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I relished the last moments with my dear friend before she left to return to the states. I had the best night of salsa dancing in Antigua, moving my body to the rhythm until parched of all fluids, collapsing exhausted on the floor after endless spinning, being flung from one side of the dance floor to another. The music down here speaks to my soul, and I want to die dancing…what ecstasy it would be.

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I did yoga under the night sky, candle lights flickering in the breeze, ancient ruins and mountains before me. It felt good to return to my heart center and listen.

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I spent a day with a friend doing nothing in particular, enjoying simply being part of this world as butterflies floated through the sky and birds came and went, restless as I so often have been. I watched and savored my life, music playing in the background, songs of our hearts. I sat on the grassy overgrowth of a broke-down church that is home to a saint and was content.

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Playing Con Quién with two wanderers, I felt a tinge of doubt about deciding to stay in Copan. Why did I choose this place of all those in the world to live? Would it be the same when my alma gemela left, when I returned to an empty apartment? Would the people I let into my heart in this little town love me or disappoint me, protect me or hurt me? It is too early to tell. I jumped into this world without thinking. In a day, I made my decision to stay final. No time was spent thinking of the pros or cons. I suppose this is what living in the now means, moving day to day, letting the world catch you as you fall backwards. As I think about Katie leaving, the shear terror of it all hits me.

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Back home in Copan for a few days, I moved everything I owned into a little apartment overlooking a butterfly farm surrounded by trees and tropical plants. It felt cozy in this small space I could now call my own. Never has a move been so easy, no paperwork or boxes involved. I was not there long enough to absorb everything, only long enough to make it my own and leave for Catacamus, the reason why I came to Honduras.

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Seeing the members of Healing the Children, doing the work we did in the hospital, made me more certain of my decision to stay in this country. I realized that the core of me staying here is something deep in my soul that I have never tapped into before now. It’s an inner peace that no matter what goes wrong in my personal life, the work I am doing here is something special that feeds and nourishes my heart as nothing else ever has. Giving these children the opportunity to walk, to work, and to play is right. Forming relationships with these families, showing them that someone cares and seeing them glow just by being acknowledged, I see that the human spirit is burning bright here. They are helping me see what is important, they are reminding me why I am alive, to love with a heart wide open and receive love as well. People never are evil; they simply do the best with what they have; they make the best decisions they can based on the information they have been given. A wise person taught me that on this trip. The team was a breath of fresh air for me. For so long, I have been out of the USA. I forgot the beauty in freedom. I change in each country, adapting to be culturally sensitive, sometimes forgetting who I am. It felt good this past week to come out of my shell, to joke freely, to feel like a human being instead of a sex object, as I am so often seen in this country. To dance and drink, work and explore, to feel equal and respected, to laugh and to talk without inhibition, to feel like I don’t have to hide aspects of myself and that I will be accepted and valued for all the talents I have to offer. Saying good-bye was harder than these beautiful and inspirational people will ever know. But when I feel lonely or begin to forget who I am here, I will remember dancing the conga with friends in a restaurant in Tegucigalpa and I will know who I am in my heart.

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Today, I panicked on the bus ride back to Copan. Nervousness turned to nausea. Returning a week early from my work in the hospital and saying good-bye to my last American friends in Honduras, I found myself shaking as it soaked in that I was returning to a city that all of my English speaking friends have left, and in which, I have chosen to live alone with minimal Spanish. I wanted to cry, but realized I had no one to cry with as I stepped off the bus. My only thought was to get to my apartment as soon as possible and let it all out there. I looked for a moto-taxi driver and in my desperation to escape claustrophobia, I almost didn’t recognize the man, who was the first I met when I came here. When we first met, he greeted me with a smile, and helped reassure me when I had similar feelings to today…complete terror. He knew English and wanted to practice but let me painfully try to use my Spanish that first day and promised that when next we saw each other in Copan, we would talk in Spanish only. So today, we met again, and in Spanish, I told him I was sad and scared, alone and crazy, and I cried. And I remembered that when you let yourself be vulnerable, life has a way of holding you up and showing it cares. Yes, I have made a crazy decision to stay here, but no, I am not alone. There will be other friends, other people to help me grow. There is always someone who will help me smile when I am sad, even if it is a stranger.

My Heart Will Be Full Again

My heart is open
And it bleeds
A smile on my face
I grow pale
A body so dry
Tears are needed
To maintain pressure.

You cannot see them.

I smile to show I trust
Even when that trust is broken
I trust because it is only in trusting strangers
That they have an opportunity to be trustworthy
I trust and wait for the silver lining amongst all the pain
I never stop believing people can be more than this
But learn to accept us as we are
I smile because I know the pain is part of the joy
Every day is an opportunity for the world to change
I smile because my heart will keep beating
If I trust others to give me enough in return to survive
Some days my heart is more empty than others
But it still beats
I still can love
The hardest part is letting others love me
Because that involves trust
And it can be broken
But if I smile despite the pain
I will find love seeping back in
And my heart will be full again.

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