When I was in Mexico I really didn’t want to go back to Xela. I was in love with the wonderful food, the safety, and the wide streets that made running so much easier than in Xela. I was dreading returning to my sad cell block of a room and the carb hunger diet. I call it the carb hunger diet because when all you eat are carbs you are ravenous all the time, which leads to a starvation-binge cycle that makes you feel simultaneously like a fat cow, but also horribly hungry. I was dreading returning to my standoffish host family who never spoke to us and didn’t allow us in their living area (we were only allowed in our tiny rooms, the dining areas during meals, and the quasi outside shower).
Needless to say when I got back to Xela I basically moved into the hostel that Kane is at, staying with him every night and only returning to my homestay for the food that I had already paid for and to get new clothes. Sometime during this first week back I found out that another guy in my immersion program had decided to move out of his homestay. His decision gave me the courage to ask if we had to move into another homestay or if we could get the money for an apartment. I asked because Kane was already looking for an apartment for the last two months in Guatemala and since I’d be staying there most nights anyway it would make more sense for me to just move out of my homestay and use the program money towards rent.
They said yes, so I got my stuff together, found a beautiful studio with Kane, and said good bye and good riddance to my host family. I didn’t actually say that, I said thank you for everything, but I left just about as quick as I could. It was the best decision I could have made. Ever since I have been out of that negative house I have been a thousand times happier. Kane and I have been cooking beautiful meals of roasted vegetables and meat so I haven’t been hungry thus the starvation-binge cycle has been broken and I feel better in general. I hadn’t realized how much my homestay experience was affecting my feelings about Guatemala until I left. When I was there I was unhappy and unable to let the rougher side of Xela roll off me; every cat call pissed me off, every death trap of a side walk made me rage against the entire city, and every meal with my host family made me hate the entirety of Guatemalan food.
Now that I have my own space, can cook my own meals, and escape Guatemala every once in a while, I appreciate Guatemala so much more. I can see the beauty in the lush, green jungle. I can see the strength in the Guatemalan women who walk up the steepest volcanoes in traditional dress and Walmart flip flops. I can see the friendliness in a mid afternoon buenos tardes from an old man on the street. I can see the joy for living in a people so disadvantage and trodden down by the oppression of decades long war and a government that is not for the people or by the people. My sight had been clouded by my discomfort and now that I’ve found a way to be happy I feel like I’ve rediscovered Guatemala. The parts of Guatemala that bothered me before still exist, but now that I’ve found my place I can accept them and move on to the parts of Guatemala that inspire me.