Monday, May 2, 2011

The Love Tunnel

Sounds sketch, right? Well, it's not. Sorry.

 I just realized that if I don't write about the rest of my time in Honduras in little bits at a time, then it will never get written about. Or read about. The reasons being that I am too overwhelmed by how much there is still to write and that people have stopped reading my blog because of the ridiculously long posts I have been spewing out. Not that I blame them!

 So, there will follow this post many more like it. Short, sweet, and hopefully containing only the most prized nuggets from the remainder of my time in Honduras.

This tale comes from Elicia and I's trip to Tela, the "best beaches on the eastern shore" of Honduras, said my trusty Lonely Planet Guide. We took a boat tour out to a national park called Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas, named after a woman who was murdered trying to defend the park from greedy developers in 1995. Lonely Planet guide again (seriously, if you are every traveling anywhere, it is completely worth it to buy one of those).

After an eventful walk through the rain forest (following posts: poisonous spiders, attractive tour guide, man-eating jellies, and the famous parrot, Captain Henry Morgan), we hopped back on the boat for a quick spin around Punta Sal ("Salt Point." Whoever names some of these places seriously must have had NO creative capacity). Our boat man stopped the boat right on cue several yards away from a narrow tunnel through some large rock cliffs. Our guide waved in the direction of the tunnel and said that this was the tunnel of ------ (I don't remember what it was called) and that there was an ancient tradition of the natives that it could determine if a young man or woman was ready for marriage. All they had to do was to swim through the tunnel and make it out to the other side. I couldn't help thinking that we make it WAY too complicated back home...

He grinned and asked if anyone wanted to try it. It was the same grin he used when he told us what the howler monkeys were saying, so naturally I assumed that he was joking. But his pause lasted long enough that we all knew he expected a response. My hand shot up. The rest of the group smiled and nodded their heads to humor him, as was typical of them (our group was composed of old, white, bermuda short clad, sunscreen-smothered tourists who were probably staying in a hotel that cost at least 10 times what ours did). The tour guide flashed that gorgeous smile at me and said, "Okay, but I have to come with you and you have to wear your life-jacket." He must have an expert sense for the life-jeacket reluctant ones, because he read my mind. I hate life jackets.

I said, "Wait, are you serious? We can swim through it?"

"Yes!" Another gorgeous smile.

I turned to Elicia. "You are coming with me right?"

She said, "Uh, yeah!" She is in love, after all.

So we kicked off our flip-flops and giggled and squealed a bit. The waves of annoyance coming from the rest of the group were thick, but we just avoided eye contact. I bet they have no idea how fun it is to squeal. Probably haven't done it in years. We jumped over-board and waited for the guide to join us.

I took the lead into the tunnel. It was more narrow than it had appeared from the boat and there were creepy looking bugs on the walls, antennae as long as my arm, it seemed . I bravely swam on, though. This was no time to get squeamish. I had to prove my wifely desireability. I was making good time with a nice breast stroke when it got darker and my brain forced me to wonder about the depths beneath me. I suddenly couldn't swim shallow enough. I broke into a frenzied doggy-paddle, fully aware of how stupid it looked.

I was about half-way through when the real test came. The waves from the other side were coming stronger and I was having a hard time battling them. Finally, one of them washed over me and I began to flail around, avoiding grabbing on to the bug-covered walls at all costs. I think I must have been making some kind of noise, gurgling or gasping or something, because Elicia said from behind me, "Uh, Kathryn? You can stand up."

I craned my neck around and there was Elicia and the guide standing in the water, the same waves that had nearly drowned me lapping gently at their knee-caps. I staggered to my feet and grinned sheepishly while they had a good laugh. Elicia really let it ring. I knew I would never live this down. Elicia would forever share this unfortunate incident whenever my marriageability was discussed (Those of you who think that this is a unnecessary worry don't know how often women talk discuss marriageability).

We walked across the sand until it got deeper again and then swam easily to the boat waiting on the other side. The boat man yanked us both in turn into the boat by the life-jacket straps. If you have ever been pulled into a boat that way, you know that it is incredibly awkward. There is no way to do it gracefully. I plopped into the bottom of the boat and scrambled quickly into my seat, feeling about as ready for marriage as my two year old neice. The rest of the tour group chortled politely as though entertained by our childishness.

I sat there dripping wet and wondered if the point of the whole thing was to inform young ladies just how NOT ready for marriage they were. Still, I had made it through. Hadn't I? Perhaps lessons in humility and laughing at yourself are some of the best preparations for marriage anyway.

Elicia laughed for a long time. Funny, though, how quickly she skipped over the pictures of the tunnel when we were showing our Honduras pictures to her boyfriend...

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