A line of tourists stretches out from the ticket counter. They wheel their luggage – double-stitched, stain-proof, Kevlar seamed – a foot closer to the counter. And then they wait patiently.
A family of four smiles and laughs. Newlyweds lean on each other. When they booked the flight, the vacation in the Caribbean sun and sand seemed eons away. They thought the day would never come, but now that it has and they can look out of the terminal and see rain forest, they stand in line content.
The newlywed bride points to me and laughs, “Great T-shirt. Fantasy Island, right?”
“Yep, Tattoo.” I spare them the tragic story of Herve.
“Da plane, da plane,” says the groom. His bride giggles, melts in his arms, and begins to stroke the chest hairs poking out of his flowered, seersucker shirt. Their line moves forward and they wheel a foot closer to the counter labeled ROATAN.
“Where you guys going?” She stops giggling and looks from me to my brother Kyle with some concern.
Our line is made up of dark-skinned locals. Their luggage – woven plastic shopping bags that appear to be cut from picnic table covers, and cardboard boxes sealed with layers of duct tape – sits at their feet. Kyle and I started somewhere in the middle of the line, but are slowly losing ground. Those that were behind us would strike up a conversation with someone in front of us. Then they would grab their bags and scoot their boxes around us. We just might be invisible.
“Puerto Lempira.” I say as two older men cut in front of us, leaving us at the end of the line.
“Oh.” The bride turns her attention from us back to her husband’s chest hair. “Anyhow, love the shirt.”
“Thanks.” For a moment I consider explaining our situation. That my Tattoo shirt inspired this trip to Honduras and we are following him to his tropical paradise. That I had called Delta Apparel, the manufacturer of my T-shirt and they told me it was stitched together at a factory south of San Pedro Sula and I would try to visit it. But before doing so I want to experience Honduras and when I think of Honduras I don’t think AIDS ravaged, polluted industrial center; I think jungle. So we are off to one of the most isolated regions in North America. And while we are there we just might join a biologist on his quest to locate the elusive American Crocodile. That I was spending a couple of grand pursuing stories that would be lucky to pay me, in sum, a few hundred dollars. Or, perhaps I was just running away. That Kyle had been in college for 12 straight years studying exercise physiology and had put his studies on hold for a few weeks to accompany me on what everyone thought to be a silly quest. That mom probably made him come.
I considered explaining all of this to her, but decided she wouldn’t believe it. Hell, I can’t believe it. Besides, Kyle doesn’t know about the croc hunt.