It seems Honduras sees very few tourists, and fewer like me. All the way from the border I was called out by people along the road. Not by the usual small fraction of people who saw me — I mean by almost every person.
Then there was the police checkpoint.
It’s rare that I ever get stopped at checkpoints, but whatever. So I pull over, and the cop who flagged me down starts the questioning by shaking my hand. Weird, I think, but hey. Then there are three cops shaking my hand. Then the first cop points behind me and says “Here is the boss. Aqui esta El Gran Jefe.”
The boss of the cops is a bit older, grinning like his men. He, too, shakes my hand warmly. Then he grabs onto my beard.
This is two different kinds of upsetting, I think, but I just sort of hold still. Better not to go against the Gran Jefe. He lets go. Then he grabs it again and says “¡Como Osama Bin Laden!” I think: This is three different kinds of upsetting. So I disengage the gloved hand from my facial hair as politely as I can. The boss seems satisfied with his inspection, shakes my hand again and leaves.
“Prohibido,” the first cop says solemnly, indicating my beard again, and his comrades nod agreement. “¿Next checkpoint? Trouble.”
“¿Es un chiste, verdad?” I say. That’s a joke, right?
The cop stares me down and replies, in a voice of icy stoicism, “Yes.”
Suddenly, 24 hours seems like the right amount of time to stay in this country.