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To remember, in Spanish, is recordar. Here, in Guatemala, spending time with family and creating important relationships is a necessary part to forming memories. These values create a culture full of smiles and genuine kindness that you encounter everywhere you go and in everyone you talk to.

While in Pachaj, Nelly and I stayed with a middle-aged woman named Silvia. She had long black hair and a sweet, gentle smile. In her house of three bedrooms, she leant out two of them to complete strangers. She was incredibly helpful and interested in learning about our lives outside of Guatemala. We gave her presents that represented our lives in the United States and England, so that she could remember us and our time spent together. She was so nice when Nelly and I were sick, and constantly made sure we had everything we needed. One night, Silvia asked us to help her make cheese empanadas. This involves making a tortilla out of maiz, filling it with cheese, then frying it in a pan. We were not professionals by any means, but we all shared a laugh about how horrible our empanadas looked compared to Silvia. As we all sat down to dinner, her husband and two kids joined us at the small kitchen table. Her two boys, Antony, 15, and Alex, 2, were not very interactive but added a sense of family to her simple home. With the empanadas, Silvia had prepared a simple tomato sauce to go on top. You would dip the empanadas in the sauce, which added extra flavor and color to the meal. I was wearing a clean white T-shirt, and being the messy eater that I am, spilled a big drop of bright red tomato sauce all down the front of my shirt. I looked down and laughed nervously, feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. Silvia looked over at me, and smiled. In a calm voice, she told me, “es un recuerdo” -it’s a memory.

This stood out to me because these simple moments of pure connection, of eating dinner together and stained clothes, are the ones that I remember the most. Silvia was understanding and changed my way of looking at the new experiences we are having here in Guatemala and the way I form memories.

We are planning our final week here in this beautiful country, and can’t wait to see you all soon.

Hasta muy pronto,