The whine of turbines rose to a roar as the jet headed down the runway, leaving the four travelers standing in the tropical heat of Honduras. One of five Central American countries, Honduras has been variously referred to as a banana republic, an island of peace, and a training ground for counterrevolutionary terrorists. For the four
heavily perspiring travelers, it was the country they'd been dropped off in without their luggage.
"What do we do now?" asked Medio, once the departing jet's roar had faded to a faint, yet uproarious adios.
"Get a beer," said Nuco.
"We don't have our bags," said the BigGuy. "They're in Miami."
"We go for beer now and get the bags tomorrow," replied Nuco. He'd traveled this airline before and knew the routine.
The travelers moved toward a row of booths with a Migración sign over it. As they did, Medio pulled Capn, the fourth traveler, aside. "This is gonna look suspicious. Four gringos with no luggage?" Capn shrugged his shoulders and snapped his tongue against his palate several times, as he often did when faced with a stressful situation or a delicious meal.
The BigGuy stepped up to a Migración official. "Buenas tardes," he said.
"Pasaporte," the customs agent replied. As the BigGuy pulled out his passport, the official eyed him curiously. Honduras was not a tourist destination and the sight of a tall, blonde-haired gringo dressed in polyester trousers and a white, button-down, Catholic schoolboy shirt surprised him. An evangelical? An expatriate? Another CIA agent?
"Nostros estan aqui para pasear un vacacion," said the BigGuy as the official examined his passport. Despite the gringo's butchery of Spanish, his and the other travelers' passports were in order and the official waved them through.
Outside the airport, the travelers were confronted with an angry, merciless sun, which bore down from a cloudless sky. "Nice day," observed the BigGuy.
Capn wiped his brow. "Hot."
"Hey Nuco, I finally got to use my Español," the BigGuy said, proud of the results of several months of responding to Berlitz tapes on the forty-five minute ride to and from work each day.
"You gotta work on number, gender and conjugation," Nuco, replied, shielding his eyes.
"So where do we go now?" Medio asked.
"To town, to get a beer," said Nuco, then started walking briskly, ignoring the shouts of a dozen taxi drivers circling him. "Ignore these taxi drivers, we're walking to the end of the road!" he shouted back to his companions. "It's a short walk, then we can catch a bus!"
One kilometer later, the end of the airport service road appeared, shimmering ahead like a misbegotten mirage. The sun bore down on the group, raising the heat and humidity levels to those equivalent of a direct fire brew kettle, with the added pain of an overhead source of ultraviolet hell.
By the time they reached the main road, the four were drenched. They waited fifteen minutes with no traffic in sight. Finally, Medio spotted a large truck bearing down on them and stuck out his thumb. Miraculously, the truck driver slowed and pulled over. A man in the passenger seat stuck his head out the window. "Donde?" he asked.