Today I was reading a lot of volunteer diaries on the IVHQ website, and I noticed a lot of people with fear about Guatemala. Some have even mentioned pulling the plug on the trip. I have also made instagram & twitter friends simply because they were going to Guate and they were scared and wanted to talk to me about it. I totally understand that pre-trip fear.
Which is why, I feel I need to write this, because I was just like them. I feel I need to share this in order to help people understand that no matter how scared they feel, they need to go!!!!!!!
As I said in a previous post I messed up and googled Safety in Guatemala…. about 30 days before I left. My excitement for the trip changed to dread & fear.
For 30 solid days, I read 100s yes 100s of stories about kidnappings, murders, drug fueled accidents, chicken buses getting robbed & flipping over. The week of my trip I was still debating on backing out, I was trying to think of excuses not to go.
What in the world did I get myself into?
What the heck was I thinking?
Have I lost my mind?
I am going to get (insert violent crime here)!
If I am going to be 100% honest here I even drafted an entire email to Chelsea the program coordinator (a fellow AWESOME Texan) saying I have the flu and can’t go, and would like to reschedule my time. Yes it would have been a lie… by this time I was in a pure panic. I just knew I was going to get murdered by some gang drug fueled person that wanted my scalp for a collection & then harvest my kidneys on the black market.
Sometimes I am a bit of a drama queen.
Finally my 80 year old self kicked in and talked a little reason and I slept for maybe a hour, then it was time to go to the airport.
Although again if I am being honest, I still upgraded my plane ticket to first class for $75 bucks, just in case I didn’t make it back. I always wanted to fly first class and this was a very cheap offer. I even gave my dad all my life insurance policy information. Again just in case.
When I arrived to the airport, the person picking me up was stuck and traffic and not there. I do not speak Spanish. I had no clue what to do. I remembered that this was a possible warning and was told NOT to panic, so of course I
A man came up to me and asked me if I needed his phone to call some one. I quickly called the person and was told he would be there in 10 minutes. The man smiled at me & walked away. He didn’t ask for anything in return.
This would be the first of many random acts of kindness I would experience in this country.
Once I arrived, I quickly realized I was going to have one HECK of a language barrier.
Yet I quickly learned, smiles are universal in every language, and even though I had zero clue what my house mother was saying 99.9% of the time I felt more at home in her home than some of my co-workers homes and we didn’t speak the same language.
I got so LOST in Antigua, that if it wasn’t for another person I would have just locked myself in my room the entire trip. (I promise the Maximo Novel HQ is easy to find once you get that Antigua is just a giant grid)
I caught a cold while there & was driven to a pharmacy (where again I don’t speak the language) but the pharmacist was so helpful we figured out what I needed with no issues. It was pretty funny actually it is funny what you can communicate with hand signals and dramatic gestures.
On my first day I found out I was going to have to ride chicken buses daily…. yes those chicken buses that I read get robbed all the time or flip over.
All I can say now is I am so grateful I experienced those bus rides… I have many fun filled stories because of the chicken bus experience. Once, I ended up in the lap of elderly man holding a baby goat. True Story.
Not one time did the bus get robbed or flip over.
So here is what I am going to tell you, future volunteers. Go. Make your own memories, don’t be scared.
Again, stuff does happen in Guatemala. Bad things happen all over the world. Be smart & you will have one of the best experiences of your life. I can promise you that.
Feel free to contact me at TheCubicleEscapee (at) yahoo (dot) com if you want to chat! I love meeting fellow travelers! Plus I can tell you many stories from my time in Antigua.