Don’t Think Just Go…

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 didn’t  did panic.

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 may have been lost but found this...
I may have been lost but found this…

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. 

Just go!
Just go!

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.

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