Hammocks, E-Coli, and Liquados #11: The End – Taulabe to Copan, Honduras

11: The End
It’s Friday morning and my plane is Houston bound on Tuesday. I’m at the country director’s house, not involved in the meeting taking place, thus escape to buy Pop tarts, a Spanish Vogue and rolls for the American Peter Pan Peanut Butter that I paid a fortune for. I’m reading Let’s Go Central America and realize that I must revisit Pulhapanzak. If not to find closure for Mario (I exaggerate), then to once again fly through the jungle canopy banging my chest and shouting caliches.

Due to spontaneous beginnings, we get a late start, a frustrating one at that. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon and the bus schedule posts no departures until 3:00. We run around the corner and our competitors surprise us. A 2:00 bus is leaving for Taulabe. It’s going in the right direction. We’ll just take the night easy and make a Saturday out of San Buena Ventura.

Taulabe is officially in the middle of NOWHERE. We jump off the bus and make our way through the sunken market, beaten by a day’s worth of investigators. The sun is slowly sinking down, the moon is quickly rising. (I think those might be lyrics to a song…Cat Stevens, James Taylor, John Denver?) There is one pulperia open and I purchase oatmeal cookies and bagged juice…it’s a stable diet, I promise. With a full stomach I am now prepared for the hotel search. You must understand that past experience proves this quite the task. Jutigalpa, for example housed rows of temporary dwelling options. (But, no search necessary…you need to stay in Hotel Jutigalpa.)

Taulabe is different. We round the corner behind the pulperia and run into a table of beer bibbing gamblers who spill their beans from shock. What in the Sam Hill were Kelli Sullivan and Justin doing in Taulabe, Comayagua after dark. Not because it was dangerous, because we didn’t belong even…clearly we were new to the city. This meant trouble. This meant that Anna Maria had to stop in the middle of her Friday night gala and open THE hotel for the first time in seven months.

It wasn’t a big deal – we were easy customers. One room, two beds complete with sheets and a toilet. No breakfast in the morning and we could pay in advance. A room is a room…right? Absolutely not. This room was amazing. Oh yes, still the rickety cots, plastic mattresses, shower curtain separating yellow leaking toilet from bedroom dirt floor. BUT, there was the sheet. A sheet unlike any other. Blue and white pinstriped polyester and lycra! A sheet that would soon make a perfect shirt, swimming trunks or very universal remedy to lack of underwear. We needed this sheet but would not see Anna Maria in the morning. My shoulder devil argued with it’s counterpart and in the meantime, we bought a deck of cards inspired by the locals, left our profound signatures on the ceiling and traded stepping out of the room in order to have private use of the toilet.

Morning came and the conscience agreed to leaving a very fine amount of money on a naked mattress…in place of a beautiful sheet, one never fully appreciated until it became ours. So was Taulabe.

We walk to some nearby caves, pay an entrance fee for bat-invested caves, leave soon after and hitchhike to…. wherever traffic was going. A government truck pulled up and offered a pick-up bed straight to COPAN. Of all places, Copan. Bliss. Perfect. I love these guys.

Several hours later, we are treated by the Honduran government to a green coconut full of milk and a pink plastic straw. Very generous but a gift in dire need of an acquired taste. At San Pedro Sula, we are offered an air conditioned cab and complimentary snacks at the Shell Station. I guess they figured that by now we were friendly gringos hiding nothing but the $10 that would get us through a weekend, oatmeal cookies and a pink plastic straw. Several hours later we are in the city of cities. Copan was long awaiting my return. I belonged in the hammocks, I was of the banana republic, I am a catracha at heart.

A $3 hotel was not going to suffice tonight. After 2½ months, I am ready for a clean bed and a warm shower that does not require flip-flops. A toilet with complimentary papel higenica and free shower cap – cable television and air-conditioning included. All for an enormous $8 per person per night. OUCH! Oh, but it was worth the splurging. You see, I could handle this. I have already bought my double hammock, Guatemalan gear and have the $25 airport fee set aside. The best night’s sleep I will ever have.

We of course revisited Vamos a Ver…for dinner, breakfast and lunch, Los Sapos and hoped for a second round of The City of Copan Disco. Out of luck! It was a trip of trips. And one which will forever be a part of me…literally…the sheet is a constant reminder. (And we will leave that up to your imagination.)

So…I’ve come to an end. Not * The point in time when an action, an event, or a phenomenon ceases or is completed; the conclusion; The termination of life or existance; death; The ultimate extent; the very limit: the end of one’s patience. But, * Something toward which one strives; a goal; A remainder; a remnant; * Slang. The very best; the ultimate: “This country is the end.”

I will never again voluntarily eat bananas. I now know the best alternates to toilet paper. Thank everything holy for flushing toilets and warm showers. Real orange juice will always be fully appreciated. But oh, how I miss the ripe mangoes, liquados, balleadas, May at May’s Cafe, our Copan guide Antonio, climbing the dirt walls at Los Pinos, Valle de Angeles, wild macaws, water filters, malaria pills, bed bugs, the reality, the love, the life.

Honduras is my country. Honduras is mystery and beauty and adventure. Honduras is people who live for everything but themselves. Homesickness for Central America has seized me. I will return this summer. But until then, let the stories live on. Cheers! Hasta Luego. Que la vaye bien.

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