Tuesday, May 2, 2017
In my last article I wrote about my upcoming adventure to Guatemala to do a 21 day Ayurvedic, Yoga and Meditation Retreat. I went to small retreat centre (that specializes in silence) on Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is about a 3.5 hour drive inland from Guatemala City and there are numerous small Mayan villages around the lake. From our retreat centre we looked over the lake at a number of volcanoes. The view was really beautiful. The Hermitage, where I stayed, has it’s own food forest that they are using and still creating, which meant I was surrounded by banana, papaya, and mango trees. There were pineapple plants growing and the flowers were spectacular. 9 species of hummingbirds live in the area and we saw lots of them, and many lizards. My cabin was surrounded by coffee bean plants (which we didn’t get to have, but I was told how good the coffee is there). I ate locally grown fruits and vegetables for 3 weeks. This was my first trip to Guatemala and the first time that I have traveled in a developing country. I have a lot of questions and thoughts and observations about my experience. As I reflect back on my trip, and having been home for 2 weeks I realize how important gratitude is. It’s all relative. We are a country who has so so much and yet so many of us (myself included) think we need or want more. And we often sacrifice our health for wealth. And really we are living like kings and queens compared to the people that I saw in the small village by our retreat centre. A 24 year old Guatemalan woman came and lead a tortilla making workshop for us one morning (it’s the staple of their diet) and she brought her pot to mix the corn in – and her pot was an empty paint can. And she was grateful for that pot. She happily led the workshop. It was her first time doing this for a group and she didn’t speak English of course, but we all managed with our sign language and we had people who interpreted. We paid her for the workshop and she went and bought herself a new pot, which she probably shared with her extended family and friends. She was so grateful for that pot and to take it home and use it with her 4 year old daughter. And her house is a very small simple room that she shares with her husband and daughter. And she is so proud of it. There are many great organizations and people in Guatemala doing volunteer work to help build schools, clean up their lakes which are full of garbage, get water into communities etc. And that help is all needed and appreciated. Many children don’t go to school because it costs $40 a year. Just sponsoring a kid helps out in such a big way. And yet as I sat eating my breakfast each morning I watched the local fisherman get into their boats that were made from dug out avocado trees and I witnessed the simplicity of their life. They rise with the sun, they connect with their community members and there is lots of laughter and conversation. It is simple, but who is to say that it is better or worse than what we do. It was such a reminder for me to be grateful and keep my life simple. And from that perspective go into the world and make a difference. Help in the ways that you can and want to. We are all so rich and have so much. There are lots of ways to give. And humans are happier when they give.