Our accidental trip to the middle of nowhere

Published: July 12th 2009
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As we found out, sometimes it is best to stick with what the guidebook says and forget about what the locals say. As we were leaving our guesthouse on the lake, we asked if the border crossing to Perquin was now open. "oh yes, no problem." So, like the dumb tourists we can be, we went down towards Marcala to take the bus over to El Salvador. However, once we got to La Esperanza, we realized that this was going to be much more difficult than we thought. We asked the staff at the terminal we arrived at where the bus to Marcala and the 'Frontiera' was. Lots of head scratching, umm, well..., you want to go where? Not the response we were expecting. They were able to direct us to another terminal that might have something, just two blocks away, but they were not presenting it as the solution of the century. After getting there, we found out why. The solution was to take a bus to Colomologncagua (SP?) 3 hrs, and then spend the night there before taking the 5am bus to San Miguel. Fantastic.

However, that was the only option at 1:30PM. Someone mentioned that if we had been there in the morning, maybe we could have connected to Marcala, but that bus had already left. Off to this place with a funny name. Since it was not on our map and not listed in our guidebook, we knew nothing about it. Turns out, it is in one amazingly scenic area, and along one very long and bumpy dirt road. The seats were somewhat thin. And the little girl behind me kept on kicking from below, which resulted in the feeling of her digging her toes into my ass. After 45 minutes, I decided that speaking Spanish wasn't necessary to resolve this, turned around, and gave her the stare of death. Had I known it was going to be that effective I would have done so earlier. I think the fact that she didn't see too many white people combined with the stare did he trick.

As we passed through a little village about 2 hours into what turned out to be 4 and half hours on the bus, a little boy about 4 years old got on the bus, saw that the seat next to me was unoccupied. As he rounded the corner to take his seat, he saw me and realized that I was not the kind of person that is usually on the bus. I don't know if he had never seen a non-hispanic person before or what, but he recoiled into the aisle and only returned after his mom assured him that I was not the extraterrestrial type. On the plus side, when little children are already terrified of you, the stare of death becomes rather unnecessary.

The whole trip seemed like one of those journeys to the edge of the earth. The road did not have that compelling 'there is a way off the mountain without going back the way you came' feel to it. We finally arrived at the place we were going. Found very basic lodging for $4, and I found myself in a place that did not get a whole lot of tourists. We stayed at a guesthouse that was also the local corner store. As if I needed assurance that I was not on the edge of the earth, the owner had just returned from a 7 year stint living in Long Island, NY. He also owned several buses in the area.

I found out that one f the perks of sleeping in the middle of nowhere is that alarm clocks are unnecessary. They have imported all the roosters from other parts of the country and it is impossible to sleep past 2:30am without the aid of a pharmaceutical rep. I honestly don't know how they do it. I would turn into a nocturnal rooster killing ninja within a week.

All too soon, are all too long, depending on how you look at it, it was necessary to packup and get out to catch the bus. This is a very multipurpose bus. Kids take it to school, disoriented travelers take it to El Salvador, people take eggs to the market with it etc. The really odd thing was that, per the bus drivers indication of where the border was, the kids take the bus from Honduras to go to school in El Salvador. After all the kids got off for school, we went two blocks and then a bunch of kids got on to go to school in a different city. Maybe I was still feeling the effects of the roosters, but it seemed odd. That, and we never went though any kind of border control. I had read about a $10 tourist card we had to buy. We shall see if this is turns into a problem.

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