All It Takes Is Time
Adjusting to another culture seemed easy when I moved in with a mestizo family for the six weeks of training. They had a comfortable home and gave both of the Peace Corps trainees staying there a room to share. They cleaned and cooked and helped us to better understand the culture we were living in.
At the end of six weeks, it was painful, yet exciting, to be leaving this loving mestizo family to see "my" village, where I would spend the following two years. Sitting in the back of the pick-up, saying our good-byes as the trainees were dropped off in their villages, I was filled with so many feelings. We had spent six weeks together, preparing to do just what we were about to do, move to the village we would call home for the next twenty-four months.
As the Peace Corps truck pulled into my village of Lucky Strike, I was filled with excitement and fear. Little did I know what the next two years would hold for me. Having a few beans in the bottom of a pot was not a problem, but eating them when the children in the house had only tea was hard for me to face. I was told that there was a Mayan ruin in the village and the boys wanted to walk me there. We were off. What a fun time we had, seeing the village and talking and laughing. I wonder what they thought of the white woman and all of her questions? School began the day after I settled in. I was filled with enthusiasm and more ideas than I can imagine now, and ready to make friends and do something to make a difference.
A friend visited me from Oregon a few months later. He and I had walked to the ruin and were walking back when he stopped to investigate some carvings. I went on home by myself and a young man stopped me on the road and asked where I was going. I told him I had been to the ruin with a friend. He said, "Miss Donna, why did you walk? I would have loaned your friend my bike." His kindness was so obvious as he spoke these words. Then he went on to tell me something that made me realize that Lucky Strike was now my home, that I had "family" here and that I would be safe. He said, "Miss Donna, when you and your friend walked by Miss Greg's (the local bar), there was a man in there who is not from the village, and he wanted to know why the men were not 'throwing words' at the white woman. We all told him that you lived in the village and we would never do that to you." It was all I could do not to cry as this young man spoke these words. I was so moved, so touched, by what he said and the kindness with which he spoke them.
I knew at that moment, that Lucky Strike was my home and that I would be safe as long I was there. I left, tears streaming down my face, in June of 1991. I have been back numerous times and now have a scholarship in my name at the village high school. This past June I celebrated my 50th birthday in Lucky Strike and am always proud to call those people family and Lucky Strike "my village." Time. That is what it takes to make a place a home.
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