Sunday, June 23

I’m in a hotel in Guate City tonight, flying home tomorrow.  I have tried to write about my more interesting adventures in this blog, and have left out several little hikes, musical events, volunteering to teach math to kids, the improvement in my Spanish, and the improvement in solving sudoko puzzles, in an effort to shelter you, the readers, from too many words, the downfall of most blogs.

The last time I was here, I didn’t feel ready to return home after two months.  This time I’m ready.

You can pretty much predict that if a guy goes far away to a third world country to observe his 66th birthday alone, there is going to be some kind of existential angst involved, with which I didn’t want to burden my blog readers.  The only thing I’ve always remembered from college French was that the protagonist of Sartre’s novel “La Nausee” sat in his apartment in Paris listening to a record of “Some Of These Days,” over and over again.  So one day I listened to Sophie Tucker’s 1911 recording of “Some Of These Days” on YouTube, while trying to imagine myself sitting in a Paris apartment dressed in a suit and tie, smoking a cigarette, instead of on the deck of a house overlooking Lake Atitlan.  Then I listened to her 1926 recording of the same song, which was already a nostalgia piece.  Then I branched out and listened to Ethel Waters’ rendition.  And then Josephine Baker.  The YouTube clip had pictures of Josephine Baker, and when I saw this one, I wanted to be Josephine Baker.  


So, although I listened to “Some of these Days” several times, it might not have been quite what Sartre had in mind.  I guess I’m just not that good at existential angst.  

So I’ll finish with a little bit of atmosphere.  I asked Bear out for lunch, and since it was my last meal in Panajachel, I suggested a little tiny comedor, away from the tourist area.  This comedor has one table that seats three people, and one table that seats one, although if four people were in there at once it would be pretty crowded.  The proprietress asked us what we wanted, and I asked her what she had, and she said if we want breakfast it’s eggs with frijoles and plantain, and if we want lunch, it’s Pepián.  Pepián is a Guatemalan specialty, chicken with a sauce.  It may be the only Guatemalan dish with a sauce.  So we told her what we wanted and she asked us if we wanted coffee or lemonade to drink.  Bear said coffee, and when she left the room I quietly warned him that it’s instant, and he said yes but the lemonade is instant too, and the coffee has less sugar.