Mas Hermanitos

Guatemala City Travel Blog

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Mas Hermanitos

Rarely do I remember dreams -- twenty times a year being a generous estimate -- but yesterday I awoke from a midafternoon slumber with images indelible: In my slumber I was attending some sort of college reunion attended by nobody I knew, in a long, L-shaped arcade framed by food stands. The meal itself of no consequence, at some point while I was cleaning my plate the hall magically transformed into a dessert bazaar, walking space sandwiched between stands serving plated portions of every sort of pie and cake and orgasmic imaginary hybrids of pie and cake, pie crusts filled with cake, covered in neon-colored icings. Ice creams and cookies, brownies and lemon bars begged to be piled together in sink-sized bowls.

When I awoke I was still in feverish, a rude porcupine rambling about my stomach, my mattress an oversized sweatsponge, sheets and blankets wrapped around my shivering body like coverall sweatbands. My return to San Pedro La Laguna, until this morning, was tortured, night and day tossing in bed, unable to purge whatever demon plagued me (in what, although contrary to my beliefs, may be a divine reprimand for my return to false pre-meal prayer, my thrice daily ode to the Carolina Panthers and Davidson Wildcats). Yesterday I feigned focus in my four hour return to Spanish class, hoping the Ciproflaxacin would keep calm my screaming bowels until noon, pushing tortilla-tinted burps out the side of my mouth, away from Mildred.

I know my perception of Guatemala City is skewed for having passed my stay with the monied few, chauffeured about -- and thus kept clear of public buses which, statistically speaking, are as likely to lead you into armed robbery as they are your intended destination -- pampered as though wholly incapable, but I loved to contrast to San Pedro. Major cities are fascinating beasts, hubs where gang-controlled corridors of cracked concrete and graffiti and razor wire border zones of plush highrises and residences -- and the requisite razorwire!

December 7th, national event Quema Del Diablo is another Chapin excuse for drinking, fireworks and burning trash in the streets -- much like sports celebrations in West Virginia. At 6pm our party of adults and kids -- gathered at Ana Maria's for an unrelated fundraiser - congregated in the streets where several paper-machè devils strapped with belts of firecrackers were torched, flaming and exploding until only crude wire frames remained, kids running wild with sparklers, bottle rockets launching in quick procession. This, as was transpiring on our block, transpired across Guatemala, and Roberto assured my with considerably more mayhem (and excitement) when perpetrated by the less safety conscious.

Ana Maria and Roberto were gracious and accomodating beyond reason. Juanita cooked up delicious eats and her son, Hector, was quick to interrupt me and correct my Spanish pronunciation, help most adults eschew giving for fear I'll never complete a thought. Groundskeeper Simon's stable of loving youngsters (Neddy, Karin, Esmeralda, y Liliana, names as interpreted through conversation), plus Ana Miriam, the cute and sarcastic daughter of one of Ana Maria's school's working staff, are my newest adopted hermanitos. The days of escondidos, futbol, and tickling (which is great fun until a gang of kids incapacitate you with their fingers) flew past. If only I hadn't been so well sheltered from the harsher realities of Guate, perhaps I could've been mugged of my passport and thus required to linger longer, in proximity to the US Embassy. As it is, I promised my hermanitos I will return, and that was before Monday morning when I departed, Esmeralda, Neddy and Karin peeking from behind a window near the stairs descending into the carport for who knows how long, waiting only for my appearance to hug me goodbye. Adorably, Karin gifted me a Spongebob action figure, a gesture of kindness unquantifiable. From a family of less means than I'll ever know, from children who can't afford to simply replace toys, a gift I certainly don't need but with which I'll never part.
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