A LESSON LEARNED
By Langdon Hues
1983, Honduras “Do you think we’re prepared for everything?” The question, uttered friend to friend in a rattly single-engine seaplane, was about the only thing that could cover every possibility of what they were about to do.
The pilot of the plane is the one who asked. His name is Eke – pronounced like his initials– E.K. Who knows how he got the name. Eke didn’t. He just talked shit about it, made up stories to compensate for the odd name. “My parents drank heavily when they named me that,” he told people. His parents, though, didn’t drink. Eke did. Or at least he used to. But that’s a long story and part of it has to do with him being here flying with his childhood friend, Bill, over the Patuca River nextto the Sierra de Agatta mountain range deep in the Central American country of Honduras. Honduras. It wasn’t like their homeland, back in Massachusetts. It wasn’t Massachusetts, sweet home Massachusetts. No. This was different, very different. This was actually Honduras. Look. There it is. They looked. Yes, Honduras. They’d dreamt of it for years. And now they were flying. Bill smiled at Eke andanswered the question the best way he could: “There’s only one way to find out.” And then he pointed down. “There it is. That’s the bend way up there in the river. Take her down.” “Here we go,” said Eke, as he tilted the nose down towards the river. “Looking for adventure.”
“That’s right, brother,” said Bill. “Looking for adventure. Whatever comes our way.” “Amen to that.” And the planelowered towards the river. As it did, Bill, the bigger of the two, looked at the mountain next to the river that was to become their new patch of land. Paradise is a journey. That’s the thought. That and more. This was going to be an adventure. For the first time in their lives this was going to be a true adventure. Not a rock concert, not a fishing trip. They were looking for life or death. They wantedto really experience life. Yeah, something like that. Dreams are funny things, how they can gnaw at you. For Eke it was like that his whole life. This idea of adventure had pulled at him. Barely 120 pounds soaking wet, he wasn’t the biggest guy in the world. But he had big dreams. Yeah, dreams that in the past had somehow been derailed. Somehow? Well, sometimes he drank his dreams away. Andsometimes he was unlucky. And sometimes both. But now? Now, he was flying into the junction of land where tropical forests, mountains, and pine-laced savannahs meet. Honduras.
What the hell? That’s how dreams are, though. This one was the biggest one of all. Bill was almost a foot taller with the blue eyes of a Swede. Reminiscent of a young Nick Nolte, his long blond hair was feathered back wildlylike a lion’s mane. He was loud and boisterous, social and strong-minded and always willing to share an opinion. They were an odd pair, the two of them. One was tall and loud. The other was short and quieter. The tall one still watched cancerous amounts of cartoons. The shorter one was a dreamer in a different way. He wrote. Yes, Eke was a romantic dreamer, while Bill’s head was grounded in therealities of every day life. Yet they hit it off right away. They’d met way back when they were 14 years old – that impressionable age when the roots of youth compete with the wings of growing up – and they found common ground in their quest for entertainment. They rode bikes together, played baseball, went fishing, and then when they were older they partied a lot together, but their friendshipwasn’t just about entertainment. They were kindred spirits – always seeming to want, somehow, something that they couldn’t get. And now: Honduras.
They got what they wanted this time but they, especially Eke who was more reserved and introspective, wondered if the old adage of “Be careful what you wish for” was true. With the flaps lowered and the throttle maintained, the plane glided down with...