I’ve never been the kind of person to make solo trips, but ever since I moved down to Mexico, it began a new trend for me. There’s nothing like flying down to your destination spot but when a one-way ticket costs almost the same as the roundtrip, busing down for a fourth of the price becomes a very attractive option. From Manzanillo to the Guatemalan border, it only cost me around 110 dollars. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Not when you have to sit for a total of 29 hours! I don’t care how clean a bus restroom may be, I will do whatever I can to avoid using it. Fortunately, the remnants of my fraternity drinking and bladder holding days are still holding strong.
It’s been a long time since my hustler days in the streets of Yakavegas, and when you’re wearing bourgeois frameless glasses, and look a little Asian, you can become an easy target for “border hustlers.” Border hustlers are those locals that wake up at the butt-crack of dawn with their thick stacks of bills in different currencies to exchange with ignorant tourists. They also offer immigration processing services in exchange for a tip even though they’re not legally authorized to do so. If you’ve never traveled by bus through any border, perhaps you’ve experienced this at the flea market in Mexico City, or any city with people that swarm you and overwhelm you with their presence and whatever the hell they’re trying to sell you or get you to see. After getting little to no sleep in the previous weeks, the bus situation did not make me a tender and loving person. I almost punched a guy for touching me. You can yell at my direction, dance naked in front of me, and even crouch down and take a dooky in front of me, but when you touch me, I may forget who Jesus Christ is ☺ I also find it particularly funny when they lie to you just so that they can get their hands on your dollars. I’m not trying to make them sound like bad people. It’s survival of fittest out there, but I guess I struggle between giving people the benefit of the doubt (and getting screwed over) and assuming they’re evil people when they have good intentions.
The bus eventually headed to El Salvador and arrived later that afternoon in San Salvador. The Ticabus company has a bus station hostel which makes it convenient for showering and getting a bit of rest on a real bed before another 10 hour bus ride. I almost got the shaft in El Salvador with my bus reservation to Nicaragua. The regular ticket price is 30 US dollars and it leaves at 5 am and arrives at 5pm, while the executive ticket costs 44 US dollars and departs at 2am and arrives at noon in Nicaragua. As a backpacker, every dollar spent must be wisely spent and after sitting all those hours on the bus, the 5-hour difference was definitely worth the 14 dollars.
They say San Salvador has a really dangerous street night-life and I must say that I was a bit disappointed when I went for a stroll for beer and found the streets rather peaceful. That night I met Mauricio, a very interesting character from Italy at the bus station. He had a mustache like Captain Hook from the Peter Pan movies and spoke perfect Mexican Spanish with a Captain Jack-like accent from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. He was as loopy too! He was telling me about his travels back and forth between Panama and Mexico when he’s not working as a chef on a sail boat that takes tourists through the San Blas Islands between Panama city and Cartagena, Colombia. Was it a coincidence that I was planning on making that sailing trip as soon as I arrived to Panama and now had met someone that was sure to make that trip fun? We exchanged contact information and I look forward to seeing Mauricio later this August.