Mittwoch Matinee: The Gringo

The brown boy on the Sarita bicycle cart kept ringing the bell, which only made him want one even more: a creamy helado in one of those cones that looks like cardboard but melts like marzipan on your tongue. It had been a while since he’d had one, and in the heat he couldn’t stop thinking about the flavors: mango, melon, papaya, zapote, vanilla. Richard loved vanilla, especially pure bean, but the vanilla down here was different from the vanilla back home in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. It was raw, granular, unrefined, as natural and exotic as smoke, but then everything in Guatemala had smoke in it. Not cigarette or cigar smoke, exactly, but what he called “Mayan smoke.” It was on his clothes, in his hair, all over his skin. Even his sweat had begun to smell like it. He had noticed it at first in the western highlands on the road to Chichicastenango, the Place of Little Breasts, which the tour guide had explained repeatedly referred to the mountains, not the women. He glanced out the window of the Toyota minivan they were traveling in, and there, beside the urinating bolo, or drunk, was a mound of white, smoking ashes. As they drove by, it was like nothing he had ever smelled before: a pine, chicory, Christmas smell that didn’t begin or end but just lingered there as if it were part of the landscape. And now it was part of him. He wondered how it would taste with vanilla. Vain-‘ee-ya.”

This is the opening paragraph of The Gringo. Want more? Go to Amazon for a deal on this book and others. They’ll make great Christmas presents. Feature image by Perry Grone. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which “promotes alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”

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