Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm finally getting traction

Okay.  I'll admit it.  I've been a little miffed.

My arms, my feet, my face, and my neck are REALLY tan.  But the locals still look at me and somehow know I'm not one of them.

It's a puzzler.

Not today, though.

This morning, I got up early, showered rather quickly, and then -- determined to beat the heat (not possible during the daytime, incidentally) headed out.  On the road by 7am.

Nope.  No camera.  Aforementioned reasons.  It can scream "Wealthy Gringo !!!" to the wrong crowd -- the "wrong crowd" being my intended audience, of course :-)

Decided I'd go West, largely ON the beach, but entirely along the beach, wandering through the back roads/alleys, seeing how the less affluent locals live, and trying to revive the spirit of my (not so) long lost blister.

Maybe an hour and a half West, I wound up in Garifuna territory.  Very quickly, the ladies started hissing (a good thing), whistling, and shouting things like "Hola, Guapo !" (Hey, Handsome !).

I belonged.  My tan was paying off !!!

Oddly, though, I was wearing long sleeves.  Granted, it's a black shirt, so maybe that made the difference, but ... long sleeves, nonetheless.

The Garifuna communities look strikingly like other small villages -- little convenience stores, bicycle repair places, butcher shops, and people just hanging out.  Only the people look different, and -- as a city boy myself -- they really don't look different to me.  They simply ARE different than their neighbors to the East.

But they're poor.  Tijuana, corrugated tin-hut poor.  The beaches near their towns are dotted with what must be vacation homes for wealthy Hondurans -- replete with all kinds of security, and roll-down metal shutters.  Oh, yeah.  Those folks own the beach.  The Garifuna get to be about 100 yards away.

But there were no magnificent handicrafts stores or endearing ceremonial dances going on (that's just not how most people live, day-to-day).

Just people ... going about their business.

And any time I greeted them, they gave me big smiles.  The only thing to worry about in this area would have been the water :-)

Eventually, I headed South from the beach communities, and wound up in Tornabe -- another Garifuna community.  I stopped at a stand to buy water (in smaller communities, it's sold in 1/4 liter bags, and not bottles).  The lady asked me where I was going.

I told her Tela.

She asked me if I wanted her to call a cab.  When I told her I was out for a walk, she cried, "Oh, Dios Mio !" (Oh, my God !).  In this heat ?  With this sun ???

I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd already walked there (wherever we were) from Tela.

The walk back was road -- a painfully long, flat, dead-nothing (but a good sized coconut grove on both sides of the street) road.  Hard to mark distance.  You just ... keep going.

And sweating.  It needs to be said.

The walk ended in right about six hours.  My Teva whatever-model-they-are sandals acquitted themselves quite well, though ... my feet are sore.

I climbed the -- what -- seven flights of stairs from the street to the restaurant at my hotel, and immediately ordered big: a shrimp salad, a side of fries, and coffee.

The kindly waitress advised me that fries were unnecessary, as the salad comes with a basket of bread.

We've been here before ;-)

"YeahhhhhhBut ... I really need the french fries."

And there was that look again: "Oh, you're THAT kind of idiot."

Yes.  That would be me.  Have we met ??

It was nothing but a blur of forks and teeth.  I've seen piranha take down a carcass, so I know of what I speak when I say ... they had nothing on me, today :-)

But I hadn't eaten since last night's dinner at (Spanish for) The Northern Lights ... which was also just excellent, and was also shrimp.  I might like shrimp :-)

I'm going to have to shower again.

The black, long-sleeve shirt is that weird polypropylene-ish stuff, and wicks sweat really well.  It's dry, already.  But I have road grime on me, and -- while it went over well in the Garifuna villages -- they're looking at me funny, back in town.

So ... it's rest time ... in the well-walked, well-fed, well-traveled, finally-appreciated-for-what-I-currently-am depths of ... The Gulag.


  1. That looks like a legit walk, based on the pushpins I just put in my map!
    I wondered what "mico" in la laguna de los micos might mean, thinking it would be a cool nickname, but
    the urban dictionary definition is more interesting.

    You DIDN'T mention monkeys, so....

    1. Uh. Whoa. How do you unlearn something ??

      I hope I never get old enough to stop giggling at stuff like that :-)

      The problem with venturing out with no plans is ... I was remarkably close to the Lagoon, and never knew it.

      I probably walked /around/ the east end of it, and couldn't see the lagoon ... for the proverbial trees.

      Next time, I check Google Maps before I go on walkabout :-)

  2. I just checked.

    The Real Feel heat index, at 1pm -- when I got back to the hotel -- was 125*.

    It started the morning at roughly 100*. I think I've downed nearly two gallons of fluids (more ?), today !

  3. "Hola, Guapo !" (Hey, Handsome !).

    So, it's not just your mother who thinks so :-)
    Also, we forget that we live in such comfort compared to much of the rest of the world. No wonder they want to come here, even if we work too hard to have our stuff.