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ruthless compassion
10 September 2007 @ 09:12 am
Lately, I've been feeling a deep longing for Guatemala. Big and little things remind me of aspects of Xela or other places or of my friends there or simply of the feeling of being there. I miss speaking Spanish every day, and the adventure of going to the market or catching a bus or ... well, I don't miss the adventure of taking a shower, but, hey, I have to acknowledge it wasn't all good.

When I was there in 2003, it was during the season of the presidential election, which happens every four years. It was a bitter election that year, as I've written about before (I'll try to dig up the link to that post if anyone's dying to read it) and it came out with the most Bush-esque player winning -- which was better than one of the possibilities, sadly enough.

Today, thanks to a reminder from desiringsubject I read that this year's first round was mostly peaceful. Well, the vote was, that is. I don't think you can call it a peaceful election if many candidates and activists were killed during the campaign season, as was the case this year. Still, you take what you can get.

So, I close my eyes and think of my friends in Xela. This morning, like almost every other Monday morning of the year, Carlos will be going over the week's schedule with the assembled students, and the coordinator (the job I've been offered repeatedly, and may take one of these years) will interpret it for students whose Spanish leaves them befuddled.

Maria will be bundling her weavings onto her head to display in the entryway in hopes of selling to students just-arrived and nearly-departed. The sun is almost certainly shining, promising a beautiful clear, sunny day, buses are honking and spewing black exhaust into the street, and everyone is wearing bright colors, shouting, calling, smiling, working, living.

Is it presumptuous of me to feel homesick for Xela? Probably. But I do, anyway. I figure if I miss the noise and pollution and catcalls as much as I miss the market, the people, the landscape... Hell, I even miss the lousy bread (though, to be fair, that may be because I associate it with the best (hot) chocolate I've ever had.)

I want to go to the market and rummage through avocados, tomatoes, onions. I want to go on a wild chili chase through the maze of the dark warren of stalls and tables. I want to suck the juice out of an orange while balancing with half my ass on an overcrowded school bus seat, squeezed between a young mother carrying a baby on her back and a dusty man with a machete, both of them shyly curious and friendly at this strange, rich, white woman with sticky juice all over her hands.
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