Saturday, July 23, 2011

Re-tracing Your Steps

There’s not a lot of time to think here. At least, not now. Coming from a month of thinking, this change is one I fear to get accustomed to. It is Saturday. And I have been home for a week. Goodbye fresh fruit breakfasts, goodbye work week, goodbye rain. Hello family, even more family, and blistering heat—paired with humidity and overworked air conditioners. 

What always seems to surprise me most is how quickly things change in this life and how knowing this fact does absolutely nothing to subdue its side effects. One morning you’re lying in a hammock in Antigua and that night you’re in a dress and heels mingling with old friends for a wedding dinner hundreds of miles away. The unwelcomed shift from grunge to my take on fashion has never been so accelerated…

Despite this, my last week in Guatemala could not have been better. A final dinner with our host family, an inspirational talk with Mike, the owner at Crossroads Café, and some time spent behind the counter serving coffee, a farewell lunch at the office, a personalized bag made for me by Isabel, my Guatemalan co-worker and friend, a lesson in banana pancake-making and walks by the lake in the morning ensured I would retain memories powerful enough to lure me into retrospective dazes despite all the commotion at home. Add a final trip to Antigua into the list of activities and you’ve got an excellent resume for what qualifies as a sensory/emotional overload.

Even Antigua was a whole other adventure, complete with a coffee plantation visit, a motorcycle ride to the Cerro de la Cruz for a panoramic view of the city, walks amidst the ruins, and a gourmet dinner that included a glass of wine and live music resembling what you’d find on Colbie Caillat and Frank Sinatra CD. So much done in so little time; and although I am appropriately exhausted and recovering (thanks also to my sinus infection), I’m afraid I also miss it terribly. 

Will I ever want to stand still?  

For now, my feet are thanking me. The time has come for a rest on the sidelines, but not retirement. I said at the beginning of this small, rather insignificant diary that you didn’t need to be going far distances, taking long strides or even truly using your feet to make a mark. I stand by that statement, even here at home where things are relatively quiet (I say this ironically in the midst of a family reunion). I’d like to think I left a positive footprint in Guatemala. I worked hard, I learned a lot, and I met incredible people while still pausing to enjoy life and the beautiful moments it tends to sporadically give us. What I must also take into account is the mark Guatemala left on me: its sense of vibrancy and color, its easy-going attitude and natural beauty, its delicacies, but most importantly, its gift of hospitality mixed with love. When Isabel, for example, handed me the purse she had made me as a going away gift, she looked me in the eyes after a month of knowing each other and told me she had made this piece with care, kindness, and love. What a beautiful gift to be given... 

This being said, I think I’d like to take a pause from the feet chronicles and focus on my two and a half weeks spent at home before heading out to Spain, Malaga in fact, prior to World Youth Day on August 22nd. (What a life…) My family is an important part of who I am and who I’ve become. Let’s honor the mark they have and continue to leave on me and celebrate my time here spent with them also in care, kindness, and love.