When I think of
I think of Baleadas – thick, tasteless wraps sold on the street and in convenience stores, stacked in tinfoil pyramids – cold, with beans and salty quesillo of unknown age and origin.
I think of lychees, hawked by children in 10-piece bags, their blood-red hairs crushed into plastic submission, looking like sea-urchins… purveyed by street urchins.
I think of flooded streets, market lean-tos painted watery green with amorphous figures huddled underneath against the driving rain, chewing tiny bananas and looking at me as I cower too, below a store awning across the street: drenched, myopic, alien.
I think of internet cafes with no connection, hotels with mildewed walls, sullen staff, and the smell of a hurricane on its way.
Chickens roaming dirt roads, pecking at old chewing gum and fruit pits.
El Pico Bonito.
Rainbows at Golosón Airport.
Miles and miles of pineapples... sprouting prodigiously up out of the clay, bound for everywhere else in the world.
Men who cut the pineapples - their heads wrapped in t-shirts under the violent sun.
I think of my grandmother frying maduros and eggs (the smell of heaven) and of my aunt shelling garbanzo beans, fanning herself intermittently, a chunk of ice bobbing in a glass of South American wine at her elbow.
I think of driftwood and trash and seaweed, of cheap rum and unwashed gringos, and of Sopa de Mariscos with a whole crab claw in the center, served with a plastic spoon.
I think of greasy paper napkins and glittering Garifuna waiters, in bowties.
And the smell of the sea.
I think of tilting, stinking streets, blaring music, and a sun which burns my forehead in seconds. Pouty little girls beckoning me into the air-condition shops: “Pase(n) joven!”
I can barely hear their voices.
I think of homes on stilts which pose -like rabbits frozen in fear- along a blustering beachfront, and of my dying grandfather’s words:
“Oh, just leave
But Papá… ¿Cómo?