08.12.2006 28 °C
Things have taken a turn towards good times. After a few tricky days travelling through Honduras I´ve arrived in Nicaragua where I was reunited with my friends Sara & Eric that I meet in Guatemala at spanish school. We seem to have fun and find plenty of trouble together.
I´ve done some reflecting on why I had such a difficult time in Honduras. Lessons learned. DO NOT attempt to budget while crossing a border. If I find myself without access to my funds and am low on cash I´ll do the wireing of funds from my bank. In the long run worth the fee. There are several hidden fees (exit fees, entrance fees, taxis, bus fare, ummmm food too). Always have some US currency on you in small bills. At the Nicaragua boarder I was very proud of myself for having $10 to pay for the $7 entrance\exit fee (can´t keep em straight). So because they were unable to make change in US currency I was forced to hand over my precious cash to the local money changer kid that had been following me, even though I told him I didn´t need any money. So they change your money, but of course charge you a large fee for the service (worse exchange rate in the end. Then because I had no idea what things will cost, bus rides, taxis... I was unwilling to part with the little money remaining on silly things like food and water. It is a good idea to buy local bread (cheap) water and my CRUNCHY peanut butter saved the day for me. All in all it´s probably better to be frugal when you get to a town (not on the way there) and can find cheap food stalls and what not.
Even though I had to learn the hard way to keep an extra stash of cash on hand I must admit that EVERYONE I met in Honduras were so kind and helpful. The guy that refused to let me walk all the way to my hotel when I got to Tegucigalpa(which I had no idea where the hell I was going). Wandering around with my huge backpack -- just point me in the right direction, is it far, no I don´t need a taxi, this way??? He actually walked me to the bus stop, put me on the bus paid my fare and told me when to get off and where I needed to go. SO NICE! And yes it was quite a bit further than I expected. Whenever I ask largo? (far) The answer is ALWAYS si, muy largo. I´ve stopped listening, I´m working on the phrase Yo tengo fuerte piernes, Yo puedo caminar. I have strong legs, I can walk. But I get that R U crazy look...
I made my way to Tela to hang on the beach, it rained. I met this guy Benjamin who was selling his cocunut jewlery at the beach. He heard me try to buy some coconut bread from a local lady...I needed it to be cheaper, thought we had a deal then she handed me half of the bread...not what I was going for so I said no gracias, no tengo mucho dinero es un poco carro parami. She was NOT happy. Lo siento...not sure her response, but again I could tell she was not happy. So I walk away and meet Benjamin who saw this all go down. Oh you´ve made an enemy he tells me. So we start talking, he knows three languages lived in the Carribean for a year. Very friendly. I told him that I didn´t really have any money was just planning on hanging out at the beach, reading, laying low. Right on cue it starts POURING rain. For some reason Benjamin kept saying it was his good luck day to meet sm. He basically became my personal tour guide showed me all around town, bought me coffe, food, walked me to the bus station so I could get me ticket for the next day. Then he brings me to the Garifuna village outside of Tela. VERY cool. Everyone was So friendly, cooking for some celebration that night. Very similar to the West Indies. Sat on the beach for a couple hours in these great beach huts --way better beach than I was planning on hanging out at in Tela. Of course it´s beautiful and no one swims...we´re just so used to it that everyone takes it for granted, Benjamin says. Shared a bowl of awesome fish soup and say stayed for some of the celebration that night. Punta dancing, yelling, bonfire cool stuff. Benjamin even gave me some cool coconut jewelry. Again EXTEMLEY generous.
All in all I feel very humbled by my experience in Honduras. Even though I was hungry from time to time, I was NOT starving and all my basic needs were meet. Reading about Nicaragua en route I read that it´s a young population of people and malnutrition is a big problem. Well over half the population is under the age of 30 and it is the poorest country in Central America second to Cuba. I´m really intuiged by this fact. I´ve always been a firm believer that there is so much potention for postive change from young, educated people. Also Nicaragua has a rich history of revolutionary figures that demanded thing to change. Sara & I visited the old jail. The amount of people that were brutally tortured for speaking agianst the local politians was mind boggling.