I Gotta Get Outa Here


Border of Honduras
September 1978

Border city of Leimas in the wintertime.

Needless to say I began rapidly developing a new PLAN. I searched around the port city of Bluefields looking for a fishing boat that was heading off in the direction of Honduras. I quickly found one that was willing to let me hitch a ride. It seemed like everyone was trying to get out the hell of there, and with just the clothes on my back I was once again off, but this time on a forced adventure. The trip was unremarkable except that when I arrived at Leimas on the border with Honduras and Nicaragua. The customs guard looked at my passport and saw that I had been in the country without a visa for the last year, He scowled at me for a very long time, until I offered to buy his kids, all 11 of them, new shoes. After a trip to the Tienda, where I bought 11 pairs a shinny rubber shoes, he kindly stamped my passport, and said, “Bien Viaje!”

The trip was very slow, and uneventful. At that point I really believed that the war would only last a few months so I was just looking for a safe place to wait it out. Why I thought that it might be a good idea to go to Guatemala and find my ex-wife Rainy, once again I can only attribute to the excess in drugs.
I easily found her in Panajachel, or “Gringotenango” as it was know locally.

Rainy had rented 3 small house to try and rent out.

Things quickly turned sour with her. She had rented 3 small one room houses, which she was trying to turn into rentals. A mutual friend of ours, who had a case of hepatitis, was living in one of them. Once I found out that her dishes were being mixed in with the households dishes I decided that it was probably a good idea to get the heck out of there. My Mom, who I had now not seen for many years, offered to pay for a plane ticket to visit Chicago. I had about $100 in my pocket. Now, I thought might be a very good time for to take her up on that offer.

Guatemalan pantelones

It was the middle of winter in Chicago, so of course I thought that I might make a stronger entrance by arriving in tipico style clothes. I boarded the plan with a pair of three quarter length Guatemalan pantelones, a multi colored woman’s repeli that I had made into a vest, no shirt and a pair of rubber sandals made out of old tires. Heck, it’s not like I had any winter clothes anyway! Of course I had beads made from sea shells, and I carried on a faded daypack. When I landed in Miami to go through customs the alarm went off and I was pulled off to the side. Soon a customs agents showed up and escorted me into a little room. It seems that 3 1/2 years ago I had had a warrant put out for my arrest. Shit! This was definitively not going as PLANNED.

Ok, Let’s Get on with Our Main Story: Trouble in Paradise

Corn Island, Nicaragua
June, 1978

Our dream was almost complete

By June, Rainy and I were quickly running out of money. At this point we had been traveling for over 5 years with many adventures, but we had done very little earning. Our dream was almost a reality. We had the beach-front land. We had one house almost finished, and enough materials for 3 more. We had it all. The dream was so close, but we just couldn’t convince ourselves to be happy — together.

Rainy saying farewell to me and Corn Island

So, being a “modern” couple, we divided up the remaining travelers checks. I stayed on in Corn Island, and she walked off down the beach heading out to build a new life in Guatemala. To say that there was “depression” on my part, would be an understatement. I spent days swinging in the hammock, listening to Stevie Nicks on the portable music player, while just staring at all the unfinished work. With my friend and partner now gone, and funds down to about $800, I needed another PLAN. What was I going to do?

All alone


Looking back on that time, drugs played a large part in my decision to take my remaining funds, get on a fishing boat, to cross the Caribbean channel to the port city of Bluefields on the Nicaraguan coast where I would buy a horse! Somehow I imagined that if I only had a horse, I could start making money again. Believe me when I say that it was indeed a better PLAN than any of the others. I buried everything that was valuable to me, deep in the sand. My diaries, photos, diving gear, mandolin, etc. I left Nevada, my other best friend and dog (mind you, for the first time in my life) with a 12 year old boy who had done some work for me. After all I would be back in a few days–wouldn’t I?
As soon as I got off of the boat in Bluefields, a Corn Island friend came running up to me and said, “Hey mon, dey started a war and dey got military guys everywhere. I tink from Cuba. From all ober da place. If’n dey see you, dey gonna shoot you, mon!”

“So, the best laid PLANS of mice and men……!”

Footnote from Wikipedia:
The initial overthrow of the Somoza regime in 1978–79 was a bloody affair, and the Contra War of the 1980s took the lives of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and was the subject of fierce international debate. During the 1980s, both the FSLN (a leftist collection of political parties) and the Contras (a rightist collection of counter-revolutionary groups) received large amounts of aid from the Cold War superpowers (respectively, the Soviet Union and the United States).