As You Are
Water. Yes. Or as we say in Guatemala, Agua Sí. Aqua es mí favorito. I was born a water baby and have never grown out of it, nor have I ever made a secret of it. So when I found myself standing on the coarse lightly speckled with glass shore of el Lago Atitian I found myself not only very very emocionado (excited), but also feeling very at home.
The rest of the group who managed to muster up enough motivation to wake up and leave at 6:00am and myself stood in a half circle. Before us were three fisherman who were there to share their work with us. It seemed as if we were a hungry pack of dogs surrounding the men. Which is really ironic because we were really hungry not having any food yet, and there were many stray dogs around us. The reason we seemed so eager is because these men were very humble and spoke quietly. Even though Candace interpreted, it is still great to hear them for ourselves and listen to such a beautiful language roll off their tongues such as low tide in the ocean.
The waves on the lake however were non existent as the lake took on the resemblance of glass and one could hardly fathom disturbing its peace. The fisherman spoke of where they came from, as well as what kind of fish they sought. They also talked about the kinds of boats they used that we would soon have the opportunity to experience ourselves. The kayukas were hallowed out logs about 6 to 8 feet long depending on the kayuka and only a few feet wide.
Ruth was among the brave and the first to venture out and rocked it. Although I must say that we all spun out quite a few times. After watching a few people go and studying the way the boat reacted to different pushes and pulls of the oar, I was up.
Inhale, my chest expanded as my lungs filled with sharp morning air.
Exhale, I could feel the warmth of the condensation on my lips as my breath escaped.
I stepped onto the kayuka. Relatively steady, I'd like to think I have sea legs. Although, when there's an audience and expectations and I can't keep my mouth shut about being a lifeguard the nerves get to you, ya know? I stuck to the plan, shallow short strokes. Don't go too deep or you'll risk capsizing, or spinning out repeatedly and embarrassing yourself.
Sweet! The plans working. Lets go faster...bad idea. Doughnut time. You get the idea. Repeat cycle until frustration in middle of lake. Wow. This is embassing. I've spun myself to the center, half way there and now I have to go back. I was looking down at my feet that were starting to get dirty, the coke bottle for bailing out water that might come in, and the water that was slowly coming in but wasn't a problem. Then I looked up. That was the best thing I could have done.
I looked up and was met with the silhouette three sixty view of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes cast by the light of the sun. At the same time the sun was dancing through the clouds and onto the lake making it glow and sway with every ripple from the passing canoes. Sitting there for the moment. The only moment that mattered, the present moment I was at peace. It also occurred to me, as it has before but never so strongly as it has in that moment that, I wouldn't change a thing about this place. About Guatemala.
As Candace, our great leader (although she doesn't like titles I feel that is a very appropriate one) would say, "now let's unpack that a little bit". Something I've come to realize after hearing it and seeing examples of it over and over again is, it's simply not my place. It's not my place to come into another country and say, this is what you need. I believe that to be a generally true statement when it comes to work done in places that isn't your own. How would you like it if someone walked into your house and said, "nah, that bathroom's not up to par. Looks like we're gonna have to bring it up to 'modernity.'"?
Then the question is, do we help at all. I think the answer is yes. Not in the traditional, you need this so here it is way. Instead in the way of, "what did you say you need? Okay, now let's work together on that". That way not only are you and the people working together towards the goals of the actual requested need, you are also building relations. After much discussion and observation I believe this building of relations is what I think is the key to transformation.