Monday, January 6 2014
Arriving at guatemala felt overwhelming, over a year of work and thought became tangible as we boarded our bus from the airport. Even though I had prepared myself for the nature, mountains, language, etc. it still felt a bit like paradise. I found myself examining and comparing Guatemalan stores, people, street art and food through a Bolivian lense. I know not to essentialize all latin/central american experiences, but I am drawn to the similarities between countries/cultures/communities.
For example, my heart lept at street vendors, although their candies and chocolates are native to guatemala, they resembles bolivian street vendors. Also shared within latin/central america is a history of colonialism, a topic we discussed at dinner (which was ahmazing). We talked about how colonialism relates to capitalism, patriarchy, and racism. It made me think about what we value in society, and given that we are all students we are all apart of academia. I believe academia prefers some bodies to others, whether its based on their ability, gender,color, class, etc. This affects the position people have in our capitalistic society. I know that Grinnell students, talk a lot about patriarchy and the -isms, but I don’t believe enough importance is placed on the history of colonialism and how the -isms originate from a believe that one group should tower over another (and by extension be the oppressors) because of a believed superiority.
General Similarities aside, I anticipate what will make this experience unique is our privilege of going to and interacting with indigenous/mayan culture. One thing is Guatemala City and all it has to offer, but I feel that their is something raw about indigenous life. This is partly based from my romanticized view of “indigenous” (which I hope to topple) life, and also from my exposure to a small part of indigenous bolivian life.
As the day came to a close I was thinking again about the Rios Montt trial and how I can stand in solidarity with people and communities who have faced the terrible acts of the genocide, and the effects it has had on Guatemala. I think my definition of solidarity will change as this experience continues.