contains mild peril

Sunday, May 14, 2006

my ignorance

So back to the Guatemala diaries.....

Its good to get your expectations exploded.
I'm sitting in a dreary town called Coban. Its raining. Its always raining apparently. Yesterday was an 'exceptional' day in that it wasn't and was instead gloriously sunny and beautiful. But today is like any normal day here, mild (it is kinda winter) and drizzly.
Its a small town where its very easy to feel like you've seen everything worth seeing in about 20mins. And I've been here 2 days.

I've dived into a cafe and opposite me is a 'typical' american. Fat, out of breath, wearing typical fat-american clothes and he's been offhand with the locals from whom he's just ordered a beer.
We're sitting opposite each other in front of an unlit fireplace that promises warmth, but I won't bank on it. I'm feeling pissy. I don't enter into conversation with this guy even if he is the only other person here, we're in each other's line of site and is the only guy who's first language is English that I've met in days! Instead I just sit and feel superior... and then he starts 'conversation' by saying:
"Hmm, that food smeels good"
(I'm eating crappy nachos and he looks fat and hungry. Sod off they're mine)
Weirdly within a few minutes we're drinking beers together and he's saying things like:
"How much do you know about neo-liberalism?"
Actually at this point I was foxed as I know sod all about anything, but tried to save some face by saying "weeeellllllll.... possibly its more useful if you define what you mean".

yup - a born consultant.

Anyway, this guy has lived in Guatemala for 10 or 20 years off and on. He's a University lecturer in Latin American studies, although annoyingly for him, his linguistic skills in being able to speak some native Central Amercan languages means he's often stuck in the languages department of different universities.
This guy is not typical. Maybe no one is...

Anyway, I get a lesson in Latin American politics, neo-liberalism (to which my comment "hm, seems like a banker's solution" gets a snort of agreement so I guess I at least learnt what he meant by neo-liberalism) and modern history (after the IMF attempted to fix things here by demanding on a neo-liberal agenda of pegging currency to the dollar, sorting out the economy and waiting for everything else to fall into place - the country has a wider gap between rich and poor, the poorest are poorer if fewer).

and I learnt what I couldn't learn from the web. Max (for that was his name) answered my unGoogleable ponder - what the hell was the guy selling rocks at the market doing??

gotta go. If you care you'll read on...



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