Big Sister is Watching

Well, time continues to pass and we continue to get more and more comfortable with life on the lake. Everything about this place speaks to my love of all things in moderation (with the possible exceptions of beer and STD jokes). It’s warm, but not so hot you can’t do things during the day. It cools down at night, but only enough to make sleeping comfortable. It’s not super-humid like the coast, or super-dry like the odd patch of skin developing on my chin. It doesn’t rain often, but every once in a while we get a little downpour to green things up and settle the dust. The people are friendly but not fawning, much like a Subway Sandwich Specialist, or the doctor as she tries to lube up her index finger without looking menacing. I would say the only things taken to extremes around here would be fireworks, dogs and gold teeth, all of which sometimes keep me up at night, all for different reasons.

Not exactly Copacabana

The lake is outstanding for swimming and we’ve been going almost every morning. Most of my life I’ve been fairly devoted dipping-but-never-swimming but here all of a sudden I’m spending more time in the water than Mariah Carey’s bangs at a hot tub party. As nice as it is to swim, though, the “beach” is word that should always be put in quotation marks around here. The docks and rocks are nice and clean, but the beaches around here are far too green – is what I like to say. However you may feel about gratuitous rhyming, you are much less likely to hear descriptions like “palm-fringed” or “golden crescent” than you are “rugged spit” or “muddy shallows”. You know, like on the Pike Lake tourist brochure.

Now, since we haven’t undertaken any particular adventures since the last entry, I’m going to treat you to a general overview of our day to day lives in Guatemala (waa…aaa…aaa, the crowd goes wild).

Laynni gets up early to do yoga while I continue to sleep fitfully, groaning and muttering every time I roll into the direct sunlight in my foolish stupor. Then we have breakfast.

Mornings are almost always sunny and the dead calm, the water as clear as the need for statutory rape laws in Prince Albert, with the lake glinting beautifully in the sun like a Guatemalan labourer’s lateral incisor. Then around 11 or 12 the wind starts to pick up and clouds start coming and going and by mid-afternoon the lake is rough, not dangerous, bull-riding rough, but more bumpy and amusing, Mutton Bustin -rough. Around 4 or 5 it usually calms back down and settles into a dark, cloudy haze, as ominous and inanimate as Keanu Reeves. Then it either rains, or it doesn’t, then it gets dark, then we eat and watch some TV. Anybody suddenly feel reminded of “a show about nothing”? Yeah, I’ll move on.

Where I spend most of my time, naturally

Fashion Files

Now, in an effort to make this blog a bit trendier I thought we’d add a small fashion section to fill you in on all the latest styles and hot new looks on Lake Atitlan’s edgy North Side. The best part is how you can tell exactly what someone is up to based on their gear:

Dean:

Shorts – going for a walk, going to the store, or simply trying to “feel human again”

Jeans – going to San Pedro to drink beer, watch soccer (it gets chilly when you’re hiding from the sun), help bar owner beat the dog shit out of his shoe in the middle of the road

Sweats – Evening wear

Laynni:

Lululemons – yoga, reading

Short pants – cooking, reading

Shorts – walking, reading

Local Women:

Heavy Multi-Coloured Dress – selling vegetables, going to church, hauling wood, studying for college entrance exams, publicly breast-feeding

Local Men:

Jeans, hat and a dirty button-up shirt – work

Jeans, hat and clean button-up shirt – church

Jeans, hat, rumpled, but clean, button-up shirt and lopsided grin – dead pissed

As for hair, well, apparently Laynni and I have differing views. I wasn’t sure how to take it, exactly, the other day when I got out of bed with my hair, admittedly, a bit on the unkempt side and Laynni practically gasped before shaking her head and saying, “Wow, you have way too much hair for your body”. Whatever, like emulating a young, hip Bruce Jenner is a bad thing?

Shave my beard and whiten my teeth - we're twins

Soon after that hurtful jab, seemingly proving my point, one of our resident giant spiders spent god knows how many hours hiding out in my hat just to get a brief shot at this luscious mess. His visit didn’t last long, but it was rather exciting, and ended with my hat taking a worse beating than a Salvadoran caught at second base with the Honduran step-daughter of a Nicaraguan poet.  Yeah, that kind of beating. We also finally came across our first scorpion the other day, which was a relief, after hearing story after story from our neighbours about all the scorpions that keep popping up in their apartments. In sinks, shoes, tubs, anti-Semitic literature, you name it, anything dark, moist and prime for a Hollywood screenplay. It was about time. We still killed it, though. Of course, then a couple days later his big brother showed up to ask WTF and, less confident in the outcome of a mano a mano battle, I employed the aid of a broom and dustpan to fling him safely out the window (we later learned that this same scorpion may have ended up in the apartment below us, very alive, and angrier than Tiger’s sponsors).

Other than the wildlife, though, when it comes right down to it much of our enjoyment of this place revolves around the massive picture windows that open wide making it seem as though there is, in fact, no actual front wall of our room. It creates the impression that we’re living in one of those fancy dollhouses with the entire side-view open to the public and we’re just miniature action figures being observed by some giant kid with jam on his fingers who is going to be complaining to his parents later about getting stuck with the bargain-bin toys with really shitty clothes and a bunch of body hair. Nonetheless, having such a constant and unobstructed view of the lake and, more importantly, the people coming and going from our dock, is not to be taken lightly. As a wise comic book character once said “With great power comes great responsibility”. Of course, right after that he died and his nephew started wearing red and blue tights and swinging all over the city, but it still applies. Which is why every time we hear one of the ubiquitous lanchas puttering in for a quick stop at the end of our dock we are compelled to rush to the window in search of answers, knowledge and wisdom.

“Who’s there? Where are they going?” What’s in that grocery bag? Where are my pants?”

Apparently years of watching my mom wrestle with those exact questions while peering out the tiny windows of our Waskesiu cabin has taught me well. Laynni, on the other hand, is just a natural.

Nemesis

She is not a natural, however, at the Spanish language. The other day when shehad been left alone with just her elementary Spanish (and intermediate Hand Gesturing) she was put to the test when one of the cleaning girls attempted to ask if she wanted the ants killed or not. Ant, in Spanish, is “hormiga”, which Laynni apparently mistook for “amiga”, which means female friend, which, for some reason, she decided must be me, leading to this exchange:

“You want to kill my hormiga? You mean my esposo? Um, I don’t know, he’s not here. I’ll talk to him and see.”

I voted “nay”, in case you’re wondering.

Things we'd miss if we had TV

Finally, we’ve kind of accidentally ended up running a major book exchange out of our apartment, rather ironic since we are probably the only people here who didn’t actually bring any books (other than about 250 digital ones). As people have left they keep giving us books to pass along which has resulted in a very eclectic collection, with a number of titles we definitely would not have in our possession under normal circumstances. Anyway, my point is this – have you ever heard a worse book title than “Overcomers, Inc.”?

Yes or no, I still say you’re a nasty liar if you try to claim the first image that came to mind when you read that was anything other than a dozen naked, fake-tanned, slightly overweight men and women with 80’s hair and frozen smiles spinning an empty bottle of Baby Duck on the floor of wood-paneled room covered top to bottom with plastic sheeting. I mean, it’s obvious, right? Well, unless you’re not a degenerate perv, I guess. Either way, though, the only titles I can think of that might be worse for a book about “finding your path to spiritual enlightenment” would either be “Searching For Your Special Place With Charlie Sheen”, or possibly “Tag – You’re It! The History of Syphilis in Alberta”.

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