Palm trees swayed through the windows of the van. Relentless sunshine bathed the countryside in brilliance. There were three rows of seats. She looked around at the other passengers. They chatted quietly and cheerfully; unsuspecting, she thought. The driver looked into his rear view mirror, but because of his reflective lenses, she could not tell whether or not he was looking at her. Then he smiled. Perfectly straight white teeth under widely stretched thick lips. His mustache made him decidedly untrustworthy looking; it was a bushy but well manicured mustache and twirled at the ends. She offered a thin smile back and looked out of the window. Aunt Myrna wasn’t convinced that the man driving the van was to be trusted. The vehicle bounced and swerved over the steaming black asphalt. He suddenly pulled over to the side of the road and made a phone call speaking fluently in Spanish. That did it for her. Aunt Myrna was convinced the van full of Americans had been abducted and were being driven to the rain forest to be greeted by men with guns and angry faces. She squeezed her palms against her knees. Perspiration beaded her upper lip. The driver made a sharp turn up a steep hill and as the van swerved she lunged forward. Catapulting headfirst into the front and landing heavily on his right arm, the force of her fall caused him to turn the steering wheel towards a deep ravine distanced from the road by a strip of grass and an old, tattered rope fence. He slammed on the brakes as the nose of the van snapped through the rope and skidded. With one hand on the wheel he swung his free arm and shoved her backwards into the first row where she landed on a mans lap. She felt strong arms across her chest, smashing her breasts as she wriggled and fought to free herself. “what the hell are you doing?” The van had stopped and the driver turned around. She saw his mustache move but heard nothing. There was a roar inside her ears and everything seemed to be getting brighter, she could barely see it was suddenly so shiny and bright. “You don’t know!” she shouted to the other passengers but she couldn’t hear her own voice. Her sunglasses were askew and one of the lenses had popped out and gashed her cheek, she felt a warm liquid dribble down her collarbone and the smell of iron filledher nostrils. She collapsed helplessly as the van full of people was backed into safety and re-routed up the hill. The van snaked towards the top of the mountain.
Upon arrival, friendly smiles and southern accents greeted them. After introductions, there were activities and drinks, and more activities and more drinks. Cheese cubes, cold-cuts, chunks of juicy pineapple, mango and watermelon. Everyone was in high spirits. “Let’s be friends seemed to be the common sentiment. All was well among the group of people and their guests, as they chatted, snacked and mingled with glasses of wine or beer in hand. As she washed her hands in the ladies room Aunt Myrna saw no trace of the wound in her reflection. She twisted the silk scarf around her neck. Her cherry red lips formed a grenadine O as she reapplied her lipstick. The scent of lavender engulfed her as she exited the restroom, smiling to herself.