I still don’t understand the bus schedule in my site. Every time I have to leave I do a quick survey and everyone gives me different times. So I average them and hope for the best. Sometimes it works. Other times I end up waiting an hour at the corner where busses pass looking awkward. This is one of those days. I sheepishly wave at the guys from the muni who keep walking back and forth past me, the ones I just said goodbye to in the office in a rush thinking I was going to miss this bus.
I finally get on a bus and get that rush of relief that I’m sure all volunteers get upon seeing empty seats. Nobody likes standing in the aisle with your butt in people’s faces and the ayudante yelling at you to move back so they can squeeze in more people behind you. Even worse is being the third person on the seat, with a fraction of your butt kind of perched on the end, trying not to tip over into the aisle, sometimes with someone else’s butt in your face. Anyway, I do my own little private “hallelujah!” and settle in.
I start to make a mental to-do list for the next few weeks. Forms, appointments, packing. I think about my foreign service personal narrative responses. I ponder who I’m going to approach for letters of recommendation for the fellowships I’m applying for. I tell myself I still need to make a reservation for our going away weekend and need to talk to my landlord about my move out date. I feel a little bit overwhelmed.
Then one of my favorite songs from my time here comes on the radio. And I stop.
It’s a lovely song, yes. But I think it’s more the video I’m in love with, showcasing the beauty of Guatemala that most people don’t even know exists. I know I didn’t before I ended up here.
I look out the window and marvel at the uncharacteristically blue skies on this rainy season afternoon. I am taken aback once again at how lush and verdant the hills along either side of the road are. For the first time all day I feel truly present in the moment. And thankful for the opportunity to have experienced this place and a mind-boggling number of treasures it houses in an area roughly the size of Tennessee. Of course, there are many things I didn’t get around to, but I just tell myself that those will help me come back. I have unfinished business, I guess.
There are things that I am realizing more and more that I will miss. Little things. The heart-melting cuteness of little girls in traje. The smell of tortillas on the comal. Little boys playing soccer on every street. The way you can identify where a woman is from based on the design of her guipil. Tuc-tucs, 12 cent mangoes, constant refacciones. Even the simple joy of having a real seat on the bus.
The song ends. I take a deep breath and resume reviewing my mental to do list, but this time a little less overwhelmed.