Coming back “home” after being “home” is an odd but wonderful sensation. 15 hours of travel took me from the perfection of a Southern California indian summer, to the vibrancy of a mountain rainy season in Guatemala, which may have been a rough transition were it not for the undeniable relief of being back home, as Nebaj has come to mean for me.
I was in Orange County for two weeks to see my parents and enjoy a mini-vacation of eating all the gluten-free, vegan food I could get my hands on and finally getting some sun after a year of tan-less existence (maybe it’s a California thing, but I get antsy when I’m that pale for that long). And so as my return flight approached I started considering what it meant to be going back to Guatemala.
If you’ve ever spent much time scrolling through certain blog platforms, you may have noticed a particular obsession with talking about travel (among other things like tattoos, camping, and dressy dinner parties). It was this particular obsession that stood out to me on Saturday, as I wasted time on tumblr while waiting for laundry to dry in that magnificent of inventions that is a machine dryer. (I am very appreciative of dryers after nearly 9 months of line-drying clothes in a mostly, cold and rainy climate, and in the time I was home in California I spent more than a few moments of face-burying in the soft warmth of privilege that is clothes fresh from the dryer.)
In this moment of mindless scrolling, I had been grumbling in the back of my mind about my impending red-eye flight back. I am not a fan of air travel, not for any fear of flying but rather an absolute distaste for the discomfort of the whole process and a resentment towards the fact that one must choose between the freedom of the aisle seat and the enjoyment of the window. And then there would be the ensuing chore of finding the right chicken buses to get my back to Nebaj and wondering if there was still no pass on the highway up north due to the giant hole that opened up after a recent landslide (on my way down we were dropped off on one side of the hole, walked around it and were picked up by buses waiting on the other side).
Needless to say I was not looking forward to the journey until seeing a series of posts that gave glorified accounts of such “adventure” and travel in the global south and I realized that what had become a commonplace commute for me was in fact the very thing many people dream of doing. Not to mention that the freedom to travel at all is a privilege many take for granted.
And so I considered again what it meant to be preparing for my departure, my return really, to the amazing adventure that is my life here in Guatemala. How taking over-crowded buses through winding roads high in the mountains where the mist rises from the trees in that oh-so-photogenic way, is actually really fun and something that I will forever remember with fondness; how feeling awkward in pants when all the women around you are wearing fabulously bright, woven skirts is actually a moment to appreciate the amazing cultural preservation of this community; and how the cost of a single dinner in California can buy me more than a weeks worth of fresh groceries from the street market here is something to truly appreciate.
I am happy to be back, to be home, and so grateful that I can call such a foreign place home with so much more cariño than I ever expected. And with that, a few photos from that other home…