We spent a month driving through the intensely mountainous regions of Southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Verdant hillsides sloped up from both sides of the carretara, enveloping us in lush, expanding waves of green. We passed through Tegucigalpa just as the sun was setting and descended toward the coastal plain of Honduras's Pacific Coast in darkness. The next morning we drove the 30 or so miles to the frontera with Nicaragua. After all those mountains, there were the volcanic lowlands of Nicaragua. We entered Nicaragua at Los Manos, the horizon opening before us, grassy prairies dotted with geometric cones of ash. Nicaragua welcomed me like an old friend, throwing her arms wide, saying, "Here you are again, my friend! I always knew you would come back!"
For me, time takes on a misty quality here. My last trip, perhaps I could blame Flor de Cano and Victoria. But I know that there is more to it. Perhaps it is the mystique of the volcanoes, and their legends; or the spirits of the heroes and martyrs; or the infectious dimpled smiles of people who despite the pains of their past, look forward with such hope, who have as a national hero, a poet. My hours and days slip away from me here and when it comes time to go, as it is tomorrow, I think, "How can that be? I am not READY to go."
Three days ago we took a trip to a place where I spent a lot of time -- a beach/surf break called Popoyo. I wanted to show my family where I was content to live in a backpacker's tent for months, without running water. A place where I made some of the best friends of my life. I wanted them to see the place, and meet the people who lived their. When we arrived at the beachside restaurant, it was closed for the slow season. It is an open air restaurant and we were able to walk inside. There on the wall, still hanging on by one corner, was the picture of the Golden Gate Bridge I cut from the back of my Rand McNally road atlas of the USA and duct taped to the wall, as my "I was here." Seven years ago. Duct tape endures.
I inquired about the woman who ran the place and learned she was in town, Las Salinas. We drove there and found her house. Her daughters remembered me and welcomed my family to their home. They called Gloria on her cell phone, but she didn't answer. One daughter headed out on her bike and found her. She returned out of breath and sweaty, saying, "Gloria viene!" A neighbor jumped on his motorcycle and went to fetch her more quickly. She arrived and walked up to me. Throwing her arms wide, tears in her eyes, she said, "Male! Welcome back! I always knew you would come back!" Friendship also endures.
apples and apple juice [to come]