Salud

by Amy

Last night I was lucky enough to be adopted by a group of expats who live and work in Antigua. I stumbled upon their trivia night at one of the pubs near my hostel and was immediately invited into the fold. Their stories are fascinating.

There is Alan, who I met first and who was born in Antigua. His mother was here on a missionary trip from England and met his Guatemalen father, who happened to be married to another woman. Three days after he was born, his mother abandoned him and returned to England. He was raised here until he was five, witnessed the murder of his father and was then sent to live with his maternal grandmother in Europe. He started working in bars at 12 and by the age of 18 he had saved up a staggering 35,000 pounds. He used it to buy a motorcycle and bought himself three years on the road, traveling throughout Russia, Greece, Turkey and ending up in Hanoi, Vietnam when he sold the bike and started working on a cruise ship that docked there. Weary of the road, he came back to Antigua six years ago and has remained.

Alan´s girlfriend is young and from Indiana. Kate came here with the Peace Corps three years ago and would have left after her two year commitment had it not been for meeting Alan. They´re a pretty deadly combination at trivia. I didn´t answer a single question correctly…

There is Brendan, who is running trivia night and happens to be from New York. He´s 39 and has been traveling for ten years, supporting himself by writing remotely for English magazines based out of China. He´s obviously brilliant and also a raging drunk, and his stories keep getting more skewed towards booze and sex as the night goes on. Everyone in the room seems to adore him.

Dan lived off the same subway stop I do in Bushwick for ten years and owns and runs Antigua´s only comic book shop. He left Brooklyn a year and a half ago and we toyed with the idea that we may have seen one another at Goodbye Blue Monday, a bar very near my current and his old apartment. It´s probably not true, but it´s a fun idea. His knowledge of comic books is astounding and I´m told that Guatemala is currently experiencing a “Golden Age” of comic book writing – “you know, similar to the one Mexico went through in the 80s…” Right.

Dana (actually a man, not a woman) is from a small country called Malta in the Mediterranean and was sailing from California to Africa when his boat broke down near one of Guatemala´s beaches. He´s in Antigua until he can save enough money to fix his engine and he´s also unsuccessfully been looking for a crew here. He´s almost 40 and left a job as a chemist about a year ago. If I understood correctly, he was working on splitting H2O into hydrogen and oxygen which, if acheived, would solve the world´s energy crisis. Which would, you know, be kind of a big deal. Now he just sails and hopes to die an old man on the water somewhere.

William arrived in the country 12 hours ago from Washington, DC after dramatically dropping out of a PhD program in economics. He would tell you differently, but he has no idea what he´s doing. He bought a one way ticket and is sleeping on Alan and Kate´s couch for the time being. We try unsuccessfully to get the bar owner to hire him.

We stay out until 3am. The bars in Antigua close at midnight, so I´m introduced to an after hours place, the door to which is unmarked and on which you have to knock to get in. The place is packed with people speaking more languages than I can count and I feel grateful to be there and a bit sour towards the idea that I´ll be leaving so soon.

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