Saturday, December 15, 2007

Death Before Dishonor

After three flights, eight hours of trying to sleep with my face plastered on the fast food tables of the Mexico City airport, having fate mockingly place my departure gates in the furtherest possible terminal from my arrival gates, and spending seven hours of a five hour bus ride, I've arrived to my first stop, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

The strenuous travel in the beginning sacked my awareness that I was even starting a life changing journey. It wasn't until we were flying above clouds of cotton candy consistency, did I realize how beautiful this truly is. I spent the next seven hours doing one of the things that make me feel most liberated: staring out the window of a traveling bus.

I know I may be technically breaking the Bonderman rules since I've already been to this town four months ago, but one thing I picked up while traveling last time is the differentiation between "visiting" a place and "knowing" a place. I find it interesting to think of places as we do people because in many cases, the people make the places and just like people, places change as well. Stores now close earlier simply because dusk falls sooner. The cadence of life changes with the seasons.

Upon the reunion of my old host family, I find another member visiting from the States. Sergio, a new host brother. We get along immediately since we both find passion in the combat arts and in contrast to his older brother Pablo, whom I bounded friendship with four months beforehand, Sergio does not smoke or drink excessively. Apparently other things have also transpired within those four months as Pablo has had some late night run-ins with Nicaraguan gang members. Sergio, the younger of the two, now carries a flip out police baton every time we go out. Strangely enough these type of situations are familiar to certain times of my adolescent years, but also foreign since I've already been able to say farewell to them.

Part of me thinks of leaving, but that realization is what stops me. People both here and back home in the States do not have that choice, they do not have that luxury of safety as a readily available option. From what I hear, Pablo did nothing to provoke this guy. He was only being his cheerful self and from what I remember of him, I believe it. Things like this are not fair. The reality of choice being restricted to some is not fair and I'm tired of playing an unfair game.

Of course I am not going to do anything reckless or irrational, so there is no cause for major concern, but I've realized that much of this journey has been about fear. Fear of loss, of accepting life and death, fear of the unknown. I spoke earlier of feeling free, but I know that it is only when one sheds their fear that one truly free. Perhaps this situation has been conflated to something it really isn't, which often times these type of things are, but this is a microcosm of what this entire journey is about. This is the first test. And I'm the lucky one, I'm the one being selfish and self-absorbed. This whole thing is not even about me, but about a friend who needs good people to stand with. I think I can manage at least that much.


Anonymous said...

hello nick! hello guatamala!

remember to eat right and keep warm/cool. and no fighting!



Anonymous said...

i was just thinking yesterday how i miss going abroad because of that adventurous rush i get, the sense of freedom, the escape, and the hightened senses. i'll be following you around the globe through your blog while im here in the bubble that is santa barbara. thanks for your thoughts.

i love that you're in xela right now, since that's where we know each other. you have to eat a chocolate dipped frozen fruit for me (pina, mango, fresa, and banano are the best). don't hesitate to take a trip via chicken bus to the pacific because you and i both know it's f*cking gorgeous. i know you're gonna visit your boxing gym. also, take a slow walk through the cemetery. and remember: xelapan and concerts for gringos are overrated.

thanks for bringing back the memories, and recognizing that xela is/will be different every time you go back.