Today began like yesterday, with a brisk and enlightening walk with Ruth and two new, wonderful friends, as we took in our last moments in Guatemala City. The city was bustling with people going to work and school, riding bikes and scooters and motorcycles and cars and buses.
From there we gathered as a group for some (much needed) reflection on yesterday and some learning before we had our meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. The meeting was diplomatic and short. We were allotted one hour with our representatives there and did the best advocacy for human rights we could manage in that time.
From there we got on the bus to transfer to Quetzaltenango. The ride was absolutely magnificent. Many of you know that I like to move and walk as much as I can. Today, I spent six hours on a bus taking in the changing landscape, the vast differences between the towns we drove through, and the beautiful and complex country around me. The bus ride was punctuated with conversations about our goals in our rabbinate and how we find “moral courage.” This conversation was difficult for me, as I’ve often shied away from conflict and advocacy work. After my time on this trip I know that I can no longer do that. I have power in my role as rabbi and as a citizen of the United States, and I must stand up against injustice. I’m not sure what this will look like when I return from this trip, but I do know that something inside me has been turned on.
From the bus window I saw volcanoes and lakes, flowers, stray dogs, roadside stands, and women tending their crops. Just as we approached our hotel we passed a statue in the center of town. This is a statue of a local man, waving goodbye. It represents good luck to those who make the journey to be immigrants to America. Yes, immigration to America is one of the top exports from Guatemala because life here can be so bad that the only way to survive is to immigrate, work to make money, and send the money back to support your family. I have so much to think about.
One of the best parts of this trip are the new friends I’m making among my colleagues. It feels like a luxury to spent this much time engaging in meaningful and deep conversations with new friends. I’m looking forward to conversations that continue to nourish my soul and feed my heart.
Off to dinner and a good night’s sleep! This was a much needed day to catch my breath.