I’m beginning to realize now that when a Guatemalan says that we’re going for a walk and that the walk will be easy and only last an hour, what he really means is that we’re going on a two-hour-long vertical climb up the side of the mountain. And that the climb will be anything but easy.
That’s what I learned last weekend when I visited my friend in Xela, Guatemala. I was thinking about relocating “Operation: Find a Job Before I Run Out of Money” to somewhere a little cheaper. And I’d heard that in Xela, a city in the mountains about three hours outside of the capital, you can rent an apartment for under 100 bucks a month. I’d also heard that language classes are a lot cheaper there and that there are a lot more volunteer opportunities and even paid teaching jobs. Apparently that’s all true and I’m actually planning on moving there next week (but more about that later). What this blog post is about is a slide.
“A slide?” You might ask, in confusion. “What kind of slide?” That’s precisely what I wanted to know when my friend’s Spanish teacher first proposed the idea that we go see it. But he wouldn’t say much more than that it was a slide on the mountain and that riding on it involved siting on a plastic water bottle.
“A plastic water bottle?”
“Si, una botella plastica.” He confirmed.
Huh. Yeah, alrighty. “And where do we get the plastic water bottles?”
“The garbage can,” he answered, as if this were obvious. I decided then that it’d probably be best if I didn’t ask anymore questions and just went with the flow.
But I needn’t have worried because the slide was just as he’d claimed. A giant slide on the side of the mountain. And to slide down it, you had to sit on squashed water bottles or a flattened card-board box.
Maybe you can’t tell. But that look in my eyes is fear. Real, genuine fear. In fact, I remember telling my friend:
“I’m afraid I’ll fly off.”
Followed by the even bigger concern:
“I’m afraid my butt’s too big to fit on this water bottle.” (Not something you get to say every day now, huh?)
But in spite of the dirt and the slide burns and the initial embarrassment of being the oldest person on the slide by about 15 years, it was actually kind of fun.
The view at the top of the mountain alone, made the whole trip worth it.