decided to stick together and after about 12 hours of buses, minibuses, taxis, fending off countless well-meaning helpers and annoying hotel haukers, we arrived in Leon, Nicaragua.
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