Antiguo Cuscatlàn, La Libertad, Repùblica de El Salvador
So it’s been an interesting few days…
After leaving my Internet cafe, I realized that I had stayed a bit too long online and I could tell it was going to get dark soon. This was bad, since I was in a major Central American city with an average of seventeen murders a day with no place to sleep. Small problem. So, not really knowing what else to do, I started walking in the direction of the nearest forested mountian, hoping to find a relatively safe place to sleep.
As night began to fall like a slowly receeding high tide, I realized there was no way I was going to make it to my mountian within the next two hours. So, I violated my rule of paying for rides, and spent my last two dollars on a taxi. He drove me a bit closer, but not nearly close enough, and dropped me off on a freeway. By now, night had it’s hooks deep into the sky, and the sun was but a slight glow in the west. So I just kept walking.
As I was going by, I noticed a family leaving a gate of a resturaunt and piling into a big giant truck. I asked them if there were any good places to camp around here, and they said that pretty much everywhere was dangerous and filled with gangbangers. This concerned me. However, they suggested I try the church across the street.
I went over there, but was turned away. Sheesh, didn’t they know the story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to sleep on Christmas Eve? Some Christians they were…
However, luck was on my side. Upon leaving, I noticed the same truck full of people that had suggested that I try the church was ideling on the side of the road outside. They asked me if I had been denied. I told them yes, and they offered me sanctuary with them. That’s more like it!
So we drove for a bit, and stopped for some delicious papoosas. The family was very nice, and had a young son named Alexander who seemed facinated with my American-ness. Then, we dropped off his family at their house, and I got to sleep with the father (who was Timothy) in the resturaunt, the same one I saw them leaving before and which he apparently owned.
The next day, we rose early and went to his family’s house and ate a delicious breakfast. I was, quite frankly, stuffed. I saw some super cute little puppies, played a few games of soccer with Alexander, and chatted with Angelia, Timothy’s wife. Alexander seemed infatuated with one of the trinkets on my necklace, so I was nice and gave it to him. Then, at about nine thirty, I hit the road.
After only about thirty seconds of hitch hiking, I got a nice, long, enjoyable ride in the back of a pickup for about an hour and a half. I got dropped off right at a police checkpoint.
The cops seemed very interested in my adventures, and wanted to hear some of my stories. They were very impressed, and flagged down the next big truck heading to the Honduras and told him to take me with him. Sweet…
So I rode all the way to the Honduran border. Upon arrival, I tried to walk across the bridge as casually and nonchalantly as possible, but I was soon stopped by an immigration officer. He told me I needed to go and get my passport stamped. Damnit.
I went to see if maybe the lady in the window wouldn’t notice the expiration date. She didn’t, but she was concerened about the fact that I didn’t have visa stamps for Mexico, Guatemala, or El Salvador. This prompted several more immigration officers to congregate around my passport, pointing at it like a bunch of little kids poking a dead brid with a stick.
Then they told me to come inside. I sat on a bench while a guy talked on the phone and stared at my passport. After about twenty minutes, I was told that I needed to go back to San Salvador to the U.S. embassy and get a new passport. No suprises there.
As much as I’ve been enjoying my international life of crime, I decided it was time to go straight and get new goddamn passport. Besides, as Mikul put it, who wants to end up in a Columbian prison? So I grudgingly retraced my steps and headed back to San Salvador.
I arrived around four o’clock. However, my last ride dropped me off fifteen k’s from the American Embassy, and it was going to get dark soon. After fending off hordes of cab drivers, I asked a police officer which direction the Embassy was. He gave me directions, but told me that the Embassy was closed today, due to it being Sunday. What the fuck. What the hell am I supposed to do tonight, then? Sit in a alley and jerk off? Pissed me off to no end…
A guy across the street read my lips and noticed the excessive amonts of swear words coming out of them, and asked me if I was all right. I told him I was pissed the hell off, and explained my situation to him. He told me that there was an immigrant house around here that aliens could stay at for free for up to three days, which sounded like a pretty good deal to me. So he told me he could drive me there.
We drove around for an hour looking for the place, and couldn’t find it. After asking many people for directions, we gave up, pulled over, and did some brianstorming. We decided to see if I could find shelter with the local law enforcement. We asked the nearest cop, and he chattered a bit on his radio, and coordinated a massive police effort to help find me a place to sleep. Soon, a truck full of officers pulled up and told me to hop in. I said goodbye to my helpful friend, and obliged.
The police dorve me a few blocks the the station. Upon arrival, the sergent told me that there were American college students living next door who might be able to give me a place to stay. Tight! I haven’t heard English with an American accent for close to two months!
So the college students were super cool. One was a cute girl from Jersey, studying abroad for four months, and another was a super hot girl from Oregon named Katrina. They told me that, due to their program regulations about letting random people into their home, they couldn’t give me a place to sleep (as much as they wanted to) but they made me like, ten PB and J’s and gave me a bunch of energy bars.
I told the sergent that I couldn’t sleep with the college students, either, so he told me I could stay at the station for the night. Sweet…
It was very surreal. The last time I slept in a police station, I was behind bars and only had like, twenty square feet to wander around in. Now, I could come and go as pleased, and men in uniform carrying fully automatic weapons waved at me cheerfully as I went by. Nice…
I wasn’t allowed to bathe, though. I tried to go back to where the water was, and this fat Salvadorian lady told me, “No pase!” Apparently, all top secret police files are kept in the shower in El Salvador.
The next morning, I rose early and started my hike to the Embassy. It took roughly forty minutes. Upon arrival to the Embassy, I found something very, very frustrating…
The fucking Embassy was fucking closed again! WHAT THE HELL.
Turns out, it was Martin Luther King day. A national holiday. HELLO. Citizens in need don’t take a fucking holiday! But the guard on duty told me that there was nothing he could do. Apparently the entire U.S. government just takes a nap on MLK day, and my passport needed to go through Washington to get renewed. Son of a bitch.
I hope the Koreans don’t know about MLK day. It would be a perfect day to invade. I can see it now…
“Sir, the Koreans are invading! Two hundred thousand just crossed into California!”
“Sorry, the U.S. military is closed. National holiday. Nothing we can do.”
It would be like Red Dawn with Asians….Wolverines!!!
Fucking Martin Luther King…he fucks me over every year. It always seems like I have something of vital importance that needs to be taken care of today, but the place I need to get to is closed because it’s Martin fucking Luther goddamn King day. Now I again, have no place to stay. In the city. Fuck you and your stupid holiday, MLK…
So I was infuriated. After kicking the walls of the Embassy several times in pure frustration, I went for a walk to try and cool off. I walked for awhile, then lit up a cigarette and sat down, still mumbeling naughty words under my breath.
Then, a guy walks by and asks me if I’m okay…in American accented English! Holy shit on a shingle! I tell him I’m pretty far from it, and tell him my story. He understands, and then kindly offers his home as a place to stay. Phewph! I thank him profusely, and we walk to his house.
His name is Eric, and he is in the U.S. Navy. He works as a translator, and is from Kansas. When we get to his house, we eat some food, and then he introduces me to his wife and kids. His wife didn’t trust me at first, but after a few hours, she realized what an awesome person I am and warmed up to me.
Eric is half Salvadorian, and his wife is pure Cuban. All their children speak fluent Spanish and English. Their English sounds American, and their Spanish has a Salvadorian accent. Smart kids.
So Eric tells me I can stay the night at his house until the next morning, when we would go to the Embassy and get me a new passport already. We wake up around eight the next day, and walk to the Embassy.
After an hour or so of lines and ridiculous security measures, we make it to the passport office. I learn that in order for them to issue me a passport immedietly, it has to be a temporary passport that is only good for ninety days. A full passport takes a week to go through. Which would be fine, since I plan on stopping in Venezuela for a good month and I could get a full one at the Embassy in Caracus, but the guy told me that a lot of countries don’t accept temporary passports. They are usually just used to get back into the USA. I face being turned down at a remote border again. Fuck.
Eric, the kind person that he is, graciously offers his home to me for a week while I wait for a new passport, which is good for ten whole years. That will certianly be a relief to have. So I’ll be staying in Salvador for the next week, and should have my new passport next Wednesday. I am looking foreward to a week of rest and relaxation in Eric’s house, which is so much like the USA! He even has hot water and an actual, functioning clothes dryer! Score!
I’ll post again right before I leave, unless something astoundingly interesting happens.
The Modern Nomad
EDIT SEPT 2011: And he finally gets it! My pennance was becoming extremely frustrated with routine rules and regulations at the US Embassy. Kicking the wall did nothing but really hurt my foot and cause a guard to shoo me away.
That sure did frustrate me, too….I was completely shocked and angered, and just couldn’t believe that the Embassy wasn’t open 24/7 to cater to my every adolecant Passport need. I’ve since learned not to expect much from Embassys.
What happens next? Just click “Next!”