Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Well. It's Been Emotional.

Within the course of the past seven weeks, my host family has put me through a rollercoaster of nearly every possible human emotion, from joy to sadness to frustration. This whole experience has taken a lot out of me, but I’ve also received much more in return. Sometimes I would be confused as to why their personal affairs or quarrels would affect me, but during my stay, my friend Jessica introduced me to the concept of “traveling without consequences”; essentially the freedom that most travelers have to pick and choose what aspects of a country should affect their immediate reality, meaning we can absorb all its beautiful splendors and ignore its deep rooted problems, because humans are innately drawn to comfort.

I think I unknowingly waved that right as I have been personally invested in many of the on goings of this family. Of course I’ve always had the choice of shutting my door and drowning out my surroundings with literature or music. I also realize that ultimately my choice to be involved in their affairs has been just that, a choice. But I believe that I’ve still felt some of the pain endured here, both physically and mentally, more so than others. It’s just that I don’t feel it is right to choose our experiences when traveling rather than taking the place for what it is. It’s unjust to “travel without consequences” because in the end it doesn’t make us better people; it only conditions us to avoid the discomforting things that we can’t stomach in this world and in ourselves.

I’ve learned more about both in these seven weeks than I have in almost any college course either at home or abroad. And these moments haven’t been in the tranquility of a lake or at the peak of a volcano, but as my friend Carston said, it is in the little, often unnoticed moments that you share with others. Like the nights of “Jungle Speed” where all you thought about was grabbing a wooden stick when the symbols of two cards matched, or games of “Mexican Dominos,” where for the first time I didn’t wonder as to where its name came from but instead only cared about making sure the ends fit into a multiple of 5. But the most meaningful moments have been during my late-night “chevere” (hot-dog) runs with my host brother Sergio, whom after this experience, has been more of a brother to me than a host.

It’s interesting how the power of place can bring people together because had we met in the States, more than likely, we would not have gotten along. Being that he comes from the rather segregated mindset of Oklahoma, our opinions drastically differ on certain topics, such as race. But one thing that struck me was that he told me I was fortunate to be able to witness all these things, good and bad, because in the end, it would make me a better person. He told me not everyone gets the chance to witness things like the “trash incident”, and that is how ignorance is born; that you can’t blame people for not knowing certain things and behaving in accordance. Being that many of his family’s own personal struggles can be attributed to the ignorance of others, it made me wonder why he could forgive their thinking and I couldn’t.

I hope “bitterness” is one of the things I’ve left behind and that “patience” and “understanding” is something that I’ve gained. I hope I can find peace for myself because there are so many things I can’t make peace with. I’ve managed to find new things despite my familiarity to this place and I somehow come up with new stories to tell everyday. I’m saddened to be leaving behind those who gave me that knowledge, but I know its time to move on. I know I’ll pick up more things and leave others behind, perhaps for someone else to use on their own journey. I guess that’s exactly what traveling is. But sometimes I also feel as if I’ve been here for too long, my mind keeps nagging me to leave, but I figure it’s hard to come by the experiences that make you want to stay. It’s hard to come by those moments that you want to hold onto. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

(The infamous "chevere" brothers)


Anonymous said...

I'm happy you are able to work through your thoughts. Yeah, I'm not going to be too concerned about you. You're a tough one.

August Flanagan said...

Late night chevere runs...I miss them! Guatemala really is the best country ever. Honduras is pretty good too. Enjoy and let me know where you are headed.

Anonymous said...

im glad to hear these thoughts. no more bitterness.

Unknown said...

me encanta tu modo de pensar y escribir tu experiencia de la vida! i hope things are goin well with you...thanks for writing so much down, its beautiful.