It’s 3:30 AM, Friday, December 21, 2012, the winter solstice and the Baktun.  I can’t sleep.


 Earlier today (Thursday) my Spanish teacher, Lorena, asked me to go get my accordion and sing her a song, so I sang her “Some of these days.”  Then she asked me to translate it into Spanish.  I had very low expectations for the song in Spanish because it is so difficult to translate the meaning and also match the meter and rhythm of the music.   That song in particular has an English-language meter to it.  I wrote a literal translation quickly, and got help from Lorena with the difficult parts.  Then I tried singing it, and out of my mouth came the sort of expressive suffering that you hear in Mexican popular songs.  I couldn’t have done that if I tried.  It’s a totally different mood from how I do the song in English, an it’s hilarious.  I don’t know if I could pull it off in a performance.


I have a precise quantitative characterization of how cold it is here in Xela at night.  I went to bed wearing a shirt and undershirt, sweat pants, and socks, covered with 4 blankets and a bedspread, and I was cold.  I put on an additional fleece sweater and I was not cold.



By the way, Xela is pronounced SHEY-la, and is the nickname of the city whose official name is Quetzaltenango.  The old Mayan name for the place was Xelaju.  Everyone calls it Xela, and even the signs on buses say Xela as their destination.


 The other day I was walking home from school on a big boulevard lined with yucky strip development and full of vehicles emitting black diesel exhaust, and I had a sort of flash of insight that part of what this trip is about is a dry run for exile.  Sort of discovering what it would be like to have to leave my country, or choose to.


 I have a cold that’s been getting worse the last couple of days and I’ve been pretty exhausted during the day.  Having a cold brings out the depressive side of me, and I haven’t stabilized into being here. There is probably an edge that one could go too near and experience real depression or anxiety, but I’m not interested in playing with that.  It’s necessary to just be patient, let the shit happen, and settle in.




Tomorrow (Saturday) Juliet are going to the coast where it’s hot.  Tuesday we have plans to climb Santa Maria volcano if I get over this cold in time.