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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 3, Page 3

Walk the plank

Four hours and three bottles of rum later, La Florita was still at the dock, the crew carelessly tossing supplies into its hold. The wind had begun to blow with increasing force and the boat rocked and strained against its moorings.

"Is that the only way onto the boat?" the BigGuy asked, pointing to a gangplank that dipped and bobbed over the water between the dock and the boat. The gangplank consisted of four, seven foot long two by eights, which were held together by ten foot long side panels.

'That's it," Nuco said, "a high wire act."

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"I guess they figure if you can't make it across the gangplank, you won't make it across the ocean," Medio said.

"The key is to step on the outer edges of the boards, because the middle is the weak point," Nuco said.

"And balance yourself so you don't fall into the sea," the BigGuy said, gazing at the twelve foot distance between the dock and the boat.

An hour later, with the wind blowing steady and large waves crashing on the nearby shore, La Florita's captain conferenced briefly with his now drunk crew and in a stab of bravado decided to go ahead with the crossing.The crew members, who had turned to drinking beer, finished tying several large sheets of plywood to the topdeck rail, then herded a small contingent of goats across the swaying gangplank. Finally, word to board was given and about thirty passengers lined up to cross the gangplank.

Laughter at the front of the line caught the travelers' attention and they watched as an openly gay passenger was pushed out of line. "I don't imagine he's gonna have a pleasant ride," the BigGuy said.

"It's not an easy road being a maricón in Central America," Nuco said sympathetically.

"Mari-what?" the BigGuy asked.

"Maricón," Nuco said. "Means gay."

Once they had managed to race safely across the yawning chasm between the dock and the boat, the passengers began jockeying for position. The BigGuy used his size to get a seat inside the cabin on the main deck. Less inclined to push and shove, Capn was relegated to a spot near the port gunwale.

"Follow me," Nuco said to Medio, clambering to the topdeck. He sat at the front, dangling his legs over the front. "You can watch everything from up here," he explained, "and stay warm in the sun."

Several others climbed to the topdeck, including the maricón, who was forced to sit with the goats.

Someone grabbed Nuco's arm. "Eay mon, remembah me?" Nuco turned. "We play soccah a while ago."

"Yeah, how you doin'?" Nuco replied, recognizing the face in front of him.

"I play professional now, mon, for Puerto Cortes' team." After updating Nuco on his career, the professional soccer player looked long and hard at the rising sea. "You nevah been seasick, mon?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer, continued. "It is bahd, mon, real bahd. You feel so bahd dat someone could piss on you or shit on you, and you don' keer. They could piss and shit on you while you are sick, mon, and you don't keer, it is so bahd."

Next issue, across the raging sea.

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