Honduras: Just don’t leave the hotel alone.

How long are you staying for?  7 days.  The immigration agent froze and looked up from my passport. Wow, really? But that was all he said. He never elaborated on his reaction, which I can only assume as surprise. I guess most people don’t stay, at least not in Tegucigalpa. Landing in Tegus was not unlike my very memorable landing in Queenstown less than a year before. The biggest difference was that rather than a play-by-play of the pilot’s actions and decisions, there was just utter silence. I assumed it couldn’t possibly be an issue if the pilot and flight crew didn’t have anything to say about it. Only after I cleared customs and was standing outside arrivals that I remembered my brother telling me that Tegus was one of the most dangerous airports in the world to fly into. Selective memory. When I did see my brother and sister-in-law finally come out of arrivals after what felt like ages, it was a little bit like shock; seeing them for the first time in a year, and for the first time away from my niece and nephew since they’d been born. The first thing Ashley asked for was an iced coffee and it felt nice allowing myself to take comfort in her familiarity of this place that I wasn’t so sure about. We loaded into a minibus and were off to our fancy hotel in Tegus. I tried not to think about the expense, I tried not to fear too much for my travel budget after only one week. But Ashley let me in on a little piece of wisdom: in Tegus you either pay, or you sleep in fear of your life. So, I shut up. Oh, and don’t leave the hotel alone.  The next two days were packed with wedding activities. It was a reunion for James and Ashley as they were reunited for the first time with the other volunteers who’d worked at Montaña de Luz alongside them two years ago. It was fun, it was busy and I was so grateful to be a part of it, to be welcomed with open arms into a ceremony at which I knew only two people. But it was also about this time that my German friend went off the radar as he ventured into the depths of the Guatemalan jungle for a few days. He’d been my most constant point of contact since…

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Guatemala: lost experiences, gained friends.

I missed a lot. Okay, okay. Maybe it’s not the best way to set the scene as I begin to unfold the tales of my last month. But when it comes to Guatemala, I missed a lot. I thought I learned a lot about myself on my Sri Lankan travels. Things like: I’d rather take a taxi in my first moments in a brand new country, even knowing it was going to cost me. Like: I always wanted to book my first night or two so I could take comfort in knowing I had somewhere to go. Like: after three weeks in a third world country, I would want some of the comforts of home. I thought I learned these things about myself in Sri Lanka, but in Central America, I learned so much more. Because of what I thought I knew, I booked my first two nights in the small village of Santa Cruz la Laguna on Lago de Atitlán. It wasn’t a hostel, so I missed the chance to meet other travellers right from the beginning. Or so I thought. But I guess I’d sort of accepted that I wouldn’t meet many people in the first few days, so I didn’t think it would matter so much that I didn’t pick a hostel. It had taken me two whole days in Hikkaduwa to find Steve, and that being my only experience with solo travel, I assumed it as the standard. But I met someone my first day in Guatemala. In fact, I didn’t even have to make it to Atitlán first. From the airport, I took a shuttle to Antigua because there were no taxi drivers. As I’d walked out of the airport I’d braced myself for the onslaught of Guatemalan locals eager to snag a tourist fee for a short trip. But when I’d exited the sliding glass doors of La Aurora International Airport all I saw was a sea of unsmiling, indifferent Guatemalan faces. They were there for their families, fuck the gringa. When we got to Antigua, my driver palmed me off to another driver and I carefully crawled into the van, exhaustion setting in. Inside I found two Japanese faces turned expectantly toward me, and the side-profile of a German boy. The Japanese couple were eager to know me; What’s your name? Where are you from? Where are you going? The German didn’t care who I was, or…

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The {real} Hangover in Bangkok

In light of being honest with you, usually, I let a hangover get the best of me. I mean, I’m precious. Wallowing in the pain of my head pounding through the tops of my eyes, my stomach convulsing; threatening. I sat in the hotel bed in Bangkok, dressed in my black cotton skirt and grey tank top, backpacker garb. Was I, or wasn’t I? Jenn offered to let me stay in bed, call her later and meet up. Yea, okay, I agreed. But, it was already 12:30pm on our last day in Bangkok. I stood up, sat back down, a wave of nausea washed over me. Stood up. I was going to see some temples. In the cab Jenn kept trying to make conversation. My clenched jaw only allowed me to grunt and shake my head. All I had to do was make it outside of the cab on Khoa San Road. When I got out, the chaos enveloped me. I can’t handle this, I thought. Then I saw Johnny approaching. He reached out to hug Jenn and I, took one look at me and said, ‘Let’s go get you a coconut’. Let’s do that. Thirty baht and I had a fresh green coconut in my hand, pink straw and all. I was hoping I was on my way to being hangover free. Johnny led us down the road, into one alleyway or another to his favorite Khoa San restaurant. Jenn and Johnny ordered a feast of green curry, Tom Yum Kung and other tasty treats. Which I eyed from the side of the table, head on hands, pink straw in my mouth. Later, I’ll have my feast later, I thought. I had told Jenn at 12:30pm, sitting on the edge of the hotel bed, halfway between staying and going, two kinds of hangovers exist in my world; the 2 o ‘clock hangover and the 5 o’clock hangover. ‘Let’s hope this is the 2 o’clock kind,’ she’d answered. Sitting at the table outside the restaurant, miraculously, a cloud lifted. The headache pounds into dissipation and the nausea subsides. I’ve beaten my hangover into the submission of 2 o’clock. Score. After the feast, we bought day tickets to the Bangkok water taxi and squeezed into spaces below deck. Jenn and I hopped off as our stop at the Grand Temple approached while Johnny stayed on, heading to the Indian Consulate in preparation…

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