6th July 2004

It IS a Small World After All

This place is such a hole.
The crater of Volcan Masaya.
Recognize any of these people? Not me, silly...
My last stop in Nicaragua was a huge extinct volcanic crater that now contains several smaller volcanic craters. There is a 5km road from the highway to the top, but the ranger that took pity on me after he saw me with my pack only could take me as far as the vistors center, at km 2. It was a nice day, but late in the afternoon, and I was appreciative when a passing pickup did as the name implies.

Once we got to the top I thanked them and split off, but there was some discussion as to the depth of the crater--we finally settled on 400m--and I got involved in their conversation. Somehow it came up that the older man and younger girl had just met that day, but they had both gone to the same university in Virginia. Naturally I inquired, and it turned out to be Eastern Mennonite, which is located in Harrisonburg, the town just across the mountain from Franklin, WV, where I used to live. The girl knew Franklin, and some people there. I won't keep the Franklonians in suspense, she is friends with Pam Waybright, and also knows Dewey Bensenhaver and his wife in Petersburg. It took a little more playing of the name game with the man, but it seems that he went to school with the father of one of the other flight paramedics from MedStar. Small world mission complete. (It later turned out that the man was not my friend's father, just some other random person with a similar name. However, the two know each other, which still closes the circle to a mere 5 degrees of seperation. Kevin Bacon could not be reached for comment.)

The trip back north was a bit less interesting than other bus trips, for I was far at the other end of the bus spectrum from the chicken buses. There is a company called Tica Bus that does first class service (movies, bathrooms, air conditioning, a minimum of horn honking) from Panama City to Mexico. The trip from Managua to Guatemala City is two days; you get to lay over for one lovely night in San Salvador. There are a lot of guns there, big guns with lots of extra ammunition. It makes Texas look merely like a meeting of the church ladies' quilting circle (soon I'll stop cracking on Texas, but for now it's just too much fun). Everyone has several. There are social guns, perhaps just a pistol on the passenger seat or tucked in the front of the pants or, for ladies, in the purse. These guns might go with you to a barn dance, or to church. There are after dinner guns: "Here is your check sir, would you like a gun with that?" There are pump-action shotguns for going to the bathroom, in case you have to resort to intimidation to keep things moving. And there are guns for when you need to do some serious business, the kind of gun that Samuel L. Jackson spoke about when he said "The AK-47. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every [errr…amigo] in the room, accept no substitute."

But San Salvador didn't have that Belize City type of unsafe feeling about it.

The next week was pretty uninteresting. I went back to Antigua to attempt to organize a plane ticket, but the travel agent was a bit uncooperative and the fare had gone up—again. Finally got all that figured out with the help of a friend of a friend—a guy I had dived with in Utila. Decided I'd pop back up to the lake for a couple days to have one more one last look and buy some souvenirs. And wouldn't you know it, on the way I got pick pocketed and lost my bankcard! Man that sucks. I never have the card in my wallet, and I never have the wallet in my back pocket, but I had forgotten to go to the bank before I left, then when I was crammed in the bus seat I couldn't get it back in my front pocket. Opportunities. They got busy with it right away too, camera store, Campero, gas station. Nearly two hundred dollars by the time I got through to the bank to stop them. Not such a big deal, just the timing was a bit inconvenient for me. And it's so hard here to get cash off an American Express, which is all I have left.

The Boat

David and the sunset
Sure, you might be Mr. King of the Sea
underwater, with your big teeth and nasty
attitude, but how cool are you now, with
this fillet knife up your butt, Mr. Baracuda?
For the next two weeks I got a ways off the beaten track and then hitched a ride back to Mexico by sailboat. There were three of us on the 32 foot boat: an English gentleman, David, who owned the boat; Kate, an Ozzie woman I had met in Coban a couple months back; and me. Other than that I had a sudden attack of heat- and dehydration-exacerbated motion sickness, it was a pretty good time. My pace of life has slowed substantially since the days of helicopters and ambulances, but even still it's a bit too slow of a way of getting around for me. And a bit confining, I need to be able to take a walk when I want. We went diving before we started back and did a really nice swim-through.

That leg ended in Isla Mujeres, an island off the coast of Cancun that while touristy is certainly nothing like Cancun. Very laid-back, a bit cheaper, definitely the backpackers section of the beach. I'm kind of stuck here for a while. My replacement bank card is on its way here, and until it arrives I'm without the ability to get cash. So I must wait.

It's terrible being stuck someplace. But don't you worry about me. Somehow I'll survive. I'll get past lying on the white sand beaches and swimming in shallow bathtub-warm Carribean waters, drinking dollar Coronas and foofy drinks with umbrellas, and watching scantily-clad Swedish girls frolic around me. Don't worry about me, I'll be alright. And please don't try to wire me money out of sympathy. I need this time to serve as a reminder to not be so careless about letting things get stolen. I'm a stoic (some might say masochist), and I've got broad shoulders. Somehow, I'll survive.

Acutally, I do need a haircut pretty badly. I'm beginning to look a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway, I even have a volleyball. If someone wants to wire me $7 for that, I won't object.

I had a great little article in the works for this time, but I just can't make it work. I promise that there will be two next time.

Hasta luego--

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