It was around 7.30 in the morning when I headed back to town from one of my morning hikes. Just ahead of me, a guy came stumbling out of a bar. He stopped when he saw me, swaying dangerously on his feet.
“Good morning! How are you!” he yelled, surprisingly articulate for the state he was in.
“I’m fine, thank you,” I answered.
“I’m not,” he chuckled. “I have a bit of a hangover.”
I figured he was still pretty drunk and would have a mother load of a hangover awaiting him, but who am I to bring him the news.
The guy walked with me towards town.
“Do you speak English?” he asked.
“Yes, I do”.
“Me too,” he said. “One…three…five…ten!”
After a while the guy asked if I could speak Maya chortí. I answered him that I only knew a few words.
“Speak to me in Chortí!” he requested.
So I humoured him and told him the five words or so I know in Maya Chortí.
The guy stopped in the middle of the street, placed both hands over his heart and said with an expression of sheer delight:
“So you’re my compatriota!”
Should I explain him that I’m Dutch and that speaking English and five word of Maya Chortí doesn’t make me his compatriot? Nah…
Then the guy said:
“I’m gonna hug your dog!” And indeed, he got on all fours and tightly hugged my dog.
“And know I’m gonna hug you, my compatriot!”
Before I could decline, he threw his arms around me, placed his head on my chest, held me tight, leaving me overwhelmed by a stench of booze and serious lack of personal hygiene.
A sudden as that, he let go of me when his attention was caught by yet another cantina we were passing. Without saying goodbye, he stumbled into the bar.
Me and my dog continued to walk. Home. Shower.