Traveling Alone: A Day in the Life

Traveling alone. Here I was again. Up since five in the morning. Sitting in a run down Central American bus, my belongings clutched to my legs for fear of being robbed while in the overhead compartment.It was dark, and the bus smelled a bit rancid. I had no idea where we were. 

Lights shined brightly ahead. Possibly a border crossing, which are always fun in Latin America. Costa Rica to Nicaragua. And I couldn’t wait. While I loved my time in Panama, I wasn’t a fan of Costa Rica. Played out was all I could think about during my time in the country.

And played out was all I’d be thinking about during the two-hour border inspection process. Everything short of a strip search included. My luggage was rifled through to ensure I wasn’t smuggling drugs into Nicaragua. After all, why the hell do gringos travel? Drugs, obviously.

Starting Off Shady

As I got back on the bus, I found out some new information. Apparently my bus was headed for the capital, while I wanted to go to the beach. Definitely did not know that when I booked the ticket. I made my way to the front and tried to communicate this to the driver in horrific Spanish.

san juan del sur 987He nodded his head like he understood. I made my way back to my seat while mentally patting myself on the back. Great Spanish, Jake. You’re getting better.

I made my way to the front and tried to communicate this to the driver in horrific Spanish. He nodded his head like he understood. I made my way back to my seat while mentally patting myself on the back.

I sit down for a short minute before a young man walks up. He communicates to me in Spanglish that the driver told him I needed to get to San Juan del Sur. He claims the bus won’t take me there, but he can have a friend pick me up on the side of the road and drive me to town.

Seems legit. And safe. Really safe. I ask the price. $25 USD. Shit out of other options, I begrudgingly agree. We high-five to close the deal, and he skips back to the driver. 20 minutes later the bus stops, and he motions me forward. I grab my things and prepare to be robbed and murdered.

No confidence gained as I step outside the bus. There’s a 1980-ish Nissan waiting for me with sketchy looking character leaned against the trunk. He’s tatted up. I’m dying. This is what I get for traveling alone. I couldn’t stay positive. This didn’t seem safe.

But my Spanglish friend introduced us, and I hopped in. Driver didn’t speak a word of English. We chatted in my autistic Spanish for five minutes before riding silently through the night.

Luckily, the ride was uneventful. I had the address of a hostel, and he dropped me off in front. I figured things would start to look up from here. But to my surprise things didn’t get any better.

Traveling Alone & Wandering

The hostel didn’t have a private room available for the night. And I don’t do hostel dorms. So I grabbed my luggage and started wandering. I stopped into five or so hotels and hostels looking for a vacant private room at a reasonable price. Luck was not on my side.

sunday funday shirtEverything was either booked or too pricey. I’d been rolling my luggage up and down the streets for nearly an hour now. I was sweaty. I smelled like ass. Plus, I needed food. I just wanted to find a room, take a shower, eat, and sleep.

I’d passed an incredibly shitty looking place multiple times. It looked too shitty to enter, but I went in. And to no one’s surprise, they had open rooms. Rooms for $10 USD a pop. I took a look at one. Definitely shitty. I’ll take it.

Inside my shithole of a concrete box, I inspected the sheets and mattress for bed bugs and AIDs. I concluded I wouldn’t get any diseases from the lodging and took a shower.

Food followed, and I was getting tired. A long bus ride, a little stress, and a full belly can make even the worst accommodation seem like the Taj Mahal. No air conditioning needed. I was quickly strolling home when I stopped in my tracks.

This Can’t Be Real

I’d thought I’d seen it all. Well, not all of it, but enough that something wouldn’t stop me in my tracks. I heard the catcall and glanced over my shoulder. If you’re a dude, you know it’s a hooker if she’s catcalling you. I was planning to keep it pushing.

Then I saw them. Two pregnant prostitutes. Like fully pregnant. Not some baby bump shit. I’m talking full-on-baby-inside-the-stomach pregnant. Both of them. Not one. Two. I turned around. My feet stopped moving. I could do nothing but stare. Seriously, two pregnant prostitutes.

I was repulsed in ways I’d never been repulsed before. But I couldn’t stop looking. My mind couldn’t grasp what was going on. They took this as a sign of successful catcalling.

san juan del sur is stunningBefore I knew it, they were waddling my way. Thinking they found the grimiest gringo this side of the Mississippi. Or Pacific. Or whatever.

My jaw must have been on the floor. They patted my arm while starting in on their prostitute pitch, or whatever you wanna call it. My penis recoiled inside my stomach. I was disgusted, but I couldn’t leave.

This was fascinating. I guess you could say it’s what traveling alone is all about. Well, not at all really. But still, I was entertained.

We chatted for five minutes in Spanglish. Apparently condom usage with prostitutes in Nicaragua was very lax. They were both impregnated by paying customers.

Then another gringo walked by. He was a lot older than me and looked like shit. Their eyes followed him as he walked. He was prey for this grimy hunters. They quickly said bye to me and made a beeline for the old guy.

And that was fine by me. While fascinating, I’m not sure one could call pregnant prostitutes good company. I made it back to my rundown hotel and hopped in the shower once more. Even being in the vicinity of pregnant prostitutes felt dirty.

Traveling Alone is Always an Adventure

…You really never know what a day on the road will look like. I planned to take the bus straight to the beach and stay at a hostel I’d read about online. I ended up riding in a beat up car with a tatted up Central American guy who spoke no English, sleeping in a bed that could have contained venereal diseases, and conversing with two pregnant prostitutes.

You win some, and you lose some, but traveling alone is always an adventure. 

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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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