How can I even begin to capture in words, in letters, in pictures or in stories what these 6 months in Guatemala have meant to me?
How can I even begin to describe what it has felt like to open up my bleeding heart to strangers? Some of which touch that raw beating organ with a gentle touch and said ‘thank you’. This is beautiful. I too have a heart that aches. Others. Not deserving of that openness. O the beauty and pain that comes from an exposed heart.
How can I even begin to write about the non-scientific method of journaling, blogging, processing? Two journals in 6 months. One of which found its way into a soggy trash bin in Hampstead Health, approximately 5,475 miles away from its home in Xela. The other an emerging love letter about self-exploration and discovery. One blog. A story of my own evolution. A space that I have decided to making uniquely Paige Elisabeth. A webpage that is not a travel blog but a place where travel inspires me to better understand myself and the world. A place I am thankful that others want to share with me. A little box to hold my precious treasures.
How can I even begin to depict the fear of being physically unwell in a new country? The constant grumbling of my stomach as it yells ‘what are you doing to me’. Water fills my tear ducts as I try to explain it. I just want to use my own words. Instead I use the words that I know. Duele . Intestinanal. Malo. No. It’s more complicated then that. The places my mind wonders when I imagine needing more serious medical attention. Could I get home in 24 hours if I really needed too? Most likely no. Would I want to be there? Most likely yes. The security that I receive in living with a family who knows how to prepare my favorite soup when I am sick. Yet, the longing I feel at the thought of my mom’s mashed potatoes.
How can I even begin to translate what it has meant to enter into la boca of another language? The tears that have come from a mixture of exhaustion and frustration. What it has meant to have people hold a tissue to those eyes, though I could not explain why I was crying. What it has been like to feel alien. Thank you to all the alien translators in my life. To the people who helped me to express myself in hand gestures, spanglish, tears and body movements. O the feeling of embarrassment when you make an egregious Spanish slip. When you accidentally say vale la peno instead of vale la pena. Intercambios and private lessons. From learning the alphabet on my second day to translating for others. The excitement felt after that first real conversation I had with my host mother. Her patience. The indescribable feeling that came when I understood her tell someone that she had 4 daughters. The 4th. Me.
How can I even begin to fathom the amount of gratitude I feel for the amazing people in my life?
For the man who loved me so much that he so respectfully let me fly. For the boy who taught me that I was whole on my own. For the bushy haired expat whose significance I am still processing but whose presence felt healing.
For the friends I have made along the way. How thankful I am to have people in my life that can relate to this new environment. Friends whom I find comfort in daily. For the friends who have never seen my life here but care to ask how I am doing. For the hundreds of hours of crying and laughing over video chat. My heart glows with joy after our conversations. To continually invest in one another even from thousands of miles away is a gift.
For my family. Thank you to the women who said they did not support me going on this journey yet have turned out to be my biggest cheerleads. To these women. You choose to love and support me even when you didn’t understand why your baby girl would run to Guatemala. You are my best friends. For my dad whose excitement continually fuels me when things feel rough. For my brother who can now relate to the feeling of missing home. To all my family. Your love has helped guide me during these mysterious times.
For my Guatemalan family. For the badass women I live with. You welcomed me into your home for a year after knowing me for a week. Your love for one other is a rare and powerful gift.
For my maestras. For one special firecracker in particular who has been my rock throughout this process. For las señoras, los niños y mi amigos at Education and Hope. To the woman who took a risk in welcoming me into such a special community. I walk into work every week knowing that I am being held in the arms of a beautiful and powerful community.
As I move into the next half of my trip I will remember many lessons. Some of which I will continue to carry and curate for a lifetime. Others of which I will leave in that journal in a soggy trash bin in Hampstead Heath.
The resounding lesson. Though all change is loss, what has been won from those changes has made me a stronger woman.
In these 6 months I have danced with a wolf and wrestled with my own beasts. Surrendered the comforts of one language to learn another. Recklessly loved strangers and began to learn what it means to love myself. Discovered how much I needed myself in realizing how much I didn’t need you. What it has meant to love deeply, no strings attached. To let someone that you love go because you knew that you carried those strings in your hands all along.
How can I even begin to describe the feelings of realizing that I only have one life.