Well, I actually have been back for about 5 days. I had to take care of important business-my eyebrows and hair. After a month of wearing boots and looking “ruggedly”, I was excited to go back to my freshly pressed Polo’s and Sperry shoes- the preppy Americana look. Skirt and heels on Sunday were also a welcome change from the “outdoor” look I was rocking.
My last week in Guatemala was the most unscripted part of my journey- I was in 6 cities in about 6 days. I would tell you about but I need to leave something for the autobiography. What I can tell you is what I am taking from my month in Guatemala. Do not worry I will not launch into a speech about how my life has been in-reversely changed and how I am such a different person. I am not that dramatic and it would probably be a lie.
In Guatemala I was peaceful, patient and open to new things. I discovered I REALLY like refried beans and tortillas. Who would have known? I waited 2-3 hours for buses with no complaints. However, those changes have not survived the plane ride home. While trying to get a new Blackberry on Saturday as my frustration with the sales associate rose, the old Tabitha quickly reemerged.
Patience was not something I took home with me, but patience is overrated. What I hope to always remember is the kindness of others. With my home stays, particularly my family in Coban-they went above and beyond to insure that I was always comfortable and happy. Nabila- my Spanish teacher invited me back to Tactic to spend her birthday with her and her family. Again, doing everything in her power to make sure I was happy and comfortable. Her cousin allowed me to use her shower since the one at Nabila’s house did not have hot water. Even the kids were so great to me- this tall black girl in their house who spoke the worst Spanish ever. I am pretty sure that most American kids would ignore some strange person in their house who did not speak their language fluently. The day I was planning to leave Tactic to go back to Antigua-it was Dia de Banco or something ridiculous- which basically meant that the ATM’s were not working. I had enough for a bus ticket, but not much else. Nabila insisted on buying me a bus ticket so I would have money to eat while I was traveling. The amount of money she gave me was really insignificant in America- but was very significant for a single mother in Guatemala. I am used to encountering people who wouldn’t think of giving someone a dime even when they are very financially comfortable. Her act of kindness meant so much to me, this skinny, awkward, nerdy, “rough” looking black American girl- who she had only known for 2 weeks.
On my second trip to Antigua I meet 2 black Belizean men, who were so warm and genuine to me just because I was a fellow black traveler (ok the fact that I was walking around in tights probably helped out too). They cooked me dinner, wouldn’t allow me to help pay for the groceries or even wash the dishes and not once did they act inappropriate towards me.
Over and Over I encountered strangers who were more genuine and sincerely kind to me then the people who call themselves my friends will ever be. My aspiration is that I can pass the hospitality, kindness and that I experienced to those I encounter in my life. Seeing so much good in people so far from home motivates and challenges me to be better. The most important thing I gain in Guatemala is a friend through Nabila and I don’t use that term lightly. I rarely encounter people who do not make preconceptions about who I am based solely on my physicality- to find that was refreshing and beautiful.
Next stop for me is Atlanta, Georgia to witness the nuptials of good friend and possibly find a little trouble. 🙂
Then my fulltime focus will be on moving to Tempe, AZ.