For those of you who don’t know me in person, if you meet me today, besides the basic introduction of my name and age, where I am from, a small talk of jewelry making , music by Spinetta and Silvio Rodriguez, tiny shops ,travelling and many other things ,we would eventually end up speaking about Guatemala, you see I’m divided, my heart is split in two, half of it beats inside of me and the other one is currently 10 000 miles away in Guate, probably having some coffee sitting in the park of Antigua watching people pass it by.
In Guate there is always a smile, you can spot it in every corner, always a sincere beautiful smile, this is a place where the human bond is very deep, where you see things that shake you inside and make you realize how much you have,we should walk around just chanting “Thank you, thank you, thank youuuu” to the universe, and most importantly that by that simple luck of having more choices than others, we also have more to share with them.
I ran into Mayan families.
This is an organization that helps extremely poor families, everything from food, schooling for the children, tools that men need to work with, even things as small as a carton of 30 eggs you can see all the different things and some of the stories over here http://www.mayanfamilies.org/DonateOnline
It can be heartbreaking to see so much need, but then again we are in a good position to help, and really make a difference.
Let me tell you a personal story.
When moving to Guate, I rented a house, well not a house ,THE house of my dreams, the landlord told me it came with a maid, which I really didn’t think I needed but, hey! ok!
She came once a week, and the first day I saw her cleaning the walls, and it was like 4 hours of cleaning for a 2 bedroom house, the next week I saw her again and told her not to clean windows,walls and that with me she could really take it easier.
When it was time to pay it was extremely low we are talking like $5 a week, I changed that too.
This went on for 6 months, she came every week and I remember asking her if she wanted some tea and she said yes but was so surprised I made it for her, I stopped asking and every time she came over I had the tea ready but she never drank it with me, when H. came into the scene she was surprised he would make me breakfast, and when one day he offered her some, she said ok, but didn’t want to sit in the table with us because the landlord could see her and that wasn’t her place …….…… this my friends changed too.
As time passed we chatted more and more, please note this woman was 62 years old, and the main income in a house of 3, a husband with a heart problem and a daughter which got pregnant and her husband left her, a girl with no studies that also cleaned some houses, but Antigua is rather small and she didn’t have a lot of luck.
She told me how she used to sell tortillas, and the amaziiiiiiiiing chiles rellenos ( how I miss them!) but she had to stop because she didn’t have the spare money to purchase the things she needed to make the different tamales, chiles etc. Plus her husband was always in an out of the hospital which made it difficult to cope.
I asked how much we were talking about, 150q to begin and this would be $18, I laughed and said I could loan her that, and she was terrified by my offer she said she couldn’t do it and kept mentioning my landlord, she and everyone else would think she was asking me for money, or taking advantage of me Ooooo, NO!
And no meant no,and I couldn’t convince her,so I said : “How about you pay me in tortillas and chiles?”, which by the way I have an unnatural ability to consume, then she taught about it for a while and I saw her eyes lit a little and said, “Well I guess that could work”
This went on for like 3 weeks, which I was very well fed, once a week she would bring a bag filled with typical Guatemalan food, and she laughed and how I just devoured everything.
As time went by she obviously got some money on Sundays and re using that money was able to purchase the ingredients herself.
When I was moving out, I remembered the tortillas, she told me she had the stove but her tank had ran out of gas, so I offered her the tank I used to solder, she said that would work and then soooo shy she asked me what was I going to do with the jewelry table, this table cost me $10 and was burned, beated and very messy, she said she could fix it, to make a long story short, after I left, later on I heard how my old jewelry table now was bright and painted and served as the serving place of the many tortillas made with the stove and the gas tank, that once used to be used to make jewelry.
She had a second income, her daughter took over to help cook and sell for her to rest, and there you have it with 3, $18 loans, which were more like well invested money on the best food ever , a gas tank and a $10 table.
The last day I was there, she told me in the tone of a mother or grandma, that I was too nice and to be careful out there, because people could take advantage of me, but that I should never change that, and gave me a very sweet and my first hug from her.
And if I could only tell you how many stories like this exist.
I made a ring using some of the textile from Guatemala, I will be making some more jewelry which will be found in the “For Mayan Families” section in the shop, where I will donate 100% to them in the general section, where they use the money where is most needed at the time.
I leave you with a song, a song I have heard since I have use of memory my grandpa would sing it, but the older I get the more meaningful it gets and I think goes well with this post.
Buenas Noches o Tardes!