Contaminated Alibis



Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc for a DVD yet to be invented. This incident took place in Bluefields, Nicaragua, on the Mosquito Coast, exactly 10 years ago…


I walked to the Enitel building to place a call before dinner. I hadn’t sent a message home in weeks. I expected end-of-world explorer’s reports, yellowed clippings of my obituary: Last seen on a jungle boat to the Mosquito Coast.

The line crackled and fizzed. My father’s voice was an echo far away, like talking to someone at the wrong end of binoculars.

“I’m in this town called Bluefields, in Nicaragua,” I shouted, enunciating carefully to make myself heard over the tired wires. “We were out on an island so I was kinda cut off.”

“Are you getting enough to eat? Do you have enough money?”

Back home, Nicaragua still conjured images of extreme poverty and revolutionary violence.

I tried to sound tired and hungry. “Well, we drank fifty-cent beers on the beach all day and ate five dollar lobster for supper. Every night we drank a bottle of the world’s best rum under the stars. Oh, and there was a shortage of rooms, so I had to sleep between these two European girls.” I paused. “I’m getting by.”

There was a long silence.

“You still there?”

I heard a grunt. “You lucky bastard.”

“Yeah, well I knew this place would be okay when I saw they had ice.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ice is civilization.”


“Never mind.”

The line went dead.




About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Add Comment


Sign up for my entertaining email newsletter and claim your FREE gift!

Recent Posts