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F—ing Monkeys

ANTIGUA – On a sunny day we pulled our bags onto the sidewalk from inside Posada Viajero. Waiting for our mini-bus to Guatemala City from Antigua we fell into conversation with the woman beside us.
Joan was from Washington Sates. She around 60 and had thinning, dyed red hair pulled back in a pony-tail. When she asked where we were going we answered Guatemala then Coban, and on to Tikal. She exhaled smoke from a long cigarette and said, “Ahhhhhh. Coban. Best orchids in the world. I love f—ing orchids. It feels so good to cuss. When I was there the park with all the orchids was closed.”
She said she had been to Tikal and we asked her of it.
“My favorite place…”
“Are there lots of monkeys?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” she replied, “I hate monkeys. Once I was in Nepal to see Indira Ghandi. Before she was assassinated of course. I was attacked by 15 monkeys. They attack in a wedge formation with the biggest monkey in front and the little ones behind. Maybe it’s some kind of training exercise. Anyway, there were monkeys all over me. A monkey bit me on the knee. Then I fell down a hill. F—ing monkeys…
“Ahhh, it feels good to cuss…
“Then this local woman put ground up corn and mud on my knee. When I came to Nepal I was afraid of getting parrot fever but after that I was afraid of getting monkey fever. In the States they probably would have amputated. I still have the scars. F—ing monkeys.”
She asked what we did. I told her I was a photographer. Katy told her and since Katy was a doctor Joan pulled down part of her clothing to ask about an old injury.
“I’m here to have an operation,” she said.
We asked her what for and said we thought it sounded serious.
“Yes, but I am thinking I should go back to the States,” she replied, adding, “I’ve got to get out of here… Ah La Vida Tropical. It kills your brain-cells. I’ve got to get out of here…”

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