Story Parts

Tela Beach: The Long, Quiet Vacation (Part 1, page 1 of 5)

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Part 1

Upon their arrival in Honduras, the soldiers put their suitcases in a room on the main base, a tarpaulin was thrown over the suitcases to protect them from dust, and the room was locked. After that, the men used their duffel bags, issued in Basic Training, dragging them from one place in Honduras to another. But now, because it was time, the musty suitcases were removed from the room and replaced with the duffel bags. Now that the duffel bags were stowed, the men turned their full attention to their suitcases.

With one hand, Ross felt the weight of his single piece of luggage by lifting it up and down a few times and then brought it over to a bunk. He had forgotten all about the bag. As he unzipped his bag, he tried remembering packing it months ago.

In addition to the civilian clothes he was wearing, here was a suitcase packed with civvies. The contents he carefully removed. Neatly on the bed were all the new clothes he had bought for the trip, Hawaiian shirts, pastel collared shirts, a white polo shirt, a blue polo shirt, shorts, khaki slacks, a belt, white briefs, and socks. In a plastic bag was a pair of inexpensive brown dress shoes that contained a small bottle of cologne that had leaked. He had paid Ellis five bucks to fold his clothes because Ellis could fold clothes, and now he was glad he had spared no expense.

That afternoon, the afternoon of the free luggage, the platoon sergeant made a short speech, "Just remember you are ambassadors to the people of Honduras. How you dress and comport yourselves will influence their impression of the United States. After you check in to your rooms, you can wear shorts and flip flops. And when you are outside, you must have on collared shirts at all times unless you are near a body of water, such as a pool or ocean.”

Soon after, the medic gave a speech. And then everybody exchanged US Dollars for Honduran Lempiras, in turn gaining colorful, thin bills. Their wallets were thick now, many bills, many different colors. Everything was set now—the platoon was to depart the base the next morning, via a Humvee and a mottled Honduran bus.

The caravan rolled out of the base and, once past the gate, turned right down a dusty, grey road and, not more than a mile later, picked up a paved road. The bus and the Humvee, still in single file, followed this paved road as it snaked through the countryside. The countryside was sunny but for the banana plantations, which were dense and dark. The walkers were here, near the plantations, and were close to the road.

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