I have been meaning to post this blog since before I even left Guatemala. Now here it is, nearly the middle of August and I feel overwhelmed sorting through these photos. So many memories and such richness and sadly, it already feels so far away. My heart thumps and my eyes moisten as they glance at the hundreds of photos on my computer that represent only a fraction of my life for a short and wondrous two years. About a month ago I began to cry upon viewing a photograph of a little girl from Toto taken by a travel photographer at an art outdoor art show. An experience like Peace Corps; my experience in Guatemala, is not something that is forgotten easily, yet I feel the need to absorb and cling to it to retain every last memory and detail that my brain and heart can handle.
Having said that, here are just a few photos from my final day in Chirijox, Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, Sololá, Guatemala.
Don Juan fell asleep while listening to his radio in the 'yard'. I was able to get just one photo of him before he woke up.
Hendrick on his way to school. We both thought this would be it, that when he came home from school I'd be on my way. Turns out nation-wide protests over the price of electricity would keep me there until late in the evening when the roads were finally opened. That evening was one of my favorites with my family; chatting, exchanging stories and eating lots of food. At night, once don Pascual from PC arrived to take me to Antigua, the whole family bundled up and we walked with flashlights down the dirt paths, arms loaded with my things to the entrance of town. The called me 'sister' and waved on the side of the road as we pulled onto the hiway.
This photo is blurry but it's the only photo I have with tiny Doña Ana. As a parting gift the group had a traje outfit made for me and I wore it for my despedida; good bye party.
Arroz con leche, rice with milk was served on the chilly morning as women arrived slowly to gather in front of my house. One by one they said good bye.
That afternoon Ela came up to my house to help me do the final clean-up. There was a knot in the wood of my door that was just Hendrick's height. When he would arrive at my house he would put his finger on the knot and declare, "gling-gling"; the door bell. He taught this to Elkin, but Elkin found it much better to just lay on his belly outside and slide his fat fingers under the door and through the flap of duct tape that served to seal my door from the elements. When Hendrick asked who was there, Elkin answered, "Sapo"; frog.
Those final days...my final week in Guatemala was a whirlwind. Once we passed the protests and I finally arrived in Antigua and the Peace Corps center, Volcan Pacaya, just over a ridge from Guatemala City, began to erupt, closing the airport. Compounding the situation was tropical storm Agatha, whose heavy downpours not only turned Pacaya's ash into cement but also washed out bridges, flooded villages and caused landslides. Volunteers where put on standfast and were ordered to stay put. Lucky for me, I had some good friends who had traveled to Antigua to say good bye so standfast turned into an extended Antigua vacation at the Burkhard. After a few days I was put on a bus and sent to El Salvador where I put another stamp in the passport, had a final visit with Makali and ate loroco papusas for breakfast before boarding my plane home. I was even bumped to first class on my flight to Houston.
Nic met me at the airport and the following day took me to my favorite beach, Pacific City and asked me to marry him. Since then, we have been in a whirlwind of life; planning a wedding, planning our future, apartment hunting, job hunting, visiting old friends, visiting family, drinking lots of delicious beer and sampling the bounties of a NW summer, traveling on the weekends, getting a few concerts in here and there and even did some backpacking.
That last list, that stream of activities is what I like my life to be like; busy with goodness, fullness and blessings. It feels good to be home. However, Guatemala will also be remembered as a home as well and when we return there I hope the whirlwind list of activities will be just as long.