On the road in Central America

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Contrary to our assumptions that Central America would be easy and convenient to travel, we’re finding that this region is riddled with challenging landscape and long overland delays. Our running joke has been that we ask at the bus station how long the next leg will take, then add two (or maybe 7) hours to the estimated arrival time. Three times now we have unintentionally arrived to a new place after dark, unprepared to be there after dark, and wondering why we believed that we’d arrive on time. I could go on about the stupidity we must possess for continuing to make this mistake, but i blame it entirely on my skewed perception of this part of the world– simply put, I thought it was much, much smaller than it actually is.

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Looking at a map, the conglomeration of all these cute little countries hugged between two massive oceanic bodies of water, I can’t help but consider the land mass as quaint. Central America looks small on a map. But it is an area that changes microclimates and landscapes so instantly that it perplexes the mind. Central America is fantastically dense and beautifully void of modern roadways. There are many areas that posses only single lane, partially sealed roads that climb up over mountains and through thick forest. In some cases, there are no roads at all, and to arrive at a specific destination requires a day’s worth of detouring. As a result, it takes a lot more time than what it would seem on a map.

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The number of times I have unintentionally lost 13 hours of my day on a bus has doubled since we arrived to this area of the world. I think that Central America requires a disproportional amount of time for overland travel. It is well worth the extra time, but nevertheless it comes with an appropriate amount of surprise. Granted, we experienced plenty of road delays in SE Asia, but Central America’s road system -speaking generally- is more rustic… Less fluid… Full of surprises. It would be ridiculous for me to recommend that you throw your map away before coming here, but it would save the frustration and wonderment that comes along with knowing exactly how close together all these places are– and how many more hours it took you to get from point A to point B.

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