Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Rainy Season

The toothless man approached us in the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain, at the foot of the road that would take us the 9 miles from Zambrano to campus. He was grinning, and he offered to drive us up the mountain, for a price: 350 Lempira.

All the walking is worth it, when El Caribé features in your weekend!
If you choose to do the conversion, this comes out to about $18: nothing to split between three people. But we were stubborn and determined not to spend another penny on our trip to La Ceiba. The weekend had been filled with completely adequate and well-located hotel rooms, direct travel charter busses, spontaneous and constant consumption of street food, a bit of rum, and other tidbits of cash that dropped here and there (like on three separate ice creams.) Pay for a ride? No way. We would hitchhike.

It was already sprinkling, and after no more than three minutes, the sky opened up and wizzed all over our arrogance. Drew, Mike and I giggled with frustration as the rain soaked us. I had chosen to wear my Birkenstocks. Walking on unpaved road in hippy sandals is only slightly daunting.

We saw a truck: We are saved! It’s going the wrong direction. We see another truck: For the love of a warm fire, please going up the mountain! It turns out he is! And he speaks English! But he’s only going about five minutes up the road. We squat in the bed of the truck dripping warm water down our noses, disappointed but appreciative. The truck stops, and we are invited inside until the rain stops. A ride would have been nice, but at least there’s that.

This is a warehouse that we always pass without recognition, and we run up the long gravel path to the door. It’s a bit confusing. A young girl opens the door, and it isn’t a house: It’s a start-up business that is going to begin pumping, distilling and distributing water within a month. Dad and Grandpa and Great Grandma and the whole roost is hanging out for family work day. Mike is drooling because, as our resident fix-it genius, he is impressed by the newness and “excellent craftsmanship” of the system.

Grandpa practices his English and teaches us how to clean water, the large systems way. Grandma gives us soup in mugs. Then the driver, Dad, gives us each a Tecate beer to take on the road and his daughter takes a photo of us with her iPad. She also shows us a dead tarantula. When the rain slows, we take off again, bewildered at our luck: the family said they would help us involve our students in their business development.

Jazz hands at Carnival with my brood, who got rides up the mountain, GAH!
But on the dusty road, which was not so dusty because it was in fact soggy, we didn’t catch a break for a while. An hour, maybe more, passes and then the rain starts again. A bus! We see a school bus slowly creaking around the frightening bends. They open the door to invite us in, and it is a political rally bus for the Honduran National Party. Old women reach out to touch me head and hands and bless me. The bus takes us through San Francisco, leaving us with about an hour and a half more.

We entertain ourselves with conversations about linguistics and economics and pinecones and what happened the night before: Mike watched the sun rise from the roof, Drew had one too many cervezas and couldn’t remember past the several hours of street dancing, and me? I recounted tales of running through the surf during dinner and doing bachata to the live band in the park and ducking through enormous crowds of colorful families and eating fried fish and singing Daddy Yankee’s “Limbo” at the top of my lungs. There is regaeton in my soul.

The rain started again just as we reached the gate to school: it is the rainy season, after all.

At this point it didn’t matter if a bucket of spite water has fallen on us: we were already as wet as could be and slowly trudging forward, 7 or 8 miles uphill behind us. It was the most I have walked so far without a ride. It also felt like coming home.

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