Just as I suspected it would, the past week has flown by. Now, there is only one week until I leave. Next Sunday, at this time, I will be on the plane that is taking me to my new home for 3 months.
Despite the fact that I have finally started on preparations, I still can’t really believe I’m going. I don’t know why. I don’t have butterflies like I did before I went to France, and that momentary nervousness I felt last week has long since dissipated. I really don’t think I’m going to realize what I’m doing/have done until I touch down in Guatemala.
Yesterday I essentially finalized my packing. I still have a few small things to get, but I have basically fit everything in/on my large backpack and a carry-on (one compression bag with some clothes is actually strapped ON to my backpack). As I was choosing toiletries and figuring out what to bring as supplies, I was struck by the fact that I am really friggin ignorant. I naturally assume that they’ll have everything there that I would have here. It baffles me that I’ve been told I’ll need to bring my own hand sanitizer and gloves to a medical clinic. I can’t imagine a place where they don’t have access to, or can’t afford, what I consider to be the basic necessities.
My first ever encounter with poverty was while I was living in France. I was mentoring a 13 year old girl, whose family had immigrated from Tunisia. They were living in a relatively small apartment, that was far from well-kept. They were a family of 5, but there weren’t enough beds for everyone – the girl I was mentoring and her brother slept on the couch every night. Their bathroom was beyond tiny, even by French standards, and didn’t have a light in it. They had to bring a lamp in from outside the room, so the door was constantly a little bit open. It looked, literally, like a closet that had a toilet and sink shoved in it.
Still, the fact that this family could afford to live ANYWHERE in Nice meant that they were not anywhere near the level of poverty I’m about to encounter. It doesn’t really make me nervous, but it does make me curious – extreme poverty and lack of resources is just not something I can imagine. I wonder how this experience will change me. I wonder how my views will change, I wonder if I’ll feel rich (as I sometimes do already).
Someone I know recently told me that no matter how much I try to prepare, I will never really be prepared for this experience. I’m already starting to feel the truth of that statement and I haven’t even gotten anywhere yet.