Birth of Los Testigos
The Good Sister led the thirsty group to a small, thatch-roofed hut boasting the coldest beer around. As soon as they arrived, the BigGuy, enthused by confirmation of his previous assessment of Soviets in the kitchen, and anxious to abuse more native speakers with his cassette tape Spanish, stepped into the bar-hut. Scattering the peep of chickens that bum-rushed him at the
door, he sauntered to the plywood counter bartop and ordered five beers.
The bar owner looked at the tall gringo wearing a sombrero, white Catholic high school button-down shirt, and speaking a language that was virtually undecipherable.
"Cinco cervezas frios, gracias," repeated the BigGuy. This time the bar owner understood, and gave him his two choices. The BigGuy returned to the picnic table where his compañeros waited. "He wants to know whether we want Victoria or Toña."
"We'll take them both," Medio immediately replied.
"Those are the names of the beers," Nuco said.
The BigGuy returned to the bar with an order and after some more lingual calisthenics, brought back five cold cervezas.
As hot and thirsty as the travelers were, they hesitated until Capn readied his palate. Smacking his tongue against the roof of his mouth until everyone in the bar was watching, Capn grasped the bottle, tilted it and drank, the gurgle of cool liquid pouring noisily down his throat. He nodded, and the rest of the group followed suit.
In the heat and humidity of Central America, the ceremony was stark and short. The travelers had been on the road for over a week and had drunk beer from the Mayan ruins of Copan to the Caribbean coral reefs, yet now they were quenching a thirst. No beer tasted as good as the ones they were drinking, and with the hot, humid air wafting through the open windows to spur them on, the travelers gulped and reordered.
"Where did you start your journey?" the Good Sister asked, once they had partially sated their thirsts.
"We flew into San Pedro Sula, Honduras," said Medio, talking about their arrival last week as if it had happened two years ago.
"And where do you plan to end up?"
"Are you traveling with a group?" the Good Sister continued.
"We're not with any group, just ourselves," Nuco responded.
"So...why are you here?"
As inconsequential the question seemed, it had begun to wear on the travelers. Since arriving in Nicaragua, almost everyone they encountered had attributed an agenda to them. Were they Internationalistas, Testigos de Paz, Mormones, Testigos de Jehovah, agentes de la CIA, or any combination of the above? What had motivated them to leave the safety and comfort of their homes to trek through a US-created Central American war zone?
While none of the travelers was particularly accustomed to examining the reasons behind his actions, neither was this a group to suffer repetition. The stock answerWe're on vacationhad begun to wear thin.
"We're Witnesses," one of them said, "Witnesses for beer."
"Testigos de Cerveza," seconded another.
The Good Sister was amused and satisfied with the reply and she raised her beer in salute. In a calculated dissonance, each member of the group did the same.
Los Testigos de Cerveza was born.
They continued to drink until the dust was sufficiently cleansed from their throatsseveral more hours.
Next issue, "Exactly who are the people?"