Short Stories
Entry No. 35   December 11, 2004

Ahh Central America

Susie and I realized that we were soon leaving the comforts of Mexico and would be moving on to the rough and tough of Central America. Two months in Mexico gave me just enough time to get accustomed to the way some things work and realize that it would, in some respects, get a bit more chaotic further down. Once you get adjusted and can sift through all of the crap, you can really find beauty. Or, just complete comedy.

Entering into Guatemala proved easy. However, finding things that you might expect to be at a border town, like, a map, proved quite difficult. After some money exchanging, Susie and I set out to look for a map and maybe a flag of Guatemala. The more inquiries we made for maps, the more variety of answers we got. I finally found a stationary store at the end of town that had a Budget Rental Car map of the country. It was old and pretty faded and there was no Budget Rental Car locale in the area, but the town of Tecún Umán decided that this was the best I was going to get.

We spent almost three days biking through Guatemala and experienced the best smoothies and the worst air quality. With the smoothies came a devastating loss in arm wrestling with 16 year old muchachas. As for the air quality, the buses, trucks, and sugar refineries were vomiting out gases and fumes of so many different colors and smells it was grossly overwhelming. We tried to breathe through our noses so as to filter the air with our nose hairs, but at the same time, we couldn't stand the mix of burning plastic, cow poo, and the rancid, sweet smell of
burnt sugar cane.

As we neared the border to El Salvador, I wondered who exactly was El Salvador-Italics (The Savior) and what he was going to salvarme-Italics from. We arrived over the border to La Hachadura just in time to meet a few locals that were so friendly. We were quite surprised by their willingness to help and figured we would find a map and a country flag with ease.

We were, however, informed that there was no such store that sold maps of the country, but luckily, Manuel a local, had a map at his house. While he ran and got it, Luis, another local, brought us little flags of El Salvador. We were also informed of where the best pupusas (1) were in town and we put out bikes in our dorm room and got ready for dinner. At this point, Manuel came back with a map alright.... a map of Mississippi. He said he thought it would be helpful. I choked on my water a bit and graciously thanked him but said that I didn't think this map would work for us. He was so nice and you could tell he was trying to be so helpful but it
was quite amusing.

He sent us over to the pupusa place where we didn't run into the same hospitality. When we asked if we could have another order of pupusas, the waitress responded "Go check" and proceeded to her stoop to watch the telenovela that was on.

Rosa Luz, on the other hand, was so kind and helpful. We met her the next day while biking. We noticed her colorful fruit stand and asked if we could buy and open one of her melons right then and there. She said sure and gave us a million dollar smile adorned with 2 peace signs in her front teeth. She was so nice and offered us some sweet bread with our juice and melon. We had such a good conversation with her that we forgot to pay for the food and remembered about a kilometer up the road and coasted back down to close our tab.

That, in an nutshell, is El Salvador. We passed through the length of the entire country in about 3 days and were impressed not only by the beautiful people, but the nicely paved road canopied with huge, beautiful, old Ceiba, Cedro, and Guanacaste trees.

Now onto the Central American country I know best... Honduras.
(1) A Pupusa is a wonderful little cheese filled corn or flour tortilla sauteéd to perfection with pickled cabbage and carrots on top. It is sooo good. You will only find it in El Salvador and Honduras.

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