We’re live! (updated)


I’m late opening my ETSY shop…forgot what it was like to tweak listings on ETSY, all the little things you have to think of: the terms and conditions for items, the postage for different countries, and all those photos you’re allowed to post, now!

“Luscious Letters” is killing me. It sounds like a steamy soft-porn novel. Ye Gods!

UPDATE: I settled for the name “The Scarlet Letterbox”

But it’s nearly midnight, every name I come up with is worse than the previous one, and I am still at the office. The tide is a long way out by now and I am stranded ashore, so I guess I’ll be sleeping in this dress, and “Hello again, old couch in the storeroom.”

This is by no means the final “face” of my shop OR the Letters project, but I couldn’t keep putting things off until they were perfect. They’ll never be perfect! Sometimes you just have to dive in, give yourself permission to start dinky, Photoshop-illiterate, using whatever you’ve got, and Relax…knowing that you can fix things tomorrow, and improve the overall project as you go.

Mail for Sale

Most importantly, you may now sign up for 4-, 8-, and 12-month letter subscriptions.

Your feedback and suggestions are very welcome. If something sucks, please tell me while it’s still baby step days! LOL



Dear Anthony : In the aftermath of a dirty little media scrum

Yesterday I found a dozen facebook Messenger requests from people I didn’t know …all claiming to be “glad to hear that Kris is safe” and then wanting me to call and “answer a few questions about his ‘amazing voyage'”. They were pushy af, insincere, asked loaded questions…but didn’t know how to listen to the answers. They were annoying, to say the least. I left my phone and laptop downstairs (I am supremely capable of ignoring a ringing phone…it is one of my greatest pleasures and strengths), and went to practice oblique pen calligraphy.

When they couldn’t get hold of either me or Kris, they trawled the internet for every little thing they could find about him, took what they could use, presented it—naturally— out of context, misquoted, and made shit up to fill in the gaps in their reports and create an aura of verisimilitude. The title everyone seemed to settle on was coined by the Maui News, repeated by The Guardian, and this of course set off a case of echolalia among all the other news sites. It read:

“Disoriented” Australian man Kris Larsen rescued in homemade boat off Hawaii”

It’s not important, in the end, what was written, what was true, what was untrue…the reports—even tarted up—were only moderately interesting to the internet, and activity faded away by evening. Internet news reporters are trained to take stories without substance, research, information or nutrients, pump it with steroids, prop it up and get it online within hours. Quantity, not quality, is their fare. But never mind all this, everyone knows that reporters are not journalists. What I want to share here is this:

This morning I found a copy of this letter in my Inbox. It had been sent by Dene Waring, a reader of The Age, to Anthony Colangelo…the byline for the article on the news site. His open-minded and intelligent approach—well-versed in the history of sailing and courteous to the reporter—from someone who clearly “gets it”, prompted my grateful reply, and I’ve included both our e-mails in this post, because they give me hope that not everyone “out there” is a 2-minute opinionated dunderhead.

Dear Anthony,

I read with interest your article “‘Disoriented’ Australian man Kris Larsen rescued in homemade boat off Hawaii”, and wish to broaden the perspectives expressed and inferred. I should add I had not heard of Mr Larsen before this morning.

In an industrial first-world culture that depends upon a large number of conformists to support its infrastructure that in turn support its conformists, we have come to hold up as heroes a small handful of intrepid adventurers – but not, it seems, during their own lifetime. However, there are exceptions in the sailing world of world sailors, such as Joshua Slocum, Lin and Larry Pardey, Robin Graham, Bernard Moitessier, and many others. My wife and I have also met more of whom the world will never hear during our own modest ocean voyages – those sailors want it that way. It seems Kris Larsen may be one of those quiet adventurers who has proven, with every one of his honest ocean-crossing miles over many years, that he is an intrepid man who sails under his own flag – the hard way – and thereby keeps alive that unique quality of human nature that drives the strongest of us to attempt great adventures with no absolute guarantees. Indeed, what great adventure would be a great adventure, if it also guaranteed being home by 5:30pm for dinner?

There are some issues with your article and its premise that you may find warrant (what I hope will be largely constructive) critique from some of your readers, which I also offer below. The article will also garner a large number of comments calling out Mr Larsen as “an idiot”. Those comments will come from those who are inflamed by the emotive angle of your piece. They may not research their subject before making their judgements.

It may have been a more interesting story both to write, and to read, if the context of Mr Larsen’s voyage had been explored and put forward. He appears to be an experienced sailor who chooses to circle the globe the way it has been traversed for millennia – on its own terms, without the assistance of such recent advents such as GPS and long-range communications.

Let us examine those key elements of the article that will elicit the most emotive responses from your readers: “Disoriented”. “Rescued”. “Homemade boat”. “Mr Larsen’s boat did not contain communication equipment, electronic navigation instruments, an engine or a toilet and his sails were in poor condition.”

“Disoriented”: Are we talking about knowing one’s exact position on the planet to within a metre, or are we talking about the strangeness of the first words one utters in the first human contact for many weeks or months? If the former, navigating as all master mariners have over the centuries with a sextant and a timepiece – Captain Cook comes to mind, but let’s not go into Christopher Columbus, poor man had no reliable timepiece – is a challenge many of us are not adept enough to be able to perform. I myself was required to demonstrate that I could navigate using traditional methods as part of New Zealand’s Cat 1 regulations when departing overseas on our own vessel; I had to strain considerably to demonstrate this just the once, and from then on depended on the U.S.’s military GPS satellites and prayed that war would not break out, thereby leading the U.S. to scramble the signals for civilian use. If that happened I would have been helpless and require “rescuing”. Mr Larsen in the same situation would have just carried on his way, undaunted by the loss of complex systems that depend on the actions of others.

“Rescued”: Asking for a tow into harbour when you have navigated across the Pacific to within 6km of shore does not always constitute “rescue”. Almost all engineless vessels for centuries have been towed into harbour by pilot boats as a matter of course – this is prudent seamanship, and still applies to most cargo and passenger vessels. In modern times, Lin and Larry Pardey (http://www.landlpardey.com) voyaged the world in their series of engineless yachts and were towed into almost every harbour, including Australia’s; they are regaled for their choices and their voyages and have received many achievement awards.

“Homemade boat”: As any world-girdling explorer, stunt-person or cave diver will tell you, you must be responsible for your own equipment and its preparation. There is likely no factory-made, mass-produced vessel that would be suitable for Mr Larsen’s purposes, and let us remember that his life depends upon the integrity and the fitness for purpose of his craft. He appears to have designed and hand-built a craft that has successfully taken him around the world. How many people can claim that badge of honour? The answer lies upon the library shelves, with a small but valiant range of books describing the achievement. Please do read Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone around the World” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6317/6317-h/6317-h.htm) – the true story of an astounding human being who stands tall as the first in his field to prepare his own craft and sail the world.

“Mr Larsen’s boat did not contain communication equipment, electronic navigation instruments, an engine or a toilet and his sails were in poor condition.”: Research into the nature of Mr Larsen’s epic undertaking and the manner in which he has performed it may show that he has wisely chosen the most dependable technologies and methods that have been proven throughout the ages. Indeed, if he had made himself dependent upon modern communications and navigation equipment (which often fails upon small craft due to salt-water damage etc and requires flawless performance of battery, wiring and charging systems), he may not have succeeded as far as he already has across many tens of thousands of ocean miles.

Likewise, engines on small vessels are disproportionately heavy and space-consuming (space that is better used for essential supplies) and often they are used for only a few hours – if at all – when circling the globe over many years. After all, you can always ask for a tow for the last few metres if you really need it? In this case, at your own peril it seems – you will be judged.

As for the reference to no toilet, a marine toilet (“head”) is a system of flaps, valves and underwater through-hull fittings that regularly fail and can sink a vessel very effectively – ask any marine insurance company. Nothing is safer or more wisely chosen in Mr Larsen’s case than a bucket; please refer to the hard-won wisdom of such circumnavigators as the aforementioned Slocum and Pardey, who extol the “bucket and chuck-it” approach themselves. However of course, if one is pottering about in-shore, it may be more polite and would certainly comply with local regulations to use a marine waste management storage system, but that is an entirely different matter.

Indeed, ask any experienced hard-nosed world cruiser – Mr Larsen seems to have made all the right choices, but he may yet be held up as a reckless fool. The fuller picture may reveal an experienced, intrepid adventurer of integrity and independence who has already achieved epic voyages with a minimum or no outside assistance – who among us is capable of these feats of human endeavour? Therein lies a much bigger and braver story to be told.

I put to you, are these not the very people we – eventually – hold up as heroes?

Kind Regards,
Dene Waring | Creative Director

Dear Mr. Waring,

Thank you so much for this lovely piece of writing, it was a beautiful thing to wake up to and read with my morning coffee. I have forwarded it along to Kris as I’m sure it will gladden him, and probably give him a few new ways in which to express himself (English is only his fifth language. He is perfectly competent, but not eloquent) should he ever need to ‘defend’ himself against any authorities who might try to prevent him from leaving Hawaii on the grounds of being incapable of sailing.

You absolutely “get it”, and this gives me hope that others who may have read yesterday’s little breakout of sneering news reports got it, too. Not that it matters whether the fickle cheerers-and-jeerers of the internet get it or not…heavens, no!

Kris is one of those unusual people who refuses to surrender his dreams, no matter how daunting they may seem at the outset or how much society disapproves of them. He’s had to fight his way through so many things in his life—not just to fulfill big dreams, but to enjoy ordinary privileges that others take for granted, such as being a legal citizen in a democratic country—that he’s acquired an interesting set of survival tactics and characteristics, among which are the calculated elimination of anything remotely superfluous to the goal or purpose (his personal interpretation of Occam’s razor), the readiness to put up with the inconveniences that such a pared-down lifestyle entails, and the tough skin one needs to face the onslaught of criticism that the world is quick to heap upon someone who simply sticks to his own path.

Fortunately, yesterday’s media scrum has had no impact on Kris, whatsoever. He is engrossed in stocking up on food and water, the authorities have granted him 10 days waived visa privileges (he only asked for 10…if he wants more, they told him, “Just ask.”) and weather maps for the next leg of the trip. What others say he can or can’t do isn’t his problem…in fact, he quite enjoys playing the “gormless idiot” in the presence of scandalised, angry “proper sailors”. It makes them feel good about themselves, they pronounce him a lost cause, and swagger off with a ripping good story to tell The Boys back at the yacht club…leaving him alone to get on with his plans. This is preferable to being “Likeable”, perhaps eliciting some condescending pity, and having the guy install himself as mentor and advisor, getting in the way while Kris is trying to work and get his boat back out on the ocean as quickly as possible! Mention these men to him, half an hour after they’ve gone, and his eyes take a minute to focus: “What men?” It’s as if the thing had never happened.

Of course, there have also been some very kind people at each port. Regardless of what they privately thought of the boat and its skipper, they withheld judgement and took the time to get to know Kris a little bit, and found him to be a man of intelligence and integrity. Also, they helped in very practical, concrete ways: shared a lift to the supermarket, a quick tow to the wharf in a crowded or windless harbour, tips on where to find things or how to get into the city from the marina. So much more valuable and appreciated than any lecture on sailing!

Unless someone tries to prevent him from sailing onward, he will be quite content, living in his head, making his plans, ignoring the internet. The world will think what it thinks, but you are right: whatever anyone says of his chosen path, he has just sailed most of the way round the world—from Australia to Hawaii—has spent the past 4 years exploring Africa (on bicycle) and South America (on foot), has acquired fluent Spanish as his 8th language, and collected a treasure trove of stories, friends, and unique experiences from all the countries visited along the way. On a budget, I might add, of a few hundred dollars a month. Thanks to a home-built boat that requires no maintenance he can’t do, himself, using materials that can be found in even the smallest Third-World towns, that can take a pounding, and that isn’t worth anything to thieves or pirates but the scrap steel it is made of.

He is that rare thing in these hobbled times: a free man.

I am so grateful that you seem to have intuited all of this—reading with a desire to understand, rather than to judge or label—with nothing but the internet as your source of information…a good indication of the narrow-mindedness and mean-spiritedness of yesterday’s twaddle-mongers, who had access to the same information you did, and managed to do no more than spin straw into horse shit.

With fond regards from us both,
Nat (and Kris)

A map that everyone can understand

Marquesas Islands

French Polynesia’s Marquesas Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  An island group so small, in relation to the bigger picture, that when you zoom in to see the islands, their relation to the rest of the world disappears, and they sit surrounded by a screen of blue…

This delightful image reminds me of this excerpt from Lewis Carrol’s The Hunting of The Snark (a poem that every sailor should read and possess a copy of, on board):

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!

“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best–
A perfect and absolute blank!”

On a bigger map, these islands of myth and legend, beloved of sailors, dreamers, and an ailing, suffering Paul Gauguin, apparently sit—wonderfully, unimaginably—isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. At this scale, they disappear—words, shapes, everything—from the map, completely, and we have to rely on Google’s red balloon to determine their existence.

Screen shot 2017-10-26 at 9.49.16 AM

In the poetic imagination, The Marquesas are so remote from the rest of the world, that when Paul Gauguin—plagued by all sorts of illnesses, going blind, abandoned by his vahines, and dependent on laudanum and morphine to ease his suffering—told his art-collector friend (and, later, biographer), George Daniel de Monfreid, that he wished to return to Europe, Monfreid dissuaded him:

In returning you will risk damaging that process of incubation which is taking place in the public’s appreciation of you. At present you are a unique and legendary artist, sending to us from the remote South Seas disconcerting and inimitable works which are the definitive creations of a great man who, in a way, has already gone from this world. Your enemies – and like all who upset the mediocrities you have many enemies – are silent; but they dare not attack you, do not even think of it. You are so far away. You should not return… You are already as unassailable as all the great dead; you already belong to the history of art.

 — George Daniel Monfreid, Letter to Paul Gauguin circa October 1902

Kris finally got through the Panama Canal on the 17th of September, after countless leads, agents, options, fly-by-night freight carriers and whatnot… and he did not even spend a whole day on the other side…

Eager to finally make his way back home, he weighed anchor the same evening. His first stop, The Marquesas…

As remote as they are, The Marquesas signify, happily for me, the slow but dogged approach of my Beloved.

jungles real & imagined

We Go...
We Go In Search Of Our Dreams, 2017.30x40cm. (12×16″) acrylics and alkyds.

My friends organised a group show while I was in Guatemala, called Gypsies, Vagabonds, and Wild Mad Women (open from 13th April – 7 May at Tactile Arts, Fannie Bay, NT), and included me. When I got back to Darwin in October of last year, I found it so difficult to do the work for it. Of the 7 small canvases I prepared, I only managed to paint 2 in the end. This painting was one of them.

Unlike most of the other things I made for the show, this one practically painted itself. That’s partly because realistic stuff is actually quite easy to paint…I’m not really inventing anything from scratch: trees, plants, jungle backgrounds, lianas, ferns, backpackers…I’ve seen them all, at some point in my life, and know roughly how they ought to look. Putting all these elements together may be a kind of inventing, but I’m really just layering one familiar image on top of another.

The other reason this painting came so easily is that I have fairly recent memories of jungles like this. Kris and I spent 5 months up a river in Guyana, surrounded by riverine jungle…and very little else.

Jungle Trail

I have some photographs from this part of our trip, but looking at them now somehow doesn’t recall the way it felt to be there. That’s the danger of relying on photographs to preserve your memories: very few of the photographs we take do the experience justice. With a camera in hand, I tend not to observe as much of my surroundings…I don’t stop to gaze at one thing, burning it into a complex memory that includes sounds, smells, textures, movement. I am counting on the digital record to reproduce all of that for me, later. But the camera can’t record smells or textures or sound (not mine, not well), and it focuses on no single thing; unless I’ve taken a macro of some flower or other small object, most of my shots of “the jungle” are just a mess to look at: a million leaves, a tangle of branches and vines, every skinny palm tree or rotting log is there, in the poor light that filters down through the canopy. The photographs show everything; and yet, often, show nothing. A green and brown shadowy chaos.


If I hadn’t spent hours upon hours just paddling around, gazing up at the forest canopy, or walking around with my eyes glued to the forest floor; if I hadn’t taken individual plant specimens home to carefully sketch, or written page upon page of what it was like, at that moment, to be sitting on deck, looking up at canyon walls covered in trees and snaking vines…I would not remember Guyana as vividly as I do.

jungle underpainting

All that actual looking, writing, smelling, touching, sketching paid off. As I painted each layer of this canvas, I heard the whooping bird calls again, the yip-yip-yip of toucans colourful as piñatas; the drawn-out roars of howler monkeys  echoing from deep among the trees; the boiling surface of the murky river, as great fanged arapaimas hunted blindly for the smaller piranhas; the ghostly lights of giant fireflies floating among the buttress-roots of giant trees. I saw again the up-and-down floaty bounce of morpho butterflies—their Dutch Blue wings flashing in and out of sunlit patches. Felt the cool air of the forest floor on my face, and heard the muffled patter of fat raindrops falling through the jungle canopy in a storm.

Jungle Trail

This painting became a doorway back to that world, that time in my life. I got misty eyed quite often, painting this (even though the finished painting is hardly fine art) and the memories flooded me with rapture—How can this wild, primeval memory be mine? How have I deserved to be the owner of such magnificent sensations?—and regret, because I could have spent a decade in that jungle, and still be a stranger to its secrets. I am sorry I could not spend more time…not just in Guyana, but in all of the places we visited and fell in love with.jungle underpainting

Still, to have been there at all is a miracle. I never dreamed I would make it to any place so wild and beautiful. And I have my memories, scented and intricate and rich, tucked inside: a miniature door that I pray will continue to open for me, when I need it, given the right touch, turning the right key.

A New Year for this Old Blog :)

party bottle

Last night I discovered that the Finlandia vodka bottle has a lumpy, organic surface that catches and distorts its surroundings in interesting ways. I caught my bottle in a festive mood when I put it down on top of an unfinished painting.

WOW. I want some of THAT with soda and lime, please…

Hello, how’ve you been? I’m sorry I went away for such a long time.
I’m sort of back, but not quite yet. Internet and power issues on the boat. Same old story. Poor old blog,…it’ll take weeks to clean away the cobwebs and tame the tumbling tumbleweed that rolls across this howling, desiccated wasteland that I ironically refer to as my internet presence.

Bear with me.

In the meantime, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

May the organic surfaces of your days and nights distort your surroundings in surprising and beautiful ways, and bring magic into your life.

Gettin’ Chichi widit

just arrived in Chichicastenango

Part I

Her first child came into the world when she was 15; she went on to give birth to 13 children (although only 7 lived) and was abandoned by her husband 14 years ago for somebody in a neighboring village. She probably isn’t much older than I, though she looks it: in her eyes swim the universal wisdom and sorrows of the Mater Dolorosa.

She’s a small, round woman—a little over four feet tall and almost as wide—dressed from head to toe in the intricate and colorful outfit that is her people’s (the K’iche Mayas) traditional attire, or traje. Her nose is formed from three doughy balls, and it adorns her chubby face like a knobbly plum thumbed into a loaf of brown bread. I glimpse a gold tooth when she smiles.

She exudes maternal charm. Cinnamon and church incense come off her in waves. She’s gregarious, probably hardworking, likes to do dreadful country-style machine patchwork, and is untrained but adequate with an embroidery needle…

She’s also ruthless as an iron spike, and this human ball of ethnic textiles stripped me of a hundred dollars within two hours of my arrival.

The really stupid thing about it is that I bought stuff I didn’t want.

I paused near her stall to look at the street signs and figure out which corner of the plaza I was in, and she popped up in front of me like an imp, pleading with me to look at her stall of second-hand huipiles. To be polite I scanned the display, but saw nothing that I liked.

Well, almost nothing. My gaze lingered half-a-second too long on a mustard colored hupil—a color that has since gone out of style as the women in this area favor black or dark blue backgrounds, these days, and a pink-red-violet scheme for decoration. But she caught that split second of hesitation, and fetched the huipil down with a long stick.


She started up with a continuous and hypnotic spiel: “Buy it buy it good price six hundred handmade my own work buy something five hundred for you is beautiful I’ll give it for four hundred good price is silk is silk is handwoven how much how much you want to pay so soft is silk handmade a good price how much you want three-fifty for you good price my own work is silk is silk…”

I scrutinised it…not only was it old, it was damaged. There were rips in the weaving, large inky stains, and some of the embroidery had come loose. On his own visit to Chichi, Kris had discovered the secret spot where all the second-hand huipil dealers hid; he’d even drawn me a map. From any of them, a slightly faded but still perfectly good, wearable, undamaged huipil was 150-180 Quetzales. Why was I even talking to this woman?

I tried to fight back. “But this is garbage! It’s useless! It can’t be fixed, can’t be worn, can’t be made into something else. You’re selling something that you would otherwise throw away! One-fifty for it. I’ll give you one-fifty. It’s garbage!”

When she replied she seemed not to have heard. “It’s silk, seda, feel how soft, it’s good, a good price, three-fifty, take it for three-fifty, help me out, to feed the children, they don’t make these anymore, you won’t find them, it’s old, an antique! Three-fifty, what do you want to pay for it? Three-fifty…”

“I want to see the rest of the market, first. Tomorrow. I can come and look at it again tomorrow.”

Her face clouded over like a thunderstorm. “No. I won’t be here tomorrow. Now. Buy it from me now.”

And, dammit, I did. Somehow we agreed on 300Q, three times what the thing was probably worth (if stains and a hole didn’t make it worthless, I suspect they did), and I paid her. “You’re a thief,” I told her, smiling, after I’d paid her. She laughed in delight, her gold tooth winking. “Your mother’s a thief,” I told her teenaged son.

He laughed and asked me where I was from. We had a little chat about Australia and kangaroos. I lit a fag. I was calming down. “It’s only money,” I told myself.

Then I looked down to find the demonic little Maya woman busily wrapping a traditional skirt, a corte, around me. Her stubby arms could barely reach around me, so she was practically embracing me. I laughed at the sight of her face on level with my chest, and moved my arm to go around her back (and protect my cigarette). She took this for a real hug, and squeezed me back.

“Oh, you look so nice! Doesn’t she look nice?” she bubbled.

Her son agreed enthusiastically, chiming in, “, se ve linda.” I’ll bet. His mother’s son.

A foot taller than everyone else (even the men) in this Maya town, I looked ridiculous. And I had no desire to be one of those self-satisfied gringas—wrong build, wrong color, wrong everything—decked out in someone else’s full national costume.

“It will go with your huipil!” she cried, as though the idea had just occurred to her. I groaned.

“No, I don’t want the corte…”

Unlike the bright huipiles, the cortes of Chichi are rather dark and muddy…they remind me too much of ikats from Indonesia (which I never liked). The only splash of color are two wide stripes—one vertical, one horizontal—that K’iche’ women embroider onto the mass-produced tube of fabric, to add more color. Because every article of clothing has to feature a rainbow of colors…preferably clashing or in discord.
Nat's corte

“It’s not traje without the corte! You have a beautiful huipil, you have to wear it with the corte! It’s brand new. I made it myself! See?” She waves a bag of embroidery thread and a half-stitched corte at me (I am an embroiderer…her hasty work does not impress). “You will look beautiful! Five hundred.” She folds the skirt up, and stuffs it into my shopping bag with the huipil. Oh. God.

“Señora, please, I don’t…what? No! Five hundred! That’s criminal!”

“Okay, three-fifty! It’s worth more, it’s brand new, extra long, but three-fifty for you. Take it take it, help me, my dear, I have to feed my children. My first sale of the day. Buen precio! Buen precio…

A fool and her money are soon parted. But I am a bigger fool than most…

“I like your dolor very much,” she tells me, after tucking my money for the huipil and the corte away. She wiggles her fingers in front of her face, wrinkles her nose.

Dolor?” I was puzzled. In Spanish, dolor means ‘pain’. I thought she was referring to what she’d just put me through.

K’ok‘,” she says to her son, wiggling her fingers again.

Her son explained, “My mother doesn’t speak Spanish well. In K’iche’, k’ok’ means a good, a nice smell. She likes your perfume.”

Olor’, then. She gives me an engaging smile. “You can spare some of that dolor for me?”

Does this woman never stop? If I stand here any longer, she’ll strip me naked! “Well,” I thought to myself, “there’s really just a centimeter of perfume left in that bottle…” May as well jettison a bit of weight, to make room for my new, unwanted traje.

Go on, give her everything, get it over with… “Yes, you can have it, but it’s getting dark and I’m not coming all the way back here tonight to bring it to you. The boy can walk me to the hostel if you want it.”

“Oh, it’s okay, bring it when you come to the market tomorrow,” she says brightly, then falters when she sees the look on my face.

Why doesn’t this surprise me more? “Ah. You will be here tomorrow. Because you’re a liar AS WELL as a thief. You’re a witch.”

She grins mischievously. Already she’s sized me up, knows that she has been forgiven in advance because I like cheeky women. “Will you bring it?” she asks, patting my hand.

*sigh* “I will bring it.”

I still can’t say why I let her cow me so. Too polite? Intimidated? Guilty?

I can’t say that I resent her for it, either. Them’s the Rules. Buying and selling is a blood sport at any sprawling street market, and unless you know how to play the game you will get diddled silly. In the end, there is no one to blame but my own sorry self. Caveat emptor!

Welcome to Chichicastenango.
Iglesia de Santo Tomas in Chichi