Two dicks with pianos on spring break


pianoMy friend Ryan and I decided to head to Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach for a round of drinks and one last hoorah before spring break came to a close and it was time to treck back to cold Ohio.

Sporting sunburns and an air of relaxation, we headed to Celebrity Circle, a corner of the outdoor shopping plaza completely dedicated to drinking and dancing pleasures. We heard pianos pounding out familiar songs, accompanied by loud, out-of-tune vocals.

We poked our heads in. On stage were two pianos facing each other, two men dueling one another on the keyboards, and a huge crowd drinking and singing along. Ryan and I paid our cover charge and went to join in. What could be better than drinks and sing-a-longs?

The first hour was a riot. Sipping on Amaretto Sours, we watched drunk strangers pass up song requests on napkins and watched these same strangers slur the words and/or get up and dance to them awkwardly, while two talented pianists danced across keyboards, sang into microphones, occasionally played the harmonica or climbed onto their piano benches, their fingers never leaving the keyboard.

Unfortunately, the tune changed entirely when these first two piano players — charismatic, clean and charming entertainers — ended their shift and the next two pianists went on stage to take over.

After a few notable songs and loud collective singing from the customers, a bartender brought up two giant plastic syringe shaped holders for Jello shots. I immediately assumed that someone in the audience had bought them for the pianists. I was waiting to see the players consume their beverages, wondering if the Jello would get stuck in the tube as they pushed it forward.

Instead, they asked for two wild and willing women from the audience to ___. I didn’t hear the rest. Seconds later the two pianists were standing at the edge of the stage holding the syringes at their pelvic bones like penises. Two women approached and put their mouths over each as the pianists thrust their hips forward, the whole scene resembling the giving/getting of a blow job. 

The entire room erupted in cheers and laughter. I sat stunned.

Strike one.

A handful of songs later, Larry and Laurie were called up onto stage for their birthdays. A middle-aged man, completely obliterated and unaware of personal boundaries, and a middle-aged woman, horrified and uncomfortable, walked to the center and faced the crowd.

Larry was uncontrollable and had to be (repeatedly) told to not touch Laurie. It was unclear if the two even knew each other. What was clear was that Laurie did not want to be touched.

They were instructed that they would dance to “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” for reasons I am unaware of. Since Larry couldn’t seem to manage touching his own body parts and preferred getting a grab at Laurie when he could, the pianists so nicely changed the words to “Head, Shoulders, Tits, and Ass.”

Larry got on his knees, and grabbing at Laurie’s butt, pulled her forward as he moved his head and wagged his tongue like a thirsty dog, pretending to give her head.The entire room erupted in cheers and laughter.

I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to kick Larry in the nuts and save Laurie. I wanted Laurie’s friends to save her. I wanted Laurie to kick him in the nuts and save herself. I wanted the pianists to stop being so degrading and disgusting. I wanted to slam their faces into those shiny keys until they were red. I wanted the bar to wake up and stop being ignorant. I wanted someone to try and explain to me what was so fucking hilarious.

Strike two.

I didn’t have time to recover. The bartender brought up two extremely tall — maybe a couple of feet — red glasses filled to their brims with Margaritas. This time I knew they would be given away, but I was hoping for some kind of “who can be the loudest” challenge to determine the winner. Women were targeted again. These two glasses will go to the women with the perkiest breasts that are rubbed in our faces.”

I was shocked when four women, three middle-aged and one celebrating her last night of singlehood, rushed to the stage, grabbed the pianists’ faces, smothered them between their breasts, and then shook from side to side with all their might…over and over and over and over again. The entire room was louder than the times before.

Strike three.

I tossed back the remaining Amoretto Sour and looked at Ryan, who had been watching me the entire time, probably measuring the steam coming out of my ears.

“I’m done.”

I grabbed my clutch, threw back my chair, and felt eyes on me as I stormed out of the bar, the only person having a problem with the perky-breasted women waiting to claim their prize for objectifying their own bodies, the pianists initiating degrading and sexist behavior, and everyone else encouraging it without thought or care.

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Final day in Guatemala


Today is my last day in Panajachel. I had all that test anxiety for nothing. There wasn’t a test. But it was better that I thought there was because it  made me really study. I did learn an amazing amount and think everyone should try this.

I have some random thoughts.

We walked to a park with a Mayan woman yesterday. She said she learned Mayan as a child and then was told in school they could no longer speak it

That was during the war. It is no longer forbidden, and they are now actually teaching it in school. People are very proud to be Mayan, and I was told some people lie about it because they want to be indigenous for tourists.

While we were in the park I was bitten by around 30 mosquitoes.  I really reacted and had to buy antihistamines in the drugstore. If I wasn’t so simple, I would be miserable. Screaming boy, roving wild dogs, misquitoes, car sickness, etc. But instead, I am very happy and think this is a great place to learn Spanish.

At my school there are people from all around the world. Right now a man from Japan is sitting next to me using the computer. I met people from France, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic — all here at the school.

There are a couple of people around my age but most are younger. They seem to be learning Spanish for their businesses.  The guy from the Czech Republic studied two weeks in Antiqua, Guatemala and then a week here.  He is going  next to Peru just to travel.

The guy from Holland has traveled all over the world, mostly on local buses. He has great stories of riding the buses in Asia.  And a lot about drugs.

I think of myself as a world traveler. But I am learning that many people travel every year. It seems you are either a traveler or not. There doesn’t seeem top be any in between.

I am going to try to catch up with the people I am meeting here. Maybe I can sleep in dark, loud hotels all over the world.

It is around 2, and I now go back to the city and leave at 7:15 tomorrow morning for home. Tomorrow night I will sleep in my own bed. That sounds good and bad.

Believe it or not I was able to watch part of the Akron game on TV. It was pretty exciting. I think the future looks bright for both the men’s and women’s programs.

You might wonder why I am watching television here instead of being out partying?  Once it gets dark, going out by yourself, whether you are a man or a woman, really isn’t a good idea. The main tourist drag is pretty safe, but once you get off of that they tell you to be very careful.

So signing off and going to catch the shuttle. I cannot wait to show people pictures of where I stayed and what the school looks like. I’ll put them on the blog. 

By the way, I can’t see what I’m writing for some reason, so I hope this makes sense.

Adios, amigos.

Big test tomorrow


I hadn´t really thought about the fact that I would take a test at the end of my week in Spanish school. But tomorrow is the big day. Actually, it has been good to be a student. It makes me remember what it is like to really study and learn something new.

Yesterday I sat down at the lake for a long time. Two young women selling their wares starting having a fight about who was going to sell me stuff. In the end, neither of them had change for 100 quetzales, about $13, so neither could sell me anything. I did buy macadamia nuts —  is that spelled correctly? The keys are different on this typewriter, so I have lots of trouble with some things. Anyway, she had peanuts and pistachios but no macadamias.

She amazingly left her children with me while she went to find some. They were eight and five. We played a little. I told them their names were banana and apple, not Tomas and Jose. They thought that was hysterical. Really it is two of the only words I know!!

There are way too many vendors here. I don´t see how anyone can make enough to live on. Several of the children told me they come in from other places to sell here because there are tourists here.

Many of the children do not go to school because there is simply no money. They beg or sell things. Also, many of old people beg on the streets.

I talked to my teacher about domestic violence. She said it is very prevalent here. Both children and women are abused by the machismo men. There are programs but no shelters so the women really have no where to go. It would make a great project for my old age.

Interestingly, I did see a sign for International Women´s Day. They will have marimba bands and programs. It is in  a small village around the lake. I wish I could go but it is Saturday and I will be on my way home.

It is cloudy today so I´ll just study and grade papers. I promised my students to send their grades, but I am really very busy here. I definitely will come back for another week of school.

Tomorrow I travel vomit road again back to the city. I will stay at the same hostel and then fly out at 7 a.m. so I have to get up at like 5.

It is very peaceful here in spite of my screamer. I kind of hate to leave.

By the way, it was so exciting to see on television in Guatemala that the Zips made the NCAA tournament. That is amazing. Go Zips. Wouldn´t you know they would make it when I am out of the country.

That is very divertido!! fun.

Day One at Spanish School


I arrived here in Panajachel after a terrible bus ride up and down the curvy road from the capital. I have never been carsick in my life but thought this might be the first time. I made it without getting sick and was very proud of myself.

This town is very busy. There were a lot of people just in for the weekend and then today it quieted down some.  Most people who live here are Guatemalan but there seem to be many American hippie types. The main street is a tourist trap with lots of vendors selling real and fake Guatemalan items.

A boy on the street who looked about eleven asked me if I wanted some weed. I said no but I have to admit I wondered why he was asking me. The sixties were a long time ago. 

I walked over to my Spanish school as soon as I got here. The owner Jabal met me at a really big gate. Everything seems to be locked up here. We walked down a dirt path that  smelled like cat pee. I was a little worried about where I was going. But once I got there it was  nice. I guess the cats just pee on the dirt path.

I ended up staying in a small guest house and I have taken pictures for everyone to see. It costs $8 a night so you can imagine what it is like. Clean, no roaches so far! The only light is a ceiling bulb so it is very dark. They gave me a room with a television which is good because everyone else has their´s on so loud I have to turn my on in self defense. A family with children run it and appear to speak no English. I try to talk to them and they just shake their heads´ yes. Then I do the same. 

Next door is an abandoned building where a boy around fourteen appears to be living. He is obviously developmentally disabled and stands on what used to be a porch and screams; he does this while naked from the waist down. Everyone just seems to ignore him so I do too.

Yesterday I took a boat ride to several of the small towns around the volcano here. There are  many traditional villages, with their own dialect. Each village has their own  colors and weaving patterns. I had to spend some money to help the local economy. I tried to talk  Spanish but who knows what I was saying. Surely, not the people I was buying stuff from.

Classes take place in the garden at the school. There are eleven of us, including a man from Holland who is my age. He is a heating and cooling contractor who has taken a year off to see the world. He is very interesting and speaks a lot of different lanugages. But no romance in the making. He told me he hadn´t seen a dentist for 50 years. 

I have a private tutor Maribell who is most patient. She has me conjugate verbs and read aloud and she actually pretends to be interested. I figure these schools are a goldmine. Eleven students at 100 a week; some people stay for months. I am already thinking about coming back.

The most interesting thing that has happened is I fell down on the beach like an idiot. Luckily I had brought some bactine type stuff knowing  that I am likely to do that sort of thing when far away from home. I was all scraped up and had to find a pharmacy for big bandaides for my leg.

But it turned out to be a good thing because the guy who owns it was really interested in trying to help me with my Spanish, gave me directions  and drew a map for me to get around here.

Food is cheap at tipico restaurants. I am eating lunch out and each day have had popcorn for dinner. My room has a kitchen with  a stove, microwave and refrigerator.

Today for lunch I ate at a small restaurant between the tourist section and the central market where local people shop. I asked the man there about violence and he said it is pretty much everywhere. I I read an article in the newspaper (in Spanish) which seemed to blame everything on the left. Just like in the states.  Several people were killed yesterday in Guatemala City, but I couldn´t figure out why from the article.

The paper also had pictures of the main crime fighters for the country. One of the top four people was a woman. I thought that was pretty amazing this machismo place.

As I sit here, I can smell bad chicken. Guess I won´t have that while I´m here. Enough for Monday. Tomorrow is another day.

Guatemala


As some of you know, I am in Guatemala for a week. I arrived last night around ten and came in a shuttle through dark, deserted streets to my hostel. From the street it looked like a garage or warehouse. You can’t tell from the street that anything you would want to go in is behind the huge doors. But inside it is pleasant, if not plain. I took pictures of my room to share. The sink was smaller than a prison sink. It is about six blocks from the airport and it sounded like airplanes would land in the room all night.

On the plane I sat next to two very interesting people. The first was a Mexican woman who works in Canton. She has C.P. and is wheelchair bound. She has started her doctorate on line at Walden and wants to be a therapist. She encouraged me to practice my Spanish and I need encouragement!!

Dallas Fort Worth airport was my next stop. It is so beautiful and clean. Maybe my favorite airport. I sat next to a teenager who was burned badly all over her body. But she also was willing to try to understand my Spanish. She appeared to be on her way home having been in Dallas for treatment. I was dying to asked what happened but didn’t.

Today I travel by bus to Panajachel. It is over a three hour bus ride so I am off to try to find foud for lunch. It’ll be around 2 when I get there and I know I’ll be starving.

My room here at Los Volcanes was $25 for a private bath and breakfast. Breakfast was scambled eggs with pineapple marmalade and tea.  I just eat whatever people give me because of my terrible Spansih,

In Panahachel I am staying with a local family. The intention is that I will force myself to speak Spanish  further than good morning and how are you. That remains to be seen. 

Hope this isn’t too boring.