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Adios Guate!

Balam and me at the CONAVIGUA office
It's still pre-dawn and I just woke from a horrible Larium-induced nightmare. I can't get back to sleep, so I quietly get up and take a shower. It may be the last hot (ok, well, lukewarm) shower that I get for a while, so I want to have time to enjoy it before everyone else gets up and needs the bathroom.

This is the hardest part of travelling for me-the leaving part. I've just made friends, learned my way around the city, and figured out all the little cultural norms and niceties. I finally remember the names of everyone in the office. I've got Guatemalan slang down pat, and know whom to ask and where to go when I need different things. I've just started to understand a little but of Quiche. And now I'm leaving, and will start all over in a different place, a different culture.

Adios Guatemala

Your green folds of mountains, gardened so steep
Volcanoes sprung up, leaving lakes flowing deep

Your bright, woven colors, distinct to each place
The elder's weathered eyes, the smile on a child's face

Hand made tortillas, cooked fast on a flame
Tamales, pazoles all made from the same

The thick jungle canopy, forming fertile, virgin land
The jungle community, living in sync with nature's plan

The river to the Caribbean, a paradise of forest and sea
The Garifuna people, your spirit will stay with me

Ruins of disappeared kingdoms, but the culture still shines through
The rulers may have warred, but the quiet always knew

Through oppression and through torture, you learned to withstand and grow numb
The World's finally hearing, your time for justice has come

Adios Guatemala, y gracias por todo…


I never know what to do or say right before I leave. I wish I could just disappear, and not have to say "good-bye." It's always so sad. "When will you be back?" everyone asks. "You'll write, won't you?" I'm so much taller than all these women that I have to bend in several places to complete the requisite hugs and kisses on the cheeks. Balam, the third son of Jorge and Marivel, keeps trying to tempt me into playing just a little bit more.

As soon as Kavitha and I leave, though, I remember the thrill of travelling. I'm finally leaving Guatemala! I've never been farther south than this in my life. I start reading what the guidebook has to say about El Salvador and Honduras. I check the map and the travel times between places, trying to figure out where I can go and what I can do between now and the next group meeting. The bus passes through open countryside and more mountainous terrain.

Happy Balam will be sad to see me leave!
We cross the border into El Salvador, wait in line for all the necessary passport stamping, pay for the tourist visa, put up with the luggage check, and change some money with one of the dozen men waiting there, anxious to make a deal. That's when it becomes real to me. I have to think in different money now. Every dollar is worth eight and one-half Salvadoran colons (named after Cristobal Colon, which is Spanish for Christopher Columbus). Kavitha and I both spend time examining the different bills and denominations, each with various pictures and colors.

The bus continues on to San Salvador, weaving through the hills, passing through towns and villages. We pull into San Salvador after dark, and are both blown away by the smell of the air. Man, I thought the air pollution was bad in Guatemala City! So here we are, in a hotel in San Salvador. What next?! Stay tuned!


Abeja - Mosquitos Can Be A Nightmare
Abeja - My Stomach Hurts (KID'S VERSION)
Kavitha - The Branding of Puerto Barrios
Kavitha - Elections in El Salvador--A Hopeful Future from a Tragic Past?
Monica - Of Drugs and Dancing: Social Change in Quepos
Kevin and Shawn - Students on the Streets to PROTEST!
Help Protect Guatemala's Street Children!
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