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My love affair with Guatemala

marybellefrey's picture

I first came to Guatemala for Easter vacation in 1974.  Guatemala's textiles are world famous and as a master weaver and spinner, I had dreamed for years of seeing them in their home.  I think we did what most tourists do in a week, nothing special.  But I left here in love, passionately in love with Guatemala.  Everyone could see it. 

I spent the nest year preparing to come back:  working with a high school Spanish teacher to do the 4 year high school course the next winter, surrounding myself with Spanish language on radio and Berliz tapes, writing proposals for grants so my school would give me a leave of absence...  Sometime in early winter the Universe must have seen that this was not a fleeting thing and Guatemala began to do her magic:  The man who received my proposals told  me that in order to get a leave of absence from a tenured job, I needed to demonstrate what I would gain professionally and how the school system would benefit.  I went to my area's offices and there was my leave waiting:  the social studies specialists were planning a new 5th grade project on highland tropical climates.  Usually they did Mexico, but Guatemala was new and colorful and perfect.  They gave me several hundred dollars to ship artifacts back to them and a carton of color film --- and my leave of absence. 

I studied Spanish first in Quezaltenango and then in Antigua and make my nests with the families I lived with while studying so I had someplace to come back to (I find travel difficult).  People talked about me in front of me, the way they do with children_  "Maribel is different," "Maribel isn't like other people who come here."  Of course not!  Guatemala and I were having a riotous, insane love affair.  I loved everything and everyone loved me.  Everywhere I went people (children often) took me home with them and showed me the wonders of Guatemala.

The love affair continues.


Darrell Laurant's picture


Dear Marybellefrey:

Interesting. I've only been to Guatemala once, for a week in 1993, but the place has haunted me ever since. It seemed a little dangerous when I was there (soldiers with guns all over Guatemala City), but no one was ever anything but welcoming to me. I was also struck by the beauty of places like Antigua and Solala, and the vivid colors on everything frrom the plants to the sides of buses.

Best regards,

Darrell Laurant

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