So, that’s it. Yesterday was my last day of work as a Field Consultant for Community Enterprise Solutions. The past few weeks have been full of “last times” – last visit to the weaving cooperatives in San Juan, last meetings with each of our asesoras, last trips to our puntos, last time eating in Juana and my favorite comedor in Solola. And it’s been full of goodbyes, to all of my friends, many of whom have become like family, to my favorite spots around the lake, and – especially hard – to Juana.
These last few days, as I get ready for my flight out on Tuesday, people have been asking me how I’m feeling about leaving. It’s hard to say, really…I feel sad to be leaving so many people and projects behind, and sad to leave such a beautiful country, but I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to spend so much time here, to learn everything that I did, and to see so much of the country in the process. And I also feel equal parts excited and anxious – lately, a bit more on the anxious side – about whatever might come next. That part’s still up in the air, but I am certain something new and exciting will present itself soon.
I stopped writing in this blog regularly for a few reasons. First, things just got too busy, between work and travel and making the time to see many of my friends who live in other parts of the country. But beyond that, with an experience like this, things have a way of snowballing, and it gets to a point where chronicling everything seems impossible (and excessive), but telling just bits and pieces seems dishonest. And at the same time, as I have become closer and closer with the people I’m working with, and more interconnected with my projects, everything starts to feel just a bit too personal that I haven’t even known where to start in trying to share some of the stories and experiences.
As I write this, I am swinging in a hammock at the Maya Moon Lodge, a new eco-hostel located on the shores of Lake Atitlan, between Tzununa and San Marcos. I’m here for a yoga retreat, trying to aprovechar my last few days at the lake and also take some time to myself to reflect and process. Especially over the past few months, I have felt like I’ve been constantly moving at warp speed – traveling all over the place for work and for fun, climbing a million volcanoes, meeting new people, trying out new projects – and though I’ve tried, it’s been hard to take a step back to just reflect, to think about what I learned and what I experienced, and try to figure out what’s the right next step for me. So I’m here, staring at the huge lake and three volcano peaks, trying (and sort of failing) to find a way to figure out this whole “Guatemala experience,” tie it up with a nice bow, and get ready to leave.
Juana said something to me on Thursday that’s helped me process all of these thoughts over the past few days. We were talking about the horrible rains and the damage that they’ve already caused to Juana’s house – especially troubling as rainy season started like, two days ago – and she said to me, in typical positive Juana fashion: “Pues, si no viene la lluvia, no crece la milpa” (Well, if the rain doesn’t come, the corn won’t grow). And it’s true – if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that the good comes with the bad, there’s always a story behind something you don’t initially understand, and sometimes, you just have to be content with never really understanding something, and just be able to appreciate it. You can’t pull yourself out of an experience nor try to make yourself someone you are not, but especially when living in a foreign country, doing a job that takes you way out of your comfort zone on a daily basis, what better way is there to figure out the essence of what it really means to be “you?”
Thanks for the amazing times, Guatemala! Now on to the next adventure…