Upon arriving in the house we rented near a little town of just 15 families on Lake Atitlán called Pachitulul, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the group environment. One of my biggest fears going into spending 3 full months navigating an entirely new environment was that of relationships. In those last few days leading up to departure, all I could think about is whether I could relate to or develop good friendships with the other participants. Thankfully, not 3 days in to the program, I was reassured that I was very fortunate to have a lot of great, caring people with me on this journey.
At almost lunchtime on the second day of the program, I was walking around the property on which our beautiful lake house was situated taking some photos of the beautiful view and playing with the settings of my camera. Entranced by the way the lense extends and retracts, I paid no attention taking a step with my right leg locked. Immediately I knew what I had done.
I slowly sunk to the ground annoyed with myself that this had already happened, not even 48 hours into the program. Luckily, I happened to have fallen right across from the instructors’ house, who helped me to put my kneecap back in place. Este helped me limp to lunch, immediately after which I would collapse on my bed with two Advil and an ice pack. In that moment, I was very grateful for the care the instructors had given me.
What really stuck with me, though, was the way the other participants responded. When each one passed me and saw me lumbering down the steps with an arm around Este for balance, they graciously asked what was wrong. In the next days of orientation, every time someone passed me, they insisted that they bring me whatever I needed, even if it was within my arm’s reach. Whenever a group activity was about to happen, they would offer to pick up my bed with me in it like a royal litter and bring me into the circle so I could participate more actively in discussion.
All of these kindnesses stuck with me. I felt inundated with support and love. I knew I was in great company that I could trust. I felt deep and resounding gratitude for everything the group had offered me and done for me since my accident. From that moment, I knew I wanted to repay that kindness whenever necessary and help everyone else feel more at home.
Little did I know nothing would bring me closer to the 11 strangers I would soon live with for 3 months than an embarrasing moment of careless, preventable injury.