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Cio

Shaman. I once knew a shaman named Cio. He would never claim to be a shaman, he was just a guy who sold tipica at fairs. Ropa tipica, Guatemalan fabric folk art. But he played the role of a shaman in my life, and I'm grateful. And no, he didn't give me drugs; I did fine in that department all on my own. Instead he gave me Guatemala.

Hats. I met Cio in Boulder. Every few months he would fly into Guate then travel to Panajachel to stock up. He sold at fairs that drew hippies. Hippies love Guatemalan tipica. Cio specialized in palm fiber hats, cheap knockoffs of the classic Panama. Each hat was labeled by size, but that number was unreliable. Cio sized a hat by putting it on his head. Just a touch and he knew what the size was. I see him sitting cross legged, working his way through a mess of hats, sorting them by size.

Pana. He liked having someone to help out at the fairs. He also liked good company, and we got along well. Sometimes he liked to have company in Pana as well; that's how I got lucky. Guatemala was a new world, and I was dazzled. I'd never been anywhere south of the border before. The people, the culture, the food, Lake Atitlán and oh sweet christ the volcanoes. My week in Panajachel was sheer magic.

Fireworks. I'd already moved to Seattle when we took our last trip to a fair together. It was in Minneapolis over the Fourth of July weekend. What I remember most was the flight home. We worked all day on the 4th and took an evening flight to Seattle. As it grew darker across the Dakotas and Montana we could see firework displays in all the little prairie towns. One last magic moment with Cio the Shaman.