Cross the border at El Amatillo, El Salvador, to enter Honduras, turn left, keep going and eventually you reach the tiny municipality of Aramecina. On google maps, it is a lonely yellow line heading up the the edge of El Salvador. There is no real reason for a gringa to visit, but my El Salvadoran friend invited me to meet his family and I’m not one to say no.
This is the first part of my story going off the beaten track in Honduras…
Dust flies in both directions as we bump along the never ending road. It’s early, and the heat of the day has not kicked in yet – but gazing out at the horizon, my neck feels hot with the eyes upon it. Am I the first gringa to take this route?
In honour of the occasion – the arrival of the visitor – I am given the front seat, next to the driver, in the beat up van we are making our home for the hours to come. An older lady with frail legs that poke out from her beige skirt refuses to swop with me. She takes the middle section – her legs hugging the gear stick as we hop uncomfortably along. I know I can’t relax thinking of her discomfort, let alone the pot holes in the road, but she is happy and smiles at me with every opportunity. I smile back.
The smell of heat and dust particles creep in through the air vent. A layer of sweat underneath clothes is a familiar feeling living in this part of town. It sits heavy and damp upon my skin.
Suddenly the van stops on an empty road, with nothing for miles except a few emaciated trees. From the movement at the back and the few words I can make out from the driver, this is the first stop. A man in scuffed brown trousers climbs down, and begins to walk into the nothing on our left. A small back pack slung over one shoulder. As he disappears from view, I wonder where he can possibly be going out there.
We arrive maybe three hours later, but with no clock or road markings, it could be any amount of time. I’m anxious to arrive. There is no sound. No people to greet us. Our bus companions quickly scuttle away to their final destinations and we are left alone on the silent street. Lunchtime is close and the sun is beginning to beat down with a harsh intensity.
A lonely pig wanders along the road ahead and with no other obvious options, we follow – trusting this animal to know the way….
Coming soon… eating the local way and the army join us for a beer… See part two here
What’s your favourite tale of being off the beaten track?