Hello world! Welcome to my reemergence on the temple scene! This time in Tikal! (Yay exclamation points!!)
I’m here to talk about a far more important issue though: SWASS. This term was brought up by my friend and fellow traveller to define the situation I found myself in at the Mayan temples of Tikal in Guatemala. You’ve probably determined from the title that it was some sort of clothing mishap. And you are absolutely correct in that assumption. I would offer that after perhaps losing one’s trousers (or any garment), my situation might be the second worse.
It all started out innocently enough. I had some brown linen pants made in Hoi An, Vietnam under the common assumption that linen in light and airy and perfect for travel. That would in fact be wrong. My linen pants and my travel myths betrayed me. Luckily, I had another Hoi An-made item to save the day.
Arriving in Tikal towards 9am, our little group of four set off nearly immediately on a tour of the complex, with our guide Nixon. All was going stunningly as he explained the altars, and showed us the leaf-cutter ants and the spider monkeys. I was happily traipsing along in my linen pants unaware that the SWASS was starting. I think it was after Temple V that I sensed something was wrong. I would like to point out now that I am no sweatier than your average person and that Tikal is extremely hot and humid, so any extra sweatiness is very normal. So I asked that friend whether it appeared that I had any sweat stains on my pants. She so kindly informed me that I did! While laughing the whole time. At this point, we are well into the tour and there is no turning back for mere clothing mishaps. So I whipped off the button-down shirt I was wearing for sun coverage and promptly tied it around my waist. Embarrassment crisis averted! Well, partially. I haven’t purposely walked around with a shirt tied around my waist since my single digit years in the 90s, when it was still socially acceptable. I think I hid it all fairly well. Although if you look closely in my pictures from Tikal, you will notice that the dark blue shirt is never far away. I would quickly take it off for pictures, and promptly tie it back on afterwards.
As a side note to this apparel tragedy, Tikal is wonderful. I’ve never been to Central America or anything that would qualify as Mayan. So this drastic change from my Asian standard was different and lovely. The art and style differ so much from Asia, that it provided an eye-opening experience to what awaits me eventually in the rest of Latin America. If you are ever in the region, make sure you get to Tikal, as it is alone worth the trek for the sight of the Jaguar Temple (the national icon of Guatemala) and the view from Temple IV, well above the tree tops.
Importantly, though, I didn’t realize the full extent of it until we got back to the hotel when I was able to remove those dastardly trousers and see for myself that the sweat stains covered from mid-butt to mid-thigh. Nearly 12 inches of sweat stain. So I would now like to openly state that the ever-fabled linen travel pants are in fact a sham. I would even venture that they are worse than the much scorned grey t-shirt, which is normally only for gym use, where sweat is acceptable.
So that is how that term SWASS came about. From my adventures at Tikal, where the SWEATY ASS linen trousers came to be.