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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 3, Page 1

"I'm burning the dyçsentery out of my system!" Medio exulted, increasing his pace. His ancestral Calabrian skin soaked up the solar rays, scattering the bacterial invasion force that had afflicted him the previous evening. "I can feel the bacteria fleeing!"

Nuco shielded his eyes and gazed down the unbroken stretch of sand and blue water. "The sun is brutal," he said tiredly, not yet recovered from the previous night's cerveza and carnal reconnection.

"What's the name of this town?" Medio asked.

Click to see larger image

"Tela. It has one of the nicest beaches in the country," Nuco said.

"Sun, sand, and cerveza!" Medio crowed. After suffering twenty-four hours of dysentery-like misery, he had rebounded and felt at the top of his game.

Banana Republics

An hour later, the two travelers had returned to the beachside gazebo where their compatriots sat. Medio grabbed the BigGuy's beer and drank. "Ahh...who makes this beer?" he asked.

"Cerveceria Hondurena," Nuco said, falling into a seat. "It's a front name for Castle and Cooke."

"Castle and who?" the BigGuy asked.

"Castle and Cooke, more commonly know as Dole, or United Brands," Nuco said. "They make all three Honduran beers as well as produce the majority of the country's bananas and pineapples."

"The same fields we passed through?" Medio asked, remembering the endless rows of banana trees they had traversed on the morning train from Puerto Cortes to Tela.

"They own most of 'em," Nuco said. "Bought or stole the land in the early 1900's, then carved huge banana plantations out of jungle."

"They own the land," the BigGuy repeated.

"Yes," Nuco said, energized by the direction of the conversation. "This morning you saw why Honduras is called a 'banana republic'. The government bureaucracy runs on the taxes paid by Castle and Cooke on the bananas they export."

"Not a bad racket," the BigGuy said.

"Ever heard of Eli Black?" Nuco asked, then, without waiting for a response, continued. "He jumped from a New York City skyscraper ten years ago. Turned out as chairman of the board of La Companiathat's what Hondurans call Castle and Cookehe was in the process of paying Lopez Arellano two and a half million dollars to lower the banana tax."

"Paying who?" the BigGuy asked.

"Lopez Arellano, the country's latest dictator," Nuco said. "The SEC found out. Hondurans called the scandal Bananagate."

"Clever," the BigGuy said.

"Brought down the government and forced Arellano into exile in Spain," Nuco continued. "Only until things blew over, of course. Now that the focus is back on Communists in Central America, the thief is parading around the country as a patriot."

"Eli Black, of course, is dead," the BigGuy said.

"Forty-four floor jump," Nuco said gleefully.

"Beer, bananas, and broken dreams, built on the backs of Third World subjugation," Medio said poetically.

Irreverent insults

While the travelers digested Nuco's Central American history lesson, a motorcycle pulled up near them, depositing a man dressed in religious garb and a little boy. The man patted the boy, who ran onto the beach. After a moment of silence, the BigGuy said, "Call me cynical but what I see here is the padre taking advantage of the lack of social service protection for your Third World children."

"Where's the SAS team when you need them?" Medio said.

"The SAS team?" Nuco asked.

"Sex Abuse Squad," the BigGuy translated. "They investigate sexual abuse allegations back home."

"They have a special team for that?" Nuco asked.

"The SAS team would make short work of this guy," Medio said.

"You're jumping to conclusions," Capn said, squinting.

"I wouldn't want to be under the SAS team's microscope if I were the padre," Medio said.

"Maybe they should start a chapter down here," the BigGuy joked. "SAS International."

The religiously garbed man had walked onto the beach and was immediately surrounded by children. Like some munificent monarch, he smiled broadly and patted their heads.

The padre's patronage pushed the high riding Medio to react strongly. "Another butt-loving baptist run out of town on his Honda Shadow by vengeful hordes of angry children," he said. "Now on the beach, bent on bending over the behinds of uh, uh, uh..." Needing help finishing the statement, Medio looked at the group.

The BigGuy set down his bottle of SPF 45 sunblock and finished whitewashing his upper torso for the third time that afternoon. Grimacing, he said, "Right," in a tone that didn't reveal whether he agreed with Medio's assessment or considered it lunatic.

"...the behinds of impoverished Indian children who, attracted by his money, welcome the exploitation," Nuco said, gingerly touching his own sun-reddened skin.

"A baptist butt batterer," Medio continued, "propelling himself in a world of denial, welcomed by impoverished Indian children for his uh, uh, uh..."

"...for his wampum that buys them food and clothing," Nuco finished.

"Children bewitched by voodoo wampum," Medio said.

By now Capn's squint had turned painful, the lines on his brow growing into well plowed furrows. Medio noticed the contortions on his friend's forehead. Like the BigGuy, Capn had received his education at a gender-segregated Catholic school. Was he fighting the pain of rage and guilt raised by the injustice of their accusations, or had he, too, been a victim of the pious paws of priesthood on his posterior?

The religious target called the little boy and they got back on the motorcycle and left, their image slowly dissipating in the shimmering heat of the travelers' socio-political suppositions of imperialist-spawned sexual dementia.

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