Roger Ebert, a famous American movie critic, recently passed away. I was sitting on my couch in Antigua when I read the news, and his final blog post, and I started to cry. When Mildred, one of the girls who worked at my student house, asked me “¿Qué pasa?” I had to explain, in broken Spanglish, who he was and that he had died.
I don’t usually get emotional when celebrities pass. But Roger Ebert was a truly talented person: someone who earned whatever fame he had. He was also the subject one of my very few celebrity encounters: in college I once stood behind him at Espresso Royale in the union and ordered coffee right after him. I always admired him for his ability to take a movie as it was. He never chided horror movies or comedies just for being horror movies or comedies. He didn’t look down on them for not being great works of art. Every movie was judged against itself.
I’m sure if I went to Belize and Guatemala at the beginning of my trip, before I had fallen so much in love with Asia, I would have loved them. But now, I’m often comparing and wishing I was someplace else.
When I got off the bus in Rio Dulce, back in Guatemala (I had to return to Antigua to retrieve a new bank card after mine had been cancelled and decided to make a couple of stops along the way), I questioned whether I had made the right choice. The city was small, ugly, from what I could see. “What the hell am I doing in this place?” I thought to myself.
But a man outside of my bus called up the hostel I wanted to stay at and ushered me to a dock. And someone picked me up on a lancha and we rode through the water, through the trees, through little nooks, and he parked the boat in front of the hostel.
Everything was so lush, so green. The sunset every night lit up the trees into a glowing harlequin. I could sit on the railing outside of my dorm room or on the deck and just stare out at the water paths, watching little fish or bugs ripple the surface, forever.
It was beautiful and calm and different than anywhere I’d ever been.
And, hello, sorry to all of my precious hostel cats out there, but this hostel had a honey bear. A. Honey. Bear.
I only spent two nights there, visiting a waterfall on my second day that was so hot to swim under that I felt my skin burning, and I left via a 3 hour boat ride down the Rio Dulce, knowing that yes, there is still room for surprise in my life. There is still room for something new.