About Half-an-Hour Before Passing Out
It’s been both eventful and uneventful life here over the past month. It swoops and dives into hammocks, afternoons of lazing, reading, drinking, playing backgammon, cornhole, ping-pong, guitar, shrugging off self-imposed demands of productivity. There are afternoons of intense labor, swinging a hammer, stuffing earthbags, hosting, planning, cooking, staring at the computer for hours upon mornings at websites. I wake up most mornings by six o’clock to start writing before the guests congregate for breakfast. Most evenings I’m in bed by nine or ten and down for the count. It’s not a life of leisure, per say, but one with which I dreamed of realizing.
We arrived and I fell down the stairs on the first night after staying up to drink Russian vodka and Brooklyn IPAs with Earth Lodge owner, Drew Shankman, aka el jefe (the boss), aka Don Drew, outlasting him like a champion (perhaps the pregnant wife, the lovely and luxurious Bri Havey, back at the house had some bearing on his responsible decision), then having a mild debate with an Israeli guy over settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, attempting to assist Emma with carrying her bag down the steps to our cabin, the same one we lived in when last we were here, before plunging a good half a flight of stone steps. We felt so at home we didn’t unpack for three days.
Emma began the yarn-bombing/GUPP project, both at the school—where we were also welcomed back like old friends but with far less booze—and at Earth Lodge. Students were pumped to get underway, and they have learned different stitches, flower patterns, granny squares, and nearly completed their individual projects. Emma, too, was pumped to start covering stuff in yarn, blanketing one of the posts holding hammocks at the Lodge. And, I became innovated, using plastic twine to create a sort-of waterproof yarnbomb of my own. Perhaps the highlight for me: It was amazing to see how far the classroom for which I’d labored greatly had progressed since last we saw it. It’s a functioning library and English room.
We began working at the hotel. Emma uses her charms to wow guests, put them at ease, and solve the minor problems of being on holiday. She cleans things behind the bar and organizes. She crochets all over the communal area. I moonlight as an infrequent bartender/receptionist and spend most of my time in the shadows, scheming new dishes for dinner—this Saturday’s Memphis-style BBQ spaghetti has been my favorite thus far—and concocting sauces and soups. In the afternoons, I often study manhood under the tutelage of Don Drew, a self-made carpenter, electrician, hotel owner, father, eco-building enthusiast, avocado farmer, and proud Canadian (not self-made in this case), helping with whatever projects are underway: At the moment, he’s putting a second floor on his earthbag house built when last we were here.
I am a god on the cornhole pitch. Challenges occur almost daily. Sometimes days of cornhole occur accidentally. I refine my shit-talking. We all drink beer in the sunshine on the lazier afternoons, pacing back and forth between the boards, and when that gets too taxing, we play team cornhole so that you basically just stand in the same spot while your teammate throws. I toss with a fluency unrivaled in accuracy, smoothness, and cool and have yet to lose a game since returning, despite not having played since last gracing this very pitch. (Perhaps our Tuesday night bowling in Moscow kept my form up to snuff.)
We have continued with our plan of elevating our vagabond-ness into something less attached to teaching. I have continued writing and sold three articles since we arrived. With minimal effort, a corner display in the Earth Lodge tienda (a small shop—in this case, a few shelves), Emma has sold fourtd of the hats she stitched together over the cold Russian winter, when the sun and daylight betrayed us. We have a house, food, and paid positions at the lodge, making just about enough money to cover our bar tab, which is—I think—all most people are trying to do anyway. We talk about WWOOFing, about hostel-hopping, about hanging out indefinitely, and according to plan, our plan remains indeterminate.
This blog occurs once a week, the entries being thematically mixed between expat life in Guatemala and life as an NGO groupie. The photos for this blog, website, and my life are all provided by my beautiful wife Emma.