I have been in Ciriboya for the last two weeks straight (which is awesome and I love) but that also means I was without communication, electricity, cold drinks and fresh food for the most part and was reduced to eating granola with warm powdered milk or pasta and tomato sauce at every meal... So yesterday morning Nicole and I caught the first bus out of the village. The bus leaves from the end of the road which is two villages past us at around 3am but you can never quite be sure. After waiting at the side of the road in the darkness the bus finally came at around 3:30am. The road is rough and it took a full 25mins to travel 5km to the next village - slow going. But the mornings are a good time to travel as the bus is quiet and dark and still cool
. After about an hour of try to sleep the bus stopped and there was some discussion about how to proceed. We had arrived at a hill known as Mango Oscuro that always proves to be a bit tricky. The rainy season has make huge ruts in the road, made deeper by the busses and trucks and yesterday with the rain it was especially greasy. After some discussion and scouting the driver backed the bus up a good two hundred meters and the gunned for the hill. Nicole and I looked at each other in amazement and hung on for dear life. As we hit the bottom of the hill at the bus violently bounced, bags flew, the loose propane tanks in the back crashed together and finally the bus came to a stop 3/4 of the way up the hill with wheels spinning. Unbelievable. If only the designers of this Canadian Blue Bird yellow school bus, who designed this vehicle to transport school children at moderate speeds on the quiet paved roads of northamerican cities could see it now, they would be utterly amazed and horrified all at the same time. After the fourth run at the hill and still making no progress the bus driver and helper got out to survey the scene and help push two 4x4 pickup trucks up the hill. Losing hope, Nicole and I got off the bus with our bags, walked to the top of the hill to wait, in hopes of hopping in the back of the next pick up truck that made it up the hill. With a group of 8 other passengers we stood and watched the bus driver to continue to try his luck at the hill, each time backing up a little further and pick a different line
. Finally on the eighth (yes 8th) try, with a little extra speed and just the right line, the bus came careening to the bottom of the hill, lurched to the right into a burm at which point the door somehow made contact with the ground, bending the metal frame and breaking the glass, then front wheels completely left the ground as the bus bounced back to the left and with the last bit of momentum the bus crawled the last few meters with wheels spinning. We cheered. The bus driver got out, looking a bit frazzled and inspected the bus for damage. I canīt believe it even held together. Perseverance at its finest. Needless to say the rest of the ride was boring in comparison; a woman leaning out the window emptying her stomach on the road, a small girl across the isle doing the same but on the floor of the bus, many stops, chated with the bus helper who wore a shirt that said in english, "I'm sorry, my fault. I forgot you were a moron.". Five and a half hours after boarding the bus we arrived in Tocoa (the nearest sizable town to us) and waited another hour and a half for another bus to La Ceiba. This was a more "luxurious" bus, more like a Greyhound but from the 70's and made for midgets. Finally at 12:30pm we arrive in the big city, tired, dirty and still in shock. We checked into a hotel, cleaned up and headed downtown to pick up a few things.
No, no. The story doesn't end here. My mission for the afternoon was to buy a hammock. Usually there is a guy that hangs out in the central park with hammock but of course yesterday he wasn't there so I began wandering aimlessly around the market downtown
. Shortly thereafter, a man started walking next to me who was selling rings and things. Semi-interested I stopped to look and while I was trying on the rings he talked not stop in a mix of English and Spanish and then informed me that he also spoke Garifuna (the language of the people in my village). So, I pulled out a few of my Garifuna phrases on him and amazed he asked where I had learned Garifuna. "In Ciriboya, where I live." I replied. So turns out he is from a neighboring village and a cousin of a friend of mine in Ciriboya. Small world. And that was just the beginning. Dying for conversation, he asked where I was going and then joined me on my mission for a hammock. We walked for about an hour, stopping to talk with other Garifuna people from our area, asking directions for good hammocks, while he talked non-stop. Finally a kind woman in a hardware store wrote down the name of a man to ask for a some place name I didn't understand. We walked about four blocks, stopping three or four times to ask directions to this unknown-to-me-place. Finally, the last man we stopped to ask directions pointed across the street at the penal center. The prison. You have got to be kidding me. So we marched up to the front gates where Benjamin informed the Cobras (machine gun wielding special Honduran police force in camo) that I was here to buy a hammock from a man named Hiro. I was then ushered inside the prison by myself to a desk that faced two iron gates looking right into the inmate area. There were two Cobras outside the gates with me, two between the gates and one on the inside
. One of them called for the hammock man to come and bring his goods. He arrived with two hammock and fed them thru the bars where the intermediate guards fed them thru the bars to me, all while a group of inmate stood and curiously looked on. The two Cobras standing with me then took the hammocks out of the bags, stretched them out and said, "Beautiful colors, no? Hand made, just feel this fabric. Lovely aren't they?" At this point I was having trouble containing myself watching these two tough military types with machine guns in one hand and hammocks in the other sell me on the fine craftsman ship of the product. After some bartering thru the bars we settled on a price and I left with a beautiful hammock and a great story.
Benjamin then walked me back to the internet cafe where I was meeting up with the rest of the gang and he told me about all sorts of things like his philosophy on life, his Canadian girl friend who was from Vernon, BC, Garifuna culture, tourism, learning spanish... It was a long walk. Finally, we said goodbye and see you again and I joined up with Rory, Michele and Nicole back at the hotel. Last night we went out for dinner at a local bar called Expatriates where I had a beautiful steak dinner and cold beer. It was a great end to a very, very long day.
So, the last month has been a busy one and many adventures were had. But instead of giving you an overview of the past month I want to tell you about my day yesterday. It was not a typical day but also not a day out of the ordinary.