Dead in a Gutter

I’m pretty sure I saw a dead body today. At first, I thought the guy was drunk and passed out. I saw him as the bus pulled around a corner through an aldea outside of Paquix, the junction before Huehuetenango. The guy was just lying there, sprawled across the white-painted concrete gully that doubles as both curb and drainage system. As we passed him, I saw that his eyes were open.
•••
I slept in as late as humanly possible on Sunday, which for me was about eight o’clock. I got up and reheated some of the eggs and beans Angela had made the night before for dinner, poured myself some of the weak coffee Angie had made fresh, and settled down for some quality reading and writing time. Which of course degenerated into quality email and IM time.

The happy campers returned, dry and warm despite the rain last night, around 10 am. By that point I was nearly organized and nearly ready to go…

Angie and I decided to take a stroll down to the ruins, since it was a bluebird-perfect day. We bumped in to some of our coworkers and students returning from their Sunday-morning soccer game, then stopped by the basketball court and waved at more of our students playing basquet.

Heading up through the market, we decided to check out the prices of blusas and boleros (blouses and the little woven bags that everyone and their mother carries—I have a serious bag fetish). We were unable to find boleros, and I didn’t have enough money to buy a blusa, so we headed back to the Foundation. I was feeling pretty antsy by this point, so I finished gathering my stuff together and decided to wait for the 1:30 bus to drive by the office.

Angie and Fer sat with me, and I was getting nervous, so we all walked down to the “photocopy place” (really just a tienda owned by one of our coworkers that happens also to do photocopies). Good thing, too, because just as we arrived the bus to Huehue pulled up, bypassing its normal route past the school and Foundation offices.

I guess I lucked out—my first long-distance bus ride in Guate was on a “Pullman” (kind of like an old Greyhound). This meant not only did I have my very own seat, but my backpack did too! I asked if I should put it down under the bus with the rest of the luggage, but the ayudante said that as long as there was space I could keep it with me.

I chose a seat in the very back of the bus, which meant that over the many “tumulos” (speed bumps) through small mountain towns I was airborne. It also meant that I could see the entire bus, and that I had a big window, which is why I chose it.

Aside from the dead man at the end of the ride, the trip was uneventful. The bus broke down twice (about par for the course), people got on and off seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and the driver passed slow-moving trucks on blind curves through the “zona de neblina” (fog zone) no fewer than three times. Good thing that new metal rail was put up! That’ll keep a loaded bus on the road!

As we drove in to Huehue, with the sun setting behind the mountains and turning the sky brilliant shades of red and orange, I noticed a flash of yellow on a moto whiz by. He had to stop, because the bus was blocking the intersection, and upon a closer look I realized that the yellow was actually a maize (yes, that’s an official shade of yellow) sweatshirt emblazoned with “Michigan” in block blue letters. Heck yeah.

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