It´s hot in the sun and cold in the shadow. While I walk, I already start sweating after the first 100 meters. As always when I finally arrive to the Busstation I open my Waterbottle and drink as if I were running. Finally the bus comes and I try to not fall, between all the people who are despretly wanting to get a seat and pushing me towards the Bus. It´s hot and you can smell the peoples work-sweat. The bus is driving like a rollercoaster and the streets are old and broken. In some buses you have sellers who come in and give you a candy for 1Q. Or there are prayers who hop on and start loudly to read from the Bible. Sometimes you can even buy coconut-water or french fries.
Guate is loud and big and crazy. And it´s full of contrasts that are making me think everyday that goes by. There are drunk men sleeping in the middle of the street, kids selling you cigarettes, smoking skaters listening to hip-hop and on the other side you have this big shopping-centers with swarovsky trees and people with cars, that are so expensive that you could probably save a whole part of those “zona rojas” where everybody is scared from.
Guate is chaotic, it has a lot of cars and they drive like crazy and don´t stop if they see some pedestrian waiting to cross over. You have almost on every corner of the street some food truck or little table with some tortillas, pollo or advocate. In the 6ta the people are gathering especially on weekends to walk and look at the stores and the dancers, singers and clowns which are performing on the street.
Guate is intense. Everything that happens is intense and has meaning. You hear stories and get surrounded by there happiness and sadness. Sometimes I have to stop, to order my thoughts. I have to rest and breath and listen to my inner voice that tells me, that it is ok, if I don´t always understand everything – it`s ok.
Sometimes I wake up and don´t know where I am, because I still can´t believe that I´m here, in this Land, this City, in this Culture, full of mystic and magic Stories. Sometimes I even forget myself, and get lost in all this lives and conflicts. I get lost in the shapes of this little houses in the barrios, that are softly colored by the rays of a sunrise. I get lost in the shapes of the volcanos surrounding the city and populating the whole country. I get lost in markets full of unknown vegetables and fruits and smells and colors. I get lost in the waves by the sea, which are salty and big and trying to drag you with them into the ocean, away from the land. Sometimes I forget myself, and I have to breath and think and breath.
Guate has artists and people who play with fire. Poets who are reading there thoughts through megaphones, there are activists who fight for women rights. People who go on the street and do performance art and people who work in Human Rights Organizations and really do believe the things they are fighting for.
Guate is going through my blood, my stomach and my head. My thoughts are full of temples and indigenous maya women walking down the streets with there colored dresses. They are full of music and food and all the interesting people I got to know here. I´ve learned how to enjoy again loneliness for thinking through stuff and letting it all sicker into my body slowly.
Guate is poor and rich, it has children working on garbage mountains and men buying maseratis. It has police everywhere and where there is no police there are uniformed private security gards. Sometimes on the street my adrenalin starts to rush trough my veins and making my heart go crazy and I start to walk faster and only chill, when I´m home. It´s the violence they tell you about, the images of homocides in the newspaper and the stories you hear, that make you react like that already in innocent situations. It´s like being in love and feel the anxiety in your bones at the same time. Just breath, and listen to your inner voice that tells you it´s ok – it´s ok.
Guate is going to be 5 months more my hometown and there is still so much more to discover. This city is teaching me more about myself then any experience before and I am very great full. The things I can give back are really little compared to what I will take with me in August. I don´t know how I ended up living here and working in this Cultural Center in Villa Nueva. I really don´t know how it all happened, ´cause it happened all so fast. But I do know this experience is the most enriching thing that ever accrued to me, and I wouldn´t want to miss it.
Guate most people wouldn´t even give you a chance, because they say you are too dangerous and bad, but they are wrong. I gave you a chance and you thanked me with the biggest adventure I´ve been in.
Magdalena Bauhofer Guatemala 2016/2017