I rarely tire of the storytelling atmosphere of hostels, bringing together different walks of life from all corners of the world, but once in a while, your stuck with a jangler. You know who I’m talking about. Those obnoxious big mouthed folk who spout of stories so unrealistic, they appear to be just that, fairy-tales without much of a moral. And to be fair, maybe I’m the ass and each one of their ridiculous tales is true, while maybe highly unlikely, so was Trump winning the presidency.
The jangler that currently holds the jackass belt in my books, stumbled into my life in Semuc Champey, Guatemala. He was one of those people that you start to feel embarrassed for the more he word vomited all over everyone.
His bowling ball sized dome glistened in the early morning sun, wobbling around like a bobble head as the back of our pickup truck bounced from hole to rock to root. Atleast 20 of us were stuffed in the back as we headed towards what would end up being very underestimated cave adventure that left us lifeless at the end of the day. However, that story, when I saved my best friends life, is for another day. The jangler leaned against the back tail gate, his giant lime green ear plugs flapping in the wind, and spouted off some truly unsavoury bullshit that offended a variety of cultures, genders, and just humanity.
As loud as a horny orangutan, he began jousting souls with drug tales, each story pushing the boundary of belief a little farther. From a hand full of Valium in his beers in Ireland, to doing over 10 grams of cocaine in a night in Bolivia, smoking heroine in the Philippines. While I’m sure there were some exaggerations, it wasn’t enough to really drop my draw. But then, he starting pointing at random plants and trees we passed, claiming he could some how harvest their parts and concoct some sort of delightful drug cocktail. Somehow I felt everyone’s eyes rolling at the same time.
All in all, around 15 minutes in, 7:20am, and he was still ranking rather low on the offensive scale, but it was far from over yet. As the sun rose over the emerald mountain tops, so did the volume of his voice, and most unfortunately, his shirt. Admittedly, the rolls that emerged when set loose from his shirt were not so easy on the eyes, but what was most disturbing was the artwork painted across the janglers huge canvas. Each arm hosted a bicep sized black and white IRA soldier, rifle in hand as he glared through a black headscarf, nothing but daunting eyes revealed. His chest bore two crisscrossed handguns with the phrase ‘kill or be killed’ done in sloppy cursive handwriting above. There stood the proud jangler, back arched and shoulders squared, seemingly oblivious to the tensions rising under the surface.
However, for some, the tensions were not so on the surface. An Israel couple bounced along directly in front of him, and an Irish couple to his right, both bracing themselves to prevent their heads from jouncing off the janglers sweaty breasts. Thankfully, I was there to break the awkward silence after his unveiling. While everyone tried to keep their composure and figure out what was happening and how they got here, I was focused on one of his tattoo’s before I heard duck! I barely got a chance to turn my head before WHAM! A leafy branch whacked my right in the face, no mercy, no sideswipe, just a full front slap. Turning to the rest of the laughing truck I mumbled “Well, I’m awake”.
This little shambles ignited a whole other string of stories from the jangler. He roared out a tale of friends back in Cali, who couldn’t wait to join the army and be shipped off to the middle-east to “shoot shit and blow the place the fuck up”. On and on he blabbed about new weapons and America’s duty to use them to implement democracy and fix the place. The small and mighty Israel girl teamed up with the Irish couple to start investigating. But after the first questioned was asked I knew it was a false hope, this wasn’t a person you could discuss things with, explore perspectives and other possible value system or have a sensible debate. The jangler was more of the arguing type, the his way or the highway guy. When respect for religion was brought up he laughed into the clouds and turned around to point at the tattoo on his back, a smiling Jesus with an Ak-47.
The royal rumble commenced. Although, it seemed like most of us were just awkward bystanders, praying that our tour was just around the corner. Keeping my eyes in front but my ears tuned into the gruelling gossip, I could feel my self start to sweat, not because of the heat, but because of my embarrassment for the jangler. Yelling in people’s faces about how they were wrong about the politics, social lives and state of their own country, while having never even been there.
None of us could escape. Trapped and tormented, the truck rattled and rumbled further down into the valley, only the voice of the jangler herd over its clamor. How could such a disturbing thing happen on route to such a beautiful place? Nevertheless, from hostel to hostel he goes, ramblin’ and janglin his way out of peoples hearts.
“If you want me to write about me nicely, you should have behaved better” – Anne Lamott (Wonderful Ted Talk)