TBT - (1982) "The Trouble With Airport Bombs"

In the early '80s I got involved with two Jamaicans in the tropical ornamental plant business here in South Florida. I know what you are thinking - NOT THOSE PLANTS! It was a legitimate business with several acres of shade houses in Homestead. These guys were great to work with - I still consider them close friends, even though we seldom get together anymore because our present day homes are distant from one another.

My main task was to travel overseas to find production for the plant cuttings the business needed. We finished growing out the plants after importing them here and then shipped them around the country. Guatemala was one of the main sources for our plant cuttings and so I was a frequent visitor - even though the country was in the middle of a vicious civil war. Hey - the war helped to keep our competition in this business from going down there! After a few trips without serious incident I was able to talk one of the Jamaicans, Paul Carvalho, into joining me down there on one of those trips. This was after many attempts to get him to come to Guatemala. He had all these objections concerning the 'dangers' of such a trip, but I lured him with talk about all the receptive pretty girls, driving safely during daylight hours in the verdant countryside- and a lull in the fighting of this 20+ year civil war.

So wouldn't you know it - I am already in Guatemala with our local partner, Colonel Gomez, in the La Aurora airport waiting for Paul's plane to arrive and a bomb goes off - covering the Colonel and myself with debris and adding one more notch to my deafness. Paul's plane had been very late leaving Miami and the timed explosive device was in the outgoing luggage area ready for the same plane's return trip. Somehow in the twenty minutes after the explosion and the disembarkation chaos of his plane - Paul got grabbed by security. When the Colonel and I looked around for Paul and saw what was happening - well, let us say we saved him from a nasty night in a dark place.

The next day did not go any better. The supplier we needed to visit was in the distant countryside held by the guerrillas - but I was not going to mention that fact and ruin the rest of the trip for him. Actually, all was going well in that mountain village where the supplier lived until the Guatemalan air force starting strafing the local hillsides around our location. Paul said: "Brian - get me out of this country right now!"

Bad adventures can make good memories. I've got a lot of good memories!