What a way to spend a Sunday. And such an Important Sunday at that — For the United States, we remember the Twin Towers attacks of ten years ago on this day. For Guatemala, it is election day for the new President and government.
It is an amazing thing to be down here during such exciting political times, and to be able to talk with Guatemalan’s about their opinions and what is going on in current events. Some things I have learned so far: no alcohol is sold starting 24 hours before election day and going until the morning of the following day. Great idea (Hint hint, US). There are ten different political parties that have candidates for the Presidency. People do not have to be literate to vote, since you just have to put an X on the symbol of the party you wish to vote for. Since it is unlikely for any one candidate to win the majority (50% plus one) then there will be a runoff election with the two top candidates in November, which I will also be present for. It is very exciting to be in another country for the change of government, and a little scary too. I hope to be an observant learner and see a peaceful election and change for the better come to this beautiful nation. Independence day is also coming up very soon here, on September the 15th. And of course the holiday I am most excited about? Dia de Los Muertes! All Saints Day is a big deal here, and the other students and I are planning to go to a festival of huge handmade kites in a nearby city’s cemetery — talk about a colorful culture!
Here is my group of companions and professors that are making this trip a fun and wonderful learning experience for me:
Today was also a day where being an American is very important. I felt very distant from my nation today as many were remembering the 9/11 attacks that happened ten years ago. It’s amazing, because ten years seems so long ago, but that event does not. As I am sure it is even more so for others, it is still quite vivid in my mind and heart. yesterday morning, however, I was provided with an extraordinary way of remembering the tragedy: I was speaking with Doña Christi and two Americans over breakfast about the attack on the Twin Towers and what it meant for each of us, where we were when it happened, and how we have been processing it since. The 85 year old lady of the house has two children who immigrated to New York many years ago and live in Long Island, so this event was very close to Christi’s heart as well. The amazing thing was being able to describe it and discuss it all in Spanish. Connecting to other cultures through languages is definitely a passion of mine.
The whole of today has been amazing and has allowed me to fall in love with Antigua and my Guatemala experience — started out with coffee grown right here around Antigua and pan dulce for breakfast, met up with some other friends who live here to go to a bi-lingual church and sang praise songs in Spanish, went out for a Guatemalan lunch (which includes a lot of yummy black beans and guacamol made with mint and lime) and had an SPU student get together over dinner talking about the great trips we get to have around the country after our two weeks of courses have ended (and we don’t have homework every night…). I am so truly blessed to be here, and I have never felt this comfortable in another culture. I am already starting to feel at home, and I am thankful for the fact that it’s going be a few months rather than weeks in which I am able to soak up as much as I can. I just feel like I belong in other cultures, and I know it’s something I will pursue for the rest of my life. Never will I want to stop going, seeing, experiencing this world and it’s beauties; and I thank God for all the opportunities I have to do so.
Blessings on this day of remembrance, change, and hope — Namaste