But THIS was ridiculous!
"I'm sure we'll move soon," my friend, Kaye, sitting in the passenger seat, said optimistically.
"No, this is different. Usually we are at least eeking along, this is at a stand-still. Even those guys from that bus are standing in the middle of the street."
I surmised that this had to be one of two things - either an accident or construction.
Here in Honduras, an accident can cause a back-up for an indeterminable amount of time. The law here is that the cars involved in the accident are not permitted to move off the road until the police have inspected the automobiles and advised them to leave.
And in this lawless land, the police showing up for a minor fender-bender will take as long as it takes!
Construction, on the other hand, tends to happen sporadically, with little thought to traffic patterns.
And it will take as long as it takes.
Not being able to see what the cause of the delay was, I took a chance and swung the car to the right, down a small street that (I hoped!) would take us alongside The Mercado.
Many had the same idea, causing a snarl in traffic there as well. But at least we were moving, even if it was only a crawl.
No matter! Kaye and I had a chance to slurp down our coffees and chatter non-stop on our caffeine highs!
The first side-street was as motionless as the mainstreet. We stayed our course.
The second side-street was as backed up as a cheese tester. We creeped past that one as well.
"Maybe this next one?" Nope, not the next one, either.
The fourth street looked promising - until we realized it was a one-way going the opposite direction.
Finally, we made the left-hand turn we needed.....and quickly realized that we had over-shot The Mercado. Taking another left, we arrived at an intersection that came to a T. The big black SUV in front of us hung a right.
I came up to the corner and paused.
To the right, I could see the entrance of The Mercado just a scant block away.
To the left, I could see that this was the one-way street that we had passed earlier. The one headed in the WRONG direction.
"Well, if that guy in front of us went right, then we're headed right, too! Look at me, I'm driving like a Honduran!!!!" Kaye and I laughed hysterically at this act of brazenness, contrary to our typically level-headed, politely prudish personalities.
Until a yellow-shirted man leaped in front of the car, waving frantically and shouting, "No pase!"
I slammed on the brakes. Kaye and I looked at each other, looked back at the man, and in unison, pointed to the previous offender and yelled, "But he just did it!!!!!" in English that we knew this man could not hear through our rolled up windows, let alone understand.
But the pointing was enough. He got the gist of our frustration, a fight for equality with the mentality of toddlers in a temper tantrum.
I rolled down the window, and Kaye was able to converse with the Gatekeeper.
This is a one-way (well, yes, we know that), we have to turn around and go back. You can park here, or go down the hill and take another street over. There's cops monitoring this area right now.
Why all the traffic?
The entire street that we would normally be driving on was surrounded by a shiny make-shift aluminum wall, large equipment working tirelessly behind it. The one lane that they had crafted for the regular traffic to use came from the space that is normally our parking lot.
Where the heck were we going to park?
As we inched along, we saw it - a nice big space on the side of the road, blocked off with cones.
I started to pull in, driving two tires up onto the sidewalk, mirroring the car parked in front of us.
A man in an orange reflector vest informed us that we were doing it all wrong.
My window went down once again. More Spanish. The car was successfully parked farther onto the sidewalk, leaving a narrow sliver of a space for Kaye to make her exit through.
Finally, we were inside The Mercado, which was running as if none of the madness existed just outside its walls.
And yes, as we learned inside, they did begin that construction just that morning - on the first of the two days that The Mercado is open.
Why would they choose to change the traffic pattern when they know that traffic is heaviest on at the end of the week?
Because - This Is HONDURAS!!!!