Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gracias, Honduras

Today is my fifth month back from Honduras. Five months. How am I adjusting with my new status as a "Returned Peace Corps Volunteer" coming from the boondocks of Central America back into the jungles of the U.S.?

It hasn’t been a breeze, but I don’t have much to complain either. For one I’m thankful to just have gotten
 a job at a great firm with great colleagues given how difficult life has become for everyone across the board when I got back. I’m also thankful just to be reunited with everyone I love, to be in a city I love and have access to all the things I love to do. It was just time to come home for me and I’m happy to be back. However, I wouldn’t deny dreading the things I was more than happy to leave behind in the first place – like the temptation to be swept away again by “life” and responsibilities and find oneself be part of the droves of the living dead or be consumed by the accumulation of things, debt and stress.
The realization that my two years overseas that at times felt like an eternity actually happened in the blink of an eye and that most everything and everyone that was left in the U.S. remained where they are was rather poignant. There are days when it actually feels like I never left at all and that Honduras never happened. Peace Corps’ predicted “reverse culture shock” experienced by returned volunteers was pretty on point, such as how it's harder to readjust coming back
and how most people won’t care to listen for more than five minutes about our experience. Personally, one of the most difficult adjustments was getting used to again to not making eye contact with anyone or not acknowledge another presence in a room or on the street, unlike in Honduras.
Nevertheless, I know that once again, I’m right where I need to be right now. But I refuse to conveniently assimilate back into a mechanical lifestyle in a society that has largely forgotten how to LIVE. It saddens me whenever I see how quick-tempered people are over the pettiest matter and how isolated everybody is from everyone else, even amongst a crowd, perpetually plugged onto their mp3 players and smart phones.

As difficult as it is, daily I consciously hold onto the best of both worlds and refuse to be overcome by my negative experiences. I love the U.S. and will be forever grateful for the opportunities only it can afford to all who work for it. But I’ve also come to love Honduras for reminding me of the important things that its powerful neighbor has come to take for granted. Everyday I carry in my heart and mind the faces of the people who have touched my life and continue to make their presence felt by keeping in touch with me.

Five months may seem like a long time already, but I know that my transition is far from over. One of the biggest things I learned in Honduras is MORE patience; hence, I’m trying to apply the same principle to myself by recognizing that things take time- even with me. I’m learning to be patient and accept that I am still in the ocean of uncertainty and that I don’t know what’s next in my life.  And I accept that it’s okay. My biggest dilemma for a while was: since I’ve checked off the biggest dream on my list, now what?? Instead of freaking out, I am deciding to feel excited because this could mean: that it’s the time to dream again, and dream even BIGGER.
And to conclude, to Honduras, la tierra de los catrachos, I say:
Thank you for being the place where a dream came true- and making me work HARD for it.

Thank you for embracing another foreigner and entrusting your land, your people and your heart to her.
Thank you for giving me the family I needed when I couldn’t be with mine.
Thank you for the trials that sharpened my wits and increased my strength.
Thank you for always wanting to be in my presence and becoming a part of my life.

Thank you for teaching me humility with your simplicity.
Thank you for slowing down my life and making me look at what’s more important about myself and people.
Thank you for giving me a taste of the kind of life I’d like to lead.
Thank you for making me a better person than when I first came in and accepting me for who I am.
Thank you for waiting for and believing in my return.

1 comment:

Rose Connally said...

Thanks for this post! I will be moving to Gracias in August, and it's really good to read what others have experienced and how it compares to living in the US. I've been living in China for the past 2 years, so I anticipate it will also be quite a change for me! I look forward to experiencing perhaps some of the same things you did. :)