Easier in Guatemala

It's insta worthy to say the least
It’s insta worthy to say the least

Living in Santiago Atitlán and living in New York or Philadelphia are very different undertakings. Many things are a lot harder, or at the very least a lot more confusing. But there are a surprising number of things that are way easier to handle. Some of this, of course, is due to the cultural and economic privilege I have and some of it is due to the cultural differences of the developing world, and the resourcefulness that accompanies that.

Some examples:
  • Talking to my landlord and getting something fixed in my apartment. He’s right outside my door and he built this entire house. Salvador can solve any problem. In Philadelphia, getting anything fixed took days, involving multiple phone calls and sometimes even voicemails *gasp*
  • Getting a cab (tuk tuk) to take you and your unwieldy belongings somewhere. I’ve transported eggs, pizzas, cakes, 7 gallon containers of lemonade, suitcases and more in tuk tuks. They don’t blink an eye and even try to drive somewhat smoothly, which is a lost cause.
  • Making plans with friends and paying attention to conversation. This is a bit like college in that we all live within 15 minutes of one another and there isn’t much else to do. The other great part is that we never have wifi if we’re out so you don’t have the mutual staring at your phone outing that’s so common back home. I’ve been at meals in the states where we make a phone tower and have to actively commit to not looking at phones. Here it’s natural which is much appreciated (except when it comes to taking instagrams of the lake).
A related and adorable anecdote: There’s a group of boys that are always playing together on my street. Last night Lillie told me that Loida explained that whoever finishes dinner first each night goes out into the street and screams in tzutujil “Does anybody want to play?” and then they all run out and meet up. They’re probably 5-8 years old and having the platonic ideal of playtime.
  • Buying groceries (sort of). Going to the market means no lines and the items are certainly fresh and fruits rotate a lot, I’ve seen pitaya season, peach season and now apples are everywhere. Some downsides: not open late at night, limited selection, no prices marked so you have no clue if you’re being overcharged.
  • Getting furniture built or fixed. We needed a ladder to display our scarves in Antigua and got one built in three days. Other things, like printing catalogs, are way harder but construction is generally a strength.
Finally, some things that are hard anywhere
  • The year after you graduate from college
  • Staying in touch with people you love who live all over the world
  • Walking down the street as a woman
  • Being social and having alone time
  • Figuring out what you want to do with your life (It’s a work in progress)
Do you have any similar experiences from traveling? I hate how we talk about the “developing world” as if it’s a different planet, assuming that we’ve somehow cracked the code.
Have a great sunday!
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