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Voyage to the Isthmus of Panama Day 1

My mother said there would be cannibals

snow -12 °C

(As an homage to "24", the following takes place between 28 January 2005 and 10 February 2005. I shall endeavor to make 14 days seem an eternity to you lovely readers - but think of it this way, it will be shorter than reading War And Peace).

The day began innocently enough, though I have always thought innocence to be merely a state of mind. At precisely 4:40 am, the alarm clock crackled to life, abruptly rousing us from a night of twilight sleep. Dreaming had been a luxury this evening, one that was well outside our reach. The alarm stirred other creatures as well, creatures so fearful that the very mention of their names made weak the knees of strong men. As they slowly rose, they began to shake off the remnants of their glorious and luxurious sleep, They were the fortunate ones, they that remained blissfully ignorant of the pedestrian comings and goings of man. A brief tongue bath, perhaps an ear scratch, and the howling began. One by one, in order of dominance, the males began their sonorous serenade. Other lesser creatures became nervous and jittery. Eyes darted, ears perked. The females roamed the living room veldt searching for a morsel, a bite, something to kill. Deep guttural moans filled the still night air, invading our senses like a club across the back of the head. "Will you shut the fuck up", pierced the cacophony with a steel edge. "Now Goddammit!!!". The wails ceased, and the clawed demons skulked back to the couch for a brief nap.


I rubbed my eyes, trying to shake loose the grip of an utterly dissatisfying night of sleep. To no avail, it would seem. The fog in my head was thicker than mayonnaise with a bit of dijon mustard mixed in. From somewhere deep in my subconscious, just past the parietal lobe, next to and above the medulla oblongata, came a voice...the voice of an angel. Was I dead? Was I only dreaming about the clawed demons? The voice chanted softly, repeating a singular phrase over and over, rising in tempo with each repetition: "We're going to Panama, we're going to Panama". The mayonnaise in my head began to thin as the voice grew louder. This was it, the time had arrived. Many a foul day slaving for the man were about to become just another memory. "We're going to Panama, we're going to Panama..."

The day began innocently enough, though I.....I.....I began to feel a strange sense of deja vu. I had been here before, but the memory was fuzzy, thick, like mayonnaise with a little dijon mustard mixed in. And that chanting, somewhere off in the distance. Realization came quickly now, faster and faster. I slowly rose and peered out the window, frosted over like the eyes of a drunk-on-Budweiser West Virginia hillbilly. But I wasn't in West Virginia. Snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even. If this was Hell, it sure was cold. At once, my mind snapped back into action, sharp as a tack. Like the tack that nasty little kid in second grade put on your chair when you weren't looking. And you sat down. That kind of tack. Stuck in your right ass cheek. With utter resolution born of sheer determination, I crawled back under the covers. "We're going to Panama, we're going to Panama" came the angel's voice again. I knew there was no turning back. No drifting off under the womb-like covers and fluffy pillow. It was essential, nay dare I say imperative, that I rise and get a cup of coffee. I knew I should have put that coffee maker next to the bed. Caffeine. Yes, yes, that was the answer. Throwing on my robe and fuzzy slippers, I trudged through the snow, which had overnight delicately blanketed the hallway and stairs. Several furred demons lay in wait at the top of the stairs, hoping that I would not see them so that, upon tripping over them and falling to my death at the bottom of the stairs, they could begin a grand feast on my warm, yet utterly lifeless, body. Little bastards, I'll show you. I scooped up a handful of snow, patting it together in my hands into a near lethal projectile. I pegged the black demon with a nice curve ball just behind the left ear, and as it scurried away to avoid near certain death, I let out a vicious kick, catching the grey one in the hindquarters and propelling him down the stairs. No feasting today vermin!!! Twenty minutes later, I finally reached the coffee pot. Ah, Giver of Life, warm me with your sweet nectar. Battling off four more demons, I poured the coffee. A little sugar, a short dog sled ride to the refrigerator for the milk, and my task was complete. Ah, sweet nectar of life.

The next hour was filled with the type of adventure usually reserved only for the hardiest of Arctic explorers: brush the teeth, comb the hair, feed and water the cats outside, pack the rest of the suitcases, blow the nose, scratch the arm. This was the stuff of legend. Few mere mortals could even conceive of it, much less live it, as we were doing now. We bid a fond adieu to the foul, black-hearted demons, and departed home.


Once outside, we summoned the captain of the icebreaker, ordering him to make all possible haste to the east north-east toward the airport. Alas, there was no crew, and after a simple yet humane execution of the captain, we embarked upon a team of dog sleds and set forth. Arriving at Milwaukee Wisconsin's Mitchell Field some six weeks later, a bit emaciated yet stalwart, we proceeded to the TSA booth, where we were greeted with big smiles and latex gloves. Four days of interrogation sailed by as if they were tea with the Queen. A final application of Preparation H and we were cleared to board the plane for lands unknown. Well, unknown to us anyway.

And so endeth Day 1 of our 14 day voyage, almost. We did actually get to Panama the same day, and that will be covered next. Thank you for your attention, and now if you would please bring your seats back to the upright position, stow your tray tables, and wipe your chin of drool, we can continue.

Posted by beerman 07:44 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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