We Call It “Getting Stuck”

By Rotten Tacos

My first night in Xela ended with making grilled cheese for some Aussie surfers at 3 am. It was a Monday. By Friday I was dancing on the King and Queen bar to Enrique’s “Bailando” and stumbling out of an after at dawn. Five months in I had a business, a bike, and 45 new paca clothes. I wasn’t going anywhere.

We call it “getting stuck”. We came for a month and 2 years later, we?re still here and we own a bar and 2.5 street dogs. The question I always get though is “Why did you stay here?” Maybe we?re a bunch of masochistic misfits that subconsciously enjoy Ciprofloxacin regimens, juggling 8 jobs to make ends meet and maybe fly home for Christmas, and screaming “Voy a poner tu cabeza en el culo de una vaca gorda!” in self-defense and redemption at some a-hole for copping a feel at 7:30 am on his moto. Puta, a skirt is not by default an invitation.

But more so, it’s the welcome and the possibility. It doesn’t matter who you were, where you’re going, what you wear, what you do, or if you’re doing anything at all. Xela welcomes you without hesitation or question into this community of ragamuffins with mild ADD and a not so mild penchant for drinking. This is a playground that lets you try anything without any qualifications whatsoever aside from “I’m breathing, I’ll show up, and I’m not an asshole. Most of the time.” I can get a new best friend and a job by talking to strangers and being intoxicated and charming 4 days a week. Wherever we were before wouldn’t let us get away with this.

Not to sound like a graduation card, but thank you Xela for letting me be and do anything. Thank you even more for kicking my ass. There are the wonderful days. Where you go hiking, have picnics, soak in hot springs, and go out and no one vomits or does anything abnormally stupid. But then there are days when bureaucracy and cultural intricacies slap you in the face on the same day you get pulgas and diarrhea and come home to an 8-year-old throwing a ball at your wall for 3 hours, which all ends in you grasping a chihuahua like Simba, while still wearing your bike helmet, threatening to steal both dog and ball if he won’t stop for an hour. Yeah, there are those days too.

After a while you?ve had your fill of chicarron con pelos. You’ve hung out with all the rock stars, worked at every organization and bar, climbed every volcano, gotten every parasite, still can’t salsa, and learned “Ella esta en la moto” and “Ella esta en la mota” tell two  very different stories. At some point, you must decide “Am I going to stay here, find some fake faithful Guate boy, open a tienda, and resolve to enjoy chicken buses? Am I going to live here forever? Will I have to go to Shamrock every Saturday?!”

You’re allowed to leave any story you no longer belong in and I must leave before I forget why I even came. If I stayed any longer I;d have to adopt a golden lab and I;m just not a dog person. The hardest part about Xela isn’t the language, poop sidewalks, pulgas, shits, or grab-ass mo-fos. It’s the leaving. And now it’s my turn. Let the despedida come, as it eventually will for everyone. We can only wish for brief moments of buena onda.

This is Rotten Tacos saying Xela, que les vaya bien!

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