By Lorena Garcia '16
After working hard for four weeks, my research team and I took a weekend get away to the historical colonial city of Antigua. We spent the weekend visiting various museums and also doing a couple of walking tours—one of these being the street food tour. “Of course!” you might say. Surprisingly, the best part of this tour was learning about the illustrious history of the city.
Also. we had the opportunity to see beautiful, exotic flowers as we walked through the city and an exquisite garden. The view was enchanting, as every flowerbed was filled with an array of colors, shapes and textures. It was everything my eyes wanted and more. I found myself clipping flowers off of their stems and stuffing them in my purse, but then my teammates asked me to stop because I was embarrassing them.
From this wonderful experience filled with flowers, and more flowers, I began to wonder about the origin all of this beauty. I realized that this same curiosity had already risen with the communities we are working with … Where did the beauty surrounding the lago de Atitlan originate from? Jaibalito is stocked with dragon fruit trees, Santa Cruz has beautifully stone paved pathways up and down its hills, Pajomel has Angel Trumpet trees everywhere and both Chuitzanchaj and Chaquichoy both have an abundance in avocados and onions.
All of these villages are beauties buried under adverse living conditions. Despite the circumstances, the people who live in these communities are some of the happiest and most graceful people I have ever met. The environment that they cultivate as they communicate, eat and work is one of the most joyous I have ever been enveloped in. They have very little, but are ever so appreciative for every one of those things. I once had a lady tell me, “Tenemos poco, pero lo poco que tenemos es más que sufficiente.” (We have little, but the little we have is more than sufficient.)
Through these past weeks, I have grown to admire their way of living. I appreciate the manner in which they appreciate the most precious things—like family and companionship. I admire that they find happiness within a batch of tortillas given as a gift, within a pencil and sharpener given to the kids of their community or within a girl like myself visiting their household.
I do, indeed, admire the charm within all of Guatemala’s flowers, but it is the people that I truly admire. I delight in watching them interact with themselves, interact with tourists and interact with me. I am extremely thankful that they have accepted me as not only a student doing research, but as an individual.