24 FEBRUARY 2011
GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA — Flying into Guatemala City you pass over sculpted mountains as far as you can see. It feels like entering the airspace of a topo map : brown fields yearning for crops, lush greenery running to the horizon, forever blue lakes, and threads of roads holding it together. Villages form knots on the thread as they weave up and down the mountainsides.
The past two nights yielded less than one night´s sleep. Spirit Airlines managed to find the only airplane seats ever manufactured without even a miniscule recline position. It´s 7 pm now, and I was up at 3. My eyes are blurry, my body exhausted, and my brain is ready to explode with Spanish goodness.
Five pm is too early for more than a snack here in most restos. A Radisson offered the Ernest Hemingway restaurant. Very expensive for the area — $14 for an entrée! — but they were serving, and I was eating. I was the sole patron and sat in a breezy patio room. Putting my Spanish to the test, I said to the waiter that E.H. is a north American. I could tell he was quite impressed. I am lucky they don´t dope-slap people like me.
The jacon de pollo was served with vegetable chucks standing attentively alongside verde sauce-covered chicken. Fresh tortillas provided a tasty sponge to gather all the green deliciousness. (Note to self…skip resto review assignments before you choke on triteness. It is a horrible way to die.)
I just remembered I have to ask for the check. I have no clue how to do that, so I could be here all night, which wouldn´t be a hardship. It just rained, a sudden, you-are-in-Guatemala, kind of rain. It temporarily washed away the diesel fumes and has left a freshness that will do for dessert. Which is just as well, since my inclination would be to have tres leches cake, and I´ve read multiple warnings about ingesting milk products here. I need to find out if this is accurate, because if nothing else provides a good reason for living, tres leches does.