Well here I am enjoying one of my last steaming cups of coffee (one of the better habits I picked up on this trip) on my last day at Lago Atitlán. I´ve been here for the last 2 and a half weeks in the company of very good friends. The last week I spent brushing up on my Spanish at one of the schools here and I feel like I´ll be returning from Guatemala with almost an intermediate level of Spanish, on a good day. Pretty dang good for someone who barely knew how to order a beer three months ago.
Coming to the end of this trip I feel like I have a lot to think about. The gift of clarity brought on by fresh and unique experiences. One thing that is striking about the culture here in Guate is how important community is. There´s no escaping it! There´s an exchange of hola´s and como esta´s with every person I pass. Strangers call me over to shake my hand and wish me well. The plague of individualism that´s wracked my body for most of my life has started to erode little by little. I feel thankful.
I have learned so much on this trip. I´ve learned about poverty and war and consumerism. I´ve learned about the U.S.´s political impact on Guatemala. I´ve tasted just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these topics and I look forward to educating myself further. I hope, too, that you´ll think about learning more about Guatemala – the country´s history and the effect that the U.S. has had on the lives of people who live here.
Coming home will be strange and I´m going to miss many things… the coffee, the fresh pineapple and papaya and drinking coconut milk right from the husk. I´m going to miss paying $5 at a market for enough fruits and veggies for the whole week! I´ll miss meeting new people every day and I´ll miss seeing the good folks I´ve been hanging out with.
But there´s a lot to look forward to back home… stouts and vegan ice cream and REAL cookies (alas, this is my one complaint! Mix the chocolate chips INTO the cookies, don´t just lay them on top like sparsely lain sprinkles). Giving my mom a hug. Hearing all the new words I imagine my nephew has learned. My OWN bed and my OWN room and soon my OWN home. Sifting my fingers through a big, red beard. Yes, there´s a lot to get back to.
It´s been an adventure, this trip, and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to take this time to come to Guatemala. 3 months, it´s a long time and it´s no time at all.