DAY 1: Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Our trip from Guatemala City (UFM), to our first stop (Las Tres Marias, Santa Barbara, Suchitepequez) took us about 2 hours. On our way I was feeling very energized and happy although Grace, Javi T, and Lore were not coming with us. I slept while we were getting out of the city but kept awake where the Bocacosta began. I love the Coast so much, the views, the countryside, the palms, tress, skyline, the people, the food and the calmness. Oh, the warm and the sun are always calling me. I wanted to grab the bus microphone to narrate to the MPCers my stories from my motherland (haha). I got to show them where my school was and where you have to turn if you want to go to Santa. I can’t tell you how excited I was feeling.
Our way from Santa Bárbara to Las Tres Marías was kind of weird, at least to me. Don Arturo, the bus driver, didn’t know that we were stopping in Santa Barbara and the bus wheels were too low for the rocky and troubled road. I was feeling stressed because I was the one organizing this detour and it is a shame that we didn’t communicate it to the bus guy. Still, for the ones who were looking, the landscape from our way there was simply beautiful. I remember that Majo commented something like: “this is our beautiful Guatemala”. I thought that we are just humans and that what we are looking at was just the world, not a country in specific. Nationality is now nonsensical to me and later on I will explain why.
Yes! We finally arrived at the School in 3 Marías. We were about to start our activity with the kids (the making of wallets out of cardboard) when I started to notice the first thing from most of the kids and from the mothers of the kids that were there. They were extremely pessimistic, they didn’t have hope and they didn’t trust themselves, nor their abilities. It was really shocking that the first comments and the common reaction of many when we told them that we were going to make a wallet out of milk cardboard were: “I am not capable of doing this”, “I will not be able to do this”, “mine will not be as pretty as the sample one that you are showing to us”. Wow, both the mothers and the kids were whispering these things. Most of the kids looked scared but still of them looked happy and excited, as we, the MPCers were feeling. It was really refreshing and rewarding to find out that during the process of creating and with the accomplishment of having a final product, the kids started to be more open and everyone was smiling. All of the children and their mothers were able to finish their wallets and all of them were decorated in unique and beautiful ways. It was really nice to share a moment with these children, 2 hours of fun that they were probably not going to have otherwise. I loved to see how my peers related to the children and how we only helped them through explaining how to do things instead of doing it for them. It was very Montessorian. We saw potential in every child and we were only there to give them help when needed. We enjoyed being around them as well as they enjoyed being around us. Even though I didn’t know these kids I felt that they were good people, I felt connected to them in some way.
After this we finally arrived to Sololá and it was pretty crazy how the architecture changed. The houses were built a lot different, even the central parks had a different architecture, depending on the town. The materials used to build houses changed, the colors used to paint them, etc. “We are not a country,” -I thought again-, we are just human beings and we are all different. Even the towns that were 10 km were in some or many ways different from each other. When we arrived to Roots and Wings in Pasac, our “nim chich” (bus) got locked in a ditch. The moment when everything occurred was funny and scary, all at one. Javier P and I were saying our usual jokes in the microphone. Javi said: “we are preparing for our initial descent” and I said “your oxygen masks are underneath your seats, fasten up yours and secure it on your mouth and nose before placing them on your children”. Sudently, in a small space in between the trees, a woman was weaving, I said: “To your left, you can see a woman weaving”. Isa didn’t see it and since the bus was going downhill, the bus driver went back up so that everyone could see the woman. The problem was that he didn’t change the direction of the ties and so 3 seconds later half of the bus was sunken in a ditch. The cool thing was that people started to come out of their homes to help us pull the bus out of the ditch. I could write an entire page on this happening. Oh, something that Kata later pointed out during debrief is that only men helped to pull out the bus, all of the women from the community were only staring at them.
Pasac is a beautiful Quiche (indigenous) rooted community located in a part of Sololá that is still Bocacosta. I say that it is a beautiful community not only because of the landscapes, but mainly because of the people that live there. Everyone was extremely nice and generous to us. Everyone said hi and smiled to us. The inhabitants of Pasac are well organized; they have their own police composed of 20 member of the community that give their service to the people for one year each. I really felt safe, and children were always outside of their homes, out in the streets, even at night! And their families didn’t worry because the place is safe. Even women were really safe and that is something not that common in Guatemala. Roots and Wings gave us two main guides: Alfredo and Helio. Alfredo was super nice and he prepared a presentation where he exposed to us the Nahuales that each of us are. Nahuales depend on the day and year you were born and they are supposed to say something about your personality and your “nature”. It was really funny to listen to the description of the Nahual each of us was because the descriptions seemed very accurate to each person. I was “Batz” whose animal is a dolphin. Pablito was also a Batz. Alfredo then showed to us the homes were we stayed for the time that we were there. My home was located in front of Roots and Wings and it was the Manuela, Francisco, Fredy, Helio and Julio family. Their house was pretty, Manuela had a beautiful and big smile and Fredy was always around us. Bert joked that he was our mascot because he was always there for us in most of the activities that we did from sun to moon.
Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The day started off with me having a cold shower. The water was ice cold but it helped me to wake up and feel energized. Breakfast was also delicious and it was nice to have breakfast together with the MPC, all in the same table. We painted the building of Roots and Wings and then we played soccer with the kids from the school in Pasac. It was really fun both to paint and to play soccer. Both of the activities were very tiring and by lunch I was feeling extremely hungry and sleepy. P.S. Javier painted a beacon of hope and I scored a goal during the soccer game. Oh, and I noticed that not even one girl from the school played soccer, it was only boys and the MPCers. Javi and I played basketball afterwards for 10 minutes with some girls from the school. I really had a lot of fun. I missed exercising, playing a sport and screaming, it had been such a long time.
After lunch, I had a nap with other MPCers in Bert’s room and then we went to see the process of water purification along with the packing of the same into water bottles. The part that I enjoyed the most was the one of sealing the plastic at the top of the water bottles with a hair dryer. Then we had our first Quiché lessons with Alfredo. It was really nice to learn some Quiché and to see him teach us with his permanent smile. I asked him what made him happy and he told me that he was happy because he had three jobs, and because his grandma had just come out of a disease and because we were visiting.
Now I will copy here what I wrote down that night after the day was over:
Today I had a Maria Montessori experience with about 8 kids who were first staring at me, then touching me and then following me. In reality it was me following them because they knew the way back to Roots and Wings but it was really nice to hold their hands and to talk with them for a while. Some of the girls were taking turns to see who will hold my hand. They asked me to dance and they laughed a lot at this. I practiced how to say hi in Quiché. And I noticed that the babies were kind of afraid of me and wouldn’t allow me to carry them because I was talking to them in Spanish. I learned how to say come with me (chá tojó wuk) in Quiché and I hope to learn more tomorrow. Today it was a shock for me to see these kids out of their houses without their families worrying about their whereabouts. I commented this to Bert and he told me that actually that is normal to many kids, it’s just that I grew up in a more violent and insecure place that didn’t allow me to go out that much and explore. It was also shocking to me that there are many things that I take for granted as normal or not normal because I grew up in the coast of Guatemala, but some of these things were new to my peers who grew up in the City. For instance, I knew that I didn’t have to talk to most of the people from the community with complex words, but they used them and it stressed me out because I thought that a lot of persons didn’t understand. I also thought that everyone knew what Incaparina is, but some tried it for the first time in this trip. Oh there are a lot of differences in our hygiene costumes and in their hygiene costumes. It is not normal for them to bath and wash their teeth every day. It is normal to them to go to bed with the same clothes that they used during the day and to use the same clothes the next day. Maybe it makes more sense to bathe and change only once in a while, only when we really smell haha. This is just another reason why countries don’t provide a useful definition of a certain place. How would I define Guatemala? I don’t know, all of the communities, landscapes and people are sooooo different from each other………Today I felt happy, tired and sad at the same time. Poverty makes me feel sad, seeing women do very little things as well as children that don’t go to school. Yet I looked up at the stars and I thought that it is amazing that we all share the very same stars. We are looking at the same sky. All of humanity share the stars. –Strong feelings: I don’t even know what to do. Why am I feeling this way? I felt like crying a lot of times today. Love is so confusing. I don’t want to break hearts nor do I want my heart to be broken. I don’t want it to be “to late”, yet I am not taking any action and just the thought of it makes me feel afraid. I wish I could do both. I wish I could kiss you in the cheek. I want to give away my love, I am tired of holding it back.
Day 3: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Las night we learned the lyrics and rhythm of the “Down To The River To Pray” song in order to be able to sing it today on our way down the river. Well, actually it was a walk up the mountain and not downwards which was weird. It was a long walk but it was totally worth it. The river was super cold, it was so energizing and refreshing. We were surrounded by nature, man was I feeling happy. I took going up the river as a challenge and it was really cool. We found a nice Jacuzzi where the color of the water looked surreal. It was really pretty. On our way there, I had a long conversation with Alfredo. Well, I was basically just asking questions and listening to his answers but I learned so much of the guerilla and of the story of his family and the story of Pasac. Agg it angers me how government often destroys the things that people had already created on their own and the organization that they have achieved. It was really crazy to learn how many people discriminated indigenous people during that time and still today. In the buses, they used to have sings that read “ladinos in front, Indians behind” and indigenous people weren’t allowed to sit in the front of the buses. That is why many men who worked outside of the community stopped using their traditional dress and replaced them for jeans, just to be able to sit down in the front of a bus. I was surprised because I didn’t know much about this. Neither did I know about the autonomy of this community. They have their own ways of implementing justice.
I visited the homes of Diego and Kata’s family after we went for our second night of French fries. It was really nice to share with other families and I was impressed that in Diego’s house they listened to the newest album of Miley Cirus, haha. I bet that she doesn’t imagine how far she got. It is really cool that we are all more connected now that the world gets flatter by the day. Long live technology and humanity! I am amazed by how much people smile in this place and by how safe it is. Today I walked on my own at 9 PM, oh, and wearing short shorts haha. That was something new for me.
Day 4: Friday, April 4, 2014
Goodbye Pasac, and goodbye to my eternal Bocacosta smile. Goodbye to my family and to my Fredy who is so full of energy and curiosity. I hope he stays that way. Goodbye to Alfredo who was a perfect host to us and who is extremely happy, grateful, and talented. I wish everyone the best of luck and I wish their happiness to continue. I hope I can lean that from them and be as happy as they are. What an awesome experience, thank you Pasac!!!