I look out my window and, in a blue mid-morning sky with just two shy cloud-strokes, the pale face of the moon is looking back at me. I’m back in Tegucigalpa, sitting at my desk in my room after a late-ish breakfast, trying to get used to working from home after three weeks away. This moon is on her way out, anachronistically lingering in the morning, stuck in her transition between one night to another, taking her own time to get there, tarrying here just a little bit more.
My mind lingers like that moon: my transition between one reality in NYC and another in Tegucigalpa began yesterday morning as I kissed T goodbye in front of The Evelyn and embarked on an hour-long journey with an uber driver from Uzbekistan to JFK. My last conversation in English was about how hard it is to make ends meet for a married couple that drives Uber for a living, and how they still try to have little luxuries: buying brand clothing on sale, looking and feeling good. Then it was the tunnel-vision of airports: lugging my big Gregory bag, my actual suitcase, my traveler guitar which has been forlorn for two years almost, and my timpani-packed backpack; checking in at the Avianca counter, making the security line behind a young, stressed, mom and little daughter from Ecuador, heading to the business class lounge which I appreciate only for the free breakfast with fresh fruit and the incredibly satisfying ability to let my bowels do their morning dance in the privacy of a single-room restroom: I don’t care for the people there, almost always with an air of entitlement around them, making me feel despicable too. The in-flight food is good too, as well as the possibility to use a restroom that gets orders of magnitude less traffic than the economy one; here too I feel sympathy for the crew and wariness about my fellow travelers. All of that, however, takes second stage when food comes and it’s actual shrimp, actual pasta and actual cutlery accompanied by a decent cabernet-sauvignon and syrah blend and followed by bailey’s. I get these upgrades when Avianca gives people the opportunity to get them by making a bid, I try to bid less money than it would have cost to buy the business class ticket in the first place, it works most of the time, but I try to get these little luxuries while I still can: when life gets more real, money will be better spent than in clean restrooms and actual food while traveling, and I’m at peace with that – and relieved, as I’m always a tad guilty, a tad ashamed to be traveling like this. It feels hypocritical to say that, maybe I should either not do it or just enjoy it thoroughly without passing blind judgement on my fellow business travelers, but dithering is my default state here, for now.
The next flight has a short wait time, I foolishly try to buy access to the lounge in San Salvador and the desk operator patronizes me saying that “your little flight will depart in about 40 mins, I don’t think it’s worth it”. She’s right, but I feel slighted and a bit angry at having to explain that all I want is just a bit more A/C, a bit more cushioned seats, a bit more free food, before this trip ends; so instead of I just say a curt “thanks” and leave: I didn’t need the food, nor the restroom, I was spoiling myself. Back in the waiting area, I soon regain composure, but can’t seem to shake off the drowsiness: maybe it’s the weather change, maybe it’s just traveling, maybe it’s the fact that I’m going from one of my lives to another, but this day feels unreal. I want to appreciate my fellow travelers, and the people that help us get there, but I feel an onset of misanthropy, and keep to myself. The lack of disposition to socialize probably began early in the morning after the stress of security and boarding: one of the pilots that was flying in business class asked me about my traveler guitar and, surprisingly, knew who Steve Vai was when I lied about being able to play his music: I used the incoming wave of people as an excuse to cut the conversation in one of its lulls and escape to my seat. It could’ve been great.
In Toncontín, I’m the only person making the line for Honduran nationals: don’t know if everyone else is a visitor or if people just queued up in whichever line had people, ignoring the open extra one. The customs officer is a grandma, or at least a woman in grandma-age, and when I mention I live with my parents she advices, with a sweet gaze having a sparkle of regret: “From personal experience, let me tell you: make the best out of the time you have with them”. It’s a very personable welcome to Honduras: no longer a land I loath, but a land I regard as a solace I’m ever so slightly wary of, but also fond. Baggage claim and customs are easy, no one cares about my oversized backpack or my random array of new camping gear I bought the day before in my first excursion to REI, packed in my regular suitcase – I always have a paranoid fantasy that they will think that the things I buy for myself are actually for sale and will either confiscate them or charge me a high tax, I’ve always heard scary stories to that intent and is thus why I always unpack everything new I buy for me or as presents. Outside, a man approaches me with a voice that’s either breaking or pretending to be, saying he had been deported and is trying to get some food, some medicine to be able to eat without having indigestion, and a ticket to San Pedro, saying he had been deported from Houston and wasn’t helped by the government upon arrival. I tell him there’s a bus station in the mall across the street, and his circular insistence on his story makes me realize that the outcome I was afraid of having is imminent: he wants money. I give him a $20 bill and he tries to get more by saying it may not be enough for food and the ticket, but I’m very wary now of less pleasant crime, so I essentially shoo him away. Honduras, you always confuse me: never know when to be kind and when to be suspicious. I err on the side of the former, but always feel safer with the latter.
The trip has ended, it has unwound from the rush of JFK through the luxury-then-reality of my two flights and then the relaxed atmosphere of a slow day at Toncontín. A parallel development has taken place in my mind: I went from waking up next to the woman I love and speaking English to speaking Spanish in JFK and riding next to my dad in his car; from temperatures close to freezing to warmth, from trying to meet up with friends and navigating the subway in a concrete jungle to being home most of the time and looking forward to exploring the wilderness with my motley crew of hiking companions. Sitting in our living room and talking to my sister, playing with my dog, and joking with my parents felt like a dream, a memory had while dozing off in a meeting or while riding the subway next to T.; but it wasn’t: I’m back to one of my lives, and I still wonder what’s next for the other, what to take from the 21 intense days I spent there this time, what to bring here, what to plant back in my life and my love. For now, full of reveries, the moon of my transition sets, and I push on.