I have some kind of wanderlust deep in my bones.
I love traveling and exploring, seeing beautiful places around the world. I especially love the minutiae of day-to-day life – witnessing little old ladies coming out of their houses in Spain as the bread delivery truck honks its horn through the winding streets; buying farm fresh eggs still covered with feathers at a road-side market in Tanzania; living with a host family in Guatemala and telling jokes with Carlos over lunch, or hearing snippets of Gladys’s life story over tea after dinner.
For a long time, I only traveled to new places. What can I say – I’m totally a checklist kind of a person! And if a trip didn’t let me scratch off at least one new country on my scratch off world map (because of course I have one of those!), well… I would still love the trip but might be a teensy bit disappointed!
But over the last two summers, I’ve gotten to experience the delight of going back to a place already visited. I’m discovering what it’s like to anticipate a trip while already being confident about what I’ll experience while I’m there. Returning to Guatemala for a second time last summer and again for a third time this summer meant knowing what I was looking forward to. It meant pulling my old quetzales out of my drawer to spend. It meant sleeping all afternoon after a red-eye flight and still knowing exactly where I wanted to go for dinner, and not needing to change any money or stop at an ATM before doing so. It meant getting to see things that I missed the first time. It turns out you really can’t see it all in one short trip! It’s been trying new foods while still getting to visit my favourite ice cream shop.
It’s meant going deeper, not just broader.
Coming back to Antigua this morning felt like coming home. I was so excited for my new friends to see all of the places that I love! And each landmark was like a familiar friend, with old friends scattered throughout the city to check in on. (Special thanks to my new friends for taking a detour just so we could walk past my favourite ruins!)
Stopping by the Cerro de la cruz this morning made me smile, because I couldn’t help but remember the last time I was there. I had said goodbye to my fellow student housemates before they left for school, knowing I would never see them again. Only to walk down the hill at the cross and hear someone say “Bethany?!” and to turn and see Jess, who had just happened to go up to the cross with a friend that afternoon.
And even a short one day visit to the city provided the opportunity to see things I’ve missed before – this morning’s visit to Finca Filadelfia coffee plantation was something I skipped both summers I’ve been here before in favour of a much needed Saturday afternoon nap.
And then a visit to the Capuchinas ruins included a holy experience that will be treasured by all of us forever – descending into a round basement and singing hymns in the most vibrant acoustics. It was a moment that words cannot adequately express.
My heart is so full of contentment and joy to have been able to return to my old home away from home. To see my old familiar friends. To be here with new friends. To be learning and growing and discussing hard but beautiful things.
Hello, old friend! I’ve missed you! I’m so glad I got to see you today, however briefly!