Time Keeps on Slipping
Wrapped like the eggs and beans in a tortilla I woke up in my blanket, to beams of light cutting through curtains and the sound of people walking by the windows of my room. Looking at my watch it was eight o'clock. "Cool" I thought, "it's exactly time for Lectio and breakfast".
Happy that I woke up exactly when everything was supposed to start, I laid in my bed for a few more minutes and talked to my cousin Billy and brother Carter.
"Did you know you snore like a freight train?" drawled Billy
"No one in my sleeper complains about it at school" shot back Carter
I listened to the banter and threw the occasional comment in and was met with, "you shouldn't be talking" from both of them...how true.
One by one, not in any particular rush we took our turns brushing our teeth. Depending on the day we would grab our work pants and slide them on like wet paper turned dry along with the rest of our garb.
There was not a mention of, "ugh were late" or any worry of the sort. We were on Guatemala time. The kind of time that's more of a guideline than a rule. Not only was every morning like this, everything was like this. Yes, things take longer. Yes, it took adjusting. Yes, everything got done and that's what matters.
The departure would take place in three stages. The first being a ride from San Lucas Toliman to Antigua on Saturday the day before we fly to Houston. Signs of a stressed team begin to show, and there is literal talk of Guatemala time being lost. At this point, I hang on to every thread of Guatemala time and refuse to look at my watch. Why did I even wear it?
We come upon Antigua, the second stage. The purpose of our visit to Antigua makes sense, although to me it all seems overwhelming already. We must begin to re-enter. Re-enter into a faster paced consumer society and transition from quite the opposite that we've grown used to in the San Lucas area.
There are major signs of Antigua being a tourist town. A prominent one being vendors who barter- which is a method of sale held traditional in certain circumstances in Guatemala-looking shocked and even bitter when we go back and forth bargaining for a better price. This is a sign that these vendors have realized many tourists just don't know about bartering and many times have the ability to name their price. This may seem like no big deal. However, two reasons to respect and observe the culture in terms of the bartering system are that it will be lost if people stop doing it, and to barter for the proper price is to recognize the true quality of the item compared to others. So it's really a system of checks and balances. This seemed to be on a decline in Antigua.
"This dude's ridiculous, it's not that hard," eyes slanted towards the man facing the wrong way at security I vented to Billy about my impatience. I was stressed, what can I say?
"Put your hands above your head and turn sideways it's not that hard" I continued.
"Belt off, shoes off, laptop, no change in your pocket..." I couldn't stop myself. We were cutting it close. The plane was schedule to leave at 11:30 and we were well passed boarding. Finally, Billy, Regan, Luke a number of others and myself made it through security.
"Let's go, why are you walking so slow?" I rumbled at Billy
"We gotta wait for the rest of the group." You can always count on Billy to stand up for what he thinks is the right thing. Something I'll always admire about him.
"This is a we get everyone on the plane that we can situation," I said. "Those who fall behind, catch the next flight. Let's go." We went back and forth. Billy stuck to his ways and I wasn't about to leave my cousin so I settled to a medium pace.
"They called last call! Taylor they called last call!" Regan must've gotten a call from someone already at the gate.
The sprint was on. Chacos clapping on the plastic floor past Luke, "last call."
Luke's face dropped and we all went "special ops" mode and navigated towards the gate. I wish I could say no man left behind, but we left four...
On the plane I reflected on the literal change of pace and the exact time that they cut some of us off. Some metaphors just write themselves.
Back HomeWe're home now. I'm home now. I wish I could say I feel recharged from the my experience in Guatemala. I wish I could say I feel fresh. I can't. I can only say the moment I was able to see the first family I ever worked with in Guatemala. The first connection, the first relationship I formed in Guatemala. The moment I saw them at the end of the trip in Por Venir and everything came full circle. I remembered them, they remembered me. The connection was still there! Fernando and his brother Jov and their new baby sister with their Mom Dina. The fact that I had an extra soccer ball in my bag that I was able to give to them, it was all meant to be. I can say that in that moment, that was the most fulfilling moment of my life and that I will not let it be my last.
It showed me I was not just some "Gringo" coming into their home and giving them a stove. Yes, the stove is important. Yes, it improves their quality of life. However, I think the most important function of the stove is bringing people together. It is a tool for the fostering of relationships. The stove is the platform upon which relationships between people from different parts of the world simmer and stew and cook to produce understanding and transformation. Yes my friends, the transformation is one of thyself. Something intangible, not something tangible and material such as a stove, but something that a stove can help create.