Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Los Bellos

Los Bellos, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

This story has an older origin.

When I was a Mormon missionary in Guatemala, my official title was "Elder Moses." At one point during the mission, someone asked my name, and when I told them my title, they mistook the name for something else. As it turns out, "Elder Moses" sounds a lot like "El Hermoso," especially if the words are not spoken clearly. "El Hermoso" means "the Beautiful." This became something of a longstandng joke for people who heard the original story.

I'm not sure how it began, but the joke continued with the Ecuador group, though it shifted somewhat. To this group, I became "El Bello," which is just another name for the Beautiful. In another version, I became "El Mero Bello," which would be something like a slang term for the most beautiful of all. In time, the joke morphed into a whole story about me being some kind of king of the beautiful people, complete with a court and the royal wave. After a while, I had my vice-beautifuls waiting in the wings to take my place.

As the joke grew, Alexander became my first "Vice-Bello," like a vice president waiting for the coup d'etat to overthrow my reign. It sounds silly, but it was actually quite hilarious. Every time I saw him standing behind me, I would make a comment about always having to watch my back and we would all burst into another fit of laughter.

After the sweat, we had an opportunity to present gifts. In that moment, I gave Alexander a band of apple branches and crowned him the new "Mero Bello." We laughed, but then we cried because he presented me with his mask of the Ayauma. It was a beautiful experience.

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