I really don’t know why toolbags just arrive in my midst, in front of my face, sitting next to me. Even internationally!

You may remember the pure delight from the Netherlands who BERATED me in a tiny shuttle in Guatemala in front a lot of people about being a “dumb American” and not having international health insurance. (No one was discussing health insurance.)

That was toolbag #1.

There’s a toolbag #2 I encountered. The same day.

I must have blocked him from my memory because I just remembered him the other night. 

He was an American, a fellow Delta Airlines passenger in the Guatemala City airport. 

I got out of the shuttle and there he was, toolbag #2, waiting at the gate.

I was reading a book, or looking at my phone, when he sat in the seat next to me and said, “We were on the same flight from Atlanta here last Thursday! I remember your hair.”

I was confused by this stranger’s opening line. I rolled my eyes up the ceiling to try and remember what day I had flown in to confirm.

He was in his 60s and relatively attractive, given the decade in which he was born. 

It was a bit odd/creepy that he remembered my hair after spending an entire week in Guatemala, but I don’t know how other people’s minds work.

His name was Barry and he was from West Virginia and had a thick accent and was very interested in chatting. 

We talked about what we each did in the past week—many different options because Guatemala is a large, wild, gorgeous place. 

Barry said he went to Tikal, one of the largest Mayan ruins, like the Cadillac of Mayan ruins. 

I knew of it, and it was discussed among my friends as a potential destination, but was too far away. Plus I don’t care about ruins.

Barry then pulled up his photos of Tikal on his iPhone and handed it to me to scroll through.

“Did you go with friends?” I asked.

“No, I met a woman there,” he said.


Barry then unloaded his life on me—how for the past five years, he’s traveled to Central America every month to meet up with Guatemalan, Brazilian or Costa Rican women and pays for them all weekend long. 

He pays for hotels and meals, pays for their company and their attention.

Why he was telling me this was a mystery. 

Do I LOOK like someone who’d be interested in this information?!?!?

“I don’t even have to pay that much because of the dollar rate!!” he said, bragging. 

“I could spend as much on one nice meal in the states as I could for a whole weekend in Tikal!”


So, they’re prostitutes?” I asked in a way that sounded less harsh than that.

“NO! I don’t sleep with all of them,” he said. “They’re just grateful to have a nice guy like me spend time with them, because all the men in Central America beat their women,” he said. 


“Plus they like my blue eyes.”

It was the most bizarre conversation I’ve ever had with a stranger.

I was uncomfortably scrolling through his iPhone photos of Tikal when I saw his “woman companion,” in a photo with him at the Mayan ruins.

She was 20 years younger than him at least, an awkward photo of the two of them. She wasn’t smiling.

“Well, she’s… pretty,” I said, coming up with nothing else, handing him back his phone.

“Yea…she doesn’t have as many curves as I would have liked though,” he said, studying the photo. “You know, to feel something when you hug ’em. I like curves and a big ass.”




“I find these women on Facebook,” he told me, unprompted. “I have a friend down there who tells them who I am, and the next thing I know, they message me on Facebook.”


All downward facing shots of boobs and asses and pouty lips and dark hair.

“Look at THOSE curves,” he pointed to one woman. 



“Once, I had two women fighting over me,” he laughed. “I’m telling you I’m the only nice guy they’ll ever meet.”

Barry was bragging about all this, with an air of authority like he was some sort of king. Picking out women as if they were chairs or a couch—this one is too big, this one just right. 

It was totally gross. 

And, why on Earth did he feel compelled to tell me, a female, about this operation? 

“Now this one, wow, she was so beautiful, her hair was so black it was almost blue,” he said. 

(Ew another hair reference)

“But then she showed up at the hotel with her kid. Her kid! What am I supposed to do with that?” 

I had no answer. I felt like I was being punk’d.

“And I tell you what, dental work down there is much cheaper too!” he said, ignoring my creeped-out face. 

“Look!” he pointed at his very straight, obnoxiously white teeth. “ALL CAPS. Only $600.”



“Well, that’s a very…interesting life,” I said. “I’d love to go to Central America once a month…maybe not to meet strangers though. Excuse me, I’m going to go get a bottle of water before the flight.”

I never returned and only saw Barry again when I walked through the plane to my seat. He was looking down at his phone again, no doubt trolling/scrolling/creeping.

In my mind, though, he was frantically researching how to replace his fake teeth after getting punched in the face. 

A gift from the Mayan gods.


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