On my old running shoes, the red dust of Ghana’s Central Region has been replaced by the dark mud of Guatemala’s Western Highland, and with that recognition I’d say transitions are pretty much complete. Finding a reliable running trail is usually my priority in settling in to a new home. Next comes finding all gluten-free, lactose-free, ideally vegetarian-fingers-crossed-for-vegan options in the surrounding 100miles. The checklist goes on and never really ends (so confirms one of my roommates who is soon to leave Nebaj after a year and a half and still laments some things she never got to), but I’d say I’m far enough along to feel I’m home.
I have a life here now, one with enough going on that I neglect to keep in touch with anybody and leave a few student loans overdue by accident, as goes my usual pattern. I’m “homesteading,” if you will, in the sense that I’m into do-it-yourself projects in a big way, but for the noble truth that I honestly have no other options if I want to enjoy things like yogurt and natural shampoo. (here’s a great article my sister sent me on the subject: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/28/is_michael_pollan_a_sexist_pig/) Next weekend’s projects include kombucha round three, apple cider vinegar, and peanut butter among others.
I like the fact that a good saturday here means home-roasted and spiced coffee from our friend Ana, a female Ixil spiritual guide, at the local “criollo” market (read: organic farmer’s market), where a bunch of fresh leafy greens cost 1/8th of a dollar, then head to Danielle’s place for yoga in the garden with our little expat community. I like the fact that I walk down dusty streets lined with colorfully-painted shops and women in traditional woven clothes give me a nod as we pass and I feel like I’m living in a postcard. I like a lot of things about Nebaj, which is always a good way to feel about a place you’ll be committed to for at least another 9 months.
Updates about my work deserves a separate post, but the good news is that all those seemingly meaningless research papers that constituted my four years at Berkeley may not have been so meaningless after all…it’s nice when an unfairly-judge social science education actually comes in handy when following one’s passions.
And such is life (for me) in the highlands.