An almond fell off the spoon, bounced on his right shoe, and landed on the dusty pavement near his customer’s foot. Diego plunged the spoon in his bucket again, hoping to remain steady if another explosion startled him.
Every year, the firecrackers of December penetrated Diego’s mind to haunt him. Signs of celebration for those who lit them, preparing for Christmas and New Year, they awoke in Diego the feelings he had tried to put to rest for many years already. The peddler of nuts – cashews, almonds, macadamia, etc. – not normally affected by the noises of everyday life in Guatemala, the passing of trucks, tuk-tuks, and buses, could not blend the explosions into his soundscape.
So many years had passed since the end of the war and his daily nightmare, that he had managed to forget most of it. He could now make a modest living from the sales of nuts to passersby, mostly tourists with little else to do than considering the flow of good deals coming to their eyes. Over time he had learned a few key words in English – the names of the nuts, their prices, how good they were in flavor and health benefits. He had also learned to classify his prospects, between those who wanted to taste but would never buy, those who made small purchases to get rid of him, and those who bought and wanted to talk, happy to find someone to exercise their Spanish with. He had difficulty recognizing someone he had met before, and sometimes they remembered him, even calling him by name, telling him how they enjoyed the almonds or the macadamia, volunteering new information about themselves, and asking more about him and his life.