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I wake up this morning with an interest and desire to make the most of what awaits. I have not travel any significant amount internationally and know I would be remorse if I were not keenly aware of what I am about to e...xperience.It is Day 1. After a delicious breakfast we are quickly aboard our minibus wizzing down the streets of Guatemala City. I try to take pictures of the stark contrasts to our American streetscapes, but before I can, the images and people disappear behind us and a new one is in view. I am traveling through this great center of Guatemalan civilization at a speed that does not allow me to absorb it. My plan of staying aware and experience this foreign land and its people seems too lofty a goal. I feel ready to take in some of the complexities that life in this city must provide it’s citizens, but only get quick glimpses of things.
I try to relax and let myself transition into a more calm state of observation. I look less out of the windows and more toward my new friends inside. I take their lead and connect with each other in ways we often don’t in our work life. It’s easy and I feel a sense of closeness to our group. Our conversations range from family, to workplaces, to struggles of the people of Guatemala, and to the people we see outside our bus. I am again back to what I set out to do. I am connecting myself with the people, the country. It is much easier now.
We are now outside the city. The people we see, are first in the distance, are slowly approached, and then seen clearly from our windows. There are families, street vendors, and neighbors conversing. There is a celebrations, possibly a quincenara, with dozens of people slowly stepping off of, what looks to be the bed of, a produce truck to attend the ceremony. The procession is dressed for the event in beautiful dresses and garb.
Down the road, there are young children with their parents, walking along this busy road in a way that shows it apparent normalcy. I speculate to myself how calming a regular routine like this might be to them. I suspect that they are not at all concerned about cars, noise, exhaust or the inconvenience of walking. I hope that these moments for them are locked into their memories with a sense of fondness. I contemplate, how I can be calm and present with my wife and our two boys with routine things like this in Portland. As I move onto the next scene outside our bus, I sense this privilege to have a glimpse into these people’s lives. I know that I am only seeing new people on the very surface, but that seems right. It still provides me the richness I hoped to feel when we set out today. In memory of Marjorie Ann Thompson
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