There’s a crust on the dark side of paradise; the cost determines its thickness. Guatemala is cheap; therefore, the crust is dense and contains flies, mangy dogs, and dirt roads strewn with garbage. One of the most spectacularly beautiful vistas I’ve ever seen can’t hide it.
Today, on our walk to town, a snake stretched dead across the road near our house. The road is one car width across, rough, and composed of powdery dirt and rocks. I look down to keep from tripping and sliding. (And from now on, I’ll look down to watch for snakes.) I soak my feet every night and accept the dirt under my toenails will be there until we leave.
I can deal with the poverty, the dirt, and the need to boil water and soak all produce in antiseptic. I can accept traveling only during daylight as thieves are reputed to take over the roads at night. I can tolerate the need to take a tuk tuk home after dark, “And only those drivers you know,” a full time expat counseled.
But I can’t abide snakes. Not the jungle variety, two meters long (and in my mind, much longer).
As I ran down the road, Pat yelled, “Julie, wait. Slow down. It’s harmless.”
“Of course it’s harmless. It’s dead! I can’t live here. Not with snakes.”
In that moment, the crust obscured any glimpse of paradise.
By the time we approached the village, I had calmed down. A Mayan woman washed her clothes outdoors and the water gurgled down the drain and splashed onto the dirt road. A young girl hugged her younger brother and walked him around the square. The banana man sold me six bananas for 3Q (about 35 cents); he always smiles and never rips us off.
I reminded myself that we have a lovely home on the water with amazing views for 750 dollars a month, that I wanted to escape winter, and that every day has been warm and sunny just as I hoped.
My dilemma is should I look up or down. Right now, if I look up over my computer, a Mayan fisherman is just off the coast in his homemade craft. The afternoon clouds obscure the top of the volcano. The last hour of day light creates a romantic mood rippling across the water.
Some of the most beautiful children I have ever seen are tended to by raven haired mothers in hand woven tops and skirts cinched at the waist with fabulously colorful belts.
We met an American in the village who has lived in Guatemala for two years. “Have you ever seen a snake?” I asked.
“Only once,” he replied
I told him my snake story. “The next time you see that snake; it will be someone’s belt,” he laughed. By the time we walked home, the snake was gone.
I am learning to accept my paradise–crust and all, starting to read about Mayan history, and lapping up the experiences of another part of the world which was, until last week, unknown to me.
When I look up, it’s incredible, and as Pat pointed out once my snake induced screaming subsided, for the moment, I can’t go home. “Julie, for the next three months, we are home.”
Categories: Central America