LOUISE: Indiana Jones & Jones

The trip was going to be an adventure, along with some research for an art history degree. Our oldest son, Aaron and a friend were planning to travel to the jungles of Mexico. He asked his dad to go along. I gave Carl the look that said, “The jungle? No way!” Aaron was grown so I couldn’t stop him, but I certainly had a say in what Carl did.

Though Aaron was conversational in Spanish and his friend from Puerto Rico spoke the language fluently, they planned to travel into indigenous areas where only Indian dialects were spoken. Nope, I was against it. Carl declined the invitation but Aaron continued planning. Even after his friend backed out of the trip, Aaron purchased an airline ticket, not having any idea how he was going to live throughout the week on the little bit of money he could spare from his teacher’s salary with no one to split hotel costs.

“I’ll just get a cheap motel or camp out,” he said, not at all concerned about crime in the area. My mother’s heart cried and prayed but his dad took action. Carl immediately made hotel reservations in Vera Cruz then called Aaron to find out what flight he was on and scheduled one for himself. Noticing my stunned expression on hearing him make airline reservations, he quickly interjected, “I’m not letting him go alone.”
So began the journey of Indiana Jones and Jones. Each night on the trip, Carl would call to check in at home and give “vanilla” recounts of the day’s events. Invariably, I could hear Aaron laughing in the background and saying, “Tell her about…” and relate some crazy event.

One particular night they ate at a restaurant that served salsa so hot it had to be served in a special container. “Mom, it was bright orange!” Aaron exclaimed. “Even I backed away from it, but not Dad.” Hardly able to finish the story from laughing so hard, Aaron told how he woke up during the night to find his dad lying on the bed with a wet cloth over his face, exclaiming, “Mercy! Mercy!” The hot sauce had definitely taken its toll on his digestive system. The next day, however, being certain his body had been purged of any possible parasites, Carl took the “hot sauce” challenge again just to prove himself to his son.

The two rented a car for their excursions and Aaron was quick to relate that his dad drove as crazy as the locals, even over the mountainous terrain. Of course, Aaron never told about his own wild stunts and knew his dad would not divulge such information.

Day after day for a week, they searched out places that tourists seldom frequented. The rainy season prevented them from traveling as far into the jungle as they hoped but they were still able to experience the “flavor” in surrounding villages. They also visited churches, museums and places off the beaten path, talking with village people along the narrow streets or walkways while absorbing the culture and the traditions.
At the end of the week, my youngest son and I met the travelers at the airport. Carl and Aaron, dressed in Khaki and sporting straw hats, looked like they had stepped off an Indiana Jones movie set. Their smiles and banter were easy and familiar, telling a story of shared camaraderie. I’m not sure how much research was actually accomplished during that trip, but it was the bonding of a lifetime. It was the culmination of the adult child finding a “friend” in his dad and the father discovering the “man” in his son.

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