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Peregrinations Mexico and Central America on Motorcycle: Open road, open heart, open mind.

Week X: El Salvador, Honduras and Dengue Fever

HONDURAS | Wednesday, 6 July 2011 | Views [1649] | Comments [3]

Lago Yojoa.

Lago Yojoa.

Something is wrong with the way I'm numbering my weeks, but without my journal in front of me I am unable to fix it, so we shall call this Week X. Suffice to say, I left Guatemala over a week ago, and have had a slew of adventures since. 

First off, after making my escape from the temptations of Xela, I enjoyed a long, scenic drive to the southern border with El Salvador. The crossing was very straight forward, with zero hassle and, better yet, zero money paid! Gotta love a free entry. The reason behind this, I suspect, is that El Salvador is trying really hard to ramp up its tourism industry. It was apparent everywhere I went, with the tourism offices, cutely named scenic drives, and the overall willingness of locals to bend over backwards for an extranjera. First step to increasing tourism? Make it easy to get in to the country. Check.

I immediately drove up to the Ruta de Flores, and the town of Juayùa, a town that is about halfway into the country, from south to north. In El Salvador, that meant a whopping 80 km away. I arrived just as all hell broke loose from the clouds above, and settled in to a lovely hostel in the mountains, which I called home for a couple of days. The surrounding area was gorgeous and green, full of waterfalls and kindly, softspoken people. Very nice neck of the woods. Myself and the other two travelers at the hostel cooked up homemade meals that had us dreaming of our moms' kitchens, and watched movies in the evening while the heavens made a solid attempt at unleashing the next apocolypse.

I also spent one day down on the famous El Salvadorean coast, getting my first glimpse of the ocean since Sayulita, back when I hurt my shoulder! To have traveled this far in such a skinny land mass and not have seen the ocean in months...it had me checking the maps. I only spent one night at Playa el Tunco, and spent most of it exchanging stories and tips with a fellow motorcyclist, Damon from Australia via London. He was the first motorcyclist I'd seen since saying farewell to my friends in Flores, northern Guatemala. Again, skinny landmass, lots of motorcyclists...why aren't things adding up here? At any rate, it was a fun evening, and I left for the El Salvador/Honduras border crossing the next morning.

Upon arriving in La Palma, northern El Salvador, I discovered I had a raging fever. Instead of my normal 97.3 degree F temp, I was running at a hot 101.1 degrees. No bueno. My eyeballs hurt, I had vertigo when I walked, and I was suddenly remembering how sore my back had been the past few days...hm. Of all places, I did not want to be in La Palma. My hotel room smelled, the town was dull (though kind of pretty), and none of the restaurants seemed to carry the food on their menus. So instead of papusas, I had a hamburger, called it a day, and enjoyed fever-dreams all night long. The next morning I was still pretty feverish, but the vertigo was gone so I made haste for the border.

The crossing into Honduras is notorious for being slow, expensive, complicated and corrupt. I witnessed only one of those (slow) and it was for a reason that's [almost] comical looking back on it. It ends up the paperwork for importing a foreign-owned vehicle into Honduras was safely stored in the jefa's office. The jefa had gone to a doctors appointment, and not left her keys with anyone. Yes, yes, she would surely be back by ten or eleven o'clock. Surely. Noon rolled around, and I was sick and tired (literally) of waiting. At which point they decided to break into the jefa's office via the window, retrieve the papers, and get me on my way. After that, the process took a mere twenty minutes! 

Northwestern Honduras blew me away with its beauty. Why had no one ever mentioned what a gem Honduras is? Sure, it's lacking in local culture, being a victim of US 'aid and intervention' for decades and decades, but the people are very sweet, the landscape is stunning, and the pavement (between the potholes) is in excellent shape! I was thrilled. The vistas made me smile at every corner. Towering cloud-shrouded hills, deep valleys and canyons, dozens of raging muddy rivers, acres and acres of dripping pine forests, cowboys on horses (or bicycles) swinging machetes, and droves of children. For the first couple of hours, I thought Honduras was populated by children exclusively. 

I spent a night in the colonial town of Gracias, where I made quite a scandal by paying for a 20-Lempira ice cream cone with a 100-Lempira note. I don't think I'm welcome in that shop anymore. I spent most of the night in my hotel room, staring at a wall...which made me think to check my temperature again. Crap, pushing 100 degrees again. 

The next day's drive was just as spectacular as the first. The road to La Esperanza from Gracias was paved for most of the way, fun dirt for the remainder, and nearly deserted, a nice change from the congested, exhaust-filled highways of El Salvador (along with being the tiniest country, it's the most densely populated). I ate breakfast in a roadside comedor run by a astoundingly ugly man with surprisingly good English. It constantly amazes me along this trip how many people I meet who have worked lousy jobs in the US (truck drivers and kitchen staff mostly), often for 15+ years, and have since returned home to raise a family.

I stayed the past four days at the D&D Brewery at Lago Yajoa, where my fever returned, then plummetted to a mere 96 degrees for a day and a half, then spiked some more...until I was utterly sick of taking my temperature. Ends up the rollercoaster temperature, the sore eyeballs, the back aches and skin tenderness from El Salvador, and the vertigo, are all signs of Dengue Fever! Hooray, add another tropical illness to the list. The cure was to chill out for a few days and let the virus run its course, which I did with much help from the D&D staff, who plied me with hot limeade, Faith Drops, and a free bed for a one torrentially rainy night. Most memorable moment of my days there: riding home on my motorcycle after being evangelized by scary Baptists, with two four-week-old kittens crawling around inside my shirt, and a guy on another motorcycle following me with a guitar and a bouquet of sunflowers. It was a beautiful day! 

I'm now in Danlì, a nondescript city in Southern Honduras poised nicely near the border with Nicaragua so I can make an early crossing tomorrow morning. My fever is gone entirely, the bike is running perfectly (achieved a whopping 89 mpg on my last tank of gas!), and I'm excited for the next couple of weeks in Nicaragua, where I plan to tour the Pacific coast, then play castaway on Little Corn Island for a week or so. 

Until next time,

Sarah

Comments

1

I'm way WAY behind on your blog....but as soon as I get back to civilization (a couple days) I'll get caught up. I'm glad to hear you've recovered and are plowing forward. South America awaits you!

  Eric Jul 19, 2011 3:19 AM

2

You're lucky I have Mickey giving me updates about you from FB. I've been worried about you :) lol. Glad you are having fun and are safe!

  Bobbie Jul 23, 2011 5:22 AM

3

I would like to agree with you that it does seem that Elsalvadors tourism industry is just beginning to grow to much the likes of neighboring south american countries like (eg brazil) but that is not to say that they dont have the potential to sell themselves.

http://travel-2-elsalvador.blogspot.com/

  Alex Mar 10, 2013 12:47 AM

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