At this moment as I sit in the passenger seat of a Honda Civic traveling south
towards New Orleans, I find myself drawing parallels and comparing different
aspects between this country of the United States and the one I was in only a few
days ago, Guatemala. The most obvious difference between the two being the mode
of transportation used. In Guatemala we were shuttled from the airport in a stick
shift bus, us inside with the windows open for a breeze, with our luggage tied to the
top. I now sit in a full cushioned chair, air conditioning and my luggage in the trunk.
While this difference in transportation is seemingly small, and relatively is,
it’s also fairly indicative of the different lifestyles and how weird it can be to go so
quickly from one to the other. Step back a week ago and I was bartering with a man
on the street of a town off the water of Lake Atitlan, for a handmade blanket that my
brother Carter, and I ended up purchasing for our parents. Take another step to
yesterday as I looked into my wallet about to purchase a shirt from J Crew and saw
Quetzales, (the Guatemalan currency) and suddenly had the strange feeling that I
should “Cut the price in half, and not pay more for it than I feel is appropriate” as
close to Candace’s advice as I can remember.
Of course there is another side to this weirdness, and that is and was for us
on the trip, adjusting to Guatemala. Just as it was weird to readjust to our society
here in the States, it was weird and interesting to do our best to assimilate into the
culture and lives of the people we interacted with on our journey to Guatemala. We
had eight full days and ten total to get as much out of the trip as possible and to
adjust to the culture. At the end of those ten days, myself and I have the feeling that
everyone else on the trip, were pretty comfortable with our new surroundings.
Great! But now what? Our trip’s over. Our learning experience has come to
an end and the world to us would rapidly change in a matter of hours as we traveled
from Antigua to Guatemala city, and then back to Huston in the United States of
America and finally to Chicago Illinois. Our “trip” ended at that point.
What I really hope you realize as the reader of this blog is that this was not
just another trip, or vacation. This was truly a perspective-changing trip, which I
don’t know if I’ll ever have the words or the means of explaining. I don’t think that
it is even possible to give you a fully comprehensive explanation now that I think
What I can say though is, when you meet or talk to someone who was on this
trip, give them the time to explain how they feel about it and what they saw and
learned. I’m betting that you will: one, hear something new from every person you
talk to, two, hear similar themes from each person, and three, learn at least one new
thing throughout the process. This is important to REALLY give them time because
as the new ambassadors of this experience and more importantly the people with
whom we built relationships with in Guatemala we feel obligated to spread the
word of our experience. So just as we have given our time to these people to help
build stoves and improve their style of living, it is just as important for you to give
us the time to tell you what we have received ourselves.
I thank you for your time in reading this article and the time you will give
others in our group so that you may learn as we did.