This weekend was a first of manys. A first of sleeping outside, of sleeping in a tent with 4 people, of no bathrooms but nature, of eating Guatemalan oatmeal without any water because we did not have enough, of climbing a mountain for hours with a bag two times the size of me, of being with nature for this length of a period, of hearing about the civil war in more detail than I have during our trip, of meeting and having the chance to speak with 2 ex guerilleros, of having a hike within a hike to watch the most beautiful sunrise I have ever laid eyes on over a summit, and I have only named a few.
What it was not the first of was conversing with an incredible person who once again has shaken my perspective on how I view people and my preconceptions. Don Estaban, Don Pedro, and Don Jose are 3 men that told me stories, new stories, that were a first to my ears, but stories that came with a warmness and genuinity that I have found many times before.
As me and a couple of friends sat around the fire on Saturday night, we became excited and started to raise our voices, our smiles growing bigger. Language, being a barrier that is easy to overcome through human emotion, had no interference on how Jose, Pedro, y Estaban reacted when they saw us. They were sitting by the fire hanging out as well and they started to laugh. I laughed with them and Don Pedro turned to us to start speaking. He smiled and told us his belief of the importance of friendships like ours. He encouraged us to continue enjoying la naturaleza and to be conscious of its beauty. Don Pedro esta encantado con la vida because he has had these moments in every aspect and period of his life.
On Sunday as we continued the trek, I talked to Don Pedro about his relationship to the forest. He spoke to me about the hardships he faced during the war, with which my words would not do justice nor respect; however, what I can put into the words is the weight that his sentiments the prior night held. Hearing his words in the light of hanging out and being with friends was one thing, but taking into consideration the stories that led Don Pedro to have the strength and confidence to tell me the importance of such seemingly light and fun things is challenging how I perceive people before hearing their stories. This thought that I had this weekend is not a first, and as we continue traveling I know it won’t be a last in Guatemala.