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Day 23 - San Pedro Sula

Christmas was two days away and, being enamoured by the idea of spending it on the beach with lobster for dinner, we turned in the direction of the Bay Islands off the coast of northern Honduras. Figuring it was worth the extra money to guarantee our dream we dropped $50 on a 'King Quality' bus, not a chicken in sight. It should, all being well, leave us within spitting distance of the islands by nightfall. The lesson that in Central American bus travel all is never well had obviously not been learned. $50 would appear to be no guarantor of punctuality nor indeed, ironically, of quality. We were late leaving due to a faulty aircon, the fact that the bus' gear changes sounded like an elephant being hit in the face with a cricket bat indicated that the problems ran deeper. Death was pronounced at 14:02, a couple of minutes past our scheduled arrival time and still a full five hours from destination. Even the loosest of itineraries with the most generous float time can be wracked and ruined by these tardy logistics.
A man in a bar once asked me 'why go?', 'why travel?'. It seemed both self-evident and yet unanswerable. I respected him for asking and gave him a reply that went something along the lines of '...finding my place in the world...', plausible yet somehow unsatisfying. Maybe I don't have the words yet to express what I already know. Maybe like in that book I already have the answer and its simply the question I am searching for. Travel can provide a great bounty of life enhancing experiences but can it fundamentally change us? Will I find a better me on the other side of the world? I suppose in a basic sense this trip is freeing me from the shackles of 'normal' life. Rousseau said 'everywhere man is in chains' but he may not have been referring to this precise situation. My father would see this as a wilful denial of reality, a vain and perhaps immature attempt to break rules as immutable as those of physics. He may well be right but he has also given me this license, both directly and indirectly, to try. The chains of the mundane are far easier to break than those of the mind however, should I succeed in the latter it would be the magnum opus of a thus far undistinguished life. If I don't, well I guess I'll have to learn to live with myself!
Meanwhile, our unscheduled pitstop had caused us to have to transfer to a battered old bus that happened to be passing, a further step down in quality. Gulliver sprawled over the back seats while I calculated our ever decreasing odds of making the coast in this suffering rust bucket. As I stared out of the darkening window while we struggled up a hill a beautiful blue butterfly fluttered past. Shading, smoking, rudimentary next to such elegant simplicity was a striking juxtaposition. We eventually arrived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras' industrial capital (with all the aesthetics that implies). Our connection to the coast was long gone and the next necessitated a 4am start.  The bus terminal was also devoid of any nearby hotels which meant a 4km trip into town and additional pre-dawn complexities. Travel, you gotta love it!

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