Friday, March 9, 2012

Back so soon?

It seems that I hardly got home and certainly have not finished unpacking, and already I am heading back to Guatemala. I had been planning to visit over my spring break plus the following week, and had written my syllabi for my classes so that the week after spring break students had some self-directed assignments so that I could stay another week (we only get a week off). I had planned to arrive Friday March 16, the day our break starts. And then I found out that there was going to be a visit from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights from March 11 through 15, and that the community radio folks were going to present their concerns on March 13. Damn! I'd just bought the ticket.

However, as luck would have it, a few days later I learned there had been a problem processing the credit card and I would have to do the payment over. I had a few days' grace, and I thought, well, maybe I should try to go earlier. This would mean rearranging the syllabi for my classes (not as simple as it sounds; I have some multi-part assignments and I have to present them to the students in stages, and also I had plotted out the reading assignments carefully in my upper-level class so that the two-week gap did not occur while we were in the middle of a book. But it was tempting. And then I also had to find out whether I would be able to attend the meeting with the U.N. representative; no reason to move heaven and earth if I were not able to be present. So a few quick emails and Facebook chat messages later, I found out that I could participate, and I checked out airfares and found out that I could get a ticket for slightly less money, actually, even though at that point (Monday of this week) my departure was less than a week away. I could not just move my departure up by an entire week (my original plan was to leave the U.S. on a Friday and return on a Sunday two weeks later, giving me 15 full days in Guatemala) because this weekend there was to be an event on Friday night in New Bedford for the fifth anniversary of the immigration raid and I could not miss that, so changing the dates also meant shaving a few days off the trip. But after a few hours agonizing over the syllabi for my classes I decided I would go for it and so I bought a ticket for.. Sunday. That is, less than two days from now.

It seems to have crept up all of a sudden. I've been planning to go back since I left, even before I left, but this part of the semester has just raced by. And so I haven't been able to set up all the things I'd like to in Guatemala, but I'm going anyway. After having been there for a solid year, it now feels very strange to be planning such a short trip. It feels rushed and incomplete. Also, I no longer have my own home there, and so I have to contemplate going back without a place of my own as a base. I am somewhat rootless. And I will not have the luxury of cooking for myself.  I'm a traveler, now, not a resident.

And at the same time I've experienced a heady rush of emotions as my friends in Guatemala have expressed their enthusiasm for my upcoming visit. I've told people, mostly via email and Facebook, throughout this week and it's as though they have all reached out and embraced me.

So, here goes...

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