I have settled into my home and part-time living in Guatemala with one glaring exception: La Bestia…or The Beast/Brute, in English.
Who is La Bestia?
La Bestia is my 24-year old Toyota pickup truck that I bought last July when I decided to buy land and build a house here. My friend, Pedro*, who oversaw the building of my house, had suggested that I get a pickup truck that could be used to haul materials to the construction site.
I thought it was a great idea, and he had his son scope out options for me based on the price range I had specified. Once his son found a viable candidate (La Bestia), he then went and checked it out. Satisfied, he then took me to see the truck. (The reason why they went first was to set a price before the seller could see that the buyer was a foreign woman, which I really appreciated). We took the truck on a test drive right over to Pedro’s cousin’s mechanic shop, where it was pronounced a good, solid truck.
And it has been. Pedro has driven the truck every day for the past six-plus months with very few problems. All of that changed when I got here.
La Bestia has challenged me every step of the way. Sometimes it would start, other times it wouldn’t. Sometimes it would drive up the hill to my house with no problems, and other times it just didn’t feel like it and would sputter and die halfway up. On those days, I would leave it at the foot of the hill and walk the rest of the way home. It rattled and shaked and wheezed like Hesperus, the old car in the children’s storybook, and half the time would stall when I was putting it in first to drive. I was afraid to drive it the 30-minutes to the town, and definitely didn’t want to drive it at night, for fear of having it break down and leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Mind you, it will always start, go AND drive up the hill for Pedro, which led me to believe that La Bestia didn’t actually like me at all. I was quick to point out to La Bestia that I was the one who bought the new tires, windshield wipers, spark plugs, air filter and whatever that part was that was replaced two weeks ago. I was the one that gave him a nice oil change. And, I pointed out, life was pretty easy with me since I’m just one person and we typically just go to town. But La Bestia didn’t seem to care, and continued tormenting me.
Every time La Bestia wouldn’t start or gave me problems, I found myself getting really upset and wondering why I came down to Guatemala in the first place. I started to ask myself if I had made a big mistake.
It was irrational, and I knew it, so I spent some time trying to figure out why this was so upsetting to me. What I realized was that La Bestia was a trigger for all my fears about safety and security. How could I feel safe and secure if the f#@*ing pickup truck wouldn’t start or go? Especially since I am a single woman living alone in the jungle in a country where the native language isn’t English? My most basic need felt threatened by the lack of control I felt over La Bestia’s functionality…and was most likely a microcosm of the stress I was feeling about all of the changes I have been going through lately.
So I did what I do whenever fears come up for me – I thought through the worst-case scenario and let it play out in my mind. For me, the worst case would be to have La Bestia stop working on the road between my house and Flores, late at night, in an area where there aren’t any people. There wouldn’t be any streetlights, and walking the rest of the way to my house could be dangerous because it is so dark. Of course, in my worst-case scenario, it would also be raining, so I wouldn’t want to walk. And there would be at least one boa constrictor slithering around, which would REALLY make me not want to walk.
As I let the feelings flow over me as I mentally experienced my worst-case scenario, I realized just how ridiculous it was and started to laugh. Even if La Bestia broke down late at night, the likelihood of there being no people, no streetlights, rain and snakes was pretty slim. It’s a busy road and there is always someone on it. And Pedro and some of my other friends would come and get me if I called.
With that insight, I relaxed about La Bestia and knew that no matter what, I would be fine. I began trusting again that I was exactly where I needed to be, and that I had been led here for a reason. And guess what happened?
La Bestia began starting every time for me. He makes it up the hill without stalling. He goes to town and back without any problems. He still rattles, shakes and wheezes, but that is part of his charm. Even though he doesn’t have a radio, I find myself singing while I drive him…and having faith in my life.
*name changed for privacy