Saturday, November 29, 1997

I'm up early and ready to go, but I'm on Latin Standard time. I have to wait until 8:00 just to collect my free breakfast. Instead of syrup, they gave me some kind of sugar cane juice for my pancakes, and it was quite good. More importantly, the coffee was good.

It's back to the chicken busses today, lot's of 'em. Seems like I transferred half a dozen times. I had no idea how far I would get, just that I would go as far as possible before dark. This was some of the most interesting scenery of the trip, so I apologize for the lack of photos. The busses were just too packed to get my camera out.

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Bus transfer point at Los Enquetros, Guatemala

At some place I can't even find on a map, I transfered for a ride to Huehuetenango. People were literally oozing out the windows, but they welcomed me aboard. I hung on for dear life while barreling through the mountains with most of my body squeezed out of the door of the vehicle. At least my feet had a place inside the bus. I considered this to be the best "seat" in the bus; at least I had fresh air while hanging out the door and the best view, too.

We stopped for fumigation before Huehuetenango. Guatemalans are really into this. Everyone gets off the bus and someone blasts the vehicle for critters while the passengers grab a snack and a pee. I'm the only gringo on this bus, and it would be another day until I saw another gringo. People were quite curious as to what possessed me to go this way- the gringo trail ended a couple hours back. I think it is the rumors of problems in the area, and lack of tourist attractions that deter most travelers. I found it to be just as beautiful, and the people were really friendly here, so it really didn't make much sense to me.

I did see anti-government graffiti sprayed on every flat piece of rock along the road, but I didn't sense any tension- just people getting on with their lives like anywhere else. This is pretty much the center of the anti-status-quo movement, but the people really didn't seem much different than anywhere else I had been in Guatemala to this point.

Another bus transfer at Huehuetenango. Now on to La Mesilla, at the Mexican border. I knew that this would be as far as I would get because I was running out of daylight. The road down runs along a river, and the scenery is strikingly different. Fortunately, the bus did seem to have one working brake, and judging from the strong asbestos smell, there was probably a bit of pad left on it. This was good, considering the bus driver seemed to be tempting death the whole way. We screeched into La Messilla before dark and I found a hotel. There was a big "Orange Crush" sign out front.

At the hotel, I was hanging off the balcony admiring the extensive network of PVC pipes that distributed the contaminated water around town. The sunset was the best of the trip, and I couldn't have asked for more scenic landscape.

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Sunset along the Guatemala-Mexico border.

I looked down and saw a pretty girl looking up at me. She finally motioned for me to come down, and I obliged. Her name was Jessica, another Honduran on her way up to the "Promised Land" of USA. Jessica is 21, and full of hope. It would be interesting, but disappointing, to follow her north to see how her dream life would be. She was staying in the same hotel and spent her days watching Mexican soaps. I spent a few hours with her and tried to explain the reality of illegal aliens in the U.S., but like anyone this age, she wouldn't hear it. I hope the best for her. She seemed like a good girl, but a bit gullible.

Continue to day 14.

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