If the pants that never lie to you are groaning about your weight, there’s a fast, fail-proof way to make nice. For little more than the price of a plane ticket, you’ll shed some pounds and strengthen core muscles. The patented solution is The Guatemala Diet.
You begin by simply entering the country. Suddenly, your body is besieged by new bacteria that begin battling for dominance in your GI tract like maras feuding for turf on the streets of Guatemala City.
Despite your desire for immediate success, try to hold off the rapid-results phase of the diet until you’re booked into a clean, comfortable room where you won’t mind hunkering down. In the meantime, follow food safety recommendations put out by the Centers for Disease Control: unless you can cook it, boil it or peel it, forget it. Drink bottled water. Avoid ice altogether. Make hand washing your new religion.
Next, eat huevos y frijoles, doctored and disguised in salsa or queso, but still huevos y frijoles until eating becomes the biggest chore of your day. You’ll stop eating for pleasure. Instead you’ll put food in your mouth because you know your body needs sustenance in the thinned air. You can’t keep walking in circles on cobblestone streets or hauling your backpack each dusty kilometer to the next posada without additional calories.
If your pants still complain, it’s time to grow daring. Buy orange slices with chili powder from the fruit vendor on the corner who wipes her sticky sweet hands on her huipil blouse. Patronize the restaurant whose sign boasts serving cak’ik, the local turkey stew, alongside sushi. Drink mosh from the vendor set up next to the canary yellow church, ready for customers since the dawn Mass. If she ladles the sweet milky drink into a Styrofoam cup and not even a hint of steam escapes, that’s a good sign.
Remarkable progress is right around the corner when you start to grow cold even though it’s 26° Celsius and humid. You suddenly feel seasick standing on dry land. You try to ignore it, tough it out, be brave. You use every mind-over-matter trick you’ve ever learned until the only thing you can do is run to clutch the toilet while your body contorts with set after set of abdominal crunches.
If you’re fortunate, this happens while you’re in a beautiful place. A place where you can leave the windows open to hear birds singing in a foreign language while waves pound away at the pier. A place where your bed faces the balcony so that in your fever dreams, you will believe the long-dormant volcano is shuddering or the stars are blinking Morse code messages for you. A place where your own personal reclamation crew of ants—hundreds of them—will descend out of nowhere to make your porcelain altar spic and span.
You wake weak but triumphant. The lake breeze blows over you. Bees are pollinating the explosion of bougainvillea on the veranda. And you can hear the lanchas passing, one of which will take you someplace where you might trust the food again, if you can tolerate the pitch and roll of the waves. You feel purified in some way. Lighter.
That’s because you are lighter. The mirror shows you’ve acquired a gaunt, heroin-chic appearance. Your pants of truth are sliding over your hips though you’ve cinched them up using the last notch in your belt. You wait for the petite Maya porter who will assist you by carrying your large American-sized pack down the steep volcano slope. When you make it into town, you’ll seek out the leather smith to pound a new hole in your belt for a few quetzales.
About the author
E.S. Fletcher has been carrying on a torrid love affair with Guatemala for five years. She recently cheated on her beloved by visiting Panama,…Read the full bio
Issue 09 · May 2010
Table of contents
- From the editors
- Postcard Prose
- Travel Notes