Tuesday, September 30, 2008

People along the way



Antigua, Guatemala. Pepe the Rooster woke us this morning as usual followed a bit later by thousands of firecrackers and pipe bombs. At least the big blasts sound like I imagine pipe bombs sound, not as overwhelming as canons or rockets but much louder, sharper and threatening than firecrackers. And both were accompanied, as usual, by the crazy ringing of bells. The Catholics again. They have been relatively quiet since the weekend, probably because of the rain. I doubt even god knows why they do it and suspect they couldn´t give a reasonable explanation, if pressed. It´s just nuts and really annoying.

Otherwise Antigua is something of a show piece for Guatemala. I recommend it for the short list. Very tourist friendly and otherwise tranquil... as long as you stay away from the outskirts and avoid taking forest hikes unescorted as the place has a thriving sub-culture of muggers and pickpockets. One of the people staying at our hotel was mugged a couple of nights ago but then he was wandering around the public market at 2 am, drunk. He has no memory of the event. He didn´t even know it happened until he looked in the mirror the next morning and saw his bloody, bruised face. Then he discovered that his bag and money were gone. Apparently they left him with a little cash, probably because he´s so damn likable. He was pretty nonchalant about it all. Said he´d been thinking he wanted a new bag anyway so no big deal. Very flamboyant. Very rich. Reminds me of Mick Jagger, in true tatters. He is a member of the Mashantucket Pequots which is a very small tribe in Connecticut (less than 1000 members). However, in 1986 the Pequot started getting it together and today they own the largest casino in the world (4,700,000 sq ft), Foxwoods Resort Casino, along with a little miscellanea like a pharmaceutical company, a shipbuilding company, and several inns and hotels. Sadly, he´s been alone and adrift in Latin America for several years. Getting mugged is nothing new. I get the very uncomfortable feeling that if he doesn´t get clean up, he´ll die of an overdose or maybe get murdered. If I could, I´d say just the right thing and he´d be, insto presto magico, addiction free but it just doesn´t work that way. Enough people certainly tried with me. But who can really say, in the long run, how we all hold together and effect one another? One thing I do know for sure, things happen in their own time, not mine. And keeping a good thought for someone never hurts. So... good luck, Sky. You know what to do.

We have been in school now for almost two weeks and my brain is throughly mashed. I have learned a bit but by the end of each day I´m tongue tied and lost in a miasma of accents, rhythms and phrasing. Even my English sounds like a second language. And my dreams are in shipwreck Spanglish.


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