Friday, March 13, 2015

Honduras Trip post #4--Return to US

Stopping as usual in south Florida on my return, now with just a carryon bag and feeling marvelously unencumbered compared to when I'd left, I enjoyed the sunshine and mild weather, with temps getting up above 80 F by afternoon, but falling into the high 60s during the night. I gave a pre-arranged talk about my latest book, Confessions of a Secret Latina: How I Fell Out of Love with Castro & In Love with the Cuban People, in Spanish (which turned out to be easier than I had expected for a book written in English) at the U. of Miami Coral Gables campus and was interviewed afterward, also in Spanish, by a local radio station. The interviewer was especially interested in my Huffington Post piece promoting Peace Corps in Cuba Because I had been speaking Spanish non-stop during the previous 3 weeks, it flowed easily off my tongue. As an afterthought, with only 2 days notice, I also gave a talk in English about the same book at the Del Ray Beach public library, where a few years ago, I had spoken about my first memoir, Triumph & Hope: Golden Years with the Peace Corps in Honduras. Because of such short notice, that talk did not have a very large audience. My special guests at both these talks were two men profiled in my Cuba book: poet-philosopher Jorge Valls, a 20+ year political prisoner in Cuba in whose release I had participated in 1984, and Armando Hernandez, whose hereditary and potentially fatal kidney disease was not being treated in Cuba, so I brought him to the US via Mexico in 1998, as per my book. Now he is able to get his meds for his rare condition free of charge from the manufacturer. Another guest in Del Ray was Brenda, a longtime friend, editor, and former neighbor of my late son Andrew living in Ft. Lauderdale.

But if I had a successful and relaxing visit to south Florida, my flight back to Washington, DC, occurred on Thurs. March 5, which, unexpectedly, turned out to be the day of heaviest snowfall there during the entire winter. Four flights to DC on American, my carrier, were cancelled before my afternoon flight, which boarded passengers, then left us sitting for 4 hours on the tarmac while a mechanical problem was being addressed, not an optimistic prospect. We didn't know if we would be able to take off or not, though the captain invited anyone who wanted to get off to do so and take the next available flight without penalty, though, he warned, probably not until Sat. Most passengers stayed put, while standbys took the seats of the few who left. Babies cried, kids ran up and down the aisles, the bathrooms became gross. No food or drink was served, but my hosts had made me a couple of sandwiches, which I was delighted to be able to consume. Finally, we took off and arrived in DC 3+ hours late, only to be delayed deplaning in DC because the wrong jetway had been brought out, so another 45-minute delay was needed to right that. I had been expecting my daughter Melanie to pick me up, but couldn't find her and wondered if she had checked the arrival time with the airline. When I called her, I found she had not left her house nor had she and her daughter gone to work that day because of the snow. I found no taxis nor were many cars passing by the airport, whose roads had not yet been plowed because the snow had only recently stopped falling. Fortunately, the metro was still running and when I got off at my stop, there was nothing more to do than set out in my sandals and thin jacket (I cannot be carrying around a heavy jacket on Honduran buses) pulling my carryon behind me. I walked out into the street, which was not yet plowed, but the snow had been somewhat packed down by passing cars, of which there were few actually using the street. A young couple from Arizona, out enjoying their first snowfall after just moving to DC, walked along with me to my house where, miraculously, the steps and front walkway had been shoveled, so that was a nice surprise. The 3 young women who had been living with me had all moved out after the bedbug fiasco, but my house was left in disarray with beds stripped and missing pillows and bedding. I am expecting overseas visitors soon, so must put it all in order. Meanwhile, I was very glad to be home.

The photos are one at dinner at the home of Armando, my Cuban kidney patient friend, in Miami and one of me explaining items about Honduras and Cuba on a table at the library book talk. The others show the snow the next morning after my arrival. Thank goodness, the weather has warmed up since and all the snow has melted. I've started back to my interpretation work, so am beginning to readjust to normal life. My Honduras adventure was slightly shorter this time because the IHS brigade to villages around La Esperanza was cancelled because of a lack of volunteers--people are rightly wary of sacrificing time and money to go to such a dangerous country as Honduras. If you want the whole story of my trip, you will have to work your way back from here. Given the option, go to "Older posts" to the lower right of the narrative. Or, preferably, go back to 1st Honduras trip report (March 13) and read chronologically through 1, 2, and 3 to get this posting #4 at the end.

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