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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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I have been doing a lot of thinking about my travels this past year as it is almost my one year anniversary after leaving my job in the states to start a new path within my life journey. I wrote this poem before my travels contemplating the duality and complexity we create as humans that makes everything so muddy. Clarity seems to come when we finally decide to sit still and let the mud settle to the bottom, an image I will always remember from meditations at Dzogchen Beara in Ireland. I have come back to daily yoga and meditation practice, and it is amazing how much it helps me focus myself in such a way that life just flows easier allowing me to see things as they come together instead of separate. In life, humans are constantly defining and categorizing things, myself included, all in an attempt to better understand them, but it is interesting how this black and white way of looking at the world that is supposed to provide clarity only actually does if things fit into the black and white mold. When they don’t, people get upset because they don’t feel they have the tools to understand these foreign models of life that don’t mirror what life is supposed to look like. As a result, instead of reaching beyond the black and white, people have a tendency to dismiss what they can’t understand based on their standards of right and wrong. Whether the standards of black and white and right or wrong are religious, race related, familial, cultural, political, or superstitious, they very apparently separate people from understanding the truth and beauty in those people and things they cannot understand or define. It becomes very clear to me that desire to have everything fit into a mold is one of the biggest factors in our suffering as human beings.

The Obvious Choice

“He was unacceptable to the infinite bright blankness, the clarity without edge which only selfishness fears.” ~ Lanark

Restless in calm stability
Confused amongst endless possibility
Is freedom to choose
Only a barrier to simple truth
Is the obvious choice
Really the right one
What makes it obvious?

If I am restless,
It is obvious I must free myself from that which holds me back.
If I am confused,
It is obvious I must ground myself.

Perhaps, I should do the opposite
Obvious choice is subjective to situation
Will going against the flow
Choosing what appears less obvious
Bring peace.
Hold answers.
Will the less obvious become obvious once the path is chosen?

Perhaps, I am restless because I am confused
I am confused because I am restless
The dissatisfaction comes from the desire to be satisfied
Are they not all one
How do I choose an obvious path when indeed it is not obvious?

Laughable this life we try to lead
The complexity we create out of simplicity
The grass is always greener.

The beauty will be found when it can be seen in the ugly
Peace will find us when we can see it waiting amongst the war within
Destiny is found when choice becomes fate
The obvious choice becomes the less obvious.

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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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