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Living in two countries that are so starkly different, I have found it difficult to really put into words how having a life between the two feels. I love both Honduras and the United States for different reasons, but each time I leave one for the other, I feel like it is a betrayal. When I go to the United States, I feel a huge sense of guilt that I can go there and back to Honduras so easily when so many in Honduras want to do the same and cannot. When I leave the United States for Honduras, I don’t know how to explain to my friends and family in the states who love me so much that something about the American system and bureaucracy stifles me and makes me feel like an outsider. It is hard to see the repercussions of American government and businesses in Honduras and not feel nauseous about how rich Americans live at the cost of other countries living in poverty. I have had the education and the opportunities to do the things I do because of being an American. I feel so blessed, but at the same time, I feel guilty that someone else in the world did not have my education and opportunities. In a lot of ways, my knowledge about American foreign policy has made me hate, not only my country, but myself for belonging to it. When I travel, I try to adapt to the countries I go, pretending I am not American, or that I am somehow different than other Americans. I have an embarrassment for the privilege I have had and for how my fellow countryman act when they do travel to other countries. I am not the only one; I read in an article by Business Insider that American tourists are repeatedly voted the worst in the world, not only by other countries, but by other Americans. These thoughts have consumed me for years now, to the point they unhealthily seep into my interactions with other Americans who I judge and condemn. I find myself wanting to detach completely from this country, to forge a new identity, and yet, I am drawn back to it because it is my home. It is hard to explain this feeling of being outside, not really fitting in anywhere as a native.

Several times I have asked others about my sense of guilt. How to deal with it, what it means, what I should do, etc. I recently received the answer from a stranger leading a women’s discussion group on sacred silence who responded to my question without me even asking it. This stunning women with beautiful curly white/blonde hair framing a heart shaped face of wisdom saw inside me a struggle and dissolved the pain it was causing me in only a few minutes. Her words made me see that we are all beautiful and unique in our individual worlds, that it is appreciating privilege that is important, not whether you have it or not, that Honduras is a place for me to find satisfaction and joy in what I am doing, and the United States is a place to refill doing the things I love I am unable to do there, like dancing, so I can go back. Each country provides what I need so that I can feel full. I do not have to choose one over the other or feel bad when I am in the states. Living two different lives is a blessing that I can be grateful for. I am American, and I can be proud of the American I have become, a woman who enjoys traveling and loving others all over the world.

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Traveled back to the states for some wedding fun and of course dancing…

“We can dance if we want to…

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We can leave your friends behind…

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‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance…

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Well they’re no friends of mine…

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I say, we can go where we want to…

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A place where they will never find…

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And we can act like we come from out of this world…

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Leave the real one far behind…

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And we can dance.”

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Men Without Hats-“The Safety Dance”

I had my first visitor in Honduras! My lovely sister came to visit me, and it was nice to be a tourist again for a week. I ended up visiting places I didn’t even know existed and learning a lot both about myself and this little town I now call my home. It is hard to believe that it has now been a year since I quit my job, and I have been away from Portland, OR traveling and living abroad for that long. I hope others will come to visit me too!

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The drive from San Pedro Sula to Copán Ruinas.

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The Mayan Ruins.

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Waiting for our bus to the Hot Springs.

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The Spiritual Baths at the hot springs.

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Met a new friend at the hot springs!

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Our good luck charm to start the day off right before we hiked around Copán to all the Mayan sites.

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The first stop on an all day trek circling Copán and visiting the sacred check points of the ancient Mayan city.

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Notorious for my problems with customs, this is before I almost got sent to Mexico and after a delicious breakfast in Guatemala. Turns out at the airport they stamped my passport but didn’t say how many days I could stay, and I almost got deported even though it was an error on their part and not my fault. Just my luck. Good thing our guide was able to work his magic, or I might have been coming back to the United States sooner than I expected.

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Yoga and meditation spot at San Lucas.

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Walking up switchbacks to get an amazing view of the city.

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Our guide’s little helper hanging out in the tree.

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From the top of the mountain.

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Walking through cornfields to return to the city.

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At Rastrojón, a newly excavated Mayan site. Incredible this sculpture is still intact.

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Horseback ride in the night.

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My sister and I having a relaxing late breakfast at Café San Rafael.

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My sister was rather popular with the kids at Casita Copán! It was so special to introduce her to all the important people in my life here, and we spent a whole day just hanging out with my Copán friends and family. It made me realize how far my Spanish has come as I was actually able to translate between English and Spanish for a whole day.

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Two years ago, I would not have thought that my life would take me where I am now. I am nursing, not as a career, but as a volunteer, writing professionally and creatively, living in Honduras, speaking in Spanish more than English, and all together, living a more fulfilling and enjoyable life. Want to learn how to quit your own job and travel the world for a year while pursuing your dreams? Check out the first of a series of my articles on traveling the world for a year without a job at Endless Trek Magazine.

http://endlesstrek.com/how-to-travel-the-world-for-a-year-without-a-job-expectations/

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The Road Less Traveled

On the road less traveled
There are no footprints to guide
Transcending the typical human experience
We can create.

There are no footprints on this beach
Before light touches the sky
No memories to remind us
Washed away in the night
The past cannot be transferred to the present
There is only now.

Find inspiration in the solitude
In this moment
We are one.

Love is when you can say
I know you are suffering
That is why I am here for you
I am no longer I
You are no longer you
He is no longer he
She is no longer she
It is no longer it.

One.

When all is one
We will truly be something
We will truly be nothing
In that moment
We are.

Love.

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I find traveling in a plane always gives you new perspective. Spending hours packed together in neat little rows with complete strangers feels like prison at first. If it is the red eye flight, you spend the first hour trying to get comfortable, twisting and turning violently, contorting your body into positions that will most certainly make it hard to stand up straight after your journey. If you are lucky enough, you sleep through it all. If not, after hours of struggling, you finally give up and try to read that book that has been gathering dust on your shelf the last few months. Yet, somehow, despite finally having the time to read it, you just can’t. It is too painful getting through that first chapter to delve into the good stuff. So you stare bullets into your neighbor who is sleeping so peacefully, the jealous part of you wanting to wake her up accidently and then apologize profusely while secretly beaming inside knowing that someone else will now be sharing in your suffering. You get excited when the flight attendant says a movie will be starting until you realize that you left your earphones at home and are too cheap to dish out the five bucks for a new pair. Bitterness. Yes, you feel bitter until that bitterness is pressing at every part of your being screaming to get off this damn plane. You are at bursting point when all the sudden all that frustration just melts away as quickly as it came, the last bit of energy wooshing out of you in a giant sigh. At that moment, you finally look out the window and see the beautiful view, realizing just how lucky you are to be in the sky seeing something so magnificent and supernatural, to be part of the heavens looking down on the world below. In that moment a calm suffuses your being moving through you like fresh water making everything so much clearer.

I have never done a Vipassana retreat, a silent, meditative retreat for ten days, but I feel like the inward struggle and end result are probably similar from what I have heard from others. That you have a raging battle going on inside you until the mind and body come together in a moment of acceptance and suddenly all the energy spent seems for not and the ego just falls way. For me these moments come and go. What a gift it would be to have a steady flow of acceptance and inner peace always at the very core of your being.

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I had a lovely visit in Oregon spending quality time with friends, enjoying Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, and relaxing at Gleneden beach with family. I was so inspired by all the people who supported Casita Copán, the non-profit day care and women’s support center I have been volunteering at here in Copán Ruinas, Honduras. So far Casita Copán’s In Her Shoes Challenge has raised $1,841 thanks largely to people in Salem and Portland, Oregon who came to Honduran culture and art fundraising events.

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The In Her Shoes Challenge is more than just a fundraiser and takes donating to the next step of participation and interaction. People who have more fortunate financial circumstances are challenged to feed themselves on the $21 average salary/week of mothers at Casita for one week starting October 6th, 2013 to build solidarity and to receive pledges leading up to the event to help reach the $10,000 goal. This money will help continue the work of Casita Copán and develop new health and education programs for the mothers, children, and other women within the community. It is also an opportunity to learn more about the people donors are giving money to. These women and children may have financial struggles and can use help but those participating in the Challenge can learn something from these people whose culture is rich and beautiful as well. We all have something to share, and I have found that the good and bad aspects of the USA are the opposite here in Honduras. Every day in Honduras, I am reminded what is good about my home country and I appreciate it more while at the same time realizing what I was missing in the USA. It feels good to call a second country home where children are playing in the streets and people still have a connection to the earth that sustains them. Want to join the In Her Shoes Challenge and learn more about Casita Copán? Go to: http://www.crowdrise.com/inhershoespovertychallenge/fundraiser/casitacopaninc

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