March 15, 2008
The day started off easy enough with the early bus out of Managua. We had an easy border crossing into Honduras after a few hours. I found out that you don't even need to get your passport stamped for land crossings between Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, so my passport won't quite fill up so fast.
I was supposed to get off at a city near the border in Honduras and find another bus to take me north to Tegucigalpa, and I let the bus assistant know of my plans when he was loading my backpack in the storage compartment. The terrain outside appeared to be dry and barren with no human settlements in sight. Some Tom Hanks movie about the US secretly giving the Afghanis money during the cold war was playing, and before I knew it a couple hours had passed. All of a sudden we stopped, and I asked the assistant if we were in my city yet. He had an "oh shit" look of surprise on his face when he saw that I was still on the bus, and he broke the bad news to me that he had forgotten about me and we were, in fact, already crossing into El Salvador.
I thought briefly about getting off the bus and trying to make my way back through Honduras, but at that point I'd have to traverse the entire country to get to the Caribbean coast. I decided to continue to San Salvador instead. I was planning to go there eventually anyway, so I figured as long as I was in the country, I might as well stay a few days.
A few people had warned me not to go to El Salvador because of the extreme gang violence that was happening there. I met very few people who had actually been there, though, and that piqued my curiosity about the place. I started reading about the tiny, practically unknown country and discovered that like Nicaragua, there was a terrible civil war there that cost 75,000 lives, and of course the US government played a large role in prolonging it. Still, it ended in 1992, so the youngest generation wouldn't have any memories of it. Hopefully the country would be peaceful enough for the older generations to forgive and forget.
I found a place to sleep near the bus station in the capital of San Salvador, and when I looked around all I saw were a Wendy's, a Pizza Hut, and a street full of cars and devoid of people, much like I'd expect to see back home. Maybe the gangs were fighting on the other side of town. I told the desk worker at my hotel about how the bus didn't drop me off in Honduras, and she said it was divine intervention that I came to her country instead. Indeed, Holy Week had affected me deeply, whether I wanted it to or not.