Because you can get a 15 peso haircut from an island barber whose name roughly translates from Mayan to Spanish to English as Mr. Honeybone Metal, and you can learn simple Mayan phrases from Mr. Honeybone Metal such as ‘bashkawalli” which means “what are you saying?” or “makachik pek” which means “shut up, dog,” all while you gaze at pin-ups on the wall of half-naked, dark-haired beauties. Because when black ants invade your room, they will politely limit their marching to a singular path along the horizontal wall tiles, and will only occasionally make a detour to assault your box of Kellogg’s Corn Pops which was ridiculously expensive, yet you bought anyways because it reminded you of home, and your previously sugar-coated life.
Because, if you have a tooth ache, you can buy potent pain medicine at the local farmacia without a prescription, and because when the laundry service gets too expensive at 10 pesos a visit, you can use the stone wash basin provided by your landlord (who also happens to be a practicing witch) and hang your clothes to dry on the rooftop like the local girls do. Keep in mind however, when first learning to wash by hand, it is difficult to know if all the detergent has been rinsed out of your clothes, and the soap residue will make your panties feel like parchment paper, as you slide them over your tan thighs. The house maids will laugh when they see your crisp clothing hanging on the line, but you won’t care because all you want in the whole wide world is to change out of your wet swimsuit, take a cool shower, and put on your fresh, brittle underwear.
Because every day you can eat pineapple and hibiscus flavored shaved ice when you wander through town, and if you’re American, you can walk into the air-conditioned duty-free shops just to cool down for a minute and enjoy your cold treat without anyone stopping you, before you head back out into the unforgiving sun. Because you can eat dinner at the corner taco stand at midnight, when it has finally cooled down enough to find your appetite, and in the morning you can walk to the house of an old woman with silver plaited hair and visit her in the soot-blackened kitchen while she makes handmade corn tortillas on a steel plate over an open flame. You can buy a half dozen of these delights to eat for breakfast, along with the deep green avocados growing out back in the courtyard.
Because at night, while the rafters will leak large drops of water and various insects onto your face, these bugs are mostly harmless, and although you might feel scared when a large winged beetle lands on your cheek, this is a culture that has an effective way to cure shock: First, you re-scare the frightened person by screaming and pouring a bucket of water on them. Then, when they are sufficiently doused, have them drink a shot of alcohol, wrap them in a thick wool blanket, and ease them into a chair outside in the hot sun until they start to sweat. This should all take place at noon, and to successfully perform this cure, you must repeatedly shout out the person’s name and yell “Don’t go!” three times.
Because of this, I think you should live here.
© Elle Wonders 2014–2016