Sunday, February 05, 2006

Revenge of The Gringas

Yesterday morning, Jen, Hilary, Hannah and I decided to go to Tegus to run some errands. A bus comes by, we get on. As happens quite often, there are no seats. So, we move to the back of the bus and stand. Immediately some guys in the back start to harrass us. Now, keep in mind that catcalls, marriage proposals, and "I love you´s" are part of our everyday life. We didn´t catch everything that was being said, but it went beyond the normal and we all started to feel really uncomfortable being on the bus. So uncomfortable that we decide to get off after only 10 minutes of the 45 minute trip to Tegucigalpa.

We rush up to the front of the bus and tell the driver we want to get off. He gives us a funny look, wondering why we would be getting of at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. We tell him that the men in the back have been bothering us. He shrugs and suggests we just stand up front. No, we tell him, we want to get off.

They let us off, making us pay way too much for the 10 minutes we rode the bus, and leave us on the dusty highway about 5 or 6 kilometers from the Ranch. As we stand there fuming and the bus drives away, I realize something is wrong. Something is missing. My backpack!

In our panic to get off the bus, I had forgotten my backpack on the overhead rack. Fortunately, I never put my bag on the rack if there is anything valuable in it. This time, it was nearly empty save for some toilet paper and my water bottle. Still, considering the circumstances, I was angry at myself, angry at the men who had bothered us, angry at the bus drivers for not caring and overcharging us. Now, on top of it all, someone was going to get my backpack. I tried to shrug it off. Apparently, I am not so good at shrugging things off and as we zoomed away in the back of a pick-up truck, I was still pretty pissed about the whole thing.

We are making good time in our jalón and Hilary has the bright idea that if we pass the bus we had been on, we can intercept it at Cerro Grande and I can get my backpack. This hinges, of course, on us actually being able to pass the bus. So we wait and watch and as we get near Cerro Grande, where we will get off, we pass the bus!

Yes! I can get my backpack and make things right! I am feeling pretty good until the doubts creep in. I think, will the bus really stop for us? And if it does, what will those men do or say to me when I have to get back on to get my backpack? We start to get a little scared.

As we round the bend to Cerro Grande, we pass a police roadblock which gives us another idea. Why not try to find a police officer to be with us while we stop the bus? (Sidenote: The Honduran police are not known for their moral conduct and willingness to help, mostly they are known to be corrupt and looking to make money from bribes. So we´re not sure what we are really getting ourselves into. But we´ll give it a try.)

We jump out of our jalón in Cerro Grande, thank the driver, and immediately (we know we have only about 5 minutes before the bus passes by) look for a police officer to help us. There aren´t any. But suddenly, we a police truck drives by filled with 4 Police Officers in blue camoflauge carrying machine guns and starts to turn. We flag them down, yelling "ayuda! ayuda!" (help! help!). They stop, mid-turn, and Hannah and Hilary run over to them. Jen and I stay on the side of the road, waiting for the bus. Hannah explains what happened, how we want to stop the bus but are afraid it won´t stop, afraid of what the men will do if it does stop. The police turn their truck aaround and tell us to get in. Apparently, we are not going to just wait for the bus, we are going to intercept the bus.

As we start to get in, I see the bus. I tell the police and one of the guys, gun in hand, jumps out into the road, in front of the bus and motions for it to pull over. I rush on, the bus is now filled with people, push past them all, get my backpack which is right where I left it.

The police didn´t do much, admittedly. They checked the papers of the bus drivers and mostly just stood around with their big guns and looked intimidating. But I got my backpack and a little bit of justice. I have no doubt that both the bus drivers and the digusting men in the back of the bus had a bit of a scare when they saw us 4 gringas with 4 armed police officers flagging down the bus. Maybe they will think twice next time they mess with gringas.


Blogger Anamaría Hansen said...

Amelia! I had not heard that story. It is ridiculous! I am glad that you got your backpack back. We are going to miss you here on the ranch. Thank you for all your words of wisdom and help getting oriented to the ranch. Good luck with grad school and all! Let me know how things go! You can now check my blog too!

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


au revoir...


12:31 PM  

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