I have a bad habit: I take too many pictures. Which I guess wouldn’t be too bad if I didn’t wait to edit and share them every other blue moon. Well you guessed it, this is what I’m doing right now, deleting, editing, posting pictures of me, my life, my happenings of my last few months. I guess this entry is a pathetic attempt at taking a break and processing. Anywho, going through all these pictures always inspires some sort of glorious, touching blog entry, and well this one is perfect, as I sit here approaching my last few months of service.
I look through pictures of volcanic hikes, health promoter graduations, dog obsessions, hiv meetings, vagina monologues, bottle bench construction, material deliveries, stove demonstrations, random travels and wonder if I’ll ever look back at these, and smile stupidly, chuckling to myself, “wow, I had no idea what I was doing, or even who I was.” You know sort of how we look back now at our college pictures and think, “wow, well that took about 10 years off my life.”
I’ve always liked to look back at my past as a series of different lifetimes, you know there was Esther, the painfully shy child, then Esther, the obnoxious All-American prom queen, then the stubborn, opinionated, college savage, then the lost travelling European bum, which then returned as a jaded, disillusioned NYer, which gave birth to the present Esther writing to you now. Who do I think I am now? I’m not sure, I suppose a sort of strange awkward jungle animal, maybe even an enlightened baboon.
I guess all this philosophical jargon is my attempt to explain how far I am from who I was, or who you knew.... as me. I find it hard to even remember who I was before coming to this country. Who am I now? Well I guess, I’m more patient, believe it or not, but still very much erratic and spontaneous. I go to sleep at 8:30PM, I get woken up by an anxious dog who lives day and night for me to take her out every morning. I hike to work now, and I still think of things I miss on the way up the mountain, snowboarding, fast internet, efficiency. I spend my day trying to spit out a mayan language about .000000001% of the world knows, just so people here like me (I think they do, they do!) I spend my days accustomed to seeing bare-footed children, dogs pying on fresh lettuce in the market, and being fed strange, mysterious meat. I spend my weekends between hiking mountains & volcanoes and of course, hanging out with friends, and bitching about well, what exactly we’re doing here. And yes, I’m still single (surprise!!)
The truth is I feel completely happy here, I feel at home. So people ask me almost every day what will I be doing when I leave? Well, I don’t know, I suppose I can just stay. The truth is I don’t picture a life outside of this Guatemalan bubble here anymore. Am I scared? Not sure really. Maybe I’m scared of not being able to tick fast enough to the world’s clock again.
Alas, you know me… I’m always looking for a new adventure, a rebirth, and thus far, these include - teaching English to Buddhist monks in Nepal, learning how to sing like a gypsie in Spain, volunteering in a health program in Liberia, learning Mandarin in China, and definitely not going back to school…. Just yet.
As usual, all of this can be summed up in one song, actually this time, it's an Elliot Smith lyric: “Drink up baby, and look at the stars.” I haven’t stopped saying this to myself lately, and as I drink and thirst away (don't worry not literally) and absorb all that’s Guatemalan around me, I keep looking at the stars, rather they be Liberian, Nepalese, Chinese, Spanish, Cuban or just plain Guatemalan stars.
A 6AM view of Guatemala, from the tallest peak in Central America - Volcano Tajamulco, which I just hiked recently.
Volcan tajamulco's shadow from the peaking sun behind and the super moon still awake ahead!
My dog, Tay'in and I, on top!
Little Juan Carlos, a regular on the blog, and his mum, during material delivery day for my stove and cement floor project!
Girls playing on our jumbo eco-bottles during our bench construction