First Impressions

coffee beans

Coffe beans drying out on the roof at the school in Guatemala. Talk about freshly ground coffee!

We’ve only been in Guatemala for 72 hours now, and much has happened since then. In that time, I’ve had a few realizations that I wanted to share.

We are definitely going to learn Spanish. Between the 4 hours a day of lessons, and the three hours or more a day of meal times with our host family, we are surrounded with opportunities to hear and speak Spanish. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been completely immersed in a culture, right down to living with people whose language I’m trying to learn. So far, after just two days of Spanish classes, Matt and I are glad to have chosen this school, and have confidence that we’ll come away with better listening and speaking skills.

If there is a reason to love the US (of which there are many), it is for its organized systems of water and garbage. Two things that always strike me as my least favorite part of traveling abroad are water and garbage. For me, water includes purified drinking water, water for cooking, water for bathing, for washing hands, for using the bathroom…I admit that I miss the ease with which we have readily available drinking water and well-built water systems in the US. Regarding garbage, based on the amount of garbage seen alongside the roads, in canyons, and in random piles in the streets, there doesn’t seem to be a great system set in place for the disposal of things. I may see some litter in the streets in the US, but nothing that comes close to the garbage I’ve witnessed in other countries. While these factors do detract from the enjoyment of other countries, I realize they are an integral part of really living the experiences that the country has to offer, and wanted to bring them up as two major things that are so strikingly different from life in the US.

I am a wimp. I left the US feeling like a bada**, to be honest. We had just finished the 100 miler, I was still walking around the airport with a limp and swollen legs, and I wanted to tell the world that I just ran 100 miles. Fast forward to my car ride from the airport to the small town in which we’re living, San Pedro, where I see men and women living a very hard life. Hard in the sense that nothing comes easily, manual labor is still very much a part of people’s everyday life, and there is no such thing as running 100 miles for fun. I witnessed men and women carrying upwards of 120 pounds of dry goods like beans, corn and wood, up and down steep hills in the countryside, and I thought to myself, “These people could put me to shame. I am such a softy!” Sure, I ran 100 miles, but I also knew it was just a day of working hard, and that I was choosing a harder path for a short period of time. I realized that I was choosing to do events such as running 100 miles to basically simulate the life some people of the world live every day. It was an interesting realization, and I can’t completely explain it, but it was amazing to be so humbled after such a huge accomplishment. I don’t feel like my accomplishment is anything less at this point, but it was a good reminder that there are a million ways to live a life, and they are all happening at the same time in this world, whether we realize it or not.

That is all for now. There is a lot happening every day, and I am glad to be experiencing all these things with Matt. If anything, we are each other’s break from Spanish so that we can speak a little bit of English for some mental sanity.

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