A Christmas Eve Debacle

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We’ve spent the last few months of our adventures lazily creeping from town to town, enjoying the lightness that comes with having no plans and nowhere to be. Which is why the sudden realization that Christmas was to be in four days was a surprise. The news crashed into our heads as we stood at a bus station with the plan to make our way to San Pedro Sula. When the kind man behind the desk informed us that most every long haul bus was sold out, we stared back at him with wide eyes. Of course the buses were sold out, it’s Christmastime.

… Had you asked me what month it was at that minute, I would have blurted out November with no hesitation.

And so it was. We kindly asked the man behind the desk to look to see what buses were available, where they were going, and when. This is how we loaded on a bus bound for San Salvador on Christmas Eve.

The story grows a bit more funny from here, since we were so sure we’d arrive in San Salvador at the planned arrival time of 4 pm. We had the idea to head out to the beach, and that we would be there by 6. The idea stuck and we didn’t prepare ourselves with alternatives– the idealism of our last few months simply hadn’t required so much thought. So when the bus arrived 4 hours late, we stood on the side of the road somewhere in San Salvador offering each other confused looks. It was dark, it was Christmas Eve, and we were realizing exactly how dumb we’d been.

I’ve never been so happy to spy an LP on this trip. We’ve been suspiciously keeping our distance from guidebooks for the last year, but in this moment of utter stupidity I couldn’t help but be in admiration of the three Aussies thumbing through a well read copy. The five of us loaded into a taxi that took us to a guesthouse listed in the book. The prices were elevated because of the holiday, but we weren’t about to complain.

Our Christmas Eve lacked the pizazz that my previous 31 Christmas Eves have had. We ate dinner from the one place open: a gas station mini market, which offered us a dazzling array of stale sandwiches and nachos with cheese produced from a pump. We slurped down a few cans of beer on our walk back to the hotel, feeling defeated, yet knowing we deserved the ass kicking.

The silver lining of our long day came in it’s final minutes. Well past the 23rd hour the sky lit up with fireworks from every direction- a Salvadorian tradition of welcoming the holiday in with the glow of twinkling lights spraying across the sky. And with that, a new day awaited ahead, with promise for another chance at some Christmas cheer.

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