Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Handling Life

Now that I’ve questioned following my feet, my hands have decided to have a little say in my adventures, this time with the help of big, smelly leather gloves. These worn in skins covered my hands on their journey down eight ziplines, past plants of all shapes and sizes and along the mountains outside Panajachel. My feet dangled dully underneath me, sulking at their inability to participate in all the action. 

The day started with a breakfast meal at Deli Café…the infamous place in Pana that instigated my affair with banana pancakes and homemade mango smoothies. Knowing this morning would probably be my last full breakfast at this paradise would have normally been grounds for a truly dismal breakup had not my host mother, Dona Angelica, come to the rescue by making the infamous little devils themselves the next morning at home--a testament to prayers being answered. After breakfast at Deli with the group, we went to the Nature Reserve right outside of Pana for the park’s “extreme ziplining adventures” …also known as my parent’s nightmare. (A tangled history with ziplines that resulted in a helicopter ride and neck brace during my high school years may or may not have something to do with my parent’s level of support for such weekend activities...) The past aside, I went to the reserve today and saw the lake and the mountains whiz by me at a whopping 30mph a total of eight times as I shouted my approval of life and got closer to my childhood dream of flying. The fact that it started pouring halfway through the chords in no way diminished my glee. I swear, the number of “adventurous” things I have done in my month here has been so high that I doubt I will be able to compete with this in the future. Practically every day is an adventure. If it’s not stalling in pickups on mud stricken “roads” it’s a freezing shower or cockroach visitation. Nothing in this country is predictable—like the fireworks outside our house yesterday morning at 5am to celebrate my host sister’s tenth birthday. It pours one minute, almost laughing at your stupid rain jacket, and only minutes later the clouds dissolve into piercing heat and stickiness. Oh Guatemala, the things you make me endure…

Meanwhile, I realized also that Sunday was my last “weekend” day in Panajachel…possibly forever. I hate to use that word, but how can I not when I think about the next time I will be back here, in this steamy little town in Guatemala? What I loved about the opportunity to have an internship in Pana was the fact that it allowed me to go somewhere I probably never could or would have gone otherwise. Now that I’ve been here almost a month, not ever seeing this place is almost unimaginable--an injustice. I’ve said it time and time again, but I am surrounded by breathtaking beauty on a regular basis. It’s almost too much, trapped among the green mountains and sequestered by the land’s charm--like some sort of sensory overload; and it simply should not be allowed. It’s bad for our health and future, which is why we’ve been banning nature for years, afraid of its charm. The simplicity of it all will make us too happy…too relaxed…too thankful. Let’s tear it down and make our own cement trees… 

But enough about that. Now that I have successfully demonstrated my stream of consciousness skills, I’ll conclude with a poem that David Nicholls uses in his novel, “One Day.” I feel like lately I’ve had several good ones.

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
-Phillip Larkin “Days”