Day 65: Tegucigalpa - Danlí - Las Manos - Estelí (1)
Danli Travel Blog› entry 87 of 120 › view all entries
Every once in a while you have a day when nothing goes as planned. Often these days are the most memorable days in hindsight, but on the day itself it isn't all that much fun.
It started when I arrived at the bus station early in the morning, only to find my bus had already left. It had been my plan to travel to the city of León, in Nicaragua, today, but lack of a direct bus meant that I had to rely on all buses being on time in order to make the connections. So my first hour delay didn't really do me much good.
I took a bus to the city of Danlí an hour later. It was an enjoyable ride where I had some interesting conversations with a Nicaraguan sitting next to me. The guy was telling me how he had been making a good living out of importing and exporting cars to the USA. He would often buy a cheap car in the US, which he'd drive all the way down to Nicaragua to sell, apparently there is money in that.
However, he also explained to me his scheme where he'd often buy a crappy car in the US, then had it fixed in Mexico, and a week or so later he would drive the car back to the US to sell it there again. Often he'd take a couple of illegal Mexican immigrants across the border with him. Taking immigrants across the border was a much more lucrative business, and he explained to me how he got away with it by driving an American car and having a green card.
I am not sure how much of it was real and how much was just bravado, but he was an entertaining character and I enjoyed his company.
Over the past days I'd been reading a lot about how much of the poverty in Honduras and Nicaragua is the result of American banana and coffee companies owning most of the arable land in these countries. Local farmers are working for less than minimum wages (if they earn any money at all) so that we can have cheap bananas in our supermarket. I vowed never to eat another Chiquita banana in my life.
When I was travelling this region it was the eve of the last Iraq invasion. There were all these debates whether or not a US intervention was necessary and whether or not national or economical security was at stake. Looking at the political issues surrounding the oil reserves in the Middle East, I could see so many parallels with the American military activities in this region in the seventies and eighties. It made me wonder how anyone who has ever been to these countries and read about the recent history would approve of a military action in a country where economical and political motives are so mixed. But I guess it isn't all that black and white. The two American soldiers I'd met on Utila didn't share my views at all. They'd been stationed in Honduras for two years now, yet they didn't see any resemblance between the banana and coffee business in Central America and the oil industry in the Middle East. In fact, both of them couldn't wait to get out of Honduras and be sent to Iraq to kick some ass over there. “Saddam f@cked with me on 9/11 so I can't wait to f@ck him back!!” Missy had told me in no uncertain terms. Crikey, and these people are stationed in this country as part of a PEACE corps!
So here was this guy, coming from a country where less than 15 years ago the US had been funding a covert war, only because the US installed dictator had been ousted and a democratically chosen president had taken his place, and he was giving the mighty US the finger through some sort of legal loop hole. I fully endorsed his efforts!
In Danlí I made a futile attempt to get some dollars. I had a little over an hour, but once again I couldn't find any bank that would sell me any dollars. As it had not been possible in either La Ceiba or Tegucigalpa earlier, I wondered if it would be possible to buy dollars with a foreign credit card at all in this country.