‘Aggies, I don’t think we are in College Station anymore.’ This well-known statement taken from the movie The Wizard of Oz is a good example of dialogue that was first felt when we arrived in Guatemala a little over a week ago. When Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz first realizes her and her dog, Toto, find themselves no longer in Kansas, her feeling of displacement is comparable to how us students felt upon our arrival to Guatemala.
Within the first minutes of being in Guatemala City, with the wheels of the plane still hot from landing, the differences were almost instantly notable. As we pulled into our gate at the airport and heard our flight attendant speaking over the intercom, announcing the typical announcement of arrival, we started noticing the differences from home. One of the differences was arriving to a much smaller airport in comparison to the DFW airport, which our group departed from. It was almost as if you were to compare the Mall of America to a single department store with the differentiation in size between the two airports. The biggest difference we first experienced that I may have taken too lightly, was the fact that our flight attendant’s announcement was first spoken in a language I did not understand. Her announcement was of course first spoken in Spanish, then English. Still not taking this into consideration of the new dominant culture we just landed in, the ‘adios’ and the added non-understandable farewell that was followed by the plane crew still did not phase me.
As we navigated through the airport, going through customs and eventually collecting our bags, we finally were nearing the exit into the unknown. We headed towards the glass sliding doors that lead us to both our exit from the airport and our entrance to the new experiences we were about to endure on our stay here. There was such a huge crowd that was waiting outside, it was almost like we were greeted by a third of the population of the town, as we finally stepped foot onto Guatemalan soil exiting the airport. I almost felt as if we had to choose between two different ways of presenting ourselves as the mob of people started to grow closer to us and the shouting of voices became louder. One attitude we could have projected was one of a child’s, who is unaware of the unknown, an attitude of nervousness and timidity. This attitude that presented itself is one that didn’t seem to have any real direction and seemed to make us more out of place then we already were by our basic physical features. The second attitude that I believe we did exhibit was one of assertiveness, to have a meaning for our presence on entering this foreign ground. It didn’t hurt to immediately see a gentleman holding a sign that said ‘TAMU’, which greatly helped our confidence while navigating through the crowd and ultimately finding the rest of our group waiting.
After loading our bus and finding my seat, I then shoved a cookie called ‘chiky’, that is popular here in Guatemala, into my mouth and allowed its chocolate layer to melt on my tongue as I began to take in my new environment.
I think I can say for the rest of my fellow colleagues, that we’ve clicked our anticipated shoes enough and have finally arrived in Guatemala. Now only if our stay here was longer…