Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rules of the Wild



Years ago, a friend lent me a book called Rules of the Wild*, by Francesca Marciano. She said I had to read it, that it was so us, so Copán.

Yesterday I cleaned out my closet because the rain had found its way into my bookshelves, and among tons of usable crap I found the copy I once made of the first page of Rules of the Wild. The first sentence struck me as much as it did about ten years ago, and is still so true:

            In a way everything here is always second hand.

The whole page actually is. I never read a better description of what livening as a foreigner in Copán is like, so hereby the first few paragraphs of Rules of the Wild:


In a way everything here is always second hand.
You will inherit a car from someone who has decided to leave the country, which you will then sell to one of your friends. You will move into a new house where you have already been when someone else lived there and had great parties at which you got incredibly drunk, and someone you know will move in when you decide to move out. You will make love to someone who has slept with all your friends.
There will never be anything brand-new in your life.
It’s a big flea market; sometimes we come to sell and sometimes to buy. When you first came here you felt fresh and new, everybody around you was vibrant, full of attention, you couldn’t imagine ever getting used to this place. It felt so foreign and inscrutable. You so much wanted to be part of it, to conquer it, survive it, put your flag up, and you longed for that feeling of estrangement to vanish. You wished you could press a button and feel like you had been here all your life, knew all the roads, the shops, the mechanics, the tricks, the names of each animal and indigenous tree. You hated the idea of being foreign, wanted to blend in like a chameleon, join the group and be accepted for good. Didn’t want to be investigated. Your past had no meaning; you only cared about the future. Obviously, you were mad to think you could get away without paying the price.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t about Copán, but about Nairobi, Kenya. So either way we gringo’s are all the same, or the world is just a very small place. Or maybe it isn’t about a place at all. Which reminds me of a remark made by the same friend who lent me the book:

Copán is a state of mind.

So true.

This one is, of course, for Flavia…

* Rules of the Wild, Francesca Marciano, Vintage, 1999  Great book, buy it!

1 comment:

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