Back in Paradise

I am back in what seems like paradise. I am sitting at home in the States looking out at the blue skies and the fresh clean air passes through my window as I type. I am back on a two week vacation as much needed break after a increasingly busy last couple months in Guatemala. The tilapia project which we have been planning and pushing for the last year has finally come to fruition with the planting of 10,000 fingerlings in river cages to be ready for harvest in Feburary 2007. The women's back-strap weaving group of 15 have increased to over 70 women working on various arts and crafts projects and giving classes in the areas of women's issues such as health and rights. With the increase in members and activities of the womens group, we have now begun the construction of a much needed building for the ladies to meet and work. Ironically, the job as a volunteer has taken on a schedule that is very similar to a regular job in corporate America. In a way that signifies the sucess that we have had, and something of which I am proud. But nevertheless, one needs a break once in a while.

So with the summer, my family traveled to the States like an annual migration of birds, to enjoy the beautiful Boston summer and to get away from the opressive heat of Taiwan summer.
My travel back to the States started with waiting for a 4am bus on the side of a village dirt road in the mist of the darkness of night with only the light of the stars and moon above. I tried to get some rest as the converted school bus bounced and weaved along the mountain path. After 10 hours I was finally in the Guatemala Capital! And after running some last minute errands in the capital, I was finally seated on my flight back to the US. The captain then came on the radio and annouced that the flight would be delayed due to storms in the Miami area. However, I was not affected as I held on to the knowledge that I will be back home soon.

After some delay and few hours later, we were circleling around the Miami area waiting for a landing time slot. I took the opportunity to look out the window and absorb the beauty of Southern Florida and the contrast to the country that I came from. What I saw seemed like a fantasy a dream park that one only sees in one's dreams. I saw colorful building line the costline, large pools in their backyards, and people zipping around in the beautiful blue waters in their yachts, large motor boats and jetskis.

I could not resist the contrast to the polluted air and the convulted streets of the capital and the extreme poverty of the country that I had just left. I started thinking how much this seemed like paradise and how the Guatemalans from the area that I live would be able to believe such paradise exist. I was excited like a little kids knowing that he is going Disney world. I knew that I would soon be back at home with my family in my little paradise.

When the plan landed, I anxiously filed in line to exit the plan and again at the customs and immigration line. Shortly, I presented my passport to the immigration officer, and with great enthusiasm knowing that I have arrived on US soil, I greated him and standardly asked how his day was going? His response...."Oh, just another day in Paradise!!" with a bit of sarcasm.

How ironic..I thought to myself. Here I was thiking how beautiful it must be to live in the Miami area playing in the blue waters of the surrounding beaches and here he was sarcastically mentioning paradise.

Lesson learned...everything is relative.. I often think of the village that I live is paradise with surrounding deep tropical forest and interesting culture...but with a busy workload, I started to crave for luxury comforts of the States. but to the Customs officier, he probably has been in Miami too long and needs to take a vacation in the beautiful paradise of Guatemala!