Dancing Con Aguafiestas

By Brendan Scott

Quick, name the best dancer you know.  If Brendan, my name, hasn’t popped up into your head, then you’re crazy.  I know how to cut a rug and then knit it back together again.  I know how to shake a leg and then skimmy.  I’m the real Jimmy.  Oh, you don’t know my name?  What?  You haven’t seen my moves.  You don’t know my skills?  I have around 363 views on my dance video (On Youtube).

Sometimes my life can be a little like my dance moves.  I’ll be having fun, the toast of the party, feeling great, and then suddenly a migraine will twirl in and nock me out.  It seems like at every dance party there is a jealous dancer who tries to outdo me, my migraines always try to do the same.  They are aguafiestas (Spanish for party poopers). The aguafiestas I suffer from are Abdominal Migraines.  They’re rare, but they do exist.

Before I spin my gruesome tale of migraines, let’s grind our way through all of the fun that was had celebrating Stephanie and Fernando’s joint bachelor parties at the lake.  Lake Atitlan is about two hours away from Xela, but that’s as the bird flies.  As the car drives it takes much, much longer.  Especially with all of the tumulos (Guatemalan for speed bump, which in Spanish actually refer to the bumps made by burial mounds).  As we drove through the first town off of the Pan-American Highway, located just off of km 148, Fernando’s car scraped bottom.  The little town of San Marcos or Filepe or Lucas or Mateo (or whatever and I’m not sure how it got sainted) has more speed bumps than miracles.  Anyway, Fernando’s car is a small red Nissan and didn’t have the clearance to climb over these pesky paved speed reducers.  Especially not with five people in the car.  Every 100 feet or so we were forced to evacuate the car in order for Fernando to ease the Nissan over the sizable bump.

three-toed sloth would’ve moved quicker.  We’d start to pick up speed, a blazing 10 miles an hour, and a tumulo would halt us in our way.  So, we’d exit the car as the town’s people stared.  I guess they’d never seen gringos (In Guatemala) practicing the Chinese fire-drill before.  After the 5th speed bump in no less than 25 yards we decided to tell Fernando to drive ahead, leaving us to dance through the cold town.  We passed a church gathering, whose people seemed to be more interested in our dilemma than praying, and several cows who mooed empathetically, knowing what it’s like to walk over all the speed bumps.  The horses and chickens weren’t quite as friendly.  They taunted us with their neighing and clucking.  I was glad to climb back into the safety of that warm Nissan after we’d danced all the way through that little town.

Fortunately dancing through San Juan de los tumulos didn’t bring on a migraine.  Neither did driving down a steep set of switchbacks with near 1,000 foot cliffs on either side of the road.  Halfway down to the lake we had to stop, not for a speed bump, but to cool the brakes off.  If we’d gone any farther the car might have ended under one of the many burial mounds we’d driven over along the way.   As Fernando dumped a gallon or so of water onto the hot tires we danced around like guerrillas in the mist.  I do a great guerrilla dance.   Trust me.

If only the fun had continued into the next day.  Unfortunately, like those fighting guerrillas, the migraine sprung on me like a leaping ballerina by late afternoon the next day.  (If you don’t think ballerina’s are fierce just go watch Black Swan.  That movie was disturbing.)  Anyway, just like Natalie Portman’s character spun from good to bad so did my  trip.

After a relaxing morning in San Pedro, we decided it was time to make our way back to Xela.  Fernando and Stephanie were going to Antigua, so we didn’t have access to the car.   We figured we’d take a chicken buss, sadly the busses stopped running at 11 a.m. and it was now 3.  Our only option was the pay a guy to drive us all the way up to the highway in the back of his truck.  All 11 of us (some had not been as fortunate to sloth through San Juan in the Nissan the night before) jumped in the back of a beat up pick up, and we putted off.  It was already crowded and we had a long assent ahead of us, so we only stopped to pick up a few Guatemalans who only wanted a ride to the next town.

Pueblita after Pueblita we subired.  The old truck climbed smoothly until we stalled out in a little town and were forced to watch a parade of tuc tucs.  It was terrible, those slow tucs took tons of time to trek through town, but it didn’t give me a migraine.  The migraine sprung after the truck stalled on a steep incline.  I had been enjoying a magnificent view of the lake when we passed by our fifth hairpin turn and the truck stopped.  We leapt from the truck like graceful guerrillas (ok the girls were just graceful).  With the lighter load the truck roared to life and sped up the hill.  I can run for miles, but dead sprints really kill me, especially when they are straight up hill.  30 yards in I knew I was done.  Several of my friends easily leapt back into the truck bed, but I couldn’t do it.  As I walked up to where the truck was waiting for me my heart danced madly in my chest (A typical indicator that an unwanted dancing partner was about to force its way next to me).  30 minutes later as we bounced through San Juan de los Tumulos I tossed my lunch out the back of the pick up.  The migraine had set in.

I made it home with out throwing up again, and I can say my weekend was a lot of fun, even though it ended with a migraine, which spun my weekend a direction I didn’t want it to go.  I would have rather written a story about how great of a dancer I am, but I guess you’ll know now that, even though I am an extremely talented dancer, I suffer from migraines.  I am human!  All kidding aside,  I might not be the first person you think of when it comes to dancing, but I guess that doesn’t matter.

What matters is how I respond to the challenges placed in my life.  I have dealt with migraines all of my life and I know I can’t handle them if it weren’t for the friends and family members God has placed in my life.  I know that no matter how hard my migraines hit me, I am not alone.  Life’s a dance and I’m going to keep on grooving, even if a migraine leaps in my way and splashes water all over the party.

Brendan wrote this piece back in late March, but he wanted to share it with his new readers so they can get to know him better.


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8 responses to “Dancing Con Aguafiestas

  1. John P. Moyer MD

    Hate migrane syndroms, so wierd, so evasive to understand, abdominal colic, cyclic vomiting, Alice in Wonderland syndrome. Saw it all in my 33 years of pediatric practice. Scary for the parents, disabling for the kiddos and plainly confusing for the consultants!
    The idiom aguafiesta, pouring water on a good time, is a terrific description of what these migranes do. I am so glad to hear that you continue to dance, and have a support system that helps you through these nuisance bumps in the road…?speed bumps

  2. Georgie-ann

    Bravo!, senor dance maestro!

    I also used to suffer completely immobilizing headache-style migraines for a period of time, but they did more or less gradually come to an end (thank God!). I had to learn to “deal with” the pain, which was by not moving and avoiding everything, food and light and strident people included. Eventually, relaxation and relief would come to my body.

    Perhaps the good doctor is right about the “speedbump” analogy,…I think I learned something about “hanging in there” in prayer, while being forced to slow down and wait for relief to come, and also to accept that life would have to “go on” without my active participation and presence for awhile — and that was very very very difficult!

    Also, I gradually “made small adjustments” to my lifestyle and habitual choices, which I probably never would have considered doing otherwise — changes that were tailor-made to work for me, that no one else could have discovered or predicted for me, and which eventually helped me to “find my more true self” in the process. I came to terms with what I could and couldn’t handle, streamlined my trajectory, and ended up a very different person in many ways from how I began. I was the “big sister” of three brothers and had a very active and strong mother who WAS able to keep up with (even keep ahead of!) everybody, but I finally had to accept my own limitations by comparison, and “settle” for being a little different from the pack. Yes, I mourned my inabilities somewhat, but finding and being “one’s true self” is way more satisfying than trying to keep up with everybody else. I’m very happy “being me,” and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else at this point. And,…no one else can find your “true self” for you!

    I was laughing at your suicide move,…It reminded me of when we used to play “Cowboys and Indians” as kids,…the great (actually exhilarating) thing was getting shot, “bang bang,” (we were imitating the popular movies “of the day”), then “playing dead,” counting to ten, and then jumping back up again, yelling “I’m alive! I’m alive again!” and continuing the running around with even greater vigor, shooting and being shot and coming back to life. Believe it or not, that was considered “good wholesome” fun in our day! I think we really enjoyed enacting the foretastes of resurrection,…very empowering! So, your dance moves made my day!!! Great memories. TY & God Bless! (-:

    • Figuring out migraines sure does take some humility. I am glad you seem to have figured yours out.

      • Georgie-ann

        Basically, they just drove me, little by tortuous little, to a point of giving up (“my plans”) completely, and to a kind of more total surrender to God than I would have thought was necessary for an ordinarily well-intentioned human being,…”I’m yours, Lord,….help!”

        So, I’m grateful now, because nothing that is truly necessary and fulfilling was lost, but a lot of “chaff” was blown away, or marginalized,…things that I wouldn’t have assessed negatively, but which were more or less besides the point,…like good, better and best,…

        one example,…I was digging into drawing and graphic arts at the time, because I felt comfortable there, but God moved me more into music, which I loved, but where I felt much less prepared and much less comfortable,…wow!,…I’m really happy that He did!,…never in a million years thought I would give up drawing!

  3. Cliff may give you a run for your money in the dance-department.

    fun story, I miss you.

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