Wednesday, January 9

the guate letters: part II

Dear Guatemalan Pharmacists,

Thank you very much for the little white pills and the four bottles of Pedialyte. They got things back in near-perfect working order within a few hours. Without them, I feel sure I would have simply expired right there in Raphael's sister Aura Maria's big, wonderful bedroom (with its private and much-appreciated bathroom) and they would've had to ship me back home down under the plane with the baggage. (I might have ended up in Norway, but at least I wouldn't have been awake anymore.)

Also, thank you for the giant and very expensive green pills and the Halls. I forgot to take the last green pill, lost as I was in a haze of apple Pedialyte and the orange sleeping pills I had meant to save for the flight, but my voice is almost completely back anyway - although they did not help with my Spanish.

Love, J

Dear Person Who Wrote "NECESITA UN MEDICO?" in Irregular Black Letters on a Block Wall Along a Busy Guatemala City Road,

This thing you are advertising, this "NEED A DOCTOR?" business...does it involve actual medical treatment? Are you the Medico in question or perhaps this practice belongs to your cousin and you are doing him a favor by providing him very cheap or possibly free advertisement perhaps accomplished in the dead of night? If I call you with a medical need, will you see me out of your car? Do you own a car? You obviously own a paintbrush, but it's not the same thing.

Maybe you and the guy who wrote "Venereal Disease" in giant red letters a couple meters down should get together. Meanwhile, I've got a pretty good relationship with some Pharmacists, thank you.

Love, J

Dear Fireworks People,

You are my second favorite people next to the Goat Man and his able assistant.

What I didn't know about fireworks before Christmas this year could have killed an elephant. For example, I did not know that it was possible to buy 50-meter-long ropes of firecrackers that could then be legally laid out in elaborate patterns in the street outside of your house and set off by young children in honor of Jesus' birth. I think Jesus would be very cool with that. I bet Jesus actually heard the firecrackers when they went off, in fact.

Anyway, now that I'm so well-informed that I could probably arrange to kill an elephant, I would like to tell you that the next time I visit, you'd better stock up on the little cone-shaped volcancitos that shoot sparks straight up out of the tip several feet in the air. And also the ones that come packaged up like ships (that really whistle) and bulls (that snort fire from both ends) and tanks (that fire sparks horizontally along the ground) and - oh, I'm sure there are hundreds of other shapes I didn't have the pleasure of watching explode. Babies, puppies, name it, it needs to be shooting out sparks.

My particular favorite is the one shaped like a Chinese pagoda. I believe it's called "The House", but, oh, it's so much more than that! Do you know which one I'm talking about, Fireworks People? The one where your 10-year-old nephew Chato lights it in the middle of the street as a car is coming down the road and then it shoots sparks several feet up into the air and you think, "That's it?", but as you watch, the little cellophane windows begin to glow red from inside and everyone goes, "Ohhhhhh!" (That's the same word in Spanish as in English, by the way).

And then (because it's midnight on Christmas Eve or maybe it's New Years Eve - there are so many fireworks, you're not even sure what you're celebrating anymore), your nephew pushes you out of the way so he can set off the REALLY big ones. The giant, sparkly Fourth of July blooms that make you deaf and give you a crick in the neck. And those are really awesome too, especially when they're being fired up from your front yard. And especially when everyone else in the neighborhood is setting theirs off at the same time, and you can't figure out where the house is anymore because of all the smoke, and people keep unexpectedly lunging at you from out of the darkness and the incredible noise of fireworks booming throughout the city to embrace you and yell unintelligable things at you in Spanish and try to make you dance with them.

I think one phrase fully expresses how I feel about you, Fireworks People, more than any other: Thank God Chato still lives.

Love, J

Dear Guys who Sell Illegal Copies of Cds on the Streets,

I think there are no old classic country songs entitled "(N-word) (F-word.)" But I have been wrong before.

Love, J

Dear Aura Maria,

Thank you for letting me stay in your bedroom and for letting me watch The Simpsons in English. It was just what I needed.

Love, J

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