A friend from that most murderous of capitals, Guatemala City, became alarmed about the masked vigilantes up here at the lake. She heard reports.
Last Spring there were pointed questions about our local encapuchados raised at a Muni meeting by a brave gringa woman. She had to ask the panel three times: Is it or is it not legal to wear a Pasa Montaña covering your face in public?
After much stalling, a-hemming and silence one of the mayor’s henchmen volunteered this answer — that the men hide their identities so that THEIR houses don’t get robbed whilst they are out patrolling on behalf of the community.
Since then, it seems the masked encapuchado committee spent most of the rainy season not only getting energized by the coffee and donuts (delivered by ambivalent neighbors) but, also, by going out marauding. Word on the street was that the hooded men could be hired for private duty. They have been known to punish the errant wives of their patrons in this capacity and may have assaulted more than 45 people.
When Lucia Escobar, a radical journalist, accused the committee of abduction, their chief (Jefe) had the temerity to menace her publicly. He ran his rant on cable; fortunately someone videoed it and put it up on You Tube. This snarly guy is hisses for 15 minutes that the writer is not even worth being dunked in the sewage water. (Like the guy who owned the NIHGT CLUB (sic.))
“When I am through, you will rot in the garbage like this piece of paper.” He says, brandishing a post-it.
Since his arrest a vigil has been held in front of the muni. All day long, Mayan ladies barbeque under a canopy hung with signs proclaiming el Jefe’s innocence. Sharing the opposite table are heaps of used-used- used clothes to sell for the defense fund. A demijohn holding the cash donations is less than a quarter full of one denominated Quetzals (worth 15 cents each.)
Speaking of masks, playing Halloween was really a challenge. Our only sources are the town pacas (used-used clothes store.) The most “together” costume belonged to Sierra, the barkeep at La Palapa bar. She showed up sporting a perfect “Santa Baby” peignoir set. It was a coup to score a perfect gossamer red bed jacket trimmed with fluffy, white ostrich feathers AND the matching short gown. But to have found a Santa hat to go with this was miraculous….. Alas my costume entitled “The Ghost of Paca Lingerie Past” simply paled next to Sierra’s.
La Palapa had a guisquil carving contest where people worked small squash into flambé monsters with wild titles like “Arachnid Bride in Vera Wang,” “Smokey” “King Cabazza Rastafari.”
At one party, the British hostess, who has a perfect BBC accent appeared chewing gum in a halter and cut-offs going as “White Trash.” One fellow tricked out a black t-shirt with two parallel, dashed, yellow lines down his chest and taped a fork under one; he called his outfit “Fork in the road.” It was way too clever for him and after lots of badgering, he admitted to getting the idea on line. But, the funniest was only a story. I asked Michael why he appeared in his work clothes and he said it was because he knew that he could never beat last year. He came as “Cashew man,” a particularly annoying street vendor who still approaches you after 300 “NO’s.” Michael, a big man, had worn a straw hat and white shirt and carried a bag of nuts. If people didn’t get it, he and imitated the real “Cashew man” by pointedly inquiring, ”Cashew?”
The next day was el Dia de Muertos and I wanted to observe it at the cemetery in Jucanya. Food stands are family living rooms. We decline the Gyro meat and step into the Easter Egg colored city of the dead. I see a family putting flowers on a crypt with two faded baby faces looking out of the ovals and note the 2005 date – Hurricane Stan. Another family is getting ready for their picnic. And, because it is a day of memorial for us all, I think of New York and the ten years since 9/11. And, cycling I flash to the grateful prayer prayed when NOAA announced that the hurricane would miss the great city.
A band toots through.
Incense and kites fill the sundown air.
All is well.