Published: June 4th 2008May 11th 2008
I wonder what's in here?
I have a feeling my honey farmer has plenty more bottles where this came from...
A while back I was walking back to our house from central Antigua, which is a 20-minute walk along which final portion includes a dirt road between two small coffee farms. I've walked home alone many times, and normally don't think twice about any safety issues, but this time for some reason I didn't like the look of the man in the distance coming towards me.
As he got a little closer to me, I started reaching for my cell phone (as a defense it was good for a call to Steve, or at least as a projectile to his noggin). I really
began paying attention when he started walking directly across towards me on my side of the road.
As he came closer, I could see he was a typical Guatemalan cowboy kind of guy - cowboy boots, jeans, shirt and straw cowboy hat that is pretty common around here. He began to approach me, and it occurred to me that I'd actually have to deal with this wierdo. Upon closer inspection, I saw that he was a little older than me and was a good 8 inches smaller, so I figured I had a good chance of flooring him with a decent shove, if it came to that.
My fear started to rise in my throat when he reached into his bag and pulled out a...bottle of vodka! Oh great, it was a drunk wanting to sing and dance with me or something - how was I going to get around this? But instead, he displayed his vodka bottle the way a sommelier presents wine and said, "Quiere miel?" ("Do you want some honey?")
I was so surprised at the banality of this perceived threat, my instinctive response was to just gratefully walk away. "No, gracias," I said, and walked on. He nodded, then slowly started walking past me into town.
However, once past my initial shock, I realized that I did, in fact, want to purchase some honey! I am a big tea drinker and my little plastic bear had been recently sqeezed dry at home. So I turned around, took a few steps towards him and called to him that I did, actually, want to buy his honey.
He gave a big smile and proceeded to open up his vodka bottle to give me a little taste of the honey, presumably to seal the deal. He poured a glob onto my dusty fingers (his own hands hadn't seen a bar of soap in a while, either). I gave it a taste, and of course said yes, this was delicious. He charged me 45Q or almost $6, which was probably twice what he would have charged a local, but the price goes up when you're a gringo. I knew that I was supposed to bargain but he was so cute so I offered 40Q and we were good. I couldn't help wondering if that vodka bottle had actually ever been rinsed in any way before it began its new life as a honey container, but I figured both vodka and honey have excellent anti-bacterial traits so I probably wouldn't get sick or anything.
By the time I got home I was really pleased with my new purchase and couldn't wait to show Steve and the kids my big old vodka bottle filled with honey, purchased from a Guatemalan cowboy on the dirt road walking home through coffee farms. Now THAT's something we won't experience back in Seattle!
I ended up consuming a large portion before I thought to take a picture of it for this blog, but you'll see by the large print why our maid Maria kept returning the bottle from the countertop to our liquor cabinet - she thinks I'm drinking VODKA every morning.