As my time winds down, I am taking stock... realizing that there are projects that sounded promising but have not yet come to fruition, and perhaps never will. People with whom I wanted to spend more time and didn't. Opportunities that presented themselves and which I did not explore... one endless chorus, perhaps, of "The Road Not Taken." Sometimes these were conscious decisions, at other times the time just slipped by, I was focusing on other things, and then woke up one morning with a shock and realized that I had X number of weeks, and now days, left and I had never followed through on something.
In any case, I had not followed through on the invitation from Father Falla, and lost his information, although now I know how close his town is, maybe I can find out how to get in touch with him and stop for a visit before I leave the country.
There are other instances -- all of the excitement I felt about being invited to participate in the various projects that my friends in Xela had proposed has dissipated a bit as it seems that nothing is going to happen very quickly, and perhaps some or all of those projects about which I was so ecstatically excited a few months ago will be stillborn and never see the light of day. I made a conscious decision in those cases to just let everything happen at its own pace. I am not the key actor in any of these. I made a few efforts to get folks to meet and talk and make some concrete plans, but I cannot do any more than that, nor should I. Stuff has to happen organically, and I hope my friends know that I am here for them when they are ready.
Sunday, January 8, I drove to Guatemala City, which I rarely visit, to take a friend who had been visiting from the states to the airport. I wouldn't normally drive 3-1/2 hours to take someone (except someone very very close like my daughter or a lover) to the airport. But I needed to do some things in Guatemala City, which I could take care of on Monday. I need to get some information on radio frequencies, and I need to meet with people from the U.S. Embassy, as a "debriefing" at the end of my Fulbright (well, my Fulbright ended months ago, officially, but I am still here).
I had a wild thought to try and see a friend as long as I was in Guatemala City. I don't know a lot of people here, but only a few. A few weeks ago a friend of a friend had accompanied me to a punk concert in Zona 1, and we hadn't been able to meet up again (well, we'd made plans but they didn't come to fruition), so I thought I'd give a call, and we made plans to meet after I'd dropped my friend at the airport. Repeated phone calls from the airport produced no answer, so I tried another friend, who was around but busy until 3. Since I only have a little time left, and the next time I plan to come to Guatemala City is the day of my departure, January 18, I was willing to stick around. Which meant, however, finding something to do for 3-1/2 hours.
One thing I did was to stop along the road that leads from the airport back to Boulevard Liberación (which turns into Calzada Roosevelt). Every time I have left the airport, I have noticed crowds of people standing outside the fence, at a point where the road is wide enough to leave cars -- and one has a long enough view of the runway. Here, you can see the flights take off... and arrive. So, in a country where very few people have the means to travel legally outside of the country, and very few can afford airfares, and very few of those who have migrant relatives can expect to have regular visits from those same migrants, airplane departures and arrivals are big deals.
I pulled over as best I could and found a spot for my car... sort of. Then I walked over to where people were standing staring at the planes, some of them hanging onto the wire fence with anticipation, resignation, hope, fear.. hard to read emotions from body language. Maybe some were just tired, as the sun was beating down.
The escapism worked to a degree (the degree being mitigated by car problems: as I wrote in another blog entry, the car started to get tetchy again and I had to get assistance and then take it to a shop on Monday morning).... I rarely spend time in Guatemala City, looking at art museums has not been high on my agenda (although I enjoy it), but I just decided to enjoy these moments as they presented themselves ... and as I will write in some subsequent blogs, there have been enough moments of this sort (times when plans change without your having any control) that I have had to exercise a lot of zen and improvisation, and just "cógelo suave" (take it easy -- the phrase really belongs to Cuban and not Guatemalan Spanish).