Kirsty Wark's Pet Subterranean Mammal From Gdansk*
26.10.09 Somotillo, Nicaragua/Honduras border.
Effective Smoking: Tips For Central America
#1 in a series of, I would think, two at most.
Pall Mall; widely available and a better choice than both Marlboro (less emphysema-y) and Belmont (less disgusting). But if you walk into the shop and ask for "Pall Mall", rhyming both words with "shall", you'll get Belmont. And you'll keep getting 'em until you learn to say "Paul Maul". I'm not at all sure I can remember how you're supposed to pronounce it now.
*Poll Moll's pole mole.
*raises Webley service revolver to temple*
Alt titles: Plates of orange rind now available at chemist. Peel meal at the pill mill.
*releases safety catch*
Pasty-looking Paul McCartney sells out Wembley Arena. Pale Male has "Mull"-pull.
Sorry, but there's nothing to report from the border - it's a border town, see - and the mind tends to buy the towel and throw in the bucket at times like these. On the up-side, the Grease soundtrack is on the stereo and the Toņa is nicely chilled.
30.10.09 San Salvador, El Salvador
Poor quality smokes
Wow. I thought the Peruvian traffic police were the scum of the earth. Shifty, cheaty, bribey little sods to be sure, but heroes in comparison to Honduran cops. What a bunch of thieving, lying, dishonourable, grasping, bullying criminals. Cowardly too - they don't even have the bottle/brass neck to to haul you down to the station when you pretend not to understand what they're up to.
I get pulled over at a roadblock halfway through Honduras. The cop (one of four) wants to see every piece of paper I've got, including the tiny receipt for the $3 charge you're hit with at the border for getting your passport stamped. That's tricky to find - it turns up in my back pocket, much to Officer Bastardo's dismay. Now he begins a close inspection of Her Maj; shortly he announces that I've committed *sigh* an infraction; no relective strips on my luggage.
There may or may not (I think probably not) be a law in Honduras about reflective strips on motorcycle panniers, but since, had I not been able to find my passport-stamp-receipt, he would certainly have tried to fleece me, I feel entitled not to give a flying crap about Honduran law, whether enshrined in the statute book or made up at the wayside. If he, a Honduran policeman, doesn't, why should I?
Unfortunately he's holding my passport as well as one of my dodgy driving licences, so I can't just scoot off. (Also they have rifles.)
"70 dollars!" he says. Now is clearly the time to stop being able to speak any Spanish at all. The foul, bug-faced little crapster spends 10 minutes trying to explain to me that I have to go to the bank and get him some cash. I - sorry - don't speak Spanish. At all. I'm under the shade of a tree, I've got water and fags, and I will sit here all day if you like, you flatulent toad, but I ain't paying unless you take me to court. He wanders off with my passport to hassle some other unfortunate.
"Good" Cop comes over and suggests I might want to pay $20 and call it quits. I think not. Five minutes later it's $10. Go and, quite literally, fuck yourself, amigo.
I sit in the pleasant, breezy shade for another 10 minutes. Bad Cop returns, hands me my passport and "licence", and, obviously in a huff, shoos me off. Message to the Government of Honduras (who admittedly have other issues to deal with at the moment): your police are a bloody disgrace, and your border officials are both disgusting, and as pathetic as your cops.
Oh yes! The Honduras border. Through the miracle of the internet, I'm aware of two things about it:
1) It should cost about $35 to get a bike in.
2) They will try to fleece you.
After two hours of waiting for the lazy robber that calls himself a customs official to stamp my bike into Honduras, I'm told that a $20 backhander, on top of the usual "fees", will get me through in - max - 2 minutes. I suggest he might like to get stuffed.
30 minutes later it seems we're nearly there.
"77 dollars seņor!" Argument time. No, no, no, no, no etc.
Five minutes pass.
"OK - $40." OK, you cheating fucks; I pay and leave. Cheatingest border in Latin America...
The El Salvador border is staffed by people who do actually seem to give a toss about the image of their country. And, for a $5 tip, the usual "helpers" will get you out of Honduras and into ES in 60 minutes. There's nothing to pay going into ES - the only painful bit is ES customs, 3 miles up the road and housed in a hot tin shed. Slow, but free.
The ES drug squad have fork lifts. Deary me.
That's the ticket!
And no, I don't have anything else to say about Honduras. I'm sure it's great if you're not puce with rage for the entirety of your 48 hour visit. But I was. I'm feeling very warm towards El Salvador; difficult to tell whether that's just because it's not Honduras, but San Salvador is cool and breezy, El Arpa Irlandes is a fairly good pub, and Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-0 today, so one cannot, at present, go too far wrong.
Saturday night in the Arpa Irlandes. Hoo!
I look at a lady and try to guess what her name is. After she's got a light off me, but before she's told me her name. Inwardly, I guess Elizabeth.
A while later she returns to get another light. I compliment her on her witches hat, and - super-casually - ask her what her name is. It's Elizabeth. Whoo! Halloween spook-out!
And no she wouldn't.
Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 10:19 PM