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Journal 3

January 29, 2004

It's as if time has wings as well as an anchor. Though we only left the
U.S. 4 weeks ago, the memories of the goodbyes and our first sights of
this "new world" seem ages and ages past. Yet, at the same time waving
adios through the bus window and meeting our new families are images ever
ingrained and vivid in our minds. Our experiences are new and many and
pull the mind, the emotions, and the heart into a life-long tug of war.

This past week has been especially revealing as we visited "La Esmeralda"
over the weekend. For two days and two nights we slept on wooden boards
without pillows, ate among chickens and manges, awoke to a thousand
rooster's crows at 3am, learned to sport greasy hair along with clothes
that should have been washed three wears ago, gained more knowledge,
learned vital lessons from the simplest of living, built more
relationships, and developed a real sense of how unjust, unfair, and
unequal our world is; the world in which we all live and not all love.
This truth was strengthened even more for us during our "Contrast tour".

The Contrast tour consisted of visiting the Guatemalan city dump. El
basurero fills a huge ravine in the middle of the city. Approximately
10,000 Guatemalans work in the dump, scavenging through the remains in
order to find food or to find recyclables to turn in for maybe $1 a day.
Out of these 10,000, 6,500 are children. Many of the scavenger families
live in, or very near, the dump. This is their life: living, eating, and
breathing waste. The junk and waste of the Guatemalan people makes a
"living" (or more so a mere "survival") for these 10,000 scavengers.
Witnessing this lifestyle and having the ability to walk away from it is
beyond any definition and explanation of emotion.

After our departure from a 3rd world way of living, we drove about 20
minutes in the opposite direction to zona 14, one of the richest
communities in the city where BMWs and Mercedes are more than common. And
so we saw extreme poverty being next door neighbors with extreme wealth;
both banging on the other's front door. Sad to say that for the most
part, the knock remains unanswered. With these experiences, it is
unfathomable not to feel a responsibility. A responsibility that comes
with being a citizen of the richest country in the world and with the
ability to now peel off our blindfold of ignorance. For the remaining
duration of our time here, after being exposed to so much in only 3 weeks,
I feel it is fair to say that Guatemala has many more challenges and
questions to feed to our inquiring and curious minds.

-Sarah Buller

Photo galleries:
(from most to
least recent)

Gallery 7

Gallery 6

Gallery 5

Gallery 4

Gallery 3

Gallery 2

Gallery 1