Unfortunately, not being one to quit while I was ahead, I moved on to El Salvador’s second-largest city, Sta. Ana, to embark on a morning hike up the eponymous Sta. Ana volcano. The city seemed pleasant enough in the daytime, with excellent stuffed animal-shopping options and a very, very white church.
I reluctantly left the wonderful revelation that was Nicaragua and continued my headlong rush toward Mexico City, where I had a flight to catch a few scant weeks in the future. My next intended destination was Guatemala, but I had a small detail to reckon with: the fact that Honduras and El Salvador stood between me and my next stop.
Even after being surprised by the hospitality and safety of Nicaragua (except for certifiably scary-ass Managua), I was still bracing myself for the nefarious criminality of the “real” Central America. Even passing through Honduras and El Salvador, which boast some of the highest murder rates in the world, seemed to be tempting fate.
So when the time came to buy my bus ticket, I originally intended to make an 18-hour beeline directly from Somoto, Nicaragua to Guatemala City. It was only a rather limp desire to be a badass that eventually persuaded me to only skip Honduras and spend at least one night in San Salvador. Aside from my fear of a butt-numbing 18-hour ride, I think I wanted to experience the equivalent to staying in a haunted house for a night.
With just over a month left for me in Manila, on the tail end of six very happy non-consecutive years, I find myself panicking. It’s not the worst kind of panic – not, say, the panic of realizing that you’ve lost all feeling in your legs. It’s the panic of feeling like I’m about to lose a happy life I’ve taken for granted, and that I have to scramble to squeeze every last ounce of enjoyment out of it. I want to meet all the people I knew before, meet wonderful new people, go everywhere, and do everything.
The problem with the panicked rush to enjoy as much as possible, though, is that it ends up not being very enjoyable at all. Because I’ve also enjoyed the comforting sameness of my daily routine – the lazy morning coffee sessions at home, the ambling trips to the market, and the simple joys of spending an hour on Facebook messenger before I even start pretending to work. I want to squeeze out of every last drop of this serenity, too, but the problem is that aggressively relaxing to the max is a pretty nonsensical concept. And then again, every day spent drinking coffee with my dogs is another day I can’t spend rushing around the metropolis in search of one last dizzying adventure.