There are some moments from my time here that have definitely touched my heart. They are the moments where I feel at home, feel loved, or just feel like there was some kind of breakthrough in my relationships with the people here. I am not sure if I have shared many of them, but I wanted to share a few of my favorites, moments I hope to never forget.
Little MagdalenaThis is probably my favorite story to tell when people talk about trying to integrate into their village. There is a little, six year old girl here named Magdalena. For my first six months or so in the village I would see Magdalena as I was walking to the school, or shop, or wherever and she would freeze. She would stare at me with her huge brown eyes and this frozen look and say to the kids with her “tyibiru li saq” which roughly means “the scary/evil white lady”. I would kind of smile, say good morning and feel really awkward as I walked away. Then one day I was walking to school and I hear a little kid come running up and they grab my hand to hold it. I look down and it was little Magdalena. I look at her so confused as she holds my hand and walks to school. I said, “Magdalena, I thought you were afraid of me.” She just looked at me and smiled. Now when I see her she always yells “Ms. Megan” and run up and hold my hand if we are walking the same direction.
NiseliaThis is one of my dear friends. She is 2 years old, and definitely a fair-weather friend. Thankfully “bad-weather” easily and quickly blows over, never lasting more than a few minutes. At first meeting she was scared and would not come anywhere near me (in fact she has this response to pretty much everyone, particularly white people). In the last few months, though, she requires her mom to come visit me in the mornings, and if I am at their house, usually refuses to let me leave. I am not even really sure when the breakthrough occurred, but on a nearly daily basis she will wrap her arms around my neck and say “la'at infriend!” (you are my friend!”) and it is sometimes followed by her squeezing my face and kissing my cheek. This is the girl that I could not look at without her running to her mom and hiding from me. Unfortunately there are the moments, like when I steal the jar of sugar she is eating by the handful, she will yell “moko infriend xMegan!” (Megan is never my friend!). Like I said, thankfully these moments do not last too long. :)
Xan KaterinaXan Kat is a lady who I have started visiting more recently. At first I was hesitant to go visit her because she speaks only K'ekchi, was really shy and didn't say much the one time I went, and just always seemed standoffish to me. I don't know why I thought this, but I did. Anyway I went to her house and it was amazing. She is adorable, she smiled and laughed and talked. She tried to work through my confusing K'ekchi with me and I loved it! I have gone back another couple of times, but what happened the other day really made me feel good. I was leaving my house to go wait for the bus to town for the market. I saw her at the road and she was about to moved to wait in the shade. When she saw me coming she stopped, got a huge smile, waved and waited for me in the sun. It may seem like no big deal, but expressions of emotion like that are few and far between and it made me feel so at welcome.