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Return to Santa Rosa

SANTA ROSA de COPAN–As I coughed and Katie blew her reddened nose again I cheered us both by reminding her we would soon be out from under the uni-cloud of Ohio and under the sun instead, that soon we would be praying for an occaisional rainy day, even a lone cloud in the blue sky.
We managed a few hours of fitful sleep and at 0345 my parents were on my porch, standing against a backdrop of fat white flakes, ready to drive us the hour north to Cleveland-Hopkins International. On the drive the snow came down heavier, almost whiting us out and the radio told of a possible 27 inches to fall on New York. It was, all in all, the perfect type of day to leave the Ohio Territories and head south for the sunny and chaotic lands of the Maya and the Hidalgos.
The first leg of the journey, to Houston, was promising. Although it was still cold the sun was out and shining with promise. Soon our second plane was wheels up over the blue Carribean and I was eyelids down and fast asleep. I woke with only a quarter hour left to go and when I looked out the window there was nothing but misty white.
“If I find out Cleveland is under that cloud I’ll be pretty pissed off,” I whispered to Katie.
The 737 nosed down into the cloud cover and rain streaked the windows. Underneath were the green fruit fields outlying San Pedro Sula. We were, indeed, landing in Honduras but the uni-cloud had followed us south…

Katie, a family practice doctor, had signed on to work with Central American Medical Outreach (C.A.M.O.) the non-profit medical relief group based out of Orrville, Ohio, her home town. I had worked with the group as their Documentary Director several years earlier. Katie had spoken only briefly with Kathy Tschiegg, CAMO’s Director and nothing had been said about transport from the San Pedro airport to Santa Rosa. We assumed it was up to us and had consulted our guidebooks, planning how to get to the proper bus station in the big, chaotic city’s downtown. Each bus line, and there are many, operates its own station, something that had given me a bit of trouble the year before. We wanted the Toritos and Copanecos station.
After Passport Control I left Katie with the bags while I searched for a place to change money. I did not see an exchange office in the entire airport, not even a closed one, but finally found a private money changer. When I returned to where I had left Katie, Javier, the CAMO driver was suddnely in front of me, shaking my hand, “Andres, amigo, I didn’t know you were coming!”
Katie looked quite relieved, not just that we wouldn’t have to navigate the cab and bus system quite yet but because she had seen Javier eyeing her and our bags and had, not knowing him, been a bit worried. Javier was relieved as well as all he had been told was to find a gringa doctor.

We passed the checkpoint on the edge of town and took the right turn up into the hills, away from the coastal plains, up and up into the unulating mountains whose taller peaks hid themselves in the clouds and tendrils of fog twisted out of the verdant canyons like fat white snakes.
I looked across the seat of the SUV at Katie during the moments of silence, seeing her familiar profile against the familiar mountains, both things unfamiliar together. I saw her for the first time anywhere but in Ohio and wondered what dislocation she must be feeling. Not quite a month before she had been in New Zealand, another green, mountainous and utterly different place. Now we were here together, in this strange place, in the back of a truck driven by people I knew and whom she had never met, on our way to a place she had never seen.
I remembered how four years before Javier had picked me up at that same airport and had driven me into the same hills. I remember arriving then and being taken to my apartment and left alone and how I had wandered down to the Hotel Elvir in between rain showers and had treated myself to a steak dinner and thought, “What will I do next?”
That is, I suppose, always the question. What next? This promises to be a strange trip. Aren’t they all?