I have not written for months because, well, I didn't feel like it. This field has been lying fallow. Now I am in Guatemala on a six week trip through the country, and I feel like writing again. Here we are. Here are some things I want to tell you, somebody, anybody:
*Guatemalans get around on old US school buses that have been painted bright colors and christened with names like "Gracias A Dios" which are painted above the front window. The drivers play loud reggaeton and drive them much much much faster than Mr. Stackhouse (my old busdriver) ever did. Most of the riders on the bus are Mayan women who carry large bundles on their heads.
*How cool is it that there is a country where the majority of the population wears its traditional dress? Seriously. How cool is that? The indigenous population wins my World's Best Dressed award. None of these folks are intentionally or inadvertently wearing some some trickle-down runway fashion from a few years ago. When a Mayan wears a poncho, it's because her mama and grandmama and great-grandma did, and because she probably wove the cloth herself! And to make things even cooler, each region and town has its own particular design that they weave so families wear similar outfits, like the Scotish used to do with their tartans in the olden days. Everyone looks great, too. There is little better in the world than a 4-foot tall, seventy-year old woman in pigtails. Mostly women wear the traditional dress, but I have seen a few men wearing hot pink woven trousers and vest with gold thread. Google it. I like riding the "chicken buses" because I can check out the variety of cool outfits. If it weren't insulting for a Gringa to wear Mayan clothes, I'd definitely sport a huipul.
*As much as I like checking out the Mayans's suave outfits, Mayan kids like ogling my lip piercing. First they look at me out of curiosity, but when they notice the fake diamond on my lip, they all look shocked. They tug on their Mom's skirt and point. I never stare back, but I do keep my face turned in their direction just to let them get a good look.
*Yesterday I began my Spanish lessons. I'm staying in Quetzaltenango, or Xela, with a Guatemalan woman in her seventies and her daughter and three grandsons. Gloria feeds me well and is insulted that I only ate three pancakes for breakfast. Today I am going to my first ever yoga class in Spanish. Yesterday I bought three copies of Cosmopolitan en Español from the mid-1990s at a used bookstore. Eventhough my Spanish isn't good enough to really understand exactly what the article is saying, since all women's magazines basically just recycle stories every six months, I understand a lot more than I would otherwise. I can't really bring them in to school though, since I'd feel a little uncomfortable asking my (male) teacher to help me translate "Six Sex Secrets You Really Need to Know."