Coming Home

22 Aug

I think this is going to be my last entry.  I’ve been back in the States for over a month, but between visiting Ana and other folks in Portland, Seattle, and New York and hosting my Guadalajaran friend Oscar here for two weeks, this is the first time I’ve actually gotten to to think back over the last 10 months in Mexico and Guatemala.  Now that I’m alone, it’s really tempting to try to sum everything up, to take stock.  I want to try to figure out what it all meant, how I’ve changed, what I’ve accomplished.  Plus, I’m gonna need a pat answer when someone asks me, “So, how was your trip?”  And I think I want that answer for myself, too.

But I don’t think things work that way.  We don’t experience new things — different as they may be from our past experiences or our routines — in discrete, digestible chunks, ready to be processed and turned into a list of triumphs.  Life is less linear, less intentional than that, even in hindsight.   Now that I’ve finally got the time and space to think about the last 10 months, I still have a hard time holding the whole thing in my head.  It’s the classic participant-observer paradox: you have no fixed point from which to view an experience that changes you profoundly, because you’re moving too.  It’s like hopping on a bullet train in a place you’ve never been to  in your life, catching wind with your huge grin as you lean out the window and love the ride, and then trying to sit down afterwords and draw a map of the strange country you’ve crossed.  There’s no way your map does justice to the actual ride.  It’s more like a cliff-notes guide that, if you’re not careful, eventually takes the place of the original novel in your mind.


Maybe it’s best to just think of this trip as a series of moments.  Insane moments –  “what am I doing here, on top of this very tall Aztec pyramid in the middle of a lightning storm” moments.  Self-congratulatory, “here I am with these two Dutch tourists in the middle of the jaguar and snake-filled Guatemalan jungle, bribing these machine-gun-toting security guards to get into the country’s most treasured archeological site at 4am to watch the sun rise from that temple that’s in the first Star Wars!” moments.  Moments of self-doubt.  Scared moments.  And, of course, bored moments (which never make it into the stories I tell my friends, though they’re no less a part of the experience than that crap-my-pants ”is that guy following me?” moment on a dark street in Xela at 4:00am, or the “that’s the most beautiful sunset of my life!” moments on the roof of old apartment building in Guadalajara).

I guess that’s what this blog, and the personal journal I’ve been keeping along side it, are for; a place to go to relive the disparate, discombobulated, juicy collection of moments that, when squashed together, made up the last ten months of my life.  My gambit is that that collection, well-preserved, will last a lifetime.  I owe it to myself to hang on to them because, ultimately, they’re worth far more than any Cliff Notes version I could come up with.   So how was my trip?  It’s complicated…

3 Responses to “Coming Home”

  1. Duncan August 22, 2010 at 9:17 PM #

    Nice entry. I’m going home on thursday and I think “how was your trip?” is gonna be the most difficult question to answer. How do you sum up a year like that in a nice concise soundbite?! Not looking forward to the culture shock of being back in normal, everyday life at home…

    Like this

    • dylbeano August 23, 2010 at 8:52 AM #

      Hey Duncan! Wow man: eat a few tortas ahogadas for me before you go, yeah (we made them at home the other night, but they turned out weird)! Have a safe trip back, and definitely let me know how the shock or anticlimax of re-entry is for you. Cheers,
      -Dylan

      Like this

  2. Seven Hills Global Outreach July 3, 2012 at 8:15 AM #

    Dear Dylan,

    I came across the blog on a Google search and wanted to reach out to you – congrats on your incredible travels! My organization, Seven Hills Global Outreach, Inc., visited Loma Linda, Guatemala several years ago and has partnered with ASODILL and Pascual Escobar to assist in sustainable development initaitives for ecotourism. I noticed you have some beautiful photos on your blog, and am curious whether you might be comfortable sharing some for use on ASODILL’s new website, currently in development. It would be great to speak about this and hear your insights on Loma Linda. If you are interested, feel free to contact me at jmattleman@sevenhills.org.

    Best wishes to you!

    Like this

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