In the evenings, we debrief. We debate. Occasionally, we have a drink.
Although it is during these conversations that I learn the most about history and development, rest assured that conversations do slide into less than brilliant territory with discussions, for example digressing into such territory as debating burger king hamburgers and McDonald’s ketchup.
A debate about dark rum vs light rum and its comparison to whole wheat and white bread devolves into hand gestures and the use of cups and saucers on the table to demonstrate how to make a rudimentary alcohol still. A skill learned by Sylvio through his participation in the literacy program for which he volunteered at 21 whereby educated young people, generally from the City, spent a year with a remote rural family teaching them to read. It seems the knowledge transfer went both ways, and with his newly acquired alcohol still skills, he became the most popular volunteer in his pod!
We laugh. I learn that the literacy program died as those intent on stopping the revolution began to simply ‘eliminate’ the teachers. Sylvio was lucky. Suddenly, we aren’t laughing anymore.
Although I understand more Spanish than I can speak, occasionally I throw my hands up and ask Lorraine to do some translating, expecially when excessive slang is thrown into the mix. I could tell I was certainly missing something during one particular story in which a sign on a farmer’s fence that read, “Se corte huevos,” was met with uproarious laughter. Translation: “I cut balls.” I wonder, out load, to even more uproarious laughter, if this is meant as a threat. Turns out it is just truth in advertising. Where else would you take animals to be castrated?! Of course.
After a few evenings of stories in the Guatemala highlands and a few days of having the backseat to myself, the five of us pile in a single truck once more, and we are On the Road Again. Though this Willie Nelson classic undoubtedly escapes my lips, it is met with a spin of the volume dial and too-loud latin music once again serenades us as we make our way down the switchbacks from where we came. Sylvio’s six foot frame once again folded beside me, holding my backpack – he insists – as I stretch out my legs through the gap into the front seat. Ever the gentleman.
We spend a day in touristy Panajachel before making our way to Guatemala City to fly to Managua, Nicaragua.