Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why Guatemala?

Central America is calling my name. I've been to Europe 3 times now- I want to be somewhere that is completely different....and....well, I was advised not to go to my first choice, Honduras. They also don't offer a volunteer teaching english program there. A friend of mine met someone who was held and knife point and robbed in Honduras. From the research I have done and the people that I have talked to, Guatemala doesn't seem to be much better although Antigua (where i will be staying with my host family) has a reputation for being smaller and safer than most other places in the country. That is somewhat reassuring, but at the same time I can't see myself staying in the same town for an entire month. Apparently there are a few "highways" that car robberies frequently occur on. I can't wear jewelry or "nice" clothing because it would make me a target of a robbery or mugging. My friend Yolanda who is Guatemalan says, "They will kill you for that." I would also like to go back to Spain eventually, so to learn Spanish would be to my advantage. Una mas cervesa por favor?

...And I have been on the verge of change now for too long. I became too comfortable with my routine and my paychecks. It seemed like too much work sometimes to get my resume and portfolio ready and go through that grueling job search process again, to put myself out there like a car salesman just to be stuck at a computer all day. I got lazy. But I realized that life is short and that if I died tomorrow, would I be happy with what I did with my life? Did I accomplish anything worthwhile? Did I make myself happy?

I am wondering how my life will change. I think (and hope) I will not be the same person when I get back. I thought that same thing when my dad passed away though, and here I am, still stubborn and back to most of my old ways, though I have had some epiphanies because of my dad's sudden death. I imagine not wanting to come back....from a country so poor and run down and different from the empire I live in now. Can you imagine wanting to live with as little as these beautiful people have? Perhaps only their happiness will reassure me that I am in the right place. Although it is dangerous and poor, I know that I like it there. I will identify with the place and the people in some way. It will feel like home.

I imagine the shock of adjusting to not having all the luxuries like hot water, reliable electricity and internet everyday. I know it will not be easy. I know I will doubt the decision I made to be there sometimes. Hopefully I will learn and experience things that will make me a better, stronger person. I know being there will not fix all my issues and wounds, but I see it as a journey into myself. If I detach myself from my comfort zone I can come to some real, deep realizations and find myself, learn about myself and reevaluate where I am mentally and where I will go mentally and physically after my journey.

I question myself. I question why, when my dad just passed away, when my family needs me the most, when I have realized that I want to be closer to them and to good friends or to anyone, why I am going away like this. I know its only a month, but I am abandoning my secure life here which includes my well-paying job with benefits, a reliable vehicle, a solid group of friends, a gorgeous apartment, Powell's right down the street, and a pop culture that I hate so much. Am I running away from something? Or am I running, trying to find myself? I had this idea to travel and teach abroad before my dad died. It's funny too, because just the weekened before my dad's death, I was posting ads on craigslist for au pair and teaching english positions abroad. It's crazy how things coincide; perhaps certain events even motivate me more to do the things that I want to do. My dad's death only postponed the adventure. I am at peace because i know my dad would have supported my decision and would have been proud that I was helping, volunteering and doing something that makes me happy. And that makes me happy.

I always crave a different perspective.


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