Well…it’s been almost one month since I’ve been back in the U.S. after living in Guatemala for almost two years… and I have to say…re-entry has been enlightening.
With Guatemala, its customs, its conditions and its people still fresh on my mind, jumping back into the U.S. way of being has allowed me to see and appreciate both countries with a new perspective.
Let me share and compare some of those perspectives.
Driving. (Winner – U.S.)
Driving in Guatemala is organized chaos. The lanes are very narrow and mean nothing. If a car, truck or bus can fit on it…you drive on it. Chicken buses rule the road and are very aggressive…if they want your lane…they are going to take it. I remember praying each time I got behind the wheel in Guatemala, and luckily I did ok.
Driving in the U.S. is wonderful. Most everyone follows the rules, drives in their amply wide lanes, obeys traffic signals and so on. Roads are well marked, and streets have signs and numbers. Wonderful!
Food. (Winner – Guatemala)
The food in Guatemala is wonderful! The markets are everywhere, and there is nothing “marked as organic”…because it’s ALL organic! Carrots are as big as the end of a baseball bat, and fresh fruits of all kinds are for sale on every street corner. The meats are all grain and grass fed, and although they are not a huge part of the daily diet, they are great quality. The best part is the price! Cheap, cheap, cheap!
I’ve been in “food sticker shock” ever since I got back! The average cost of breakfast with two eggs, hashed browns, bacon, toast, coffee and orange juice is roughly $10.00, and in Guatemala, I would spend about $5.00 for the same thing. Also, while the number of restaurants and choices in the U.S. far outnumber Guatemala…I have to say…I still dream about some of my meals in Guatemala.
People. (Winner – Guatemala)
The people in Guatemala are wonderful. They are courteous, helpful and happy. They may not engage you first, but once you muster the guts to engage them…you’ve got an instant friend. They look you in the eye as you pass on the street and always return the smile you give them. The family is huge to Guatemalans, and they spend lots of time together…just being together…and they love it.
In the U.S., people seem busy, preoccupied and anxious about something or other. Most conversations I hear, (yes, I’m eavesdropping on the conversations of others…), are people complaining about politics, family, their job or something. It’s rarely good conversation…always problems. Most people are doing something on their phones rather than looking around and engaging in the world around them. That’s unfortunate and more than anything; I wish that change.
Creature Comforts. (Winner – U.S.)
I have to say…I don’t miss wondering if I am going to have water from one day to the next! Many times in Guatemala, I would turn on my faucet and hear that dreaded gurgling sound. I also don’t miss the noise. The sounds of Chicken buses, the loudspeakers on the Zeta Gas trucks blaring their sales jingle, the constant explosions of firecrackers at daybreak for signifying someone’s birthday and roosters that crow at all hours of the night. Nope…I don’t miss those things.
Being home in the U.S., it’s funny how quickly I take these things for granted. Of course, I’ll have water…and I can even drink it if I want! Although there is noise, it seems to be a constant hum of traffic that is almost relaxing. I can turn on TV and get all sorts of channels…and I can understand everything they are saying! Also, if I need something, there is always a store that has it, or I can order it online and have it delivered in days! Something that was never an option in Guatemala.
Yep, I have to say that being back in the U.S. is nice in many respects. I’ve been able to see my family and friends and I don’t worry about my safety and day to day life is just…easier. However, I most certainly miss many aspects of my Guatemalan home. I miss my friends; I miss feeling that “connection” with people, I miss the smiles and laughter, I miss the beautiful children and hardworking work ethic of their parents. I especially miss seeing how far $10 will last me!
Re-entry has been enlightening…and I hope I can carry the best of what I experienced in Guatemala with me and share it here in the U.S., but I also realize the unrest that will always live inside me…as expressed best in this quote:
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
― Miriam Adeney