Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Forgetting things

Living in a small town in the coastal foothills of the Pacific slope, there are plenty of things about life in the United States that I forget (but remember vaguely):

o shopping malls (pretty few/far between)
o traffic lights
o large boulevards
o brand name (not fake) clothing
o nice cars
o commuting to work
o supermarkets (once again, these exist in Guatemala but not where I live)
o clean streets
o absence of pedestrians (most everybody walks)

However, there are tons of things I can’t remember. I’m sure that if you suggested that I was forgetting the little things, like you were asking me if I realized that I couldn’t remember all the little details, I’m sure I’d nod and agree.

At the same time, I was a little mystified to realize they don’t have wind chimes here.

And it’s definitely not that I’ve missed their presence for the past 8 months (which I have) but it’s more that….that they just wouldn’t exist.Like, I sort of want to know why not? Of course, Guatemalans are stunned that we don’t eat tortillas with every meal, so it goes both ways.

Anyway so last night I realized the wind chime absence, during a conversation with this guy at the comedor where I eat my meals. He had spent some time in the U.S. and there we were, standing around after dinner talking about the Day of the Dead, All Saint’s Day, Halloween, Scarecrows and finally, windchimes (Scare-crows are called pretty much the same thing in Spanish – “espanta-pajaros”, and aren’t that common here, apparently). So then the guy turns to me and says in Spanish, “do you know what’s really not common around here? Espantaspantos”

The straight translation sounds ridiculous, but it’s basically “scare scares”. No clue - might be a regional name.

It took me a second to figure out what he was talking about, but then I marveled. First, I remembered my mom’s chimes back home. Then, I thought about the occasional wind here, and imagined hearing those same sounds, maybe different sounds, and maybe a new set of chimes from the States….

The moment really took me back, like a perfect metaphor, or like how most of the tiny, insignificant details can mean a lot but can fade away.

Now I want to hear a windchime again.

Here’s a picture of the ladies that run my comedor (windchime guy is actually the husband and father of the Baby and Momma on the right)

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