by Annalee Antoon
This morning, the first of many in Chajul, I lay in bed wide awake at 6 a.m. patiently awaiting breakfast at 8. Why am I up two hours early? Because the startling sound of bombs and cannons blasting woke me up. Along with my roommates, I lay there scared and confused. Eventually, I fell back asleep and woke up to a breakfast of beans, eggs, and corn tortillas. Was it a bad dream? No, just the locals celebrating with “bombas,” or fireworks, at all hours of the morning. Welcome to Chajul, Texas A&M!
After a morning full of sounds that we are sure to get used to, we spent the morning learning what our life will be like for the next two weeks. Feeling a little overwhelmed by our busy and exciting schedule, we hiked up hill to the Limitless Horizons and Philanthropiece office.
On the way, we passed the butcher. Seeing cow tails hanging out of the window did nothing for my appetite and made me happy that we won’t be consuming much meat in this leg of our journey. Once we arrived, the employees and students explain to us what they do for the organization, and we met the people that we would be working with on our projects.
As we walked around the town and saw sights that we would never dream of seeing in Texas: children playing in the streets, starving dogs, and a market that filled many blocks of the town.
Next, we made our way to the family of a Philanthropiece scholar’s home for lunch. I walked down the road until it ended and then cautiously stepped down several uneven cement blocks that acted as stairs until I saw the home in which I would be eating.
A wooden house on cinder blocks, a dirt floor, and cement blocks with wooden planks that served as a bed, this house was no larger than my room in my apartment in College Station.
Humbled, I sat at the table with three other students in silence. We ate a traditional Guatemalan lunch of Boxbol (bosh-bol), corn dough wrapped in a squash leaf then boiled for 20 minutes. Once our translator arrived, the only question that I could ask was if this family was aware of our lifestyle and if they knew they were in poverty.
His answer was that they have never seen what our lives are like unless they have watched an American movie. They are truly happy with nothing and know of no other life than the one that they live.
Being here is a constant reminder to for me to count my blessings, and I am forever thankful that I am a part of such an amazing trip.