I was not asked, but I knew I would feel bad if I went my separate way, so I joined the three girls, M, O and A on the journey south.
M´s ankle was pretty bad. They had managed to buy some crutches, but they were designed for a person 6´4" to 7´6". Guatemalan´s are a short people and M is not much bigger, so some serious bodging was necessary.
Up early and caught an unusually empty chicken bus to Guate City. Normally they are hanging out the door. All went smoothly, jumping straight into a taxi to the bus station, though a fight between the taxi drivers was broken up by a shot gun wielding security guard.
M hopped up the steps on to the Tica bus to El Salvador and off we went. The air con was not and we were stuck by the most fowl smelling toilets ever. It was hot and unpleasant.
Got dropped off and found some nearby accommodation in San Salvador. No water, dirty, rough, cockroaches, odd noises in the night. Sorta funny for one night. The getting on and off buses is starting to tell on M. Just walking the few yards from the bus is obviously painful and slow. This is not the place to be vulnerable. Had to stand on the street corner at 4am in downtown San Salvador to catch the next bus, dodgy as hell. This is not a nice city.
Another long hot bus journey. The Tica people messed up our tickets and we ended up back next to the toilet again! The scenery was dry and dusty, gone was the lush jungle of Guatemala. To pass the time pleasantly we describe in minutiae our favourite meals.
Crossed through more borders, did not stop for meals, ate what ever was offered by the local women. O found some delicious oranges, thanks, the days highlight. O is great, sparkly eyes and dont give a damn attitude, though one of the untidiest people I have ever met. Previously three of us shared a room.I constantly tripped over clothing and founding discarded knickers stuck to my foot on the way to the bathroom.
The bus finally dropped us in Managua, Nicaragua. Strange, flat dispersed city, covered in trees and American style intersections. Jumped in another taxi to go across town. They were all over us at the bus station, dived into a comida for escape. Ate weird deep fried stuff, not exactly pleasant, but least it was something.
Got ripped off on the bus, but we were passed caring. M is now really suffering.
Arrived in Granada, Nicaragua after sun down, not ideal. Taxi´s dont want to pick us up. Strange town, get one eventually but the hostel is full. Temporarily leave M and run across town to find somewhere, twisting my ankle in the process. Leaves it tender for a few days. Check in to a nice funky hostel and proceed to do the bar some damage. After a few random drinks we discover Mojitos, rum and fresh mint and set to in earnest.
There is another English guy here in crutches, slipped on a curb. After all the stupid adventures it is the innocent of things that have all caught us out.
Strange place Granada, feels like a mid west ghost town, old colonial houses. The fronts are brightly painted in pastel shades, but look round the side and they slope down into a dilapidated, scruffy mess. The locals seem sullen, not rude, but lack that certain spark. There are few smiles. The parks at the lake front in empty, no kids in the playground, swarms of flies over brown dirty water, swimming is not advised.
Saw two funerals processions. Tall big black wooden carriages drawn by two white horses. The negro coachman is dressed in brilliant white tails with a white top hat followed by a somber funeral procession. The brightly colored garlands hanging from the coach in marked contrast to the monochrome procession.
In a strange twist i walk straight into a Latino wedding ceremony. Sharp suited men, girls in spray on dresses, the band plays up beat music, choir is gospel and its pretty jolly and cheerful all round.
Back to the hostel, we are pretty tired and have some way to travel still. We stick together as a team, but other travelers spoil the vibe. There are too many weirdo´s here, never feel relaxed, always looking over your shoulder. We drink through the night well into tomorrow. You can order bottles of rum over the bar. Three hours sleep, stumble around bleary eyed, giggle and sing random songs and we decide to move to the beach. Brain dead on endless chicken buses, too many to count, get on and off in strange places. Its a bit of mystery but we end where we intended with luggage intact.
M has lost it at this point, her leg is worse than it started, but in the twilight the seaside is pretty.
Rose just after sun up and jogged the length of the beach and back. San Juan del Sur is a massive disappointment. So much traveling and effort and its a wind swept empty sea side town. Hard grey sand, wind never gives in, driving dust into your clothes and eyes. Too many empty bars, far from quaint and very little to do. To get to the next beach is $10 taxi journey, a kings ransom in these parts. No one sleeps well as the wind whistles round.
Spend hours debating with myself what to do, tired, dont want to be here. I dont like feeling like this it dominates everything. We travel the hour to the nearest town to buy our tickets out of here. It is our last night together, we play Monoploy and dont even have a drink.
I leave before dawn, more running away than leaving, a brief wave goodbye. Another bus, the air con long gone, the curtains drawn to stiffle the suns rays beating down on our little tin can of a bus. I am being slow baked. With no view time travels slowly.
The Costa Rican border was a test of human endurance. Three hours spent joining queues, lined up in the sun. Why? who knows, a stamp in the passport, a quick glance at my bag and thats it. Back on the tin can bus.
Arrive in Costa Rica, San Jose. The sun is fading behind grey rain clouds. Dont how know iffy this city is after dark, so I need to find somewhere to stay fast, but I am short of Cordoba´s as the money changers at the border were ruthless. I have learnt not to trust taxi´s, so its a hike with pack a few miles across town. Hostels are full. My legs are arching, its hot and humid, motivate myself with the need to shower and need to eat. Find a good place, the only hostel left? cheap, safe and full of travelers. I could now relax and start making new plans.