…we boarded a plane. We transfered at Houston. From the window I watched the water far below… the occasional boat, distinguishable only by their wake. Finally land… rolling hills, small villages connected by roadways – partially covered by cloud. I was very excited about our journey, though somewhat saddened that my wife Iniyal and I were unable to book our seats together… I was comforted by the fact that she was on the same plane, a few rows ahead of me. The approach was brilliant… gliding over Guatemala city for what seemed like a half hour or so, eventually turning hard for the final approach. We landed safely and met each other in the corridor to find our way out of the airport and into the hands of our collectors.
Iniyal and I were transported safely through the chaotic city traffic to our temporary home at the hotel where we will stay until we had secured our apartment. The hotel is small, lovely, and elegant -though rather modest. We pass through an outdoor courtyard to get to the part of the building where our room is. In this small courtyard there is a pool of water, with a small waterfall and a few statues. Our stay here thus far has been enjoyable and without incident.
Our first few hours in Guatemala City were spent sleeping.. we were quite tired from all of the running around through airports and such. We slept well, and later met with Iniyals peers for dinner. We walked several blocks through the city streets to a neighborhood with several choices of restaurants. We were are really hungry and settled quickly on an Italian restaurant… yes yes… well.. we were too hungry to find anything too local. The food was quite good. I ordered steak and was overwhelmed with the fresh and flavorful taste of the rare meat. I described the culinary experience in a recent message to my brother inlaw (edit):
“The restaurant was “Italian” .. I order beef…
I must tell you… the beef that I skewered with my fork, and subsequently sliced with my knife… delivering to my watering mouth and my inferno of a belly (as I had eaten very little that day), was unlike any beef I had tasted before. It tasted real. It tasted fresh. It tasted healthy.
The sensation of flavors overwhelmed my senses immediately… I slowed my eating. I carefully sliced each mouthful…. chewed each morsel to a paste, while inhaling the flavor through the back of my throat . To add insult to injury (to the beef back home of course..) – that is… more appropriately… icing to the cake… there was a subtle.. yet clearly distinguishable flavor of fire. Not fire forced through a gas hose into the underside of a BBQ igniting gristle and fats… but a true charcoal and wood flavor found only in the most delightful free of flame grill experience… very likely cooked through the shear heat of the coals and smoked with the sweet aroma of the wood.”
Our first sleep was peaceful. We awoke to something I had not awoken to since living in the house that I grew up in… a rooster.
Day two brought a small adventure. Iniyal was off to work, and I was to meet her in the afternoon to view an apartment that we had been waiting to see. I woke up early with her, 6am for her, and 6:45 for me.. I went downstairs to have breakfast with her and the other folks and saw them off for their first day at school. One of my goals in the coming weeks was finding an art supply shop in order to gauge whether or not I would need to ship many items from my studio… it was on my mind, but I was not prepared to be too adventurous just yet.
I spent a few hours working on some small items that I had needed to complete, before heading out with a fellow “non teaching spouse” James to find a good coffee and find bottled water somewhere other than the hotel. We came across a small coffee stand and ordered a couple of Americano’s and sat for a spell. Afterwards we wondered back towards the hotel…keeping our eyes peeled for anything that resembled a grocery store or a market. We found a cafeteria that smelled delicious and was warmer than the outside. We pulled two bottles each and paid… now, this is why we were looking for bottled water… Back at the hotel, Iniyal and I had purchased 4 bottles of water for 40q – about $1.40 each. At the cafeteria, I paid 7q for two – 48c each. A dollar and a half isn’t too much to pay.. but every little bit counts… especially when you are relying on those bottles until we can get into the apartment and have a water cooler.
The evening brought a nice change of pace. James and Beth invited us out with a friend of theirs who had been here for some time working at another school. After a light snack and a drink at a restaurant in Zona 10… we headed into Zona 1. In Zona 1, we were taken to an out of the way street and down a small alley where we were welcomed into a tiny bar. We had delicious foods, tasty Guatemalan beer, and enjoyed a hookah through the evening. The crowd was small.. fifteen at most I think… in high spirits and enjoying themselves. Certainly a nice change from the “safe” and “happening” neighborhoods. This trip to Zona 1 also brought a surprisingly quick resolve to my problem… an art supply shop sat on the corner of the alley near the bar. I will return in the coming weeks to find whether or not they have everything I need to get right back into my work…. now that my new show is about to go public… I will need to begin a fresh new series.
It pleases me to know that Iniyal has met some good people -it relieves some stress of the magnitude of this move. She seems to be more and more at ease – settling into her new role at a new school.. she is wonderful and I love to see her happy. We were lulled asleep that night by the increasing storm that had erupted just as we arrived back at the hotel. Perfect.
closing notes: I am blind without language. My other goal this month is a concentrated effort to expand my very limited Spanish…