Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Back up and running...

Up anyway.

Sort of fell on my face Sunday. Blame it on the time change, right?

Sort of had a melt down Monday.

For one thing, the storm. I guess it did help me sleep sorta. Except for this inexplicable noise coming from the window air conditioner. (NO, it wasn't on, but more on that...) Sounded as if it was swaying in the wind and it's right above my head where I sleep.

I was up early, went to hit the O-N button for the computer but it was already O-N. I would swear I shut it down on my way down the night before. Hit the button for the monitor and nothing happened.

I kept fooling around with it but 'no joy'.

The windows were open and the thermometer said 72.5 degrees. I still felt cold! Humidity? Three weeks or so ago I had the heat on and was toasty at 72.5. Human body and mind are weird things.

So, off to Pat's Diner for breakfast. Earlier than usual. I think I got there by 0700.

Stopped by 'The Homestead' and swiped a monitor from the folks. Just for troubleshooting purposes of course! Luckily, it was just the monitor. Now, with this 17" behemoth, it's like being in the front row at the drive in. (Anybody remember those?)

Before I go off on my little storm related- driving in foreign lands ramble here, I want to mention a couple of commenter's. JL and JSB. People I don't remotely know. Kinda cool! I'll check later to see how they wound up here. I also see that I have a hit from Beijing!

JSB said nice things and JL had a tip about Tree Top Flyer and Jimmy Buffet.

I've had great comments and advice from LG and BB. So far Ozzy has chimed in once.

I was thinking 'bout ya this morning Oz! Went to a cool store for University Sportswear and what not. Neither Pop nor I had ever been there. I picked up a Tee Shirt in your honor,
Thought you'd get a kick out of it.
While I'm on my obnoxious T's. Got one inspired by the Architect too,
"It's all fun and games 'til someone gets hurt. Then it's hilarious!"
"REHAB is for quitters." Well, that one is for me.

OK, where was I before the side trip. TRIP! That was it. Road Trips in Foreign Lands...

The rain and subsequent flash floods and stoopit people inspired me to go ahead and tell this one. (Did I say 'stoopit people'? That one is fixin' to come back and bite me.)

Here in South Central Texas when we do get a lot of rain all at once it goes running everywhere. Low water crossings are a bane. For the last two days there has been a steady stream (yeah, cheap shot) of people driving off into these things and getting stuck and or swept away. Happens every time. Every time I say something brilliant like, "Well ya dumbass!"

Now that I've made my opinion of this behavior clear, let's flip ye ol' hour glass and let the sands of time take us back to about 1996...

Honduras. On my first day or two "In Country" I met ED. Another one of those friends of the company so to speak. He was like the rest, purported to be related somehow or another to one of the girls that one of my predecessors had married.

ED was a hustler and a huckster and at times a shady entrepreneur. But he could be fun to hang out with.

Right away he started inviting me to his Uncle's place in the mountains. This went on for weeks if not months. It just never came together.

Keep in mind I spoke NO Spanish upon my arrival. I had not deciphered the driving directions one gets from locals. I WAS the company in Honduras. No boss on site or even on the continent. No coworkers. My pilots were all military and had all of the obligations that go with that. I had to figure things out for myself. I was my own.

ED helped me buy a 1984 Toyota 4X4. I paid way more than I would have in the States. She was good and true though and served me well until I left country three or so years later.

The invites kept coming. Finally we decided to go the next day come hell or high water. I awoke on the appointed day to a light misty sprinkle.

ED Called, "DahBeed, It's raining."

"I know. It's just a sprinkle. We're going."


I don't recall if ED came to the house or I went to pick him up but either way, it was only the beginning.

First, we had to drive around and track down a Cousin that was to go with us. Then, drive all over Tegucigalpa to secure a grill, meat, beer, ice, gas, and whothehell remembers what all.

At last! We're all three in the truck and headed towards Danli.

Was it to be a 'non-stop hop'? Of course not. At some point Edwin shouts, "Turn here!" He had to stop to see a girlfriend. Ol' Cuz and I are cooling our heels in the truck. I speak little or no Spanish and Cuz speaks no English and we really wouldn't have had much to say anyway.

ED gets back in the truck.

I ask, "How much farther?

"Adalante, adalante!" (Keep going.)

Have I mentioned the misty rain lately? It's a little more insistent now. I'm using the wipers more and more.

I'm also getting more and more frustrated about the amount of time it's taking to get to where we are and the non-answer to my constant question, "How much farther?"

Eventually, the increasing precipitation is a concern. I mention it, "Si, DahBeed! Huricano Hugo is in the Atlantic! I told you it was raining!" Shit, you never mentioned Hurricane!
(Note: I don't recall for certain the name of the hurricane. If Hugo was Pre or Post '96, don't hammer me.)

At last, "Turn Here!"

I'm standing on the brakes again, as usual but now I'm asking, "TURN WHERE?" as we slide to a stop.

OK, there was a dirt road. We begin to make our way up the mountain. I'm grateful for 4 wheel drive but marveling at the skinny little tire tracks that we are following.

We come to a low water crossing. (The technical term here I believe is "Foreshadowing".)

I got out to 'Assess the situation'. No big deal. But I locked the hubs and engaged the 4 wheel drive anyway. We crossed with the water not even as high as the wheel hubs. Who knows what might be up ahead right? We continued to lumber up the mountain.

By now I was already tired and frustrated. ED asked how I liked the mountains and if I'd like to buy some land there. I thought of the aggravation required to get to this point and we still weren't there yet. I replied, "No."

Tio's House! At last we where "Here". No one had a clue we were coming. We did all of the meet and greet. The family was terrific.

It finally began to get fun and funny too!

The men and boys realized that we were headed out for some sort of excursion to grill out and drink beer.

The truck was unloaded and a horse was saddled. Turns out that "Here" wasn't "There".

The rain was still coming through in bands. No sun in between the bands but it wasn't unpleasant.

I picked up a box of supplies and was preparing to continue on to wherever "There" was. At least I didn't have to drive!

No, no, no... The horse was for me!!!

I felt like a heel and a hero all at the same time. I felt like a character out of some African Safari movie. These guys are carrying a grill, a couple of coolers, more ice from somewhere, charcoal, boxes of food and I'm mounted on a horse with a kid to guide the horse!!!

After about another half an hour trek. We were "There".

It was an OhMyGod beautiful spot. On the side of the mountain. Of course among many mountains. Looking down into a valley. Woods and brush and lush and green. Even in the subdued light of that day it was picture perfect.

Looking down into the valley watching a hawk soar and hunt. He was high above the valley floor and we were high above him.

The only signs of humanity was a sliver of power line in the distance, a bit of dirt road on another mountain and a small house and some sort of cultivation on the valley floor.

We ate, we drank, we laughed and we watched the rain come through in bands.

We made a game of the rain. I timed the bands. Had them nailed pretty damn close too. To the second several times.

I don't remember who made the call but it was time to go. We trek back to the house and begin to say our thanks and our goodbyes.

Ol' Cousin disappears. He gets tracked down, corralled and put into the truck.

We head back down the mountain.

In the meantime the rain is building.

As we approached the low water crossing we see people gathered on each side of the ...


On each side of the torrent!!!

I didn't have to get out to assess the situation. It was clearly B-A-D!

"What are ya gonna do ya Dumbass?"

Someone had thoughtfully placed BIG boulders on the downstream side. The situation was only going to go from B-A-D to W-O-R-S-E. I had a mission to launch the next morning and no way to contact pilots.

I double checked the hubs. left my seat belt off, put her in 4LO, jammed her into first and said, "Hang on."

I slipped the clutch just enough to get us rolling and keep us rolling. I stayed way deep in the throttle to keep the RPMs up. And we waded in. The truck had 31" tires on 'er and the water was up to the window sills. She plowed right along.

We bobbed out the other side to applause! I looked back and the tailgate was loaded with people! Probably helped us all as much or more than it helped the stow-aways.

I don't remember a thing about the rest of the trip home. But, We did indeed make it home.

Well, there's a Lotta Nada through memory lane! I remembered another couple of Tegucigalpa Tales along the way.

I've got to at least publish this and it would be best to shut it down. Steady rain an ocassional lightning.


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