Just joking. Don't
My eyes start tearing from smoke as soon as I open them. Male voices seem to be raised from afar off, though I know they are speaking from the front seats. The heavy cigarette smoke makes sounds vibrate in the air. I get out of bed and look in a mirror at my aristocratically pale face pearled by intense perspiration. I cannot focus my sight on anything we pass by: a green vegetation turns into a disgusting visual mishmash. Images are drifting away from my sight to my mind, and then my imagination exhausted by fever, works like a broken blender turning existing reality into inedible bits and pieces. Trees are not trees anymore. Plants lost their shapes. Dusty road is getting blurry. I close my eyes again. My mind is seized by snatches of conversations that never have taken place in the past. I feel helpless to stop the uncontrollable narrative. Cold drops of sweat sprang to my temples. Am I dying for real? The male voices are approaching me. These two picked me out near a port town La Ceiba about 4 hours ago when I still felt pretty ok. I got into the truck, talked to them a half an hour; however, soon I fell over from dizziness, and started feeling shakings. Then I fell into an oblivious sleep. They say it may be malaria. Last 7 days I spent in a tropical lagoon near the frontier with Nicaragua. It’s unbelievable, but the name of this place is La Mosquitia. I didn’t get vaccinated before the journey, indeed. I’m silently freaking out. In an hour or so they’ll drop me off in a little town called La Esperanza (no jokes, these are the real town names in Honduras) and I will be left to my devices. In Guatemala I will surely die; I never really got along with this country. There was always something like a poisonous spider or tremendous allergy that made hell out of my existence. This time I will be finished. I ask the drivers to stop the truck and climb the front seat to puke from the window. One of them is holding my hair. How sweet. I see how what used to be Karina now is turning into a messy repulsive piece of flesh that can only sweat, vomit and hallucinate. How did this happen? So I got a task from a magazine I worked for that time to write a report from Honduras. I was staying in Guatemala, did absolutely nothing waiting for the boat to be fixed to leave for a fantastic sea journey (that never happened), so why not? Though it wasn’t necessary, I offered to challenge myself to make the article groovier: so I had to travel around the country without spending any money nor on transport, neither on accommodation.
It’s better to return to the bed. Whatever happens afterwards, one hour of sleep wouldn’t go amiss. Cockroaches showering down on my head, fire in San Pedro Sula, a ship with contraband monkeys and iguanas, a mad fish jumping from the water. Am I hallucinating or it really became a part of my unfortunate trip? Was this ridiculous adventure worth of dying for?I crossed a Honduran border on a soggy afternoon a couple of weeks ago. The first person I met in Honduras was Tony, a black dude who dripped with jewels and golden chains like a fabulous Hindu deity. He stumbled out of a black jeep with a dinged up back side holding a bottle of ron in his hand. He offered me a ride to San Pedro Sula where he was supposed to meet his wife at the airport. He wasn’t the one driving the car, though. The driver was his friend with a complicated ingenious name that meant ‘a god of death’ from his native language. There was no way I could refuse the ride. Surprisingly, we safely made to San Pedro Sula. The God of Death turned out to be a good driver; Tony wasn’t involved into human trafficking as I thought at the beginning: he said he worked as an airman in New York and was on vacations in his hometown Omoa. He seemed a bit preoccupied that I didn’t have any idea what San Pedro Sula was like, so he gave me his number promising to send helicopters after me in case if something bad happened. The first thing I did in San Pedro Sula was visiting Burger King. There I ordered some french fries and connected to the internet to see what were Google’s thoughts on San Pedro Sula. The feedback wasn’t too encouraging, though:
What a fascinating mission to look for a free shelter in a place like this, thought I pushing the door of Burger King. The world outside of American junk food utopia, presented itself in a picturesque panorama of a building of the main city cathedral that cried for a coat of paint, mountains of decaying garbage surrounded by hungry homeless people and a dodgy park with square-shaped yellow bushes and bronze monuments of some women and men.
Local ladies were settling up tables for making baleadas, traditional flatbreads with beans, eggs and cheese. I grabbed one of those not for the sake of food tourism, but as a sign of compulsive eating habits.
I had hardly finished my baleada before a mysterious stranger appeared in front of me. A skinny 20-something years called Javier looked as confused as a stray dog. His hands were covered with dark bruises and faded tattoos with female names. We spent a half of a minute staring at each other in silence. My mouth still was stuffed with baleada so I took my time observing him. Then we had an uncomfortable small talk about his drug-addiction and my current looking-for-shelter situation. It was a weird and desperate chat of two people who have zero idea why they are even talking to each other. It didn’t seem like he wanted to rob me. After a long pause he said that maybe they could provide me with a free bed in a local fire department. Of course, it could be a trick: he’d offer to bring me there and on the corner we’d meet his fellas from a local gang called, say, ‘San Pedrinos 17’ or ‘Hijos de Sula 24’ (gangs from Central America are really into numbers), thus my careless journey through life’d be over. On the other hand, whatever. I finished my baleada and we started our journey to the end of the night. I guess two dozens fat angels were dancing reggaeton around me while we walked to the fire department through creepy silent streets of San Pedro Sula with ex-drug addict Javier. Because we made it to there. I was still safe and sound. He was gone shortly after that.
The fire department of San Pedro Sula absolutely deserves a sticker from Tripadvisor as a hippest spot in the town. There they had their own fire kitchen, fire bedroom, fire bathroom, a recently adopted puppy and an eccentric fruit man who spoke gangsta Spanglish because he was deported from the States a couple of months before we met. After midnight I was invited to accompany my new friends to extinguish fire in a local forest. It was my first day in Honduras.
The next several days were not that prodigal of adventures. Honduran towns that are not considered as deadly dangerous like San Pedro Sula are mostly dreary and faceless: they all have a main square with a governmental building painted in a peachpuff color, a small park and a discobar. The only thing I liked about the neach town La Ceiba was a sign with a request not to walk on the grass, because it’s a god’s creation.
Wonderful things started happening again in a place called Bonito Oriental to where I was brought by a Bimbo bread truck. Bonito Oriental is not even a village, it is basically a dusty road surrounded by several flimsy houses, one tire shop and a grocery store that also serves as a sport bar for local idlers.
Those 7-10 dudes I met at the store were an entire male population of Bonito Oriental. Not all of them became my friends, though. A cranky old man couldn’t forgive me the fact that I was wasting my reproductive potential on such a silly thing as travelling. However, Johnny, an owner of the store, was quite friendly and offered me to stay at his family house for a night.
The first thing I saw when I entered the house was a countless amount of women with children watching a Mexican soap opera on TV. Blue concrete walls in cold light of an electric lamp seemed bright azure, they were covered with family portraits and certificates of appreciation. The room smelled steam milk and fried bananas. A girl with blacken teeth was breastfeeding a boy that looked way too old for this kind of leisure activity. Another kid was playing with a plastic bag on the floor, while two teenage girls from time to time gave me curious looks.
In the Johnny’s underworld there was only one person who wasn’t entirely absorbed by flashing images of old TV. Susanna, the grandmother, royally lied on the sofa in the middle of the room. She was a queen bee of this little insect-like human kingdom. Lazily scratching her enormous thigh, she dazzled me with stories about La Mosquitia, a place that sheltered escaped convicts, drug lords and voodoo witches. My imagination drew insane scenes of an old hag drinking blood of 14 years old virgin boys; or a jungle guard turning into a jaguar in midnight to protect its land; or a cannibal drug mafia eating betrayers alive. Susanna smiled at me vaguely saying that I didn’t want to go there, because they would put spell on me making me stay there forever. I didn’t understand what was wrong in staying in a place like that forever. You have witches, you have drugs and 14 years old virgin boys serving you. It’s like a tropical version of John Waters’ movies.
That night I didn’t sleep. They put me in a Johnny’s daughter room. As soon as I entered the dark space of it and sat on the bed, I realized that everything around me was alive. Something on bed sheets was moving sporadically, it fell on my shoulders and head from the ceiling; I heard it moving along curtains, on the table and floor. When I finally managed to find a lightswitch, I ascertained that my initial intuition was trustworthy. The room was full of giant cockroaches. It felt like this French Fort Boyard TV show where participants had to pass through a room full of all kinds of disgusting creatures; with the difference that there was no midget waiting for me behind the door to bring me to my team, and the night has just begun.
.to be continued .