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144# A shithole country

Updated: May 16, 2021

- Watch out!

- . . .

- Stop stop stop STOP STOP STOP!


Playa El Tunco bit more than it could chew. Hordes of athletes, staff, tourists, flags, and photographers invaded the tiny village. The Stand-up Paddle World Championship 2019 started. Hotels were packed. Clubs were packed. And DJs blasted music so loud you could feel the bass in your lungs. Loud reggaeton all day. Loud electro all night. The peace I long cherished in La Guitarra was gone.

It was fun to experience a world sporting event. It was fun for a day, then it became annoying, and then oppressive. All activities were interrupted and all shops had long line ups coming out their doors. The surfing spots were reserved for the pros, and the usual chilling area was always crowded.

My friends were leaving El Tunco like the rocks that go back to sea at the change of seasons. Sandra returned to Europe, and most of the cool people in La Guitarra fled the noise. La Chichona’s car permit was expiring soon too. I had pick her up in Honduras and drive her to Nicaragua.

The people I know who had been to Nicaragua all loved it. “It’s like Costa Rica before Americans ruined it” said Sandra. She had spent a few months in a quiet village north of the country, a place called Las Penitas. It was a nice little town with almost no tourists, good waves, and silence. Time to look for a travel partner.

Kristy, a friend of Sandra, was also fed up with the noise and herds of drunkards. She wanted to surf, to do yoga, and to enjoy the quiet nature. Kristy and I had planned to travel to Nicaragua the year before. But I was denied entry at the border and she got bitten by a snake. Shit happens. Now she was back, Nicaragua was on her list, and I had to get la Chichona out of Honduras.

Winnie Pooh was punctual as usual. He drove us to playa Las Flores, halfway to the border. Las Flores was the total opposite of El Tunco. There were a few huts inhabited by local families, us, and mother Nature. We traded the oppressive bass for the soothing sound of waves. At night, the starts shone and we whispered. We rented a hut and enjoyed the peaceful haven before the trip to Honduras.

Kristy was not in her best shape. She had a fever and a neck pain that she calmed with natural remedies, never complaining. On the second day, her fever got worse. She was sweating and shivering. I wanted to get to Nicaragua as soon as possible; Leon is a big city with proper hospitals. We left the next morning.

The heat followed us like a black cloud follows a cartoon character. We crossed the Honduras border and found la Chichona on the other side. She was still there, waiting under a brown blanket of dust. We hit the road two hours later in the mid-afternoon. The sun was still hot but a fresh breeze blew on our face. Kristy put good music on, and La Chichona roared her way out of the sauna zone.

Honduras was troubling. Since we crossed the border, I had not seen one single reassuring view. Everywhere we looked was dodgy. Even the police looked more corrupt than elsewhere. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. We drove for most of the afternoon and decided not to stop until Nicaragua. About an hour short of the border, we halted behind a long line of traffic before a narrow bridge.

The bridge was in old rusty metal, like the ones they use on cargo boats, with room for only two lines. Sketchy characters walked along it and stared at Kristy like a dog stares at a bone. We both felt uneasy. Trash decorated both flanks of the river. The sun was low, yet still hot. An old green pickup truck in front of us coughed a toxic black smoke in the still air. We closed the window and bore the heat. That was Honduras in a nutshell.

The cars started to move. I waited until the green pickup cleared the way and followed. Before the end of the bridge, it stopped again. I switched pedals and pressed on the brakes...

I pressed on the brakes...

I pressed on the brakes...

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