Dear Reader, the following tale is an actual true story, unembellished and as accurate as my memory can recall. Your belief or not in the veracity of the story is irrelevant in regards to the wonderment and entertainment derived from the tale so, sit back and relax and be prepared to be entertained by “The strange case of Maestro Jekyll and Senior Hyde”.
If you are of a certain, reasonably- read, age group (not so reasonably- read, younger generations may not relate, that is until Hollywood rebirths a re-make of the subject matter), undoubtedly someone in your circle of friends has referred to someone being a Jekyll and Hyde or having a Jekyll and Hyde personality. However, this term is for the most part not being used correctly and with full understanding of the theme of the famous, Robert Louis Stevenson, novel. In most cases what they are actually attempting to describe is a person who opts to act like a jerk at times or, some difficult person who perhaps has an undiagnosed bipolar condition or, what is usually the case; a person who turns nasty after a few drinks, puffs, hits, etc., your typical mean drunk. I have know folks, even friends who fit into all the above categories but, I have also known a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, bear with this story and you will discover the difference.
Well, I made it, I could hardly believe it myself, after a little more than two months of backpacking through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, I had finally made it to a certain destination. The destination in question was referred to me, on a whim, by a friend. He had given me a contact number for his grandmother. The destination was San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
My friend Luis led a much more stable life than a sporadic me. He loved hearing tales of where I had been or where I was going. It was customary for him to treat me to a special dinner to either greet me or send me off. This time it was the latter. Luis, his wonderful wife and I, enjoyed sumptuous meal of authentic Central American fare in one of the decorative off-street bistros, of upscale Pasadena California.
Luis was a friend from my old Navy days, the real deal, not the store. Although a year younger than me, had been one of the most influential people in my life. I dare say, I could even consider him a mentor. Luis revealed to me, a barely high school graduated youth from the inner city, a world of classic literature, the arts, history , world travel and on and on and on. Amazingly, during all these days of mentorship, we and our band of merry men could also be considered the poster child(s) of “Night on the Town” sailor life. How did we fit it all in? Luis had been born in Honduras but, as a child his, upper middle class family moved to New York’s Staten Island, to settle into a more working class lifestyle. I wonder if his parents were now, more content but, more on that subject latter.
Several days prior to this dinner I had informed Luis, and in a sense, as well as myself, since I really didn’t have plan, itinerary or even real destination; that I was off to whereabouts unknown but South of the Border. I going to do some traveling in Mexico was about all I could come up with at the time. I had traveled from coast to coast, America so many times, even once by bicycle. As the dinner date approached, I narrowed down my intentions a little more. I reasoned that maybe I could do the same in Mexico, go coast to coast. I figured that would be enough to scratch the adventure itch this time. Luis, possibly a hidden clairvoyant among his other attributes, somehow steered dinner’s conversation to Honduras and, with an off the cuff comment, mentioned his Grandmother. “Hey G “, he wishfully interjected “If you ever make it to Honduras, please check in and say hi to my Grandmother”. I had known Luis more than decade at this time, I had stay spent a weekend in his parents home; I had attended his brother’s wedding (like something out of “The Godfather”) and yet I had never recalled any talk of a Grandmother.
He quickly scribbled down an address and a phone number on a restaurant napkin and, just as abruptly the conversation had been steered to Honduras he allowed it to be steered elsewhere and into unrelated territory. I gracefully and thankfully placed the napkin somewhere on my person, some random unconsciously chosen spot (the usual mistake) without any real intention of ever having to use it. Hey I was only planning to go to Mexico remember?
I am the worlds worst at phone number keeping, no matter what the format or device being used to store the number, cell phone, little black book, day planner, post-it note and, the worst, the dreaded, restaurant or nightclub napkin. Lord Knows, how many times I would have been married or in the least fallen in love if I could’ve just held on to the damn napkin with the scribbled number long enough. But I have a phone number self-destruct mechanism that will always inevitably cause me to inadvertently toss the number out. Pathetically, such toss out usually occurs within 24 hours of me receiving the number. Those numbers that miraculously make it to my home intact, will undoubtedly find their way to the washing machine within the first week. Any re-copied numbers, willfully committed to a special place, will be written onto some tablet or inside the jacket of some book, the location of which will be lost to short term memory, only to be chanced upon years later, when the number has been changed and the contact long forgotten.
So it is a mystery to me how this phone number would have stayed in my possession, after two months of backpacking through almost all of three different countries before even reaching Honduras. But I am ahead of myself, let’s rewind a bit.
I completed my intended odyssey, entering at Mexico at Tijuana in the country’s Northwest Territory. By bus I winded through the precarious and extremely steep and dangerous Mountainous Northwest; alarmed at all those seemly, tiny Tonka trucks, buses, semis and private vehicles down on the canyon floor that did not complete their intended odysseys.
Veering south, by bus and a couple of hitchhiked rides, I traversed the pristine pacific coastline cities and vacation resorts as well as American-favored watering holes and resorts and even a few early Cartel strongholds of a fledging drug industry, still in its infancy at the time. I continued on through mystical towns, like Tepic Ixtlan, where I naively waited in various town squares hoping that one of Carlos Castaneda’s sorcerers would approach and take me in as an apprentice.
Having obtained no rings of power, I continued on, going though the folkloric interior of the county by route of Guadalupe and by train, onwards into the hustle and bustle and frenetic pace of, modern day, smoggy, Mexico City. Taking full advantage of a full fledged city I rested up a week or so to immerse myself with hot showers, real toilets, restaurants where you were prone to take the ice as well drink the water. Fattened up, I board the train onward to the stylish and Caribbean flavored Vera Cruz. Was I still in Mexico? Everything seemed to change, women with short stylish hairstyles, music with a definite Rasta flair, even the ethnicity of the people seem to change and I could detect a difference in accent as diverse as that of good ole Cajun boy talking to born and bread Bostonian.
Ok I continued down and around the bend as it were to the colonial inspired and picturesque towns and villas of the Yucatan. I got to swim the crystal clear, turquoise blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico without venturing to the American College students’ getaway spots and vomit strewed beaches and streets of town like Cancun. Travelers, I would advise you go to Play del Carmen and Tulum instead. I had to force myself to leave or I would stay there for an eternity. I traveled on. And before you know it, I had come to the end of Mexico, with still more than half my traveling budget still in my pocket. So: whaddya going to do?
There it was, a yellow school bus, hailing stickers and permits, from the Indiana school district which it had once serviced in a former life. The crudely hand painted signage on the side of the bus proudly proclaimed its new ownership, the entrepreneurial Batty Brothers. I soon discovered that aside from this one particular chicken bus, chickens, or at least a couple of passengers with ducks in tow, were indeed included on the passenger list. Instead of PS # 59 or the likes, the bus’ location sign simply read Belize.
I had already experience little minor and pleasant miracles throughout my venture through Mexico thus far and, I would be experiencing much grander ones, which are told in other stories; yet on this Batty Brothers chicken bus trip into Belize I was about to experience my first detrimental miracle. The trip between Mexico and Belize should not be considered as some time of international trip, at least not for the locals. In fact it appears that this bus trip, for most of the passengers, serves mostly as a shopping trip and market trade/vendor commute. I’m not quite sure how this works but there was also a sizeable amount of un-chaperoned, sort of rambunctious, yet not quite rowdy, school kids, teenagers, still in their school uniforms making the trip. It appeared to me that maybe they go to school in Mexico but live in Belize. Talk about your school busing.
You did not need any type of pre-approved Visa to enter Mexico or any other of the countries I eventually traveled to at the time of my trip. It probably would have been best but you could receive you travel papers with no hassle right at the Frontera (Border).
At the border crossings you could apply for your visitors’ Visa /travel papers, right at the time of arrival. Some times I guess it pays to be a tourist and do things the touristy way. Since I like traveling like the locals I was the only person on that bus who had to apply for entry. The bus had made a rest stop at the border and while the other passengers simply showed ID if even that; I had to enter the border station house to complete my paperwork. When I exited the stationhouse, which seemed like only a few minutes later, the bus was gone, gone baby gone. Why so dramatic Mr.G ? You see on that bus was my back pack. Contained in that backpack was a modified cassette booklet case. Contained within, although cleverly concealed, was all that un-used currency that I had earlier bragged about. I had been sitting just one seat in front of the contingent of teenagers who compromised the rear quarters of the bus. “What’s the worst that could happen”?
It’s amazing how your languages’ skills kick in when you are embedded in a foreign land. With assistance from the border patrol we manage to ascertain that another Batty Brothers bus would probably be arriving in another hour or two. Unlike US buses, the drivers tend to make detours and drop folks off at particular, off-route, locations if the tip is nice enough.
We called ahead to the next station and informed them of my circumstances. The buses themselves were not radio equipped, damn that un-preparatory Indiana School district. When I arrived at the station, the station manager, beaming a full toothy as well as toothless smile, informed me that the school kids were looking out for me, apparently more than the driver. They had taken my bag into their possession. The station manager than presented me my bag, that had neither been searched or rifled through. This trip was not backed up by some, ace in the hold credit card, nor was there any significant monies tucked away in some bank account. That cassette case was my safety deposit box. And even now, through these portals of history and time, I still continue to thank you kids, God bless
It was nice to see the rich tropical forests of Belize, hill- and mountain- side villages just barely visible through the jungle bush. Gauguin painted glimpses of centuries past, as they came into and out of existence in a blink of an eye. Our standard of beauty seems so limited when you think about the varieties of peoples on the planet. The rich mixture and genetic combinations of the various ethnic groups that inhabit Belize produce some of the most exotic and ascetical beautiful in world, in my opinion. I would think that modeling agencies would be down here scouting talent like baseball scout in the Dominican Republic.
I was just going to sample the country of Belize a wee bit longer. But as fate would have it (I mean that literally) I spot this intriguing traveler, not a tourist but, a traveler, like myself. She was camped out in a Belizean bus station that had no resemblance to a bus station in our sense of the word. She was so small framed, traveling with a pace that seemed as big as her. She was also so pixie cute, I chauvinistically reasoned, “ no way should this fragile thing be traveling alone” and plus I could tell she was ethnically Japanese and, since when do you, I stereotypically reason, find Japanese going solo, yet alone young Japanese women?
Anyway, fast forward, because of my borderline, pun intended, travelers-lite romance with Mika, not only did I see more of Belize than planned but we also travelled through Guatemala together. Antigua, Guatemala was her final destination. She was on her way to live with a hosting family as an exchange student, to learn Spanish as well as indigenous languages. This is a great town and very popular for this type of activity.
Too bad she had not taken the same course of action, beforehand, in America. She did not speak English which made basic communication, not to mention travel romance-lite more like luke warm, perhaps even cool, rather than hot. We conducted most of our communication through Spanish phrase books in a language neither one of us truly understood. In retrospect maybe all the snuggling was simply out of necessity than anything else since those buses could get cold at night “You know nothing, John Snow”.
Aside from Mika, and unbeknownst to me, there was however a higher reason for me to have been in Guatemala as well as Honduras, perhaps she was merely the vehicle to get me there, but that another story: if you are able locate “The answer is blowing in the wind’ on the web, by yours truly; I would do so.
Mika checked in with her Spanish family and gotten situated. What was I to do now? Hey I made it this far, let me just check, I know, I must have lost it by now but lets just see… somehow I still had the number. Honduras here I come.
Ok I have visited a fair amount of world locations for a broke novice. I suspect my travels may be only a drop in the bucket to many of you so you might contest this claim. I believe that San Pedro Sula must be one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Since all the gang violence in the past few years maybe that has changed by now but back then was a cultural shock. Bear in mind I had already spent considerable time in Mexico City which statically has one the world’s largest populations. But here I am talking concentration of people.
I have never seen, nor imagined so many people could even exist at one time, people to the left of me, people to the right; here I am stuck in the middle of millions. The teaming masses of San Pedro Sula made the New York sidewalks of 42nd. Street or Downtown shopping districts of Los Angles seem more like Main Street, Montpelier, Vermont. After two days of people rafting I decided to give the number a call. In the hotel room, I practiced for hours my best gringo Spanish with the due diligence of practicing for a job interview. I was getting kind of adept at it after all I was now in my third month on the road. Guess what, when I called, she was home, they had been expecting me. How and Why? It wasn’t like I had posted with anyone my whereabouts since the beginning of the trip. Luis can I borrow your crystal ball sometimes? Back at the house, there were even two folks in the household who were listening in on the conversation and were able to fill in the blanks in English or Spanish, as called for. Yee ha!
I ventured by taxi from the people-packed city centre to a swatch of suburbs could have been reminiscent of any suburbs in any Central California town. The Grandmother was one of the most spirited and ambulatory persons I had ever encountered for a person of her advanced years. Her boyfriend, yeah! she had a shortee, was as amicable a soul as can be. These were two happy and content individuals on a level we are not use to in the United States.
As a side note, I will often tell people that per capita, I have never experienced so many seemingly contented, obviously disenfranchised and poor people, as I did when I was, earlier, in Guatemala; the poorest country in Central America; now you figure that one out. What constitutes happiness?
Anyway back to the story. With all her central family now living in the US, the Grandmother had maintained her affluent, by Honduran standards, lifestyle by taking in boarders. Also living in the house was a young maiden, who I never did find out much about despite taking residence in the house for a week or more. I chose to maintain a respectable distance from the young maiden. Especially as she seemed to be a young maiden with infant child. Embarrassingly for me, she was seemingly always in the act of breast feeding. Until this day I am without offspring and have very little knowledge towards such matters but how much can baby eat, suck or whatever?
Unlike in the United States, often breast feeding is often done without the benefit of a shawl and with both breasts totally exposed, the suckled as well as the un-suckled. Every time I tuned a corner, whoops there it was.
I had earlier experienced similar embarrassment and a slight bit of shame while in the city district of San Pedro Sula. Imagine my embarrassment when while traveling on a jam packed bus a slightly inebriated husband plops his (perhaps also a little buzzed) wife and child down, right next to me. She takes advantage of the sit-down to feed the child and here we go, the blouse plops open, full exposure, with lots to be exposed, the suckled as well as the un-suckled, keeping rhythm with the shock-worn, bumpy ridden travels of the bus. To make matters worse, the jovial and given to finger pointing husband, insists on conversation revolving around his child and his rather appealing and buoyant, nursing wife as we all sat squeezed together, the four of us on a bus seat designed for two.
Well, you get the picture, Say what you will but human nature is just that. God forgive.
The finally occupant of the house was the rather dashing and debonair Caesar, whom I first understood to be a teacher. I suspect the peoples of Guatemala and Honduras in particular have a copious amount of Indigenous stock genes in their DNA, even if the more elite refuse to admit it. As a people these Central Americans are generally small in stature. When I walk the streets of many American cities, I feel like a dwarf. I only measure 5’8” on a good day, and that’s in the morning before the spine succumbs to effects of daily wear and tears as well as the forceful push of gravity. Yet in these Central American countries I feel like one of the big men. I could’ve played center had I gone to High School here. However this Caesar person shattered my new found ego and humblingly restored me back to my dwarf status. Therefore I guess you can imagine his towering effect upon the locals. Not only was his height , maybe 6’2” or even upwards of 6’4”, a mesmerizing factor in San Pedro Sula; he had the looks of a Hollywood icon of its golden era past. He was an Errol Flynn, Tyrone Powell, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. all rolled into one. He had a moustache more well groomed than a rich socialites’ Pekingese.
Then I find out this he is not just a teacher.
Caesar was full tenured professor who taught on both the University and College level.
(I’m going to take a chance here and not alter the facts or identity-I don’t think the story will make it down to Honduras but keep your fingers crossed folks I don’t get sued)
Caesar or rather Professor Caesar, Grand Maestro Caesar, taught Analytical Linguistics at a prestigious University and Political Theory at a Community College. To my benefit, he also spoke the most English in the household. One day he invited me to attend his class. The University had all the feel of academia, the exuberant atmosphere of study and promising array of youth, as in any American university. And although the general population of the school seemed male dominated, Caesars’ class was almost entirely made up of women. The classroom scene could have been, right out of a Spanish re-make of the first Indiana Jones movie, you know the one where the young ladies in Jones’ class dreamingly swoon and fanaticize over his every move. And also, much like the Jones character, Caesar did not compromise at the blackboard. He knew his stuff. Although I was barely capable of deciphering a single thing as the speed of the language ad complexity of the material was moving so fast; I could tell he was dispensing grade A, upper division, instructions. After class, Caesar received a visit from another college student that had not be in attendance in the class just held. She is young, vibrant, cultured, and very attractive in the gringo sense of the word. She was at least 20 years his junior. I guess the regulations regarding professor and student relationship must be a little more lax in Honduras. His respectful visitor was still affectionate enough to clearly identified as a lover or girlfriend. But the sheer innocence of their actions leaned more to the girlfriend status. As we left the building, the open holding of hands showed that there was no shame or illegality in the relationship. I am not jealous of most men but, I had to admit the good professor had it going on and in all directions.
A day or so after the University visit the good professor invited me out for dinner. We arrived at a restaurant that aside for the language spoken looked no different than any run of the mill two star restaurants in the North. I must admit that even the menu was as exciting as a Baja Fresh. I think someone must have swapped-out, switched the earlier mentioned bistro in Pasadena and left this one in return. We ate, we chatted and then came the surprise. There was going to be some baile, some dancing later. I don’t know if they still do this, since my partying days are long gone but many cities Los Estados Unidos would have restaurants that would serve strictly as eateries in the day but at night they’d move out the tables back and create a little but, functional dance floor Oh! Chicago, those were the days or rather the nights.
Hmmm! This looks like its going to be nice. For the first time, I scoped out the patrons, in search for Ms. Right (now). The assembled patrons, I would gather were mostly the white collar, urbanite workers, suburban dwellers. They were the secretaries, office managers, school teachers and small business owners, etc., here to blow off a little steam and let loose after a nice meal. Meal completed, we ordered a few beers and settled in for the wait. The DJ arrived and started his set up. Judging by some of his sound checks, there was even going to be some American jams spun. Then a band started to arrive, wait alternating venues; it was getting better by the minute. Just then the Maestro informs me that we should leave; he knows a much better place. Hey! I don’t need the Copacabana and, I was really getting in the mood and travel to another place just breaks the momentum but, he should know…
The taxi ferried us to a section of town that looked considerably lacking when compared to the section of town we had just been ferried from. In and of itself that did not distract me, I have been in trendy, hi-tech clubs in Los Angeles, located in no man lands, that from outside appearances appeared to be vacant and dilapidate warehouses.
The same could not be said of the place we entered which was just worn on the outside as on the inside. I notice a five or six man squadron of soldiers patrolling the streets of the bar and dives that peppered the district.
Although there was a small dance floor, there was no band; no DJ and, the place could be best described as a large bar, a large unimpressive bar, nothing more. Ceassar directed us over to the bar side stools and there we were. Within fifteen minutes we were set upon by what could be best described as bar girls, even if they did not go the full monty route, I am pretty sure the girls seemingly immediately infatuation with us was not as a result of cupid’s arrows. Well when in Rome and with a few more beers under the belt, which now rested entirely upon my finances, we did dance, flirt and remained the bar companions’ to the girls. A squadron of pint sized soldiers entered the bar. They began to check papers of various patrons. Caesar suggested that I turn over my papers to him as well as all my cash as these soldiers are know to be corrupt and ruthless. I about to hand over my wallet ID as well but, the still small voice advised against it. The Professor instructed me to remain mum and allow him to do all the talking, this much like the surrender of the papers sounded like a good idea to me. The more emboldened, perhaps alcohol fueled, Caesar did not even wait for the soldiers to advance in their rounds. He summoned them over. Towering above them, he joked, made some sought of references to me, being exchange student, showed them his University badge and paid them a nice little bribe of what seemed to be a healthy amount of my now, Honduran converted and, I guess you could say as well my, Honduran held currency.
As the soldiers departed, we returned out attention back to the now bored girls and onward and upwards from beer to more potent drink. There must have been a major rift between the price of beer and liquor and between girls dancing with you to nearly dancing on you, this was evident by my cash disappearing more quickly and in larger denominations, still under the safe protection of my friend Caesar. I guess he grew tired of the girls because he seemed to want to pay more attention to the alcohol and he basically shoed them away. It was now after midnight Ceaser signaled it was time to go. Great! I admit I had a little fun despite my spending, or rather his spending, of my cash. I still would have preferred to had stayed at the first location.
We hailed another taxi and ventured off. I could sworn the suburbs were in the opposite direction. Ceasar was now very sharp with me and rebuked almost every question or inquiry. I beginning to think he may just be a mean drunk…ding,ding ding, hold on folks, not yet. The directions he had given the driver took us to a darken deserted part of town, they made the former seedy part of town appear as Paris, the city of lights.
We got out. He paid with my money and we headed to a structure that was totally ramshackle and non-descript. Could this be that LA warehouse facade-high-tech club. Who cares, I was tired and ready to go back to the house. The place we henceforth entered was not more spectacular on the inside, it was multiple degrees worst. It was filthy. You immediately smell vomit, spilled beer, body order and unidentified equally as unpleasant smells. With exception of the bar area, the place was barely illuminated. Even so some of the ruffian clientele recognized Caesar and came to pay him homage. They greeted each other with all the familiarity and ritual of any street gang member family. All was not in harmony though as Caesar rough spoke to other patrons, indicating that his business with them was far from over and he would be returning. He then headed for the bar, my attendance or not was not required as it seemed I ceased to exist.
As the reader knows by now, back then I had an eye for the ladies. I think women are beautiful, all women, on some level or the other. But what I beheld working behind the counter was, and believe me I really hate to say this, one of the most foul, unkept and scariest creatures I have ever seen. This woman was wearing a man’s, and judging by the dirt and stains, been wearing for several days, a sleeveless tank top that could barely contain her gelatinous fat, jaundice, colored girth pouring out every available space. I have seen mops used to scrub decks in the navy, whose mop head locks had more ascetic glory than the greasy cilia that hung limply and haphazardly from her head. She had a hit or miss, more miss than hit, spattering of teeth. Even with a full, TV talk show make- over, the best outcome for this woman would be an acceptable pass as Siberian babushka grandmother in midst of a ruthless severe winter.[ Go to Google images, youngsters]. God forgive me, once again.
After several minutes of tongue washing with the barkeep, Señor Caesar suddenly remembered my presence and introduced me to girlfriend. It was evident that these two had a full history together, just as much as Professor Caesar had a history with darling college sweetheart.
OK Now ! Folks, you can ring the bell, ding, ding, ding. Stevenson’s Mr. Hyde was not the Wolf man-like monstrosity that early Hollywood films made him out to be. Although a wee bit deformed or accentuated, Stevenson’s Hyde was the alter-ego of Jekyll. He was the evil half of the duality of Jekylls’ personality but, what is more remarkable is that Hyde quickly develops his own social circle, away from that of Jekylls.’ People knew him and responded to him only as Hyde. They had no knowledge of his life as Jekyll just as, for sometime; Jekylls’ social circle had no idea of his life as Hyde.
Inside the bar was a set of double doors that separated the sleazy dimly interior of the outer bar from an even sleazier VIP (of sorts) inner bar. Señor Caesar had business to conduct with the owner. An equally dirty and shameless blob of shirtless jaundice flesh emerged from a room, which even today, I have no desire to know what was taking place, But he was interrupted from enclosed activities. Nevertheless he embraced Señor Caesar in a full bear hug. Judging by the similarity of blobs, I assume the owner was a brother or some relation to the bar keep, perhaps even her father but, with her tired looks, she looked older than him. The owner was definitely the dominant party in this relationship. He guided the professor’s alter-ego over to a dilapidated table, within the dilapidated bar, within the dilapidated building. I stood idly by while the owner seemed to be admonishing Caesar over what I believed was some unpaid debt. All about me men were staggering out of small rooms in various stages of undress. I did not notice any evidence of women being present. I suspected these rooms served as drug dens of some type. I felt more comfortable in the stench of the outer bar than this VIP sector. I motioned to Señor Caesar that I would be outside, to which he took no notice of.
After what seem like an hour later, Señor Caesar emerged from the VIP section and preceded to rough talk some of those individual he had prior business with. He was the Alpha male out here and all the drunks, addicts, cowboys, thugs and gang bangers knew it. I approached Caesar and demanded to be taken back to the house. This was request was met with indifference. I than demanded my papers and money (as if any significant amount was left). This too was met with indifference and with a little hostility when I voiced it a second time. Apparently I could not rely or pull off the full meaning of a demand. It must have been at least two maybe three in the morning by then. I was a little upset by more unnerved by Señor Caesar show of hostilities. I decided to go outside. Surely this place must have a closing time?
After waiting outside at least another half an hour, I was forced to face the facts that I was up the creek without a paddle. I had no idea where I was, I did not know east from west. The number… I know it was late but, this was an emergency. Of, course now my napkin had long gone missing. The major road was deserted somewhere in the distance, beyond my line of vision, I could see a shimmer or light and noise, some type of commotion. Was it musical instruments, at this hour? Well in a town when a dive bar like this doesn’t close who knows. The lights and the sounds came closer. The lights were that of vehicles and the sounds, were car horns, some tambourines, various small instruments but, mainly the sound was that of people cheering. The possession cars started to pass me. Most everyone was dressed in white. The participants seemed to be made up of mostly young adults and teenagers, even children. Many of the drivers were adults and they seem to encourage the commotion. They waved, they three kissed, Jesus Christos, was the most chanted phrase. They drove past in groves, honking horns, signing, laughing. They passed me in cars, in buses, in pick-up trucks, farm trucks, motorcycles; and the continued to pour forth out of the darkness of night.
Where were all these people coming from? I could detect that these loud and enthused folks were not Catholics. I also know that Central American has a spattering of Evangelistic dominations, to which most definitely, these folks had pitched their spiritual tents. Yet this possession had now been passing before me, sometimes in greater spurts than others, but going on now for at lest twenty minutes or more and was showing no sign of ending. There can’t be that many Evangelicals in all the country I puzzled. Forty minutes and the possession continued. I didn’t want to think it but, there was something supernatural about this. I am prone to seeing angels in the architecture and if you have had as many mystical interventions as I, you would understand why. Yet I still try to apply every single logical deduction before jumping to conclusions. I looked back in the direction of bar, reviewed quickly all that had happened and was possibly happening there. I look back at this never ending possession of revelers dressed in white, partying at now maybe four in morning.
“It’s the end of the world, I was not invited and now I stand of the periphery of Salvation and Hell”, I concluded. It would, more than likely, catch all us fence hangers, off guard and not come in a way we expect. “Like a thief in the night”. Prophesized Christ. “I am undone”. Ready to accept my damning fate, I sat back down on the bench in despair. From one of the smaller burst of traffic, a motorcyclist clad in the white dress attire of the night, pulls over.
“¿habla usted Inglés”
“ nada “
I am so distraught; I don’t even feel like mustering up the brain energy for translation and deciphering. I asked if he knew the street I was staying on. I knew the street but had fail to commit the suburb into memory. This he did not know. He patted me on the Shoulder, prayed a little pray and return to his holy possession. OK once day light hits, I can make my way back to the central city, locate the hotel I had stayed, hopefully they still have my phone records. I could re-call from there. I still had American cash on me that I luckily had not turned over to Señor Caesar. And thank you still small voice.
We all know that time goes so much slower when you are just waiting. I still had several hours before sunbreak. I decided to walk. I walked and I walked. I walked with no rhyme or reason. I walked unconsciously, taking this turn and that. Nothing was familiar so I didn’t even try to locate landmarks. Unto this day, I still don’t know how or why I even ventured down residential streets. In fact, because of perceived treats to persons and the home front, it is best to travel on commercial designated streets. I knew this rule from way back. Maybe just because I had somehow ventured into suburban territory I had just ran out of business districts to traverse. Anyway trance-like I found myself wandering down street, looking at the pavement, in full blown trance mode. Something compelled me to look up and, lo and behold was the house. This was the only house, because of the patio furniture, that I would have been able to recognize in all of Honduras. The laying on of hands and prayer by that motorcyclist really worked out well.
The occupants of the house found the story funny and actually lightened my load. I left out all the disparaging comments on the adventures and activities’ of Señor Caesar because it was clear that here, in this house, he was and perhaps always be Maestro Caesar. The week was upon us. It was assumed that I would have to wait until Monday when Caesar would return. He was prone to speaking weekends elsewhere that’s an understatement. Well the money was no doubt gone, and I think having papers is more important upon entering than exiting so I would take a chance. I made one more side trip, to a destination that, still unbeknownst to me, that I was ordained and purposed to have made.
More by this author at Hot Brew, a Guatemala Travel Story on thebackpacker.net.