some thoughts on guatemala

This winter I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala and spend a week with students on a service learning trip. We spent full days travelling across the country to the community where we would be lending our time. This gives a gal a lot of time to think. As a strong part of the program centres on self-reflection and journalling, I was able to jot down some thoughts as we crossed the country. On our first full day in the country, I was missing my partner, and in order to essentially have a conversation with myself, I made an effort to jot down things popping into my head as we crossed the countryside.

***
once home, resist the urge to google. trying to take time to think, question and ask. so different to be disconnected. information doesn’t need to be immediately available to you all the time.
***
huge aloe plants, lots of cacti. so many green hills, mountains. the landscape certainly isn’t dull.
***
when the sun comes out the heat is intoxicating. it’s incredible how much I can miss home but just love being warm.
***
what are they growing? radishes?
***
the differences you see in the largest cities to towns to rural areas is pretty astounding. the wealthy are shiny and new and unapologetic about it.
***
there is a lot of garbage on the side of the highway – sometimes piled all around the fallen rock. some smells are hard to bear. sickly sweet garbage, fuel, burning plastic.
***
half a gravol does wonders.
***
DJ Milirito – amazing how music can really make things feel more real? possible?
***
small homes – three pieces of corrugated metal leaning against each other. metal roof. family enjoying breakfast in the open air.
***
roadside watermelon sales. trucks upon trucks of bananas. people collecting water from a communal water basin/well. man with several small dogs in his bicycle basket!
***
the flags here aren’t plentiful, but by george when you see one, they are huge.
***
speed limits – 40/50/60kms per hour – obviously just a gentle suggestion (as are helmets and seatbelts). But bus drivers always honk happily at each other though – so that’s something?
***
in a more rural area – most of the bus is asleep or dozing off. coming across pairings of homes – one maintained, in good shape, brightly painted and gated, the second, impossibly small, run down, usually completely open on one side. Makes me wonder what kind of setup this is? Does one family work for another? Is there some sort of servitude at play? Or is this just a coincidence…that keeps repeating itself?
***
machetes everywhere. guns = big. always on the trigger and at the ready.
***
cemeteries – brightly covered cement vaults, covered in flowers, gifts offerings. the offerings vary by village – almost a signal of community wealth. would this feel more comfortable for me if mum were buried this way? seems less depressing than just putting someone in the ground and walking away.
***
i have now smelled green. it’s dark, I can’t see it, but know it’s there. green.

g

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