From Monkey Charm
"The Freedom Fighters have been employed in an effort to interdict arms smuggling to the communist guerrillas in El Salvador, as well as to halt any destabilization efforts against the democratically elected governments of Central America and the Caribbean. We favor a toughening of U.S. policy in the region, including, but not limited to, an escalation of military pressure of all kinds, using overflights, various naval interdictions, and lots of military exercises."
-Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America
Conquistador Beach.

Alex Ferraro wanted to breathe. Inhaling the rancid-bloom fragrance of jungle swept in by the Caribbean trade winds, the healing oxygen soothed him. Dunes rose behind like creeping iguanas clinging to this sun-baked, wind-blown, rain-soaked paradise. Foamy waves splashed into sand, the humid haze slowed scraggly-bearded Alex, as he trudged past children attracted like flies to the tall invader in black boots and khakis. He wanted to breathe in every minute of the wild beach and happy children who showed him sea grapes to eat, but his employer-benefactor, John Blakemore, waited at the nearby cantina. What he really needed to do was find a cargo boat heading down the Honduran coast to La Moskitia.

Alex was not running from the law, per se, just places with too many laws, people, noise. He would live in the forest, find a landscape without roads, without electricity, just a village. The Miskitu people, according to his map, lived in a land of rivers and lagoons, rainforests and savannas, no cities, and that would be just fine. Squawking black birds thronged the coconut palms, making a joyous, peaceful music. The cocos swayed in the breeze over thatched champa huts where fried fish and beer were peddled to tourists. Alex entered the biggest one, gringo-owned, looking past the stuffed marlin and a stretched jaguar pelt displayed on bamboo poles. Old Blakemore in rumpled khaki, relaxed under the palm-frond roof shading lounge-chairs and hammocks. The beat of reggaeton thumped from a juke box. Alex Ferraro could do this jungle anarchy.

"Hey, John."

John Blakemore, mid-fifties and badass ruddy-faced, rotund from rich food and enjoying life, turned from his wooden recline, self-fanning, having a Flor de Cana rum straight. In the middle of a word with the restaurant proprietor, he motioned for Alex to wait. "Do you want to eat?" he asked and Alex declined. The view stretched eastward along the Bay of Triunfo, a serene green-blue terminanting at the peninsula of Puerto de la Plata, where Columbus said the first mass on Central American soil in 1502.  Last night's deluge left the air so sparkling one might see clear across the Caribbean to New Orleans, but the Dole port built by the US military blocked the view, where a Polish container ship loaded banana, pineapple, and African palm oil.

The proprietor stepped into the kitchen with his order and Blakemore, executor of a Providence family real estate concern, without so much as a hello, handed Alex a check.  "If you do your job right, we will open up the entire coast of La Moskitia for ecotourism, for seekers to learn and study with the Miskitu.  It's exciting..."

Paranoid Alex glanced around to ensure no one watched. Just down the hill from the oldest town in Honduras, no ancient buildings remained as pirates sacked and burned the grandiose visions the Spaniards had for a new society.  They even shot the freebooter William Walker here, leaving his dream of a new gringo colony to the red soil worms of the Triunfiano cemetery.  Why did Alex have to accept the job?  He came to Central America to escape the life-debacle back home in Boston, good-bye to suit-wearing, train-riding, clack-a-clack-a-clack. After six months of unemployment and weeks on the road since Mexico, he only wanted to find a small village and learn to live without.  How long can someone subsist on no money?  Not long: ecotourism sounded like something he could do.

"I don't know about this..." Alex said to Blakemore.