The Journey | Part 4 | Journey from Hell | El Tunco to Leon, Nicaragua

The Journey: Part 4

Journey from Hell

El Tunco, to Leon, Nicaragua

Things don’t always go to plan, and that’s why I don’t often have a set plan. The way I travel, I enjoy plans materializing on their own. I have a rough route of where I am going and of course, I need to catch the right busses in that direction, but I rarely plan the number of days in a location or the exact stops along the way. This free flowing type of travelling led me to a place I had never heard of, and has become of the highlights of my trip, and a very special place for me. I wanted to say thanks to the people at Papaya Hostel, the welcoming people of El Salvador, and the great people I met in El Tunco. Now it is time to leave.

The next destination I would be crossing into the only country in Central America I have never visited. Nicaragua! Heard so many terrific things about this place, and in my other travels through here, things just never seemed to line up. Flight routes seemed to take me either north of Nicaragua if I was heading in the direction, or south of the country if I was heading towards South America, so as much as I was feeling melancholy leaving El Tunco, it was overshadowed by the excitement of finally getting to Nicaragua.

Booked my shuttle bus with a couple of people I had met in El Tunco, through Gekko Travel, which was said to be 10 hours leaving El Tunco at 10 in the morning, arriving at 8 in the evening at Blue Hat Hostel in Leon, Nicaragua. This would include the border leaving El Salvador and entering Honduras, and thus leaving Honduras and entering Nicaragua. I had packed water, gatorades, sandwiches, trail mix and was ready for the journey. At 10:30 am our shuttle bus had not arrived and we were starting to get ancy, The longer it took us to leave, the later we would be arriving in Leon, Nicaragua and who knows what the borders are like. Finally, around 10:45 our bus pulled up and we all moved towards it to get in, but the driver got out saying that it was going to be at least another 30 minutes or an hour before we left. Turns out, he had just done the journey down to Nicaragua, dropped off some people, and made the journey back, overnight, and was expected to turn around and make it again! He went in for an hour nap, as we sat around and waited, and as we approached mid day, we finally set off, everyone a little tentative.

Traveller’s Tip: Have patience on this journey and all of Latin America for that matter. Things will be late, sometimes even early, but never on time or as explained. Also, prepare to be in the dark on what is going on. No one will ever explain what is happening when there is delays or confusion.

We hoped to make up some time as we headed down the coast, and get back on track, so when we pulled off the highway, into another beach town, we were all confused. Turns out, another pair of people had booked the same shuttle, and we arrived fashionably late to pick them up. Mother, daughter, dog. Well this was the first issue of the trip, as the 2 ladies insisted that they were allowed to bring the dog, they had been given the “ok” but the bus company has rules against dogs. Without wanting to delay any longer they gave the decision to the rest of the passenger and we, just wanted to get going, said who cares, bring the dog, let’s go!

We arrived, much later than usual, at the border leaving El Salvador, and entering a very dangerous part of Honduras, as the sun was setting. We all sat outside the van, as the ladies went from hut to hut with the dog, papers and passports. Finally, after about an hour at the border, we headed off again but at this time, with light diminishing and the driver having been up for over a full day straight, he was not at his best, and as we passed any object on the road, whether it was someone on a bike, another car, or an animal, he slowed down to almost a complete stop. This really hindered our pace, until finally, they switched drivers and the first got to slump over into the passenger seat. Why they had not done this from the beginning is beyond any of us, and Latin American logic, but it is what it is. We finally started going at a decent pace, crossed into Nicaragua, and figured we were on the home stretch until we ran into a construction sign, at midnight, in the middle of nowhere, northern Nicaragua. The drivers stopped the engine, and got out to lean against the car. With the air conditioning off, we all had to get out to get some fresh air, without the driver or co-pilot having said anything to us as to what was going on, as if they were simply transporting produce, not paying human customers. Finally, they explained that we had to wait for a bunch of construction trucks to leave the construction area before we could proceed. Again, don’t question. It will only frustrate you more.

As we finally departed, again, we passed along the brand new roads they were constructing and I rested my weary eyes on the dark road ahead lit only by our headlights. Half asleep, in a trance, I was awoken by a sudden swerve as our driver avoiding running over a sprawled out person on the road! Dead … drunk … asleep. Who knows but apparently that question was not enough for our driver to stop and see if the person was alright and by the time I had gathered my thoughts, we were well past the person and I was starting to wonder if it was a gathering of sticks, or branches that my tired mind tricked me into believing it was person.

Like a stranded sailor seeing land for the first time in months, we eventually saw some buildings and realized we had come into Leon, Nicaragua and pulled up outside Blue Hat Hostel to pass out in our air conditioned rooms. After such a journey, my body and mind were so exhausted, that I could not get to sleep right away. At last, into a deep coma I fell and woke up in the morning to a great feeling of relief knowing I was in Nicaragua and a bus trip like that would not have to be done again for a long time.

Time to explore Leon, Nicaragua!

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