Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Unsteady Departure

For the past three and a half weeks I haven't spoken a word to another traveler. I've seen them, but never thought of starting a conversation seeing how most of them think Central American capital cities are crappy places to begin with and only use them as transfer points for a couple of days. Maybe they're not "primitive" enough to satisfy their skewed perception that the entirety of third world countries are supposed to be rural farmland or rustic villages. People somehow don't feel they are gaining an "authentic" experience if a place resembles their home too much, despite the fact that the capitals are usually the most populated parts of the country. It is as if people are not real (insert Nationality) or have not retained their culture if they are allowed access to the luxuries that we have.

Numerous locals have asked exactly what the hell I am doing here, why I'm not in the coastal cities like the other tourists, but I tell them I like it in Tegucigalpa. I take the same bus route to and from the gym everyday, pick up my bananas from the same fruit vendor, know where to go for anything from super glue to cheap blue jeans and have my daily conversation with my bread supplier, whether I buy a bag of baked goods or not. Random people on the street shake my hand and I'm finally getting the hang of reading and sending text messages in Spanish. I'm comfortable here.

But that comfort is different from any other feeling of stability I've ever had abroad. During my first experience in Spain, I had Akey, quite possibly the most intelligent human being I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. In Guatemala I had Sergio. Both I could relate experiences of life in the US, both I could converse quite easily with in English. But here I've had no one, I've virtually been alone. Here, apart from the phone and email conversations and the hour and a half of talking to myself in my room every night, all my exchanges have been in Spanish and quiet unexpectedly, Chinese. Also quite unexpectedly is that I've probably eaten more Chinese food than I will for the remainder of this trip. Here, everything has been rooted in unfamiliarity and loosely tied by uncommon bonds, yet I woke up the other day with a strange feeling. I woke up feeling like this is where I live, or at least where I was supposed live for the time being, and I was saddened by the thought of leaving, almost as if I was departing for a long trip from home.

I've grown quite enamored with the capital city, primarily because of the people, which reminds me that it is the people that make the place, not the other way around. That being said I'm actually quite satisfied with my isolation from the traveler's circuit and am now nervous of re-entering those areas heavily populated by tourists. I never made it to the Bay Islands or the Copan Ruins (although I did see a lovely virtual tour at the Museum of National Identity), but from the three hours I spent in the bus station just listening to the foreigners going there, I don't think I could have stuck to my resolution of renouncing bitterness and to stop being irritated by people.

The funny thing is that the Bonderman actually dissuades you from following those frequently traveled routes and instead encourage you to find a path of your own, but I find that I need to work in the opposite direction. I need to work towards tolerance of these people and well, going to those places was too soon for me. I just don't think I was ready for it.


Anonymous said...

Oh please quit acting like your isolationist behavior is any different from the norm. You do the same thing in the states :p

And I see nothin wrong with me bein fitted heehee!

Anonymous said...

Don't hate b/c I have a larger fan base than you!