I came…to Guatemala to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming bilingual in Spanish but I found that to be a tertiary goal. Trusting God and learning about myself and the world around me were first and second.
I saw…things on a regular basis that absolutely broke my heart. People with missing and/or diseased limbs, a frail, incontinent, wheelchair bound teenager begging for money. The pain in a taxi driver’s face as he told me about his son who had recently been kidnapped and murdered. A dying dog who was whimpering and bleeding. Children selling books or pens or gum when they should have been in school. A boy so hungry that he looked as if he were about to faint. Prostitutes who sold their bodies for the equivalent of $5 or less.
I also saw…women in all seasons of life traveling alone. The physical strength of Guatemalans as they made a living doing things most Americans would consider disdainful. The emotional strength of a young mother who was widowed in her early 20’s. The friendliness of the people around me. Taxi drivers and policemen who marveled at the fact that I was traveling alone but at the same time, went out of their way to protect me with words and deeds. People from different cultures, countries and lifestyles. One of the people that I was closest to here is an atheist. Clearly we have differing views, but that didn’t get in the way of us having a good time.
I conquered…a fear of exiting my comfort zone. A comfort zone is like wearing a pair of Spanx. They both make things look good on the outside but the price for deception is restriction. I decided it’s better to let it all hang out. When I did this I was able to:
Blog, not freak out about germs, enjoy weekend trips with people that I didn’t know very well, travel to Colombia alone, spend a winter without indoor heating, climb volcanoes, ride bikes through steep, lung burning trails and most importantly, take a long hard look at myself.
English is my first language, but I’m also semi-fluent in perfectionism, comparison and worry. There were many days when my teacher corrected me at least 100 times. It got to the point where I didn’t want to talk because I was tired of being wrong. When new students arrived at school and it seemed that they were learning faster than me, I became frustrated. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was renting a penthouse in the comparison trap. I silenced the slumlord inner voice by terminating my lease. Preoccupations with what would come after Guatemala also dominated my thoughts. Because of this, I wasted time and money, but I gained a heightened awareness of my shortcomings.
I came, I saw and I conquered but it was a team effort. I couldn’t have pulled this off without believing that God would get me through the cultural and language barriers, insecurity, loneliness, doubt and discouragement. I left the states knowing that I had the support of my friends and family, and for that I am extremely grateful. October was one of the most difficult months I’ve ever had in my life: I dealt with stomach issues for the second time, my storage unit flooded and my grandfather died two days before my birthday. The notes of encouragement, prayers and phone calls inspired me to keep going. Muchas gracias to my teachers and everyone at La Democracia Spanish School, especially to Flory, my other GuataMama, and my Guatemalan family.
I’m not sure what comes next professionally or personally, so in the meantime:
Voy a vivir el momento (I’m going to live in the moment)
Para entender el destino (in order to understand the destination)
Voy a escuchar el silencio (I’m going to listen in silence)
Para encontrar el camino (in order to find the way)
Marc Anthony- Vivir Mi Vida