Starting Over

Antigua Travel Blog

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women washing, Antigua Guatemala


December 19/92

Esteli, Nicaragua




Every now and then, despite the adventure, despite the volcanoes spitting lava and ash and smoke, despite white water jungle rivers (and rivers of intriguing willing men), despite six kilometre caves dark as blindness, despite ramshackle barely running buses filled with people, farm animals, cords of mile-long sugar cane, and homeless barefoot children who hop on to sell everything from coconut cakes to their bodies... despite everything, you just have to tape over the sounds and the smells.  Or at least I do.  kd lang's "Trail of Broken Hearts" (smile) a much more familiar re-frain. 

     god!  settling dust... 


Feel a bit like I'm in a cowboy movie anyways.  These cattle towns, with Nicas toting guns like wallets; & the scorched fields, & the skinny herds; & the children, who look at you with eyes from elsewhere while they haunt the commodores asking for what's left on your plate.  Or ancient women, faces lined like poetry, bent over rusty tin basins doing clothes, smiling me an "Adios " as I pass.  The mountains green and cool as you climb.  The trees making the tin-roofed squatter shacks seem slightly less desperate.  & everywhere people selling wares:

  "narrangas"  "mais" 

         "cinco pesos"


Or firecrackers waking up the darkness: night-time echo of regional wars Haunting history with the hysterical laughter of startled ears. More poetry. Not-so-gently mocking my Canadian Complacency.  & me wandering thru it all.  A little lost.  kd, more my kinda language.  Her voice haunts differently.  I could say yes to her.


But here I've been turning down propositions, thinking  "Fuck, the almosts can be just as much fun!"  Mixing kd with the "Say what?"s of my broken (very broken) Spanish.  Climbing into a taxi that stops every street corner.  Picking up more people.  & still more people.  "Do you think we'll all fit?" I try to joke.  But the breathing space is short. 


 to fit:  caber.  quepo-cabe-cabemos-caben.

      in the first person. anomaly.


& I spent the better part of a week soaking up atmosphere.  Can't possibly fit  any more Spanish into my scattered brain.  Besides i'm trying to fit together pieces. Like what I'm supposed to do with one lover coming this Christmas holiday, while another lover's back there, in my old "here".  What's he doing on those cold nights, with his personal body-warmer always at hand?  Does he think of me sometimes as his fingers jazz her winter-faded skin. --Like me, is he living two realities with each moment?  (Didn't the Buddhists figure out how to chant in any number of simultaneous, but distinct tones?)  Me, I'm thinking, "How's it all going to fit?"  Tho relatively speaking, I believe (to believe: creer;   to have faith in) I'm starting to clue in on how time ain't really linear.  No. No more than language


the bang-startle of the fire crackers.  a parody not a war.

    things are happening.  ...  & they aren't.


& so what if I'm in love with a woman's powerful voice.  Or the souls that shine from the bodies of two very different men?  So what if I love the not-fitting, if I love the moving of being on the path?  So what if I love the way the sun bounces amber and ochre off the tin rooves of the shanty suburbs around these towns, or the way the old man in need of a few pesos,  "Para una tortilla suelemente "  makes me angry/sad.


i'm living with my earthquake portent and unbeginning

          apocalyptic ellipsis...


From here I'm up to Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  To meet Jeff.  Two mouth's full: one word.  one flesh. ...& the all the wor(l)ds here are foreign. I'm just a visitor: "Adios" hi and bye with god.  Passing time.  Later, in Bolivia I'll try a little Quichua.  Always just dabbling.  No worries about fit: space-place-time-context. No. Nor even access and claustrophobia.  Not when your only a dabbler.  No need to ask "How long?"  "How many?"  Just pick up and walk when the feet want moving.  Me, I'm on the move: 


to move.  mover; transladar; remover; menear; jugar;

        proponer.  conmover



...Taking my kd lang with me.  For the tongue's benefit. 

                     (to taste:  gustar.  the same as to like.) 

The lick of her words to offset the ubiquity of rice 'n beans.  "Walkin' in and outta" the arms of the familiar.


...& if we all fit into this cab, we'll really start to move...






By New Year's Eve 1993, Jeff and I were dancing in Chaluteca alleys with the street kids of Honduras. 


Then I'm in Guatemala, on my own again.  Biding time.  Trying to decide where to go next ...until "next" sneaks up on me, unexpected, in the guise of amoebas, a paracite AND salmonella poisoning.


By the end of January, I'll be flying home, back to my brother's house in Saskatoon. Touching down, twenty pounds too thin, I'm too sick and weary to be properly awed by the light of the stars refracting off a snowy prairie mirror during a midnight landing.


"Oh, by the way..."


 ...Michael has left his wife

   to shack up with Adeena, in Toronto...



& so I begin seriously fingering maps again


Wondering where to go, as soon as I am well. Ardently refusing to contemplate the reasons behind the shiver glances I direct at the storm windows & the doubly-closed-double-doors that protect me from a fickle Saskatchewan winter...


    i will be contemplating choices

    & i will be dreaming of elsewheres




perhaps I should start over :-)

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women washing, Antigua Guatemala
women washing, Antigua Guatemala
photo by: monky