Lying on the bed with the light of the orange streetlight pouring into the room, the fan spinning on the ceiling, the sweat pouring down, I get up and practice my martial arts then scream and punch the mirror. This is how I feel most nights in Central America…. well except this scene is from Apocalypse Now and not actually me at all. You can picture me on the bed with the light and the sweat but minus the karate and punching the mirror as I am basically on vacation, not in the Vietnam War hunting Colonel Kurtz.
We have never experienced heat quite like this on our trip. I grew up in Michigan which got it’s share of heat waves with high humidity, but we had fans, wood and insulation houses, and air conditioning when it got real bad. Actually to make a short story long, I remember when the whole eastern US lost power in the early 00’s it was also during a heat wave. All the power was out and it was so hot and humid I remember when you saw a car roaming through the night you could see the entire beam of light from the headlights as the air was so hot and sticky. The great part about the heat wave was that everyone took to the streets, parks and porches as the houses were just too hot. Also all the ice cream shops and liquor stores were handing our beer and ice cream for about 1$ for a huge cone and 25 cents for a beer because everything was going to go bad – it was a fun week. But still, we slept in basements or outside to beat the heat.
I remember being hot then, but this is worse…way worse. For one thing we have to use the budget option. This means usually still a private room, but very basic. There is nothing wrong with basic in most places but in Central America it is brutal at night. The rooms have one small window and corrugated iron roofing with no insulation, so basically they turn into an oven during the day and with only one window there is no cross breeze to air out the heat. Even with a fan, the fan became a hair dryer with the heat in the room. Finally the mosquitoes are bad here at night so you have to sleep with a blanket or sheet over you so you don’t get bit, turning the bed into something which smells and feels like a wet burrito.
This lasted pretty much from Panama to Belize with only two escapes, Belize and Honduras – Belize maybe the richest Central American country and Honduras maybe the poorest. In Honduras we stayed in a mountainous lake region and deep in the jungle with lofty, multi-vented rooms, in Belize on the coast with a breeze. So note, these are the only budget options for saving you.
The resulting effect is that I have the happiest opinion about these places. I have enjoyed many of the other places that we have visited while in Central America, but they have sort of felt like a dream. Sometimes that dream is like a fever dream full of tossing and turning at night on a sweat filled bed, sometimes it’s the hazy feeling when you pull an all-nighter before an exam, sometimes it’s the in and out feeling you get on a long bus or boat ride where your head keeps bouncing, unaware that you have even fallen asleep. Both of us have these phrases multiple times: was that real? Am I still awake? Did I say that or imagine I said that? Did that happen or was that a dream?
So how did we like Central America; I don’t really know. It’s beautiful, there are friendly people (except in Nicaragua), the food is good, and I think that I might have flown into an exam which I didn't prepare for, naked, with loose teeth, with friends who’s faces I can’t see, while playing in the super bowl.
The moral of the story is going to hot places sounds great, but if it’s so hot you don’t even remember your trip then is it really relaxing? Did it even happen!?? When we return to Central America we will stick to the highlands, or the coast or splurge for Air-conditioning because we will be able to afford it because otherwise we just might not remember it! Finally, when we decide to pick a place to live we might have to reconsider some of the warm places I dreamed of living. These sound great on paper, but I actually do enjoy work and enjoy being able to think while working. So while I dreamed of surfing or beach time in the future, it will have to be in a place that is a little cooler so I can actually enjoy it.
So as Van Halen said-“Stay Frosty”