a new perspective

When I decided to go Guatemala there was much I was in search of. An off-the-beaten-path adventure, a better relationship with my sister, and the possibility of pursuing a new career that could help me evolve personally and professionally.

In San Pedro, I found my adventure. There were rides in tuk tuks and on lanchas. Late-night dinners at the local taco stands that lured you in with the billowing smoke from their grills piled high with chicken and chorizo. I even abandoned my usual hotel snobbery to stay a night in barebones accommodations, featuring amenities like a suicide shower with exposed wires and no hot water and a 5 a.m. wake-up call from the coop of cackling chickens next door.  


Panajachel, where we visited after being in the Lake Atitlan region for a few days, is where I took a more vocal step forward in bettering the relationship with my sister. As you read in an earlier post, my sister and I are complete opposites which for whatever reason has sometimes come between us for better or for worse. She is full of wanderlust, and her desire to help others exponentially outweighs any desire to help herself. She is a woman who is not afraid of the fall that accompanys taking new risks. While I on the other hand need stability and have prioritized this over achieving complete fulfillment in a few aspects of my life, mostly my professional one. While in Panajachel, we met a micro financer from Whole Foods who asked me what I had enjoyed most about Guatemala. While the expected response would be food or the beautiful scenery, I instead focused on how the country had allowed me to reconnect with my sister and begin to understand what her path is and why it is so different then mine. I like to think in that moment my sister had the confirmation that I believe in her business, and more importantly her.


The most profound experience I had in Guatemala was in San Juan, where I spent many days with the women of Tinte Maya because of my sister's business partnership with the cooperative through One Seed Heritage. To again reference the earlier post my sister wrote, throughout the latter part of my life I have attached fulfillment and success with possessions. I think it's a byproduct of living and working in the New Jersey and Ney York area, where what you have is the most immediate way people assess your societal worth. The women of Tinte Maya made me question this very Western point of view that I had subscribed to for the last decade of my life. While by our standards the Guatemalan people have very little living in a country where 75% of the people are in poverty, I actually found that at least the women of Tinte Maya are rich in ways many Westerners struggle to or will never know due to societal norms and pressures.  The Mayan people I engaged with at and around Tinte Maya have found peace, purpose and happiness in their everyday that is deeply rooted in caring and providing for their families and extended communities. And it was in seeing how my sister is partnering with these women in a way that allows them to maintain and enhance their culture, not change it to one that places a premium on a paycheck, that moved me to question my own professional future.

Emily Dell