can't give it away on la 7a avenida
Last year, someone who shall remain nameless pulled me aside and started rhapsodizing about the people of Guatemala. "There's something in their eyes, something magical..." etc. Dreck, I thought at the time, and I'm a little embarrassed now to discover echoes of the same reaction in myself. Of course romanticizing the population is a terrible liberal/tourist thing to do, but there is a bit of an otherwordly air about the indígenas. I think it's the clothes. They're truly beautifulthey constitute the main artistic achievement of the culture as it standsbut what's so odd to Northern eyes is that the aesthetic experience isn't separated from daily life. The patterns symbolize one's village and one's culture and are sold to tourists and so forth, but it's also the dress you wear around town and the cloth you wrap vegetables in to take to market. Our notion of high art, sequestered as it is, seems a little sterile by contrast.
Best roadside graffiti so far: "FAVOR DE NO VOTAR BASURA." This is a pun on favor de no botar basura (please don't throw trash), and while it's open to debate which trash the author doesn't want voted into office come November 9th, one suspects it refers to General Ríos Montt, the former dictator who took power in a 1982 coup, presided over the deaths of about 200,000 people, and is now running as a legitimate candidate, his smiling avuncular face plastered all over roadside billboards and hired trucks that drive around town blasting marimba music. He's a distant third in the polls, and most of the other eleven candidates have promised to unite against him in the event of a runoff, but everyone's worried about electoral fraud. A lot of the highlanders are illiterate and can be coerced any way you please, and there's a history of mysterious power outages during vote counts. (The electricity company is more or less owned by a cadre of generals.) Once power is restored, some official will solemnly place the blame on a fallen tree branch.