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132# No plan is the best plan

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

- Fuck it! Let’s stop. We’ll have better luck tomorrow.

- But… there is nothing! And it’s super creepy!

- Yeah man, it is super creepy. Anywhere else but here

It was hot and humid in Playa El Tunco. The only time we were not sweating was the time in the shower. We wore no clothes and carried a fan like a hospital patient with an infusion stand. The worst of all? There were no waves. El Tunco was flat like an ironing board. La Guitarra’s pool was hot. The ocean was hot. The air was hot. And there were no waves.

Like me and Sandra, Ben was a frequent guest in La Guitarra. I befriended him on the volcano hike when I sprained my ankle the year before. Ben did not handle the heat well. He spent most of the day in his room, under the AC, while Sandra and I were melting in her patio. Ben came out only at night. One evening, he asked: “Raz you still got the van, right? We could go up the mountains. A fresh breeze, no sweating… close you eyes and imagine... feel the cool air down your lungs...aaaaaaah”

He was right. There was no point of staying in El Tunco without waves. We dreamed about the cold, not sweating 24/7. There were a few volcanoes over 2000m high where the temperature wouldn't be so hot. Exploring the mountains with friends. Why not?

The first thing Ben and Sandra needed were clothes. They drew a list of mountain gear and went to the flea market in La Libertad. They bought a tuque, gloves, a winter jacket, sweatpants, and thick socks…for $15. Now that they had invested, there was no going back.

Our destination was the tallest peak of the country, a volcano on the northern Honduras border. We left El Tunco in the morning. The sun was pounding as usual, and we had not even reached the capital when la Chichona started coughing. The power dropped again... on the highway, again. At a painful pace of 20km/h, we made it to the first garage... two hours later. Fuck you Chichona.

The diagnosis bled my ears. La Chichona needed a new engine fan. Getting it the same day seemed impossible, it would take all afternoon if we were lucky. I was angry. The plan was to escape the heat and to have fun, not to hustle in a garage by the highway. Sandra asked the mechanic if he could drop us at the city mall meanwhile. He agreed.

We were back by sunset. La Chichona had a new fan, and I was short of $ 800. It was too late for the mountain and we had no plan B. I was losing my shit at the traffic, at our poor planning, at la Chichona. Sandra and Ben pulled out the GPS and spotted a national park an hour away. We emerged through the insane capital traffic, and branched out on a lone dark alley.

Forest swallowed the concrete on both sides of the road. We followed the white line in the dark, climbing up curve after curve. In this pitch black scenery, the only comfort was the sound of la Chichona’s engine working again. At the end of the road was a huge wooden gate: quiet, intimidating, and closed.

- Raz: Aaaaaaargh

- Sandra: There is a lake on the map. Let’s keep looking

- Raz: I'm exhausted. You guys handle this. I'm done. Fuck you Chichona!

- Ben: Come on man, it's downhill. You just have to hold the wheel. 30min max, then we stop, wherever we are.

- Sandra: Tranquiiiiiiiiilo

And after coming all the way up, we drove down again. We tried a dirtroad and after many closed gates, found a restaurant with a security guard. He let us crash in their parking lot for the night. At least we could sleep in peace... so much for the mountain plan!

The next morning, when we pushed the door open, flower smells invaded la Chichona. We were surrounded by flowers, colors, and a magnificent view of a volcano on a lake. We took a dip in the lake's fresh water at first light, tanned, and baked the best part of the morning.

The spot got crowded with the hours so we left and resumed on that tiny dirt road along the lake. The third door was the right one. An old housekeeper let us enter his huge lakefront garden. We had a private access to the lake, a barbecue area, and two pontoons. Ben set up the hammocks between the palm trees and resumed our delicious morning chilling.

The temperature was perfect. The water was perfect. The view was perfect. The company was perfect. We stayed on that private paradise until we ran out of supplies, and then a little more.

When we returned to El Tunco, the whole trip felt like a dream. With all the planning in the world, we would not have ended there. It started with misfortune and a heavy bill, but thanks to Ben and Sandra we went with the flow.

Good people, a bit of luck and faith. With these three, no plan is the best plan.

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