Our little terrorist
The drive to San Pedro Sula, our first destination (and main transfer point for the national transit system), was quite scenic and enjoyable. I slept the whole way there.
My first sight of San Pedro Sula, reknown as the industrial capital of Honduras, was its famous and new Metropolitan Bus Station. We got out of the bus and into this massive building to find ourselves in awe of its size. It reminded us more of an airport station than a bus station, not only for it’s size (a number of times larger than Moncton’s airport), but also for the excessive availability of chain stores and a food court.
Our friend Fred then frantically proceeded into rushing us to the other side of the station, where we boarded our next bus thirty minutes early. The drive to Copán city was quite scenic and enjoyable.
We found ourselves going through eight roadblocks along the way. At one of them, the bus was stopped and parked on the side of the road for a few minutes. After a little while, we saw some very heavily armed policemen mounting it and searching it’s passengers (presumably for cocaine). All my friends handed over their passports to the policemen, who looked at them for a long time blankly before handing them back over to each of us. As I was not carrying my real passport with me at the time, I handed over a color photocopy to the policeman, who seemed baffled by the piece of paper. He asked for my real passport, which I could obviously not provide. I had to do the next most obvious thing and hand him out my canadian driver’s license. He accepted that and moved on to the last one on the bus, our friend Fred. She had no idea she was soon to be arrested for terrorism. Neither of us did.
As she had not seen wise to bring her real passport with her, she produced a color photocopy just like mine. The same police officer, with a hand resting on his AK-47, seemed just as baffled by Fred’s paper as he was by mine. Maybe it was a black and white copy? Seeing as Fred had not thought it wise to bring other proof of canadian citizenship or identity, the police officer was insisting that she could not hand over a photocopy as an official document. He called over another man, with his finger resting on the trigger of an equally impressive firearm (I presume they weren’t fucking around). The pair was trying to communicate with Fred verbally (at least for now), but since she had not thought it wise to learn Spanish, they were quickly becoming aggravated by the minute. I thought the scene was rather funny.
The two men then called up their superintendant for help. He came up into the bus and down the cramped alley towards us. They were all speaking very fast, and I guess the jist of it all was that Fred should not travel without her passport, if she really had one. I thought the whole scene was even funnier than before, but at this stage I could not help but giving Fred a hand (only figuratively, as I could not reach her between all the firearms). I calmly explained the leading officer that we were all volunteers working in La Esperanza to build homes for a family in great need. We were a group from Canada visiting the Copán ruins over the weekend. He grudgingly handed over Fred’s copy back after warning us on the importance of possessing a real passport with us at all times while traveling in Honduras.
Minutes later, as I took a peek at the nearby seat, I could still see Fred shaking and furiously writing a diary entry. Good thing she was there to lead us to safety once more.
Admittedly, I can’t always be so smooth. Five minutes from Copán city we passed by the ruins and the bus driver indicated it was our stop. I made my way to the front of the bus and got off to wait for my friends. After a few seconds, I was getting a bit anxious, as I thought they might have missed the bus driver’s directions. When the bus started moving along, I totally freaked out and ran behind it, catching up with it and walking back down the alley to my seat in silence and embarrassment. (Someone could have said something, perhaps?)