Fear and Loathing in Central America

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As I sit here in this backyard hotel, rotten to the core, surrounded by the filth of society in what feels like crackhead mecca my brain shifts to address the exhaustion that occupies me as a result of one of the world’s largest toilets, Central America. This resort was no doubt created for potless travellers, seedy businessmen and down-on-their-luck vagrants by some ‘visionary’ Nicaraguan couple, looking to add something to their luckless lives and create a sanctuary from the weirdness for it’s visitors. They failed to that end but succeeded in compounding the misery with third world hygiene, Alcatraz decor and dark age like service.

Regardless of the resort, it is in fact Central America that is causing me so much anguish, I don’t want to deny the sheer beauty of northern Honduras, the awesome volcanic backdrop of Guatemala or the paradise-like beaches of Nicaragua from being rightfully promoted but it’s the pieces in-between that will slay you. Infrastructure in these parts is a dirty word, we know the causes, civil wars have existed in these parts too many times, the US savagely raped and butchered economies at the behest of fruit farmers and other thoughtless and greedy men and in it’s place they have left behind nations that simply don’t work, from the ground up, broken.

These nations sit comfortably in their chaotic way of life, transport systems that operate erratically, agreements arranged with the conspicuous air of breath alone, service industries that lack the key component of service and construction engineered by ambitious DIY experts, I shudder to think how healthcare and education systems operate. I am of course judging this partly by Western standards, but it is the West that they so desperately crave to be like from the tipping culture to the corporate emblems that are emblazoned on taxis, busses, shops and, in the case of San Pedro Sula, on the landscape. I believe the people have the desire to operate as well as more modern countries but their dedication to short termism will mean that overall success is unlikely.

What am I doing here, why come in the first place, am I on some foolhardy quest to appear adventurous? Was I seeking some eye popping, testicle tingling experience? Perhaps I thought I could see the beauty that many others couldn’t, the truth is probably closer to necessity and curiosity, necessity to travel overland down to South America from Mexico and the curiosity to see what these places were truly like. My bank account will argue that my reasons of necessity are more than valid and my spirit will argue that the curiosity has been most definitely satisfied, and disappointed in equal measure. I read blog posts from other traveller sites waxing lyrical about this part of the world, perhaps they are blinded by the individual treats that these places offer the adventure-craving backpacker but I don’t buy the bullshit they sell. Of course, sledding down a volcano is a great buzz, surfing crazy waves is enthralling, relaxing on tropical beaches is bliss but too often do they leave out the shambolic organisation, the agonising wait to find out what the fuck is going on and the destitution that sits so closely to ‘paradise.’

Maybe it is the rapid and arduous travel that is affecting me, perhaps the dereliction of a sleeping pattern is bending my mind or the loveless gazes of the cold Central Americans could well be taking my emotional spine apart strand by strand. In spite of the source of my anguish it should be known, Central America is dire need of social repair and I don’t wish to stand away from the belief that it gets a bad rap, that much is true in part, there really are some astonishing places here, but when you do visit, my advice would be to see the sites and leave with haste. Experiencing their way of life is simply not worth the effort.

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