Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Guatemala- Slowing to Think
I've been in Guatemala now for about three days, and I'm not sure that I've taken time to breath. There is so much to reflect on, and I'm just sort of getting comfortable being in this space where I can't talk to anyone at any length because I am arrogant enough to only know English. This country is beautiful. The land, the people, and children are really special. It is hard to imagine so many genuine smiles on the faces of so many obstacles, but I continue to laugh, smile, and enjoy space with so many different people. Guatemala has problems. Rural Guatemala is disconnected except for cell phones, satellite television, and the internet. There is a different face of poverty than I expected. I thought dirty clothes, incredible alcohol use, and laziness, but instead, I see workers, cleanliness, and not a bottle to be found on the side of the road. I'm in a real state of mental model confusion based on these items, but also in the fact that I keep going to nice malls and great restaurants, but 20 meters away someone is cooking tortillas on a wood fire stove, armed guards on standing outside car washes, and dogs and animals fill odd spaces on the landscape. Systemic change here is almost impossible to think about, but little moments of breakthrough seem economically feasible in short order. The air population of diesel engines hangs in the air, and the water in the rivers leaves me longing for clean water to drink. There is poverty here, but it looks different, feels different, and sounds different than I expected. Tonight I'm in a hotel with a pool, air conditioning, and more, but across the street is one of those stands that sells Coke and Fritos. I ate tacos tonight, and so many in this town ate nothing. I haven't seen a house that looks like any house in Saint Louis in three days, but I've seen kids loving learning everywhere. There is confusion in my head. Guatemala is complex, confusing, bold, and bright. More time to process this space is needed, but for now, I'm exhausted as the day was filled with pouring yourself into giving.