Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All good things must come to an end...

After having spent two years living and working in San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, I now call it home. It has been a tremendous two years, many things, good and bad, have happened! I have experienced numerous things I never thought I would get to do but I have also experienced difficulties. Through it all I have been extremely content with my life, it has been full of friendship, love, laughter, heartache and pain but realizing that my life can be full and rich with no more than a cinder block house, a cement floor, running water for an hour a day and less than $300 a month was the ultimate experience.

As I say good bye to the place and the people that have become my home and family, I am reflecting on what I have learned, how I have changed and what I have experienced. The following are some of things I have learned…
Genuine Generosity
Needs vs. Wants
Coffee grows on a tree
Friendships transcend cultural differences
I love doing laundry by hand
A love of fresh fruits and vegetables
Nothing is ever as it seems
To relax (most of the time)
I am not always right (hehe)

Some things I have done…
Hiked a volcano and felt the heat of flowing lava
Ran a marathon
Picked, processed, roasted and ground coffee
Hike for three days in the mountains of Guatemala
Went to Panama and Honduras
Scaled ancient Mayan temples at Tikal
Burned my feet on the black volcanic sand of the Guatemalan beaches
Pooped my pants
Built 15 improved wood burning stoves (with the help of family and friends)
Formed some amazing friendship (with both volunteers and Guatemalans)

How have I changed:
This may come as a surprise but I have become much more laid back…I can go with the flow more often than not! I have realized that you live one life and you should do the things you want to do. Family and friends are the most important thing in life and nothing should stand in the way of that! Simplicity has given me a rare gift, the gift of being content. Over the last two years there have been very few things that I have desired or lusted after. Although my shower wasn’t always hot, at least I had a shower. Although my toilet didn’t always flush at least it wasn’t a latrine. Although my clothes were always damp and musty during the rainy season at least they were clean. There are a lot more “althoughs” so I guess what I am trying to say is that I have learned the difference between a want and a need. I want a hot shower or I want a flushable toilet but I need other things more. I am a different person than when I came but I wonder how this different person will fit into life in the States!

There are a number of things I am going to miss:
Tortillas – the intoxicating sound of women making tortillas
The kids I have watched learn to walk and talk
Drunk guy on the corner by my house
Market days
Fijase que – expression used to prefaces something bad
Saber – Who knows
Puliki (sp?) – the best food in the world
My brother, sisters, and my host mom and dad- they are amazing, loving and generous people
Someone driving me everywhere – aka the bus drivers
My volunteer friends who remain, Candy, Rachel and Kate – you have been amazing friends Thank you
All of the women who became my friends and confidants- to you I am truly grateful
The parties everyone throws for anything and everything
Running on the dirt roads outside of town

What I have to learn again:
How to use utensils – a tortilla is not longer going to be my fork, spoon and knife
Chu chu is not an except able form of communication
I cannot wag my finger at someone to tell them NO
No longer can I go three days without a shower
To throw toliet paper in the toliet
I must wear clothes that do not have holes in them
I can no longer speak Spanglish
I cannot talk in circles until someone understands my point
I can no longer be an hour late and still be early
No longer is reading a book in my hammock an expectable form of work

The lists can go on and on but this gives you some idea of what has happened over the last two years. Thank you to all who have read my blog, written me emails, facebooked me or have kept me in your thoughts, it means more to me than I can express.

I hope that you all have learned something about Guatemala and Peace Corps through my blogs. Although many of my entries have been uninspired I hope that each of you find your own way to contribute to the great global good, through service within your own community or in other communities across the nation and world.

I remember people telling me that when you leave you will feel like you have gained more than you have done…I always wondered if that was going to be true for me but it is! I have received more kindness, love, friendship and knowledge than I could have ever hoped to give. It is truly amazing how someplace so different can become so right, a place to call home.

As I board the plane tomorrow I know I will be excited but right now it feels like I am leaving my home, San Martin Jilotepeque, Guatemala.

1 comment:

RJS said...

Hey Mackenzie!
I just stumbled across your blog on your FB page. Too bad I didnt do that earlier-I love to hear about the things that other people I know are doing. From this post your trip sounded wonderful and really inspirational-My mother in law and I were talking about how we would love to join the Peace Corps, but I'm not sure if thats in my fuure or not! Congratulations on the marathon-that is also one of my lifelong goals, I'm doing the Indy mini this May and hopefully, eventually the Chicago marathon! I will check back to see if you are continuing your blog or not-Welcome back to the States....Its freezing here!