Angela of Livingston – Part 1
In Livingston Guatemala lives a woman who’s face is full of heaven and who has been randomly set down to work in a small economy hotel in this island town elbowed between the Rio Dulce and the Guatemala Caribbean.
Our heroine is not conscious of her rightful place in a parallel universe, or that some hiccup of gamma rays, a cheat of magic realism or just God up to His usual tricks has intercepted her noble life and detoured her here.
This soft and benevolent creature has been cartwheeled into a life of scouring bathrooms, laundering limitless piles of bedding and towels and sweeping the endless and unavailing sand from the hotel floors. All the while she is silently incanting mantras of good wishes to all, the side effects of which keep her hands as soft as a princess’ and her heart as nourishing as bread. Sometimes God’s tricks are okay.
She works 12 hours a day doing the work of three people: all duties, from changing linen to flipping and serving banana pancakes and cappuccinos in the morning. Later in the afternoon she’s sent to cast her fine light further when she serves at the hotel’s sister restaurant up the street.
She’s not tall but she has long bones that framework a skin of luminous mocha, sometimes verging on olive tones, but only when it’s about to rain. The skin then might fool you into thinking her eyes have a green cast, but they are relentlessly Madonna brown. She would be the face of Botticelli’s Venus if he had been Guatemalan. Men can only look at her grace, sigh and forget there ever was an Italy.
Hung over backpackers may try to signal the content of their swollen hearts as she brings soothing water and first-aid coffee to their alcohol-ravaged imaginings. But American style flirting, Brit-style chat up, Swiss kibitzing, Aussie stumblings, all these have the same result. She shines compassion on all, not favoring one or the other guest. The young men are maddened by her democratic courtesies. Each receives the brief touch of her cool hand on scorched brow after nights of too much Gallo and local Gifiti, taken uselessly to forget her.
It seems that Saint Monica channels to her a full serving of compassion and forbearance. Meanwhile the young men pray to St Jude the patron of lost causes for whatever scraps he may toss. Monica radiates over Angela. Jude is busy and distracted looking for keys and change that have slipped under the couch cushions back in Milwaukee. No use, dues. None of you is the one.
A miracle is sought here. Gentle goddesses cannot rely on the ardor of tattooed traveling lunkheads, dating sites or the meddling of local matchmakers.
Clearly a man whose virtues match hers is not possible. However, the river might fetch up an honorable suitor. A man of courage who can find?