by Josh Hardcastle
The car – no, let me rephrase that, the SUV (cars couldn’t handle this situation) – jerked back and forth as we traversed down the rocky Guatemalan “road” (and I use that term loosely).
Jerk! My fellow passengers and I slid to the left.
Jerk! We were knocked to the right.
As I said, this was no road for any “weak” cars. It wasn’t a road for any weak stomach, either, unless it was doped up on Dramamine, and many were! We couldn’t stop, though; we were Aggies on a mission, bound and determined to get to an escuela in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.
Forty-five minutes later, we pulled up to in front of a small three-room schoolhouse. Children ran up to greet us, the “gringos” who had come to teach them about plants.
With two Junior Master Gardener activities in hand, we jumped out of our vehicles and prepared ourselves to teach two groups of Guatemalan children the importance of plants.
Thus, began our second battle, which was as rocky as a Guatemalan dirt road: a language barrier. However, we were not going to let this obstacle keep us from achieving our goal.
Our starting presentation went well (we thank our awesome bilingual travelers for that), but working one-on-one with the kids soon had us frantically pulling Spanish phrases out of the air.
“Sí, es una planta.”
“¡Muy bueno, chico!”
“¿Como se llama?”
(That’s all I’ve got for you…)
Somehow, we made it through, and the classroom was adorned with homemade Chia Pets and plant mobiles. Sad to see us go, the kids thanked us. Even sadder to leave, we bid them, “¡Adios!”.
Though we could barely communicate with these children, they truly touched my life. Somehow, some way, we were able to make a connection, and I know my time spent with them will remain with me in the years to come.
I guess this just goes to show you that great things happen when you don’t let obstacles stand in your way.
We survived the road and bypassed a language barrier; now, it’s time to tackle Chajul. We leave en la mañana. Please join us (virtually) if you have the chance!