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76# The cost of carelessness

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

- You see, when you left earlier, we closed your car permit.

- I know. Can you open it again please? I have to go back.

- I can't do it until three months have passed...

I could not enter Honduras, the border agent said. I had to fly out to Mexico, Belize or anywhere outside of the CA-4 zone. “But I came by car!” He didn't care. His unwillingness to understand nor discuss triggered me. He refused to give me his name, closed the glass window and disappeared. I stood there, helpless and angry. There was no one else. No woman's compassion to save me this time. That was it. I could not enter Honduras.

The pill was hard to swallow. I said goodbye to the Israelis and wished them good luck on their trip. It was my fault. I did not double check the visa information. The CA-4 countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua) shared the same visa but only for the first entry. When it came to extensions, every country had its own policy. I could not stay longer than 120 days in the CA-4 zone. So when I extended my visa for 90 more days in El Salvador, it was valid only for El Salvador, not for the other countries. Go figure.

I thought logic was behind naive. El Salvador was between Guatemala and Honduras so it made no sense for people travelling by car. That was my logic, and no one cared to hear it. I hated that border agent with a passion, and found little comfort knowing he would never escape his miserable life. Fuck you and your shithole country. I hope you all kill each other!

The storm was raging, lightning and thunder fighting for attention. The border was four hours away from El Tunco. The drive back would be a dangerous mission, especially on a pitch black night and slippery roads. I bought two redbulls and went looking for somebody to share the ride with, at least to keep me awake.

I crossed the bridge back to El Salvador. The Salvadorian border agents agreed the system didn't make sense. One of them even made a phone call to see if there was a way around it, in vain. And when I drove back they couldn't let me through. They had closed my car permit re-opening would not be possible until 3 months had passed. That was the procedure. One agent asked me to wait outside while they figured something out. I laid back on the wall, and started laughing. Faut rigoler, c'est tout ce qu'il nous reste.

It had been raining for hours now. A black and loud downpour that well suited my mood, adding a dramatic touch to my misery. I found shelter under a bus stop, cracked my red bull and examined the scene. The border hustlers had been replaced by spooky characters. Intoxicated men crawled in like zombies, looking for anything to spice up their high. I put on a mean face and started walking fast around the building. Every time I checked for progress, “un momentito” was all I heard. Two hours later they opened the gates and handed me a new paper. Finally! Back to square one.

There were now two men under the bus stop. In their forties, neatly dressed, one looked Scandinavian. It seemed they had been teleported here by mistake. Their bus arrived late and they missed their connection for San Salvador. They looked scared and lost. I offered them a ride to El Tunco. I was their only chance to leave that place. They were also mine.

The two gentlemen were Brazilians. They spoke poor Spanish and poorer English. Communication was rough, but rough was enough. Trying to make sense of every sentence kept me awake. Three stops and four hours later we saw the first road sign for El Tunco. I dropped them off and slowly drove on the main road.


- "Yo Yo Raz is back !"

Familiar voices. Sandra and Negro were partying on the liquor store terrace. The security guard of la Guitarra opened the gate for la Chichona. Sandra gave me a long, warm and comforting hug. Negro handed me a large Pilsner. I made it back to El Tunco. Safe and sound.

We tried to make sense of all my shenanigans. Negro said that El Tunco was not done with me. And Sandra was genuinely happy to have me back: “You left in a rush. It didn't feel right”. She was right about that. It did not feel right.

I was so desperate to find a travel partner that I took the first option I had, and forgot everything else. I didn't check the visa process and I didn't make a B plan. At home or while travelling, carelessness always comes at a price.


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