The boat jumped for a few meters, becoming airborne as soon as a hollow space appeared between the many waves rolling by. We held our lifejackets tighter and let our bones be rattled. Looking sideways, lush greenery swayed in the wind, ultimately resilient to any oncoming gale. The sky was overcast and grey, with impressionistic dashes of black giving it a sweeping majesty which made us feel like tiny lost dots.
Here we were again, rocking to a sea change.
First, there was Koh Rong, breeding gigantic swells and trauma. Then Sri Lanka and a broken engine amidst the blue whales. Only last week, another unexpected stop, this time in the middle of Lake Atitlán, luckily unvisited by the Xocomil winds.
Now, we were crossing the choppy waters between Puerto Barrios and Livingston, surrounded by a landscape reminiscent of SE Asia, bringing heart-churning memories flooding back to life.
Bobbing unconcerned, a pelican seemed to casually glance at our speeding boat, in my imagination even raising an eyebrow to the awkward spectacle appearing on the horizon, ruining an otherwise pleasant afternoon.
Feeling the umpteenth thump in every single vertebrae of my body, I admired the pelican’s graceful synchronicity with the rising undulation. But there was something else too – a brief indulgence in self-pity, a lurching sense of frustration, and finally a mental outburst as our boat swerved along the pelican’s aquatic throne:
“I’d be relaxed too if I had wings, you f*ck!”
His eyebrows were thin and aquiline, denoting an aesthetic care usually perceived as unbecoming to a male of our species. Among the darker tones of fellow Guatemalans, his washed out complexion was as conspicuous as a star in a whale’s belly.
Approaching our boat, his figure caught the eyes of a group of boys sitting behind us, who promptly hurled several calls of “Pepito” as he made is way to a lonely bench up in the front.
He was soon ordered to the back, on account of the waves and the unbearable lightness of gravity.
Once again the boys began their pathetic ditty, exuding a confidence afforded by numbers and nailed crosses, laughing at “Pepito” – Pepito the fairy, Pepito the queen, Pepito the fag, called a “small dick” by those with smaller brains and minuscule hearts.
We huddled together and gave him room beside us, accommodating one more traveler into a restless setting.
As our boat left the dock towards open water, he put his sunglasses on and wrapped himself in his jacket, looking silently ahead, trying to stay afloat.