One of my feet’s most fulfilling purposes these days is leading me down the four or so blocks that take me to my office at Mercado Global. I am actually doing work that is helpful to women scattered around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and being able to see the consequences of this work on a daily basis. Standing side by side with artisans and local women, I feel more passionate and fulfilled here than after turning in any thirteen page paper I’ve written in college. Today we got to visit one of the cooperatives nearby and talk to some of the women who make Mercado Global a reality. They invited us into their homes for a special lunch and showed us how they use their hands to make jewelry and textiles. These were the women who make some of the beautiful products I work with on a daily basis. It was an honor to stand among them and learn a little about what goes on in their daily lives. This is what work should be all about: using your gifts, talents, or interests for things that are both exciting and meaningful. It doesn’t matter if it’s the ability to speak another language, work well with technology, or even make people smile, for I’ve been reminded here that nothing is too trivial. These women, inspiringly, work with their hands and leave their prints on every piece they make. I hope I am fortunate enough in the future to do work that is half as noble.
Monday, June 27, 2011
There’s nothing like a rainy day to wash away your attempts at leaving footprints. So maybe making them literally will have to wait. Today was the longest day of rain I’ve seen since coming to Guatemala. It was raining when we woke up at 6:30am to meet up for breakfast at 7 (a foreboding sign already) and continued to do so into the late hours of the night with maybe an hour of break. Time today was rendered insignificant, the beautiful combination of wet weather and a lazy Sunday--the day infamous for pajamas, slippers, and lounging around; the day loved and scorned by Americans as the last remnants of freedom and liberty before the onset of a new, daunting week of work, boredom, and the parameter of a cubicle. Here’s my order: banana pancakes, fresh fruit (mango included), coffee and horchata. It was quite possible one of the greatest meals of my life. But enough about that, today was a day of good conversations, down time, and simplicity. It was a day of market wandering, story swapping, coffee sipping, and church going. It was a day of marveling. And despite the fact that my feet weren’t in control, it was one of the best days I’ve experienced since I’ve been here. You really don’t need dry sand to leave and make footprints.
Sometimes feet are grateful for land. The ride across the lake this evening was definitely one of them. A day in Guatemala just wouldn’t be a day in Guatemala without a little rain during their winter season to ensure you have an adventure worth talking about. Apparently a volcano hike was not enough to make the day memorable... the threat of a boat capsize would be much better for future dinner conversation. That being said, the forty minute lancha ride home was my worst yet—worse, even, than the one taken in the pouring rain, the one during which our boat slowly began to fill with water. Body: seasickness. Seasickness: body. How do you do? Fortunately, you are in a big box of decade old tin with an okay motor—a contraption known for its bobbing abilities and affection for capsizing. Bonus: five life jackets for ten people, one of which is the driver, who probably doesn’t even know how to swim. We would appreciate your flexibility in this matter, so be ready to move to the prescribed side when told in order to attempt to combat the flipping of the transportation device. Hope you like roller coasters and water in your face for forty minutes.
I might just need a pedicure to set me back on the right foot.
Let’s put my feet to work; we know it’s been a while since that’s happened during my time here. My feet seem to be at odds with my stomach in a war over who gets the most attention. What better way to win this battle than by climbing a volcano? Yes, it is inactive. But that fact has no effect on the hike’s length (5-6 hours in high altitude and humidity). The San Pedro Atitlan Volcano stood in front of our little troop consisting of three college interns, one mom, and a honeymoon couple defiantly but majestically, offering its gorgeous views and lush terrain as the rewards of a grueling climbing adventure that took most of the day. Whether they were digging into the ground on the climb up or running/falling down the mountain on the way back, my feet were constantly on the move. It was one of the greatest treks they’ve accomplished in quite some time; and one of the greatest adventures they’ve made in my lifetime.
My feet have taken me many places; and luckily, I “just love walking.” Most recently, they have taken me to Guatemala (with a little help from modern and not so modern transportation) and I have found already that I have fallen in love with a new culture, new traditions, new food and friends. For the first time in a while I have returned to a raw simplicity, to my feet and I. And that’s just fine. This is the start of my feet diaries, with some pictures of a little more too. What better picture to begin with than the one above to capture the beauty I now find myself surrounded by—a pleasant surprise to say the least. Welcome to Lake Atitlan. Welcome to Guatemala. Time to make some prints.