It is settling in on me that I'm not back in the US anymore. A chance comment from my Mom the other evening while talking on Skype that she might go to an estate auction the next day had me feeling a twinge of jealousy that she can come and go so freely. Transportation is an issue for me since I have made the decision to go car-less here. There is also the safety issue. Back in Kansas City I AM a local, so no worries. I went to Tegucigalpa with a couple of the guys (co-workers) yesterday. It was a familiarization run, the person leaving showing the new guy how to get around the city. I was in the back seat along for the ride. It is 80 Km to Tegus, and the road is under construction. This means long lines waiting at the flagmen who stop traffic every 10 miles or so. Add in the police check points that I wouldn't have noticed if C. hadn't mentioned to T. to slow down in case they wanted to pull us over (they didn't..) So, about 2 hours to get to Tegus. Then the horrid traffic. Narrow streets, a lane each direction, with the main city traffic all attempting to squeeze along. The bridge on the main boulevard collapsed awhile ago, and it will be another several months before it is rebuilt. So, detours though town that aren't marked, with large busses, small taxis and motorbikes, most traffic lights ignored so everyone just noses out and cuts and darts and it's a mess. Forget any 'old world' charm, it's a pain to get to and from anywhere there. We finally made it to the mall area, with a stop at the Intercontinental Hotel for a bathroom break. They have nice ones, which is apparently unusual in Tegus. The mall is a nice mall, on par with a mid-sized mall in the US. It has the same stores. Again, forget any old world charm. It even has a Sears. I did get 2 belts because the one I had with me broke. I don't know when I've ever broken a leather belt. I think it has something to do with gaining weight...
We had been drafted to go to Price Smart in that same area to get ribs and such for a cookout at work next week for all the folks leaving. I said jokingly in an earlier blog post or comment or someplace, that 'there aren't any CostCo's here...' but I was wrong. Price Smart is literally CostCo. the only difference was the number of people (wall to wall) and the fact that I couldn't understand a word anyone said. C. speaks Spanish and so negotiated the details of the checkout lane. Prices are pretty much the same as US, but it is disconcerting to see things cost 800-30,000 since it price is in lemps, which are 18 to the dollar. They don't tend to use coins here, so 1 lemp is 1/18th of a dollar.
We did have lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant. Again, with C to interpret to the waiter I got very good taco's, soft shelled with refried beans and guacamole and grated white cheese, just what I wanted. The waiter was pretty sure I was nuts since this was a steak place and I wanted no meat. I tipped well. I will miss C when he leaves, which is soon.
I am still fine with being down here. I am more at ease with it than I was even in Washington. However, I can tell already that I won't feel any romantic pull of travel to another 3rd world country after this. And I will enjoy my ability to just get into my Jeep and drive, anywhere any time. I show 346 days left on the countdown counter. I will make the most of them, but I do understand the happiness of those who are headed home soon.