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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : In the center of the center of America

When i arrived in the nicaraguan border, i was still confused with the last two countries i had visited, Costa Rica and Panama. I wasn´t really expecting a latin america so ... north-americanized... i wasn´t trying to make myself and idea of what could be the three next countries of Central America i was going to visit...
Since i crossed the nicaraguan border, i knew straight away that it was going to be different, it was something more vibrant in the air, something which was wishing me a deep welcome for this introduction to an America more latin... and that would be for the best and the worst, even, i would chose to remember the best.
Let´s start by the first thing i had to do when i entered in those three new countries: i mean hitch-hiking of course...

Hitch-Hiking in Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador

A delight...
Simply the three easiest countries to travel by hitch hiking i crossed from the beginning of my world tour. You just need to start to put your arm in the air to stop a number of vehicles who just want to help you to go further. Moreover, there is absolutely no question to negociate to get a free lift because the culture is to help your neighbour freely on which concern this mean of transport.
No, a pure happiness to hitch-hike in this part of the world.

If i took my book while i was waiting for a lift, that was really for the picture!

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The reason why hitch-hiking is very easy is surely because of the way of helping each other in this area. By the way, the majority of vehicles stopping are the pick-ups and the trucks, which allow a biggest solidarity if i may say that!
On top of the solidarity, the fact to look foreign has helped me a lot. The curiosity towards the strangers is important and mainly in a aim of cultural exchange.

If you have the chance to travel in those three countries, i definitely advice to hitch-hike, if you are alone, two, or even a group of four or eight, i would say it is still possible! On top of moving for free, you will have the opportunity to develop a positive interaction with the local population which is only waiting for that.

Culture in Nicaragua, culture in Honduras, culture in Salvador!

My journey gain a lot of interest in those countries, i got back curious because the differences that i met here gave me the need to learn to understand.
I have been able to observe this culture under different perspectives:


-The culinary culture
Back to the food from the street, with his smells, his colors... to the popular cuisine as i really like.
Here many dishes are coming from the maiz, the tortilla (a flat bread of maiz) is coming with every meal.
Let´s take the example of the pupusa, which is a little bit like the tortilla but having inside some cheese of meat. This is a very famous dish especially in Salvador which will cost you around 30 cents of dollar, which unlimited salad!

Here is the well know "Pupusa", that you can find mostly in Salvador

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What can come with the Pupusa is the notorious "Pinole" in Nicaragua, a drink made of maiz. A drink, which could be a half meal because there is as much to drink than to eat inside!

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-The clothing culture

Even if the majority of the people are wearing the common "jean-tee-shirt", there are still some locals who decided to keep the customs by wearing the clothes which have been weared by their ancestors.
By this way, i had the opportunity to see those locals wearing proudly their sombrero, like here in Salvador.


Un salvadorian wearing proudly his hat
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As well, you will be able to spot very often this kind of dress on the women, like here on the street market of Tegucigalpa, the capitale of Honduras

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-The way of living, simply like that
We talk very often in France about the nap after lunch. You have to know that here, this is kind of important. Especially in summer, when the heat is on the maximum, the hamocks are taking places.
The hammock is like a tissue suspended on which you can stay as if you were inside a "half-bag". This is very famous here and we can find it in almost every house of Central America.

Of course, i didn´t miss to try this couch, like here in Leon in Nicaragua. I have to admit that i was surprised by the state of extrem confort that you can have in the hammock.

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The way to move, especially in the villages, was for me surprising. Like in the countries of the North of Africa, we are using an animal to move of to carry. However, this is not the camel here, we are using the horse of course!

Some locals organising a horse in Rio Blanco in Nicaragua

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-The religion: zoom on the "Semana Santa"
In Honduras, i arrived during a period that we can translate as "Holy Week" in english. Organised during the time of Easter, a full week is considered as bank holiday.
We are on a ground colonized by the spanish in the beginning of the XVI century. Those one brought the catholicism, which is still the most important belief in those three countries. Anyway, nowadays, the religion got extended to the whole christianism.
By this way, the day of Easter is very important and the life is just simply stopping for a week.
The originality is that the whole population of Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador is heading towards all the points of water to go to swim in it. Every beaches, lakes and rivers are full of people at this moment of the year.

The "Semana Santa", everybody is on the water, as here in Santa Barbara in Honduras

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A very bad reputation

-The problem of the medias
You have probably heard one day about some problems of violence in Central America, wars and dangerous gangs. Like everywhere on our planet Earth, the sensationalism is selling as much here as somewhere else, each bad fact is reported in the newspapers, maximized and the result is... surprising.

I was simply chocked when i opened for the first time a newspaper in Honduras. On top of that each murder of the previous day were reported, often between two different gangs, most of the time the picture of the body was taken, as gore and bloddy as possible.

When the reality goes further than the fiction... in Honduras

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-The maras (or gangs)
They are the terror of the population, or should i say the newspaper are using them to scare the population... "The maras" are some organizations of gangsters who are using their bloody power to deal with different traffics, like drugs, weapons or others.
They are apparently more actives in Salvador, where the most well-known gangs are the "Maras Salvatruchas" or the "M18", coming mostly from the bad areas of Los Angeles.
This is possible to recognize them thanks to their tatoos.

The tatoos of the "marero" can be... a lot

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photo taken on internet

Their biggest activity seems to rob the money of the population, especially in the local transportation, where they would realize some "collects".
Unfortunately, i have been able to witness this kind of bad action, on a beach of La Ceiba in Honduras. Two persons, who were identifying themselves as members of the gang 18, came to two friends from Canada and United States, who were hosting me at this time.
One of them said that he would use his gun, which he said having on him, if they didn´t give them the sum of money he was asking for. The sum was low enough, which can make sense because their goal was really to get money and not to shoot...
I was witnessing this and the faces of those two people is coming often in my mind because they were not looking like some random little bad boys...
The attitude to have in this situation, of course, is to give your goods and not to try to fight against a weapon... Life doesn´t have the same importance in this part of the world.

Nevertheless, i would like to clarify something. Attacks of gangs against tourists don´t happen often. The extrem majority of the murders are happening between and inside the gangs, and not only for the pleasure to kill. Even for this kind of people, kill is not a pleasure, and fortunately!

-The poverty
Indeed, Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador are belonging to the countries of the Third World. Poverty is important and once again there is a huge difference betweem the richest and the poorest, even if this difference is not as big as it can be in South Africa.
The poverty is also coming from the corruption, extremly important in those countries of Central America, especially inside the governement.

Politic allow everything, like here in Salvador... EVERY electric posts of the COUNTRY are painted at the color of the new president elected...

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The history of those three countries has a lot of happenings. An important number of conflicts, guerillas, wars, to end up to a kind of democratie today. So many people gave their life for a better future, refusing the exploitation of the governors...

An old guerillero camp in a forest of Perquin in Salvador

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A lot of passion for a lot of violence at the end... will the human be ready one day to live only of peace, or at least of tolerance?

A nature to protect

Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador have generally a much more dry climate than in Costa Rica for example. Anyway, those countries have some natural landscapes which are really stunning; some landscape that we have to protect of the risks of pollution and the different dangers that the environment have to face everyday.

Indeed, while i was zig-zaging in those three countries, i could discover some amazing landscapes, like this incredible river close to La Ceiba in Honduras.

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A little bit before, between two lifts, i could take a picture of this postcard landscape which was there just for me. A tree in a lake, close to Santa Barbara, still in Honduras. Some seconds later, a car was stopping to give me a lift, too easy i told you!

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Yes, easy to hitch-hike, meeting the locals who were constantly smiling... This is what i will remember of those three countries because this is what the majority of the population is.
Like in every country, there is good and bad things of course but the good is to go for even if we must remember the bad to not do it again.
THE GOOD to go for, yes, i must inspire us, we must to talk about it, to glorify it.
So why gloryfying the horrible? What do you think that it can inspire to our young to live daily the violence and finding it, at the end, like a normal human behaving?
And id we were trying to live with positive ways of thinking, if the good should be our example, if the titles of the newspapers were talking about the good news, the positives actions?

If this child of Salvador would have that as an example, would it change something?

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I really do think SO...

See you soon

Jeremy



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