Updated: May 26, 2019
By: Mitchell Skowbo
Unlike the previous posts, I am going to begin this entry with a quick synopsis of our day before expanding on this trip as a whole and give a small poetic story that I thought might be inspiring to read.
Our third day here in Guatemala was not as busy as the second, but just as much enjoyable. We began the morning with a delicious authentic breakfast of fruit, fried plantains, and eggs, before heading to the CEDEPCA office where we spent the mjorning with a man named Shorty and three individuals that were under his care as he helps those escape gang related violence. Next, after driving an hour away from the city, we met with the Women Weavers group and were touched by their stories of having to flee their homes because of violence during the Guatemala Civil War. Another two hour drive later brought us to the gorgeous lake Atitlan with views that meet the sublime. Our dinner experience a quite interesting with a comical dinner host that words can’t capture his lively spirit.
As as a student studying Architecture I have been guided to see the world in a slightly different way. This doesn’t mean I study buildings all the time. Architects have the difficult and very special job of shaping how people live. When I travel, I don’t go to buy trinkets and see the touristy things. Rather, I go to see the people and how they live their lives, interact with the world, and touch those around them. I also look at their structures but that isn’t the only thing I see. I look at the abodes and buildings of the Guatemaltecan people and it is like a metaphor of the people as a whole. These structures aren’t by any means fancy, made from cheaper materials, and sometimes just scrap corrugated metal and wood or sometimes a bit more refined made with concrete block. Their homes maybe cramped or appear messy on the outside, but they are SHELTER and they are beautiful. These structures are a direct image of how Guatemaltecanos make the most of what they have with so much care in their work. They may not be a wealthy population, but they make the best of their circumstances and try to make the most of their lives by doing as much as they can.
This third day of our trip is perhaps the most humbling day for me. This morning I was disheartened to read all of the terrible things that are happening in Guatemaltecan newspaper about corruption in their government, drug related issues, and their sadness because of the USA’s mal treatment of those being detained or deported. They have children and adults dying in our ‘care’ at the borders and share stories of the inhumane treatment they experience, like having to drink from toilets because they aren’t given even water, or developing respiratory problems because they are hoses down by our officers and have to stay in their wet clothes in the cold. When listening to the Women Weavers and Short & the three individuals under his care, it was incredibly humbling. Despite all the chaos and crime surrounding the people here, they carry on with their daily lives with hope and spirit. Many of the people who we spoke to today were at peace or even happy, and it was the small things like getting a basic education or pseudo-safety from the gangs that they considered luxuries. I think the USA could learn a lot from the mindset of the Guatemaltecanos and from their work ethics. The people here have a lot of hope for their country, and a lot of pride for their history, and I hope these things are something that doesn’t slip away from any country, community, or culture.