Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever: Part VI Ruined

The owner of the Hospedaje in Sayache gave me advice that I should rent a room in Santa Elena or Flores because the hotels near Tikal, the Maya temple site, were expensive. This was good advice because I didn't really know where I was going. I knew I wanted to visit Tikal but was not sure if Tikal and Flores are the same town. I knew they were in the same general area but did that mean they were close enough to sleep in one and visit the other? Well, the advice to rent a room in Santa Elena was wise because Tikal and Santa Elena are about 1 hour apart and while buses go between them regularly I only saw one or two premium hotels closer to Tikal near the lake, and the budget hotels/hostels and hospedajes were all back in Santa Elena.

The bus from Sayache dropped me off at what is called the "new terminal" with spacious parking area. I arrived in the afternoon and decided that if I rented a room as quickly as possible then I could take a bus to Tikal, buy a ticket that would be valid for the remainder of the day and also the next day and then return to visit twice. This was ambitious because it involved 4 hours back and forth on a bus but I thought it would be interesting and I wanted to get some first hand idea of what this commute meant rather than explore Santa Elena in the rain. So I walked a block to a hotel called the "El Embajador" and maybe they are "The Ambassador" to a country of people with back pain because the bed was not much softer than a kitchen counter. But it had a fan and these "Precious Moments" curtains over the single window, which I will now analyze.

Everything is seen through the small hole in my ego so I will analyze these dirty Guatemalan curtains in the context of my romantic relationships. Yes, Tikal was visually interesting, but these curtains were the real discovery and cultural value that drove the dagger into my wounded heart. I will say very little about Tikal, offer no photos, but these curtains drove me insane with the foreseen details woven into their faded fabric so I must examine them with frank and blunt honesty.

The four panels perfectly represented the romantic arc of my disastrous relationships and did so with such precision, better than if I had ordered them custom from highland weavers, that I had to believe this was a Mayan prediction, that I was pre-destined to stay in that shitty hotel room and sleep on that plank and stare at these painfully accurate depictions of my accursed life. The panels were not numbered on the curtains, but I immediately saw a pattern, a progression, if you will, that demonstrated the awful memories and destructive emotional patterns that haunt me. 

First Love

The panel that I will call "First Love" is the meeting, the haphazard meeting of the two characters in our story. Oggy the Goose and Bella the pretty innocent farm girl. Yes, Oggy is wearing a bonnet because the blazing sun has been baking the cancerous tissue on his nose and the bonnet helps. He's been wandering the countryside, asking directions from locals, getting chased by snarling dogs, cutting his fragile flesh on barbed wires, lost, hungry, desperate, alone, delirious. Oggy wanders into a shallow pond to pick for tender grass, to drink some water, to regroup and think up a plan for reaching a destination that is not so important, but keeps him moving. Maybe it is a zen retreat or a poet society or a religious sacrifice of a goat or peyote ceremony. It's not important as all his life has been one ridiculous misadventure after another, one desperate flight from danger and abuse into the jaws of a worse danger and this foot journey across the green hillsides is no different. He has lost his pack when a farmer chased him out of an abandoned shed. He has nothing but the weighty memories of past mistakes, petty thefts and cruelly spoken words, foolish arrogance, hatefulness, unforgivable lack of humanity, moral weakness. He finds a pair of eyeglasses in the mud where he plucks tasty sweet cane. He puts the glasses in his shirt and continues searching for a companion or a family that will accept his troubled past and appreciate his unique worldview, maybe a community of poets and musicians. So he picks his way distractedly through this shallow pond and is startled by some birds flying off in the distance, startled but saddened that the birds are all being poisoned by CO2 being pumped from a nearby coal energy plant. What will become of all these innocent birds, these small fragile animals flying with aloof gaiety? That is when he sees her.

1: First Love
Bella has ribbons in her hair, wearing a simple peasant dress, no shoes, mud on her neck, her waif-like slender figure hardly stirs a ripple in the cool pond surface. She sees Oggy and squints, she is near sighted but has lost her glasses in the pond when she was paddling a canoe in the morning. Oggy says, "Do they look like this?" and shows Bella the glasses he found. "Yes! How did you find them? My name is Bella!" Of course, Oggy thinks, this is destiny, a blind man could see that, Fate wanted him to find those glasses for this damsel in distress. Finally, the sun shining on him, desperate, loathsome Oggy. Finally, this tortured loneliness will end, finally. But already the seeds of doubt are sprouting their poisoned seed in Oggy's mind. Will his demons ruin yet another perfect match? Has fate actually led him here to torture him further, to tempt him and stab him with crooked knives, to let him taste true love only to snatch the glass away and smash it on the rocks of despair? No, he tells himself, no, every day begins anew, every meeting is a chance to start again. He can vanquish his ghosts, defeat his demons, he must be strong. Bella is near-sighted but once she cleans her glasses and puts them on she realizes that this strange dirty goose lost in the pond looks like her last boyfriend, the one who never paid any attention to her. And Oggy appears wild, crazy, desperate, already he has fallen in love with her, mere seconds after meeting her, not unusual in her experience because she has the curse or blessing of magnetic personality, but always a disaster, always tragic in the end, poised for pain and set up to disappoint.

2: Courtship

Oggy manages to silence his demons, to overcome his darker tendencies with romance. He even takes off his tattered head bonnet to let Bella clean her glasses off. She doesn't wear them except when she is driving a tractor as part of the rural development program she is working on for her graduate degree in Third World justice. Of course. Oggy can barely remember his life before Bella and he immediately tries to make himself useful around the farm, forgetting his destination, staring long into Bella's frankly placid eyes. He writes songs for her. He knows she is emotionally out of his league, secure, not haunted by a poisoned past, and so he accepts it's a hopeless dream to think they could be together. He surrenders that fantasy to the cruel fates that would bring them together with evil intentions and so tells Bella that he will be moving on before dark, dodging questions implying this is crazy since it has begun raining, there are no lights, Oggy is wet from the walk through the pond. "Yeah," says Oggy, "But I have a long trek to the zen monastery and I should keep going." Bella suddenly realizes that Oggy is going to the same poet symposium that she plans on going to the next day. "The next day," asks a stunned Oggy. "Isn't it tonight? What day is it?" Amid the confusion and rambling overland journey Oggy has mistakenly thought the date was one day in advance, or that the symposium is one day earlier. He didn't write this down because, really, who cares in this reality? Is it not all frivolous fucking pointless details to cling to for cocktail party anecdotes, social fraud to pump up ones own self image? Is life not a series of casually related events, possibly predestined, and thus writing down dates is an insult to fate? These thoughts are on Oggy's mind as his mood darkens. Fucking cruel fate to lead him here to this magnetic personality in the wilderness but deny him any hope of romance. Cruel God! Perhaps Bella senses this lost goose wandering is on his last limb of reckless desperation. She offers a hand as they walk back toward the farm, Oggy is limping and now surrenders his future to Bella. He won't leave tonight, he is tired and hungry, hasn't eaten in days and his emotional depletion leads to a few unguarded moments when his tortured childish personality fails to shadow the deformed adult struggling for dominance. Bella sees the hint of humanity and sighs to herself, maybe this broken wing goose can be rescued from himself. Maybe.

3: The Honeymoon
I don't even have the strength to write this story any more. It is too loathsome, actually diminishing the crooked value of these hateful Precious Moments curtains, stained, moldy, never washed, opaque with the crust of Mayan ages. The honeymoon chapter lasts as fast as a goose falling out of the sky after being shot in the neck with a poisoned arrow. Oggy and Bella climb to the heights of romance, true connection , authentic communication, dodging bullets of despair, possibly clinging to romance as a goal in itself, possibly in denial, possibly lying, deceiving, torturing one another for selfish goals. But you can examine Oggy's lonesome expression in this curtain depiction and Bella's far off look, knowing that she feels nothing for this hopeless goose. Holding him, as though he were already dead, and Oggy realizing he has deceived himself. This is as close as they will ever be.

4: Emotionally Distant and Departure

Oggy looks off at a motorcycle laying under a tarp in the distance. Bella wants him to go, to just go somewhere else. She has been neglecting her own studies and Oggy's pondering and analysis of social justice is not based on anything more than his twisted, anti-social world view. He does not believe social change is possible without a violent revolution, which he admits will invalidate the social change that follows. So, organizing will take longer, but will be more effective. Yes? No, says Oggy. It will ultimately be defeated by propaganda merchants, evil, self-serving fuckwads who devour countries, poison rivers, jail the innocent. These are the criminals who write the laws to define crime. The paradigm is diseased, the foundation is corrupt. Who makes the rules, the land ownership, 'this man pays this other man because they own the land'? What kind of paradigm is that? Zapata said, "He who works the land, owns the land." Zapata? Is Oggy quoting peasant commanders from the Mexican Revolution? Oggy has written these words on his goat leather pants and repeatedly quotes Che Guevara, Gandhi, Eric Hoffer and Hermann Hesse. But he's making plans to move to "Morocco or Slovenia pretty soon". It's exhausting, like living with a discontented political prisoner who won't leave prison after his sentence is commuted by the new president, like he's protesting his previously unjust sentence by refusing to leave jail, even though the previous regime was overthrown and they were all executed. Oggy says the 'principle' of the unjust regime needs to be punished, but he's the only one left to punish, so he punishes himself. Oggy has withdrawn before Bella can actually slip away. The chemistry, thinks Bella, was never right and Oggy knows this. He'll be better off with his tin whistle and Peruvian charango. He vanishes in the night but forgets his coat in the horse stall and never did fix the tractor like he promised. Oggy actually never left, he only hid in the barn, under a pile of straw, heartbroken, hoping Bella will look for him, but she never looks for him and eventually, after he misses the zen symposium, he limps off into the wilderness.

Finally, a Precious Moments OggyGify to enjoy until you want to claw your eyes out. 

Part I: Pacific Blues

Part II: Sierra Madre

Part III: Mal Estado

Part IV: Jungle Love

Part V: North

Part VI: Ruined

Part VI.5 Sweet River

Part VII: Lost and Sick

Part VIII: Capital

Part IX: Coming Full Circle
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.