Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.


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Guatemala City 4/16 (part 2)

By Milt Abel | May 19, 2008

| May 19, 2008

What surprised me about Guatemala City in mid April was the pleasant temperature. It only stands to reason, if Panama is hot and humid, and Mexico is hot and humid, and Guatemala is between the two lattitudinally; then Guatemala City will be hot and humid. Not so. It was sixty-six degrees when my plane touched down the night before and the morning of my drive to the coast, as I stepped out of the hotel into a small but pleasantly cluttered street, there was a pleasant breeze and the temperature was where I’d set it if I found the dial that controlled street side hotel exteriors.

I’m not a humidity person. Cruising as much as I do in the tropics and other places that would cause my bouffant to wilt (if I ever did get around to sporting one) you’d think I would have acclimated myself to all that hot and humid atmosphere. No, when I dart from air-conditioned car to hotel, or from bus to cruise ship, my movements are unnaturally rapid, my head tilts up and I snort in short breaths –not that different from a house cat forced to swim to safety.

It was explained to me, and latter became apparent as we drove the hundred kilometers to the coast, that Guatemala City was at an elevation and the altitude allowed for some cooler temperatures. Seaside tropical homes on stilts aren’t just avoiding the fluctuating of the tides, they’re trying to reach a cooler perch.

I was also informed, in my previous night’s drive from the airport to the hotel, that Guatemala had thirty-two active volcanoes. That’s a lot of eruptions in a relatively small country. On the face of the earth, Guatemala would represent the teenage forehead, a teenager with a bad diet and hours before a big date. This volcano fact has to be taken with a grain of salt. The only source was my nighttime driver and he mentioned no day job in the geology department at the University. However, the drive from Guatemala City to the Island Princess’ stop of Puerto Quetzal backed up the driver’s numbers. I saw two active volcanoes in that seventy-minute drive, and many more conical shaped mountains. The active volcanoes were not spewing anything –which was fine by me, along with humidity, I don’t do lava well. No magma, but those two volcanoes were emitting a large wisp of steam, pennant-like, indicating the wind direction.

While last night’s driver was fluent in English and Spanish and German, the morning’s driver, Carlos, for a trip five times longer, spoke almost no English and lots more Spanish than I could understand. The lack of communication was tolerable when we were driving, he preoccupied with the road and traffic, and me looking out for lava. But when we got to the port we had to wait outside the gates for almost thirty minutes for an official to come out and assist with the paperwork. That was awkward. How far do walk you away from someone to be outside of conversation range when you don’t understand each other in the first place? All I can say is, I flitted about. In an effort to entertain him I reached into my backpack and pulled out an unused Sudoku book and offered it to him to help pass the time. I meant to let him do a puzzle or two; I could tell by the way he beamed he thought the entire book was a thank you gift for the drive. Now that brand new Sudoku book was purchased to help pass the time in all the situations, like this one, I often find myself in my travels. There are just lots of moments of indeterminate waiting. I did not want to give it to him. How do you take back a ‘gift’ that you had no intention of giving and you don’t speak the same language? There was more flitting about on my part until I realized this would a good time to tip him. I gave him some cash and took back the book. I’m glad I didn’t show him my notebook computer to help pass the time.

Topics: comedy, cruise ship, travel | No Comments »