The mulatto …
By the time I finished with customs, the mulatto was there to help me carry my stuff out to the car.
It was late afternoon now and the atmosphere was hot and humid as we emerged from the airport building. A big old Brick sedan stood on the loose red gravel to one side and the mulatto led me straight to it. The front fender of the car was twisted, one of the headlamps was shattered and the wheels of the car was caked with thick red mud which told of bad roads.
The girl was already seated in the back of the car but there was a stranger sitting in the front passenger seat, a man. He was better dressed than the mulatto; red short-sleeved shirt, blue pants, and a nice soft black hat. He looked to be in his forties and of mixed Latino and African descent. His brown skinned arm was resting on the window sill as I approached and he raised two fingers, touched them to his head in salute and grinned, showing big yellow teeth.
I was sweaty and tired, angry that the professional hunter, Mr. Jean Ramírez, hadn’t been there to meet me and sort things as professionally required. I didn’t like the look of the stranger now or the idea of sharing a cab with him.
I turned to the mulatto and jerked my head at the cab. “Who the hell is he, and who invited him?”
“Oh, he jus’ come along case yo need extry help, boss,” said the mulatto. “He the cab owner…ah jus his driver.”
“I see,” I said and nodded. “You tell Mr. Ramírez that I said he must be around himself to meet me next time, you hear me?”
The mulatto nodded quickly and I turned away from him. I didn’t help him put my cases away in the trunk of the car, I needed to sit down. When I opened the rear door of the car, I got a glimpse of very shapely long legs and beautifully rounded knees abbreviated by the lower part of a dress that tautly suggested an abundance of swelling thighs and hips.
The sight of Miss Natasha and the look of worry on her lovely face, like she was sensitive to my angry mood, cleared my anger away instantly.
I grinned at her. “Sorry about the delay, Irene. The Generalissimo back there, he caused it.”
A small smile touched her face and she relaxed.
When we got on the move, I began to feel much better. The scenery on both sides of the road was spectacular. The prevailing green vegetation was thick and rich, stretching as far as the eye could see in all directions. It was marshland and mangrove mostly but there were areas of solid land with tall monkey palm and towering hardwood trees. Here and there the lush greenness was splashed with the rich colors of different flowering plants – red, yellow and bright orange florals. Sometimes there were breaks that showed glimpses of the network of streams that made the area swampy.
The road was super bad. There were muddy potholes all over the place and the big ones looked like overflowing ponds due to the twenty-minute storm that had exploded earlier, lashing down on the earth with the viciousness of hail. The mulatto didn’t seem bothered by the road at all nor did he even try to avoid the potholes. He threw the Brick into every pothole with a speed that shook the whole car and everything in it violently. After the forth terrible shake-up, I’d had enough. I leaned forward and tapped the mulatto on the shoulder.
“Take it easy for god’s sake. We aren’t in any kind of hurry,” I suggested.
“Siento, sorry, sah,” the mulatto half turned his head and nodded.
The man beside him in the front passenger seat snickered and leaned across to the mulatto. “The Americano is in another kind of hurry, eh? He pick the girl up on the plane and now he in a big hurry to take off her pants so you not go too slow.”
The man had spoken in a patois of Spanish before the driver could stop him and I understood him. I glanced sideways at the girl. She was staring fixedly out the window like she hadn’t heard but there was no doubt that she had.
If these two and the ones on the plane were typical of the local attitude, there was going to be an incident before my trip was up all right!
I tapped the other man on the shoulder, the mulatto’s boss. “Listen, hijo,” I said in good Spanish and saw the surprise on his face. “I don’t know whether if Mr. Ramirez or I paying for this ride… either way, it’s still me. If either of you hijos say another word, you two hijos are going to walk, comprende?
“Yes, Sah, mister,” said the mulatto promptly.
The other man remained silent but soon seemed to realize that if word of his annoying attitude got back to Ramirez, there would be consequences. He looked back over his shoulder.
“Ah, sorry, sah,” he said respectfully, the urgency clear in his voice. “Jus jokin, sah. No fence taken ah hope?”
I kept silent for a few moments, letting the man stew before speaking. “Alright, apology accepted but look out for the potholes from now on, okay?”
I glanced at the girl. She was watching the two men in front now. They both sat upright, staring fixedly ahead through the windshield. There was just the hint of a smile on her lips and I found my grinning too.
We drove on in silence for several minutes and then, suddenly, the mulatto began to slow down. He slowed to a crawl and then stopped, cursing in annoyance.
Ahead, for about a hundred yards or more, the road was alive. The red earth was covered by a living, moving, undulating carpet of brown.
Aside from migrating Safari ants in Africa, I had never seen anything like this in my life.
The car had stopped completely now but then the mulatto cursed and started to drive forward.
“Wait. Hold it,” I said quickly. I got out of the car and walked forward to take a look.
These were land crabs, migrating land crabs. There were big ones, the size of a man’s fist and small ones too, the size of a tennis ball. There were armies of them marching across the road for over a hundred yards, covering everything in sight.
About twenty yards in from the edge, a pile up had occurred. The big ground lizard had obviously made the mistake of stumbling into the path of the migrating crabs and was now being eaten alive without even a disturbance in the migration of the armies.
Though the whole thing was disgusting, it was quite spectacular, particularly color wise. Most of the specimens were brown and yellow in color, even crimson but there were lots of blue and purple ones too like it was all an intertribal migration.
I took a step closer and one of them, a big yellow backed fellow with giant claws came walking sideways towards me. I kicked it away into the mass and walked back to the car.
With the big ants in Africa, it had been terrible. A migrating army of Safari ants with a village in tier path was bad news. It was easier to move the village than stop the ants or even divert them, not even burning blowtorches placed at their head deviated them. For sure it would be worse with these big crabs and God help the man or animal trapped in their midst.
I nodded to the mulatto and the car moved crunchingly forward, leaving a double trail that was redder than the road behind it. It was a bumpy hundred years and then the car was clear and away. The mulatto increased speed and we were on our way again.
If I had been on better terms with the two Hondurans, I would have asked if the crabs were edible as they most often were and why people weren’t harvesting them. Most countries in the world had their own kind of crabs which stayed mostly by the water but in tropical lands, they were everywhere. In Britain country folk seasonally harvested the elvers coming up the rivers in boatloads while in Africa where the crabs came out of the swamps and rivers in armies, the harvesting was done almost all year round.
Soon after the crabs, we passed a small low building, a shabby looking brown structure that was partly wood and partly brick, the first I had seen since the airport. Soon we began to pass more houses as we approached the parameter of the city.
Tegucigalpa is the capital city of Honduras. It is located on the big Choluteca River which flows through the south-central section of the country. Situated 975 meters (about 3200 feet) above sea level and surrounded by huge mountains, Tegucigalpa is the largest city and the main commercial center of Honduras. This much I’d read up and more. The city had started up as a mining camp in the 16th century when the Spanish had stumbled upon gold and silver in the mountains. In fact, the name of the city, Tegucigalpa, is Indian in origin and means ‘silver hill’. But all that wealth was gone now, taken away to Spain hundreds of years ago and what was left was poverty…utter poverty.
The city had an estimated population of one million and it was supposed to harbor manufacturing companies that dealt in sugar, textiles, and tobacco products, packaging companies for fruits and fish even universities and colleges, there was the government itself. But none of those reflected in the rows and rows of slums I was seeing lining the streets, all of it shabby looking buildings in the worst state of disrepair. The stench here was terrible; the air smell of open sewers, rotten fish, and decomposing garbage.
This was the early ‘90s’ when most countries were struggling with development and economic difficulties, yes, but Honduras seemed to the at the bottom of the lot.
We drove on through the city, heading for the better part of town, the central district across the river, and the scenery began to improve a bit, better houses, and more modern building. As we were crossing the wide bridge over the Choluteca River, I was leaning out the window, inspecting the variety of craft on the water when the girl touched my arm.
“If I could stop off anywhere here, please?” she said softly.
“Of course,” I said and smiled. “Are you sure this place suits you well enough? We could take you further, no one’s in a hurry.”
She smiled back and nodded. “Right here will be just fine, thank you.”
I snapped my fingers at the mulatto and ordered him to pull over then got her case from behind the seat. We got out of the car together.
I felt the disappointment of losing her so soon even as I walked around the car to meet her. There was nothing to do but let her go, she’d had enough man trouble for one day.
I smiled at her. “Well, Irene, adios for now. I hope we run into each other around town again soon.”
She smiled back and nodded, accepting the case. She was about to turn away but stopped, hesitatingly, and turned back to me again.
“Why do you call me Irene?” She asked.
I smiled at her. “Irene Moore, the popular Mexican-American actress. Don’t you know her?”
A frown touched her lovely face as she thought a moment. “Well, yes, I know her but I still don’t see… oh!”
The frown cleared as she saw the light.
I smiled at her and deliberately let my eyes run down her well-endowed curvy body then winked at her. “You’ve got all she’s got and more. Take care of yourself new, Irene. Hope to see you again.”
To Be Continued…..
*Adventures of a tough American millionaire going hunting in the dangerous Amazon jungles*