Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Running With The Shadows Of The Night

As the minivan lurches forward through the darkened highway, I notice the silhouette of my driver, Pablo's crewcut. He's chatting in rapid fire Spanish about the distance to San Salvador and I'm reminded that my Espanol no es muy bien.

It's scene that's both familiar and comfortable to me. Darkened roadways punctuated by the dim illumination of florescent lighting from the houses, slow-moving (or warp speed nearing) cargo trucks and the occasional group of locals walking along in the darkness. It's my first time to El Salvador and Pablo is gunning away at the engine and in Spanish. I think about asking him to slow down but ask him about midday traffic instead.

My seatbelt doesn't lock so I'm facing near certain doom or dismemberment if we crash into that crane truck lumbering in the right lane. It's 40 kilometers from the airport to the city - a city wrapped in heat and a touch of humidity. Stepping off the plane reminded me of arrivals in both Manila and Honolulu.

Inside the van, the A/C is blistering cold. I want to ask Pablo lower the fan speed but I don't know how. The cold air blows across my chest, threatening pneumonia. I adjust the vents away from my body and now they blow on my head.

Life is a blur when you travel. No matter how far, how long and how painful, travel always seems to be a sort of suspended animation. Ten hours ago, I was in cold Baltimore. Now I'm in a cold Toyota van where I've suddenly come to fear sickness more than at home!

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