Guate on the spot

Guatemala City Travel Blog

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Guate on the spot

Post-Aruba I'm back in Guate, again in the many caring hands of Ana Maria y Roberto, her hilarious preacher husband, and the saintly housekeepers and their shy but playful kids. Again imprisoned in their classy fortress each night, barred from venturing outdoors lest the ladròn-fed hounds gnaw and chomp off my limbs, this is containment I'd not mind never escaping. Ana Maria y Roberto are a kind and patient pair, lugging me through the city, introducing me to coworkers, friends, and family -- a number of whom are chicas bonitas! -- worried every ten minutes that I might be bored or hungry, prepared to go to any lengths necessary to return me to a state of perfect satiation. The price of admission into this charmed life: Me dijo Ana Maria, "Que intentas platicar."

And I do nothing but. Chatting days away with any of the legions of females Ana Maria forces to expend time entertaining me, I haven't glanced at my notes on Spanish tenses and conjugations and usages and exceptions in two weeks, instead content to butcher the language and hope my conversation slaves find it "charming." And sometimes I'm actually funny, like when I forget that Spanish is a gendered langauge and casually disclose my deepest secrets: "Cuando era niña..."

I'm returning to San Pedro La Laguna Monday morning to further my studies and flirtations, but I'm going to miss Guatemala City. As is customary in Central America, and just as in San Pedro, in Guate I've been catered to like a long-lost and limbless war hero son escaped from the cruelest of POW camps during his first day home. (If you're wondering how a brainy torso escapes from a POW camp you're missing the point.) I wouldn't be permitted to spend a dime if I torched the residence with a flamethrower.

Everyone in Guate is impressed with my eating prowess, both the sheer quantity I can hide inside my lean frame and my unwavering appreciation of everything edible. I've been introduced to more of natures' exportation-eluding gifts, orange-fleshed tropical fruits nisperos y sapotes; today I encountered my favorite brand of enchilada, a la tostadas, served openfaced and piled high in pyramidal reverence to Tikal with layers of lettuce, seasoned beef, onions and beets, topped with slices of hardboiled egg. Taking advantage of a household where alimentation isn't limited by economics, I'm eating weeks' worth of fiber at every meal, cleaning bowls of black bean tracks with every last crumb of flaky toasted bread, feeding my so-far resultless routine of pushups with slabs of protein stacked to small animals stature. And during an afternoon outing to Antigua I was encouraged to pacify my pastel pangs, ordering a cold two layer beauty: the upper layer fluffy yellow cake, the lower moist-to-the-point-of-oozy and fruit-filled, a juice saturated cakebase bleeding blackberry purple onto the plate with every silver prong's puncture, all wearing a dense offwhite cream cheese coating, a separatory slab splitting the layers as well.

These perfect memories -- coupled with my broken conversations and games of futbol and escondida with the housekeepers' kids and those at the Colegio -- are enough to outweigh my thirteen pound nightmare: Boliche. Until two nights ago I hadn't bowled in ten years, that distant assault on my confidence consecutive losses to goobers I was babysitting, managing to miss the pins even with the gutters buffered by bumpers. The recent debacle was worse, turning to face a table full of cute girls after each and every gutter-bound throw, forcing a thin, quivering smile, all the while praying a bowler worse than me in any adjacent lane would lose his ball in back swing and, with luck, that its trajectory would mercifully crush my cranium. After the first game, Patrick USA's on-screen scoring row displayed a doubletake-worthy 59. Four frames into the second game -- aware the bowlers in the surrounding lanes were operating sans ball-flinging spazz, instead spinning balls into strikes, maneuvering their legs on release with professional flair -- I'd unseated just 19 pins. All hope evaporated, having failed to pick up even a spare all evening, I unleashed consecutive strikes. Wearing my first genuine smile of the night, time on the lane expired and we exited. Unlikely to ever again throw consecutive strikes outside of Wi Sports, I've officially retired from bowling.

But that's not to say you won't catch me at a bowling alley chugging pitchers of brew, maybe hovering around some kid's birthday party begging for crumbs of cake, lumps of icing stuck to the serving tray.
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