Lost and Found

Chapter 11: Rio Dulce, Lago Isabella, Guatemala, May, 2014

Sat alone in the galley, with a tiny backpack at my feet, the Captain´s father´s expression had changed from comfort to pity. 

A month earlier The Captain had been called away to Canada and let me stay on Matey until it was time for me to move on. A few weeks into my stay, one morning, docked on the edge of the Rio Dulce, I emerged from my boat, a little fragile. Other boaters spotted me and began to bring me food supplies and medicine to help me gain strength. I had cheated Dengue Fever, skipped around crocodiles and dodged snakes but nothing had prepared me for eating the wrong thing. Earlier that week I had been volunteering in an orphanage. Feeding so many, then later setting to work washing giant pots and pans in their travelers’ hostel, I was too lazy to wash or even cook my vegetables and ate them raw before dozing off. I awoke to a terrific tummy rumble and I ran up to the deck and threw. A humiliating experience made worse, when the night watchman shone a torch directly in my face. I must have given him a fright, as my hair was a shocking shade of burnt orange, and my face drained of all colour. He cleaned me up and put me back to bed, like a kindly parent. I muttered “Soy un Barco de Papel” as I drifted off.

I was a captainless paper boat waiting to be steered in the right direction or otherwise I would eventually sink.  As a parting gift, the orphanage gave me a ticket to Tikal, a Mayan temple that stood in a tangled jungle far north of the tranquility of the river. The ticket to sun worship held some hope. I would go in search of the sun gods, on foot and alone. I picked up my smaller bag, which now only contained a few clothes, shells, and my tile from the island. Strange, as I had originally set sail with a bigger bag filled with my ghosts from the past and all my hopes and dreams for the future. The captain had taken the bigger bag with him and now I had almost nothing left.

Written and illustrated by Lucy Lilley . All right reserved 2022

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