My first week back from Costa Rica has been one of positive change, not least in the weather here in Antigua.
Firstly we have acquired a new housekeeper in the person of Doña C. She is in fact the resident wachiwoman at one of the bigger properties in the neighbourhood and we've had dealings with in recent months, such as buying herbs, fruit and other stuff direct from her doorway. (Including the impressively large lime in the pic above.)
A couple of weeks ago she came to V and asked if we needed any help at home because she needed to raise a bit of extra cash. We were happy to agree to an occasional arrangement as we'd already had plenty of evidence that Doña C was intelligent, well-trained and of good character (V quickly disposed of all my empty latas when the chatarra van passed in case the fervently evangelical Doña C were to draw the wrong conclusions), and it has actually been fun to have her cheery presence around the place this week.
I'm fortunate not to have any commercial interests in Antigua which frees me up from the need to 'network' with ex-pats and transients. My wife and I are very private people in fact. We don't get out all that much and we don't much care for prolonged invasions of our space. The half dozen or so houses around us are all owned by members of her family and this provides about as much opportunity for sociability in any given week that we can normally take.
Which is one reason we find it a bit tiresome when we need to have an albañil on site and why we haven't generally employed people to help us with the housework. On the one hand, we argue to ourselves, how much mess can the pair of us make? On the other, there are still entire rooms filled with unopened boxes from our original move and every time we cook, we seem to have to juggle food preparation with clearing up from the last time.
Home life has felt like a bit of a rearguard action this invierno, with leaks springing up in unlikely places and a background level of disorder that I now realise has been disordering our ability to be completely positive and organised on other levels. Anyway, Doña C's intermittent presence this week has been a great help and indeed a pleasure, and she in turn has no doubt been pleased to discover that anyone who assisting V with the chore of those boxes tends to go home with at least some of the contents.
The second important development is that a descendent of famed conquistador Bernal Diaz and a member of a clan sometimes (somewhat erroneously) referred to as one of the 'five families', has offered to lend me her private mechanic. This can be chalked up as a lifestyle improvement because the nearest Chrysler dealer is on the outskirts of Guate. And the individual in question is nothing less than an uncannily adept tracker of car parts. Hand him any chunk of rusty metal from under the bonnet and he'll give it a sniff, vanish off to the hueseras, and promptly return with exactly the replacement required.
Lastly, I suppose I feel obliged to mention that this has also been the week when Antigua lost a notorious blogger to the long arm of the FBI, and the local chattering classes were forced to wake up to the fact that people who commit fraud are quite often fascinatingly fraudulent themselves, with regards to friends, acquaintances and even the principles they profess to live by.
I knew several things about 'Don Marco' almost from the moment he started to take occasional pot shots at my blog*.
These were a) that he had ten children b) that he went out of his way to attend Mass in Latin and c) that his real name was not Mark Francis.
I reached my own conclusions about the purpose of his stay in Guatemala, but didn't pursue my curiosity any further online, which might have been revealing of course.
'Mark' added me to his Shelfari contacts list and after perusing his bookshelf I further concluded that he wasn't really from Phoenix AZ, but more probably hailed from one of the original slave states of the south, such was the apparent depth of his interest in reactionary themes in both politics and religion.
Now that he has been arrested and deported it intrigues me how the Chapin grapevine chose to feed me very specific gobbets of information about him....indeed, very specifically the kind which featured prominently on his wanted poster back in TN. It would be ironic indeed if there were well-placed people in Guatemala who knew the truth about Jeffrey Lyn Cassman at least a year ago.
'Don Marco' always seemed a little rattled by our determination not to throw ourselves at the web he'd been spinning around town. One of the few close physical encounters we had — which turned out to be the last — was when he treated us to a rather childish (and pique-ish) demonstration of his machismo by overtaking us in his grey Merc laboriously, noisily and truly unnecessarily one evening **
I have been oddly saddened by Cassman's denouement. In spite of all of his gripes I felt he'd come to appreciate if not respect this country, and knowing how much we two love our life here, the notion that it could be taken away from us at a moment's notice by agents of a distant state is actually disturbing. Jeffrey and I are very different kinds of libertarian; my anti-authoritarian streak is perhaps less pronounced and ultimately more even, largely because I don't have the monkey of absolute truth on my back.
* It was always clear to both Rudy and me that these digs were a form of search engine marketing on the part of GuateLiving. Links to Rudy's site are especially valuable in terms of sucking up to Google's indexation algorithm! Here goes...
** V was not impressed. She long ago decided that this particular gringo was operating close to an edge of one sort or another, and was most likely properly dangerous.