Lola cooperates. She sleeps on her pads in the entry to the room. I have her chained so that she can’t come into the room. I know the watchman is paying attention to whether I am violating my agreement, but really, he is on my side. Around midnight, I awake and check on Lola. She has moved one of her dog blankets halfway into the room and is sleeping there. I get up and lie down with her for a little while, and then go back to my bed. She’s a good dog.
I wake at six. Because this isn’t such a great place, I don’t lie in bed thinking for an hour. I had interesting dreams, which I usually think about, but because I don’t want to be here (in contrast to my two places in Costa Rica). I swing into action: take Lola for a walk (when the guard lets me out), repack the car, start writing a bit, at which point, Harold’s wife asks whether I am ready for breakfast. I am.
So I eat as much as I can, give Lola the rest, pay my bill, and take off. These are nice but strange people—strange to me as I am strange to them. Our cultural circumstances make us strangers, but so often we find room to be good to each other.
The drive from Renas (high mountains) to Nacome, near the El Salvador border, is mostly lovely. The high mountains are beautiful. I realize that I am happiest when I am driving in the mornings. I drive slowly, not trying to get anywhere. I am truly in the space through which I am driving.
I hit the Nicaraguan/Honduras border at 11:30. I hire a guide for the Nicaraguan side, and he gets me through in a snap. Twenty minutes. I give him 20.
When I hit the Honduras border, he’s there to hand me over to his partner. The two of them get me through in an hour. I pay a couple of bribes for Lola, and I’m through. Eurvin’s partner wants to charge me $50.00; I say, “muy chiosta,” and give him 20. Total guide: $40.00. Some conversation, but they recognize I’m not an idiot (though I might be) and we part, mutually respectful friends.
The first part of the Honduras trip is beautiful. High mountains, lives of the mountain people in full display. They mostly live in colorful hovels—one thinks of the homes of the early pioneers as they headed west—four walls and and a roof. I can’t say how lovely this area is. At some point, it will be gringonized, and these people will be moved out. I see an expensive home, here and there.
I descend quickly, more quickly than I would like. I should mention that I decided not to take the northern Honduras route in order to skip El Salvador. Uncharacteristically, I decided to play it safe and more or less repeat the road I took on my way down. This was probably a good decision.
So I get to the flat lands. I don’t like them. In the towns, there are too many stores, billboards, cars, terribly ugly. I get lost in Chiapatus. I stop somewhere to ask for directions and un hombre says (I think) that he needs to show me the way because he needs a ride there. So he gets in the back seat and gets me on the right road and across the bridge. I ask him where he wants me to let him off, and he says aqui, y necessito dinero por un taxi para regresar (I need money to get back to where I was). We have an unfriendly conversation that ends with me saying, “Get him, Lola.”
He gets out, quickly.
Here’s the end of the day. I drive on, looking for hotels that will accept Lola. I find one that is a real dive: the sink is detached from the wall. I try several others, no luck. So I’m into my default mode: we can sleep in the car. This is what love is
It’s four o’clock, my danger zone—where I start looking for flat spaces on the side of the road. We drive on and hit a town called Nacome. I ask at the first hotel. No perros. But la mujer tells me about a hotel, Hotel Nacome in the middle of town, that she thinks accepts dogs. I take this side road into Nacome. It takes me a while to find this little hotel in Nacome, a lovely little town, but after asking for directions a couple of times, I do. I have gotten very good at asking for directions and pretending I understand what my interlocutors tell me. This might be a metaphor.
I work to get the people at the Hotel Nacome ($23—no internet) with Lola, but they like Lola, and we’re in. As I said before, this is what love is. I’ll stick with Lola.My friend, Mary, says I’m a traveler. In a sense, I am. I know how to travel. I know how to ask questions. I can go anywhere. But I know the meaning of home.