Taking Flight: A New Year’s Fable

webcoverIt’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to fresh starts and plans for the future. And, humans that we are, more often than not these plans come to naught. So let me tell you a little story that should put us all to shame.

A while ago, some of the neighborhood kids decided to graffiti the wall across the street from my house. I think it was the first time they’d ever held a spraycan because the work was, well… crude to say the least, and the main theme appeared to be a magic mushroom smoking a bong.

Great, I thought. I’ll have to paint over that.

As time passed I almost got used to looking at that eyesore and feeling like I lived in front of a crack house then one day I came home to find a kid slapping green paint over the top of the graffiti.

Great, I thought. Now it’s becoming the neighborhood graffiti wall.

So I went up to the kid and said excuse me and I think he nearly crapped himself and then he bid me a very polite buenas tardes.

And I asked him why, of all the walls in Xela, had they decided to graffiti the one right in front of my house.

So he explained to me: whoever did the original graffiti obviously had no respect, and was sending a bad message to the community, so he was going to paint over it with an image of the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird.

I asked him if he worked with some group and he said no, it was just something he did.

Well… whatever, I thought. I was going to paint that wall anyway and it can’t possibly end up any uglier than it is now.

So I went inside and got busy doing something else and forgot all about the kid and a couple of hours later I remembered so I went outside to see how he was going. But the kid was finished and had disappeared, leaving behind him the beautiful bird you see on the cover.

If I’d known he was going to do such a good job I would have offered him money for paint. Or at least a cup of tea.

And since then I’ve seen quite a few of his quetzals around the place – there’s one on the Cuesta Blanca and another out by the airport.

So by small way of recompense, this edition of XelaWho is dedicated to that anonymous kid, quietly going about the business of transforming the city, replacing ugly vandalism with the beauty of his art.

And if we can all aspire to that, it’ll be a happy new year indeed.

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