A Japanese motorcycle brand, manufacturer of extremely mean & fast two-wheel lethal rockets, offered me a couple of times in Holland to do this frantic ride on one of their machines. All expenses paid. They would even fly the bike over to Anchorage. ‘Balls’, I said. ‘Have to do this with my lady. She is part of the adventure. And she will not fail on me. If she’ll stop singing, it’s because I put a bullet through her head.’ Tough talk, since I don’t carry a gun. Just a screwdriver and a rubber hammer. And that we use to fix things, Guzman. I also carry an extra set of sparkplugs (bougies). You see Guzzi-parts are extremely rare in this part of the world were coughing and cripple horses dominate the traffic-scene. So, you’ll better be prepared. And why bringing all this complicated spare parts? I’m not a mechanic. I can fill the gas tank and that’s about it. So, just before I swing my leg over the saddle, I’ll say my prayer, giddy up the white bronco and hope for the best. She doesn’t turn her back on me, Guzman. Never. She knows what’s the best for me and that’s to keep the machinery going. An hour or so before sunset I start to worry about shelter. You never know, things could happen with the bike (I just can’t neglect the fact that she is 30 years old) and I don’t want to spent the night between No Were and Nothingness, carrying all this fancy camera and computer stuff, the equivalent of a two years salary in any kind of country in Centro America. In Guatemala I was very aware of the possible danger on the road. Members of a motorcycle clubs never leave without a gun when they go out for a ride. Just for protection. Never stop beside the road, people advised me. ‘If you take a leak, make sure the bike is still running.’ The panderillos (gang members) are a real thread, especially in Guatemala and El Salvador. I talked to travelers who got gun pointed and lost all there belongings. But you know what, I don’t believe in gun protection. I have this strong feeling that one gun is looking for the other and BOOM. My gun is my smile and my ammo is my waving hand. Smile & wave, that’s what’s keeps this swagman out of trouble. Well at least until so far…
I didn’t know what to expect from Honduras. O yes, I read the papers. Promising. Honduras has the same violent-rate as in Colombia during nineties when Pablo Escobar called the shots. In San Pedro Sula, the next big city after the capital Tegucigalpa, the government rounded up the troops, because the police couldn’t get a grip on the wave of violence. This was all the information I had about Honduras when I left the comfort zone of Copan, a safe tourist place near the ruins of Copan. I was aiming for Lago de Yojoa, a big lake in the middle of the country and looked forward to the 300 kilometers ride. It is not that hot in this part of the country. At least not as hot as in Mexico were I was pouring sweat most of the time.
I followed the road to San Pedro Sula for about 150 kilometers, took a left at Quilmistan and arrived late in the afternoon at Peña Blanca, a small town near the lake. It was the best ride I had in two months. You by now Guzman that when you expect nothing you get the most. Yeah, Honduras took me by surprise. Man, I felt like Hernán Cortéz in his best days. People were smiling, waving, whistling when the Guzzi and I passed by. And I’m even getting friends with the officials, like the cops. They like to pose with the bike, hands on the gun, looking as tough as possible, because I asked them to.
Were ever I stopped I was surrounded by locals who wanted to know everything about the travels and the bike, especially ‘quantos dollars vale’ (how much it costs). I had fun with those guys and felt sorry for them the same time. You see, in countries like Honduras you get an idea of the huge migration problems the US is facing. Most of the people in Mexico, Centro and South America want to risk his life ‘por el pinche dollar’. Last year 120.000 people died trying to get to the Promised Land. So sad, because the people in general is so sweet, Guzman. It’s a bit depressing all. My passport opens any gate in the world without any problem. They don’t have a passport and if they do only Guatemala or Nicaragua welcomes them. So they stuck in their own country were is nothing to do than to sit and dream of dollars. And you know that when they make it to the States they will be treated like low life. It’s the same in Europe, you and I know that. The difference for me now is that I meet the people before setting off to the Western world. You listen to their stories and motivations and you can only hope that they’ll make it safe and sound and live the American dream as long as possible.
Jose Luis will probably get there. You see Guzman, he knows his way now. I met him in San Marcos, near Quilmistan. He started to talk to me the moment I put the bike on the side stand. He asked for a map of Mexico and actually I carried a very detailed 100-page map, which I got from a Mexican truck driver on the boat from La Paz to Mazatlan. It had no use for me anymore so I passed it on. If Jose Luis sets foot on American soil will you be nice to him Guzman? Will you give this guy a change?
It’s time now, Guzman. Can’t think clear and English is a difficult language, especially with a huge birthday-hangover