mientras naviga disfrute café gratis
The title "Don" is still very common in Latin America, but I had always thought of it as a quaint archaism until I met Don Hernán. Of course he didn't introduce himself to me with that title, but if ever I have met a Don, it is this man. He's a Guatemalan businessman who has made his fortune selling Nissan parts and now occupies a tenth-floor condo in a plush marble-and-gilt high-rise in one of the fashionable southern neighborhoods of town. My bedroom is like a penthouse. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of city and hills that seem designed specifically for the purpose of seduction, and to hear Don Hernán gaily recount his exploits, he has not been slow to put them to that use.
Breakfasts are eggs and a cylindrical mash of fried black beans that, when it first appeared on my plate, bore a shocking resemblance to a horse turd, but was actually quite tasty. There is free coffee here at the Internet café, though most of the customers don't seem interested, perhaps because they are all ten and playing a network motorcycle game. So far Guatemala City rules, though staying in a condo certainly improves my opinion. All the travel guides were preparing me for the mouth of Hell, but while this place is flat and choked with bus fumes, it's also colorful as hell. I hesitate to use the word "vibrant," because then I start sounding like the New York Times travel supplement, but I approve.
Also, it's weird to be tall. I look around and realize that I am the tallest person in the Parque Central.
Interview with a human rights organization this afternoon, then on to Antigua. Mostly I'm thrilled not to have had intestinal misadventures yet. Don Hernán recommends psyllium, but that's for prostate problems.
[domingo 19 oct 2003 :: countdown]
Had pretrip jitters last night, so spent a couple of hours playing with Perla pursuit guaranteed to soothe anxiety, for the damn language is so counterintuitive and punctuation-dependent that one's left brain is forced to execute a coup d'etat and take over proceedings. At any rate, I now have a rudimentary web interface that will allow me to post from Guatemala when I hit the Internet cafés. I know, there's no reason to reinvent Blogger, but the geek badges are faded and need polishing.
razor, toothbrush, contact lens crap
medicine (malaria, antibiotic, antidiarrheal, antidepressant, common cold)
shirts (3, ascending levels of formality)
Lonely Planet Guatemala, The Rough Guide to Guatemala
Cuentos Españoles, a Bantam dual-language book, ©1960
El Señor Presidente, Miguel Ángel Asturias
For my final day of decadent Americanness I plan to read the paper at length, go see Intolerable Cruelty, eat some incredibly calorific dinner to shore up against weight loss from four weeks of tortillas and beans. See y'all soon.