Fresca como una lechuga

San Pedro La Laguna Travel Blog

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Fresca como una lechuga

The house has emptied out, Mama Claudia popping in from Guate to recollect her rascals, Melida and Mariori. When Mingito and Jacueline are at home with Ana Maria and I'm lounging in the hammock enraptured by Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, the only sound to break the silence is the soft slapping of palm on dough, the gentle spanking of barely resistant fistfuls of dough into flat, round tortillas to be fired on the comal the ritual premeal toll.

It's when we sit down for meals that -- if I were a God-fearing man -- I'd be concerned about my soul. As it is, I'm content to respect the religious beliefs of friends and family and enemies too while reserving my Sunday mornings for worship at the waffle iron, especially when I can get my hands sticky with authentic Vermont maple syrup. Guatemala is like home in that Bible-beltish kind of way. Which is fine and well, except I'm uncomfortable attempting to explain my lack of religion to a wonderful and devout family that prays before every meal. I think admitting "Soy ateo," would have me ostracized faster than a pedophile at preschool. (If that analogy is too much to stomach, substitute "Christian Laettner at a 1992 UK basketball reunion.")

As it is, I've adopted Davidson College Presbyterian Church as my place of worship, because I once entered for a wedding during the proceedings of which God was invoked or mentioned at least. For now I can rely upon my lacking language skills to circumvent discussion of the finer points of Presbyterianism, of which the only components I'm certain are the Bible and God. I've found myself engaged in two animated ¬°Gracias a Dios! for all that has and will pass conversations, compelled to join to the fervent nodding and gesticulating toward the heavens. And I bow my head premeal and mumble thanks for Obama and the success of various sports teams and the wonder of peristalsis, continuing to thwart my strict diet of bowel cloggers if somewhat irregularly, and sometimes just strings of gibberish, my brand of speaking in tongues.

I'll admit, it feels wrong. But funny too. Like the other day when Melida and Melani decided to click buttons on my iPod and split earbuds. I started them on Smashing Pumpkins, unconcerned they could unwittingly navigate to Project Pat's X-rated glamorizations of Memphis street life, their English vocabularies limited to a short game of point-and-mispronounce-this-facial-feature. When they air-guitared my way, mock headbanging toward whiplash, I was a little startled they had discovered Aborted, a Belgian death metal band every bit as brutal and inappropriate for children as the name implies. I redirected them to Mountain Goats, locked the iPod, and found myself spewing sincere thanks to a subject unspecified: that Mama Melida wasn't around to witness the pumping of Satan into her angels' heads, and at eardrum rupturing decibels to completely destroy my credibility as a responsible guardian.
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