Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tramites Visa Extension In Guatemala


Here's a more professional description of this process if you prefer no vulgar words and less dramatizing of the steps.

Tramites is the general word for official paperwork so this will be a fictionalized account of my paperwork trials in Guatemala. Basically, Guatemala provides 3 months/90 days from when you enter at the border.  I pleaded with the official lady at El Carmen that I needed at least 4 years to complete my business but she was unmoved and said I could renew it if I returned to the border in 3 months. Well, time flies when you're practicing piano and learning Spanish and it came time to renew my visa and I'm trying not to procrastinate like I usually do and allow circumstances to determine my life rather than me actually determining my life. For instance, when I first tried to drive to Guatemala in 1991 I was rejected at the Mexican border because I lacked the Mexican vehicle permit and insurance...and everything, but all paperwork I could obtain for maybe $300. I was young and didn't really care so I turned around and went to California. Think about being so frivolous and aimless that you are trying to drive to Guatemala and then instead drive to San Francisco, CA based on the whim of a Mexican border official. And you don't really care either way. That's me in 1991. Well, fast forward to 2015 and just because my paperwork is about to expire does not necessarily mean I have to leave. In 1991 I'd just say, fuck it, and leave. or maybe overstay and suffer the consequences of smuggling myself out of the country. Crazy things like once I had to trek for miles around the Canadian/Alaskan border checkpoint in order to avoid the detection of a knife I was carrying that was as long as my arm...and an axe, and I generally distrusted officials and felt they could go fuck themselves since this land was made for you and me, etc... and I would carry everything I own for two days in some ridiculous and hazardous and illegal trek through 5ft of snow in late winter into the Yukon territory, on snowshoes, with a detached Achilles tendon, nearly drowning and dying and eating snow and pine needle soup to avoid detection. Insane. Well, today I loathe officialdom but they have broken my spirit somewhat and I now see the paperwork nightmare as a challenge, that I can both outsmart them and play by their rules and in the end I get what I want so fuck them.

Antigua, Guatemala

Hard to take a bad picture in Antigua
I hate to inundate the internet with more pictures of places but Antigua probably has so many that it doesn't matter anymore. I use the word "Antigua" when I describe my van. I think it means "Ancient" or "Antiquated" something like that. So when my antiquated van is in a Spanish colonial city named "Ancient" it's a weird confluence. The volcano's name is "Agua". This town in Guatemala is not to be confused with the Caribbean Island of the same name.

It's Semana Santa month in Latin America, where the true Catholics live. And Antigua has arguably the largest Semana Santa processions in the world in which the entire town actually reenacts the last days of Jesus Christ. Except for my greying beard I sort of look like Jesus now so I had to get out of town before I ended up on a cross. I have a hard enough time keeping the van running without hundreds of Guatemalans dressed as Roman centurions chasing me with spears.
This dog got locked outside above my camping spot while the maid cleaned the house.

Antigua has a lot to offer but I felt the number of drunk Americans smoking pot and requesting Bob Marley during my song set were too many. You come all the way from Portland to smoke pot and drink beer in Antigua?> And wear hippie clothes? Like you can't do that in Ashland? You know Lassen is a volcano too?

Oggy's van spoils an otherwise good picture

I guess I'm bitter and despondent. I read some book by a NY writer that was real tired and dull, lots of complaining and anecdotes about constipation and failed love affairs and his heart breaking over swear words written on subway walls. I forget the author and I don't care. He wrote like three books plus this compilation of his "columns". what a phony motherfucker. I liked his writing when it was called Catcher In The Rye. I like to think I don't beat that dead horse too much but it doesn't matter. A guy can write about his depressed worldview and I guess it will fill some space on a page and maybe sell a few leather jackets. The only good thing was a random reference to a Thomas Mann work called Tonio Kroger, which I thought was a long lost book I'd been looking for since 1991 that I knew was by a German author and had a title like Young Kroger but now I'm not sure.

I had to take a picture because I was fixing my van the entire time I was in Antigua
I should be real proud as I showed up at a bar that was nearly empty and a man was singing and saw my guitar so he handed the mic to me and I played some tunes, including the Terlingua Waltz in a world premier...some Ernest Tubb tunes...Lefty...Willie...Blue Moon of Kentucky...and Neon Moon by Brooks and Dunn. All the HonkyTonk tunes and the favorites from my inner hillbilly. And it was tolerable, at least smoking is prohibited inside in Antigua. But the next night was filled with I think some kind of volunteer health professionals-in-training all screaming for Bob Marley and I pretty much vomited in my mouth and pined for the old age home in Uvalde where everyone had artificial hips but authentic personalities while the stoner set in Antigua had artificial personalities and perfect bones. I'm no pop star if playing Buddy Holly tunes is construed as a political statement. FUck it. I walked back to the park and played alone on a bench with the stray dogs as an audience. Give me an old age home with people who know Duke Ellington and Bob Wills.

I don't know why Google automatically edited this photo an then emailed it to me. That's sort of creepy but whatever they did it looks good.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.