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As for Leta, she was a couchsurfer from Upstate New York passing through Antigua on a six-month trek through the Americas.
Luke put on his rounded helmet, looking like a dreamt-up spaceman from a bygone era, and we wobbled and swayed our way out of the busy, central part of Antigua.
As I’ve done many times before, in places like Milwaukee and New Jersey, I proceeded to rant about just how ridiculously cheap her rent was, and how the apartment looked like the type of place that one could settle into and write a novel.
“It’s not that cheap when you’re working down here, earning Guatemalan money,” she said.
I had asked Matt Stabile, the editor of this website, whether he was interested in a story from Guatemala, and he recommended I get in touch with Luke Maguire Armstrong, a russet-headed friend of his who also contributes to The Expeditioner.
A few e-mails and text messages later, I was riding caboose on Luke’s scooter, bouncing over cobblestones.
We reached a gated community and Luke spoke to an armed security guard in accented but competent Spanish.
The guard wrote in a book quite deliberately for a few awkward minutes and then let us in. ” Maggie asked Luke and me after inviting us inside.
The jaunt to the convenience store was a short one but I was already enjoying the cool night air and the stares from the Guatemalan and European tourists heading to the bars and restaurants near Parque Central. “You’re actually not even allowed to have two people on one of these,” Luke told us. I actually enjoyed my time in Guate (GWA-tay), as locals call it, but the tension was undeniable.
It sounded like an Irish pub song, and Luke sang some powerful vocals, the kind that are normally primed by years of drinking whiskey and not by a can and a half of Central American beer, but his voice sounded firm.
We played it to its fullest for three verses and choruses, and then responsibly wound it down to a conclusion.
Every day, newspaper articles piled multiple murder stories into one big article, kind of like the morning fútbol round-up, except with more scoring.
Several people mentioned to me that in 2009, more Guatemalan civilians were shot, stabbed or beaten to death than in the Iraq war zone.