Thursday, May 28, 2009

The semi experience

I found this draft of a post a few days ago. I wrote it while I was still in Nicaragua, debating whether or not I should take a flight home from the capital.

It´s about time to come home. Two weeks ago I hitched a ride in a semi truck after being stranded on the border to Nicaragua. The semi had to stop for the night due to a very bad stretch of road. Highway robbers were known to leave bodies on the road to force drivers to stop, and they would then be robbed and killed. I slept on part of the bed with the guy in back, and woke up to him brushing the hair off of my forehead. He asked me later, very nervously, if he could kiss me, and I said no. He was so worried that I´d be mad that he had even asked. Needless to say, I took a bus at the next town with bus services. In my defense, the guy was 25 years old, with a three year old son. I had three people (plus countless border guards) who could vouch for him. One was an old lady with a seven year old son who also hitched for about an hour with us from the border (she knew his dad), and the other was a money changer who sees him regularly passing through from Honduras to Costa Rica. I felt completely comfortable with him. On the other hand, I´m not doing that again.

My feelings have been pretty accurate so far this trip, but sometimes surprising. I had a bad feeling about two police officers who started to take the report after my bag was stolen. It was confirmed when they later said that in order to file the report, I would need to go with them down to the police station, in the dark, in their car, and I couldn´t bring any of the family from the States that I had met with me. Needless to say, I didn´t file that report. I just got a bad feeling about it all.

Which makes my feeling that going back to Guatemala would be a mistake a scary one. I just don´t have a good feeling about going back. It doesn´t feel safe, somehow. Do you think I´m being paranoid?

Ultimately, I decided I had to come back. I couldn't risk going back to Guatemala. Things were getting a little too scary for me. All the harassment, close calls, and violence that I tried to push out of my mind were suddenly at the forefront. I had to get out while I still could.

I knew I had been lucky. I was shot at, but they missed. I broke a few minor bones, but they healed (sans X-rays or any "high tech" equipment). I got horribly sick from food poisoning on an island in Nicaragua, but they happened to have the necessary medicine to get me better. I was sexually harassed by cab drivers, passengers on the bus, and people walking down the road, but I was still whole and healthy. I just couldn't risk it anymore.

I bused to the capital two days later, getting one of the last taxis to the airport before the roads were shut down with protestors. National elections had been held the week before, and both sides claimed they had won. Protestors took to the streets. There were police out in riot gear everywhere.

I got out. I just wish I had been able to say a proper goodbye to my host family, who was so great to me. I wish I could have been there for my uncle's wedding, and Sophie's first steps. I miss them every day.

I know I made the right choice.

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