Rubios Rojos. A Love Affair.

By Lucas Vidgen

One thing I love about Guatemala is that it’s like the Wild West. Everybody does their own thing, and if you don’t get gunned down on 4a Calle by a guy in dusty cowboy boots and an oversized hat, you call it a good day.

Government intervention is…well, minimal. Elected officials are generally otherwise occupied draining the treasury and slithering off to Mexico. But – as all car drivers here know – order emerges from the chaos. It may not work well, but it works.

So the new anti-smoking laws sadden me, philosophically. Our beautiful, messy, freewheeling country just took another step closer to resembling a Scandinavian airport.

But they sadden me more, personally. Pity smoking is such a filthy, antisocial and deadly habit because, by God, I love it. Unlike those softcore, self-loathing “smokers” who “don’t enjoy it anymore”, I’ve gotta say these nasty little death sticks just keep getting better. This one I’m smoking right now? Way better than the one I just put out. The one I’m about to light? Lookin’ good.

Smoking is now illegal in any public place in Guatemala with a roof or one wall. So we can still spark up in some government-funded schools? Nope – that loophole’s closed, too. Government buildings, hotels and public transport are all out.

Another source of misery – reading about all the places I could have smoked, if only I’d known. Public transport? Adios, chicken bus smell! Government buildings? Excuse me, Mr. Mayor – pass the ashtray, will ya?

Of all the laws they could have passed, this one seems low priority to me. Where’s the Public Transport (Throwing Crap Out the Window) Act? Or the Car Stereo (Bad Reggaeton at 120 Decibels) Amendment? Or the Ex Pat (If You Don’t Like It, Just Quit Bitching and Leave, You Freakin’ Killjoy) Law?

Saddest is saying goodbye to the classic beer/coffee + cigarette combo. Some places, the best party in town will now be out on the sidewalk, which in Xela begs the question: What sidewalk? That sliver of broken concrete? There’s a public health issue, right there.

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