Friday, May 22, 2009

life is a highway, im gonna ride it

Yes I’m alive and well! And, well well, not well bad. Ok that was a Honduran Spanish joke…sorry. Anyhow, I realized I haven’t blogged for the last 6 weeks and I’m sure I’ve let a lot of you down…especially because these last 6 weeks have been FILLED with revelations, struggles, uncomfortable situations, and new decisions. For that reason, over the next few days, I’m going to write a blog for each of the last 6 weeks (more or less) highlighting and reflecting on important things that have happened. So, you’ll have to scroll down for each entry, but that way you’ll be caught up on most everything…without having to read one monstrous blog. Ok, let’s start with early-mid April…

April 1-8: To give a little reference and conclusion to my last blog, part of what I was referring to in allowing myself to be vulnerable began with my time in the Dominican Republic, where I had to deal with a lot of things from my past there, most centrally in coping with the disappointments of not being able to realize my dreams and passions there. It was like an uncomfortable pain that persisted throughout my trip there because I realized that this was the first place for me that was filled with passion-the language, the people, the landscape, the air…everything. It was a place for me, that inspired in me my passion for public health and Latin America, and I realized that while I’ve loved Honduras and it has been so good to me, I’ve been living there this entire time not thinking “Oh, yay, Honduras, a new place, a new adventure” but rather “It’s not the DR.” In my time visiting the DR, I had to understand and forgive the fact that the dreams I had had to come back to that place, and the work I had done for a year to research and write grants for Fulbright and other scholarships, though always got to a top candidate status, had been major disappointments when they didn’t come through in the end. But I never had a chance to deal with those disappointments and return to the DR to close that chapter in my life because this opportunity in Honduras came about and before I could cope and move on, I had to be in Honduras…starting the new chapter. Because of my personality and passion, I jumped on the chance to go to Honduras. A week after graduating I was in CA for training and then off to San Pedro. And now, almost 10 months later, I finally had the chance (be it a wedding for my host sister) to go back and confront the disappointments, while being able to maintain the relationships with people and organizations that were the primary inspirations to my direction and passion in my life. I spent two weeks there, probably too long of a time, but by the end, I was ready to go to Honduras. I was ready to close that chapter and continue writing the Honduras chapter of my life. I got back and as I was on a bus for Siguatepeque the next day, I remember looking at the bus terminal and just feeling at home, so comfortable. A little sad that the San Pedro bus terminal reminded me of home since I travel so much I’m in there all the time, but it is what triggered the emotion. Haha. I’ve seen some tough stuff in the weeks since then, but maybe that’s just the beginning on me really learning to live in HONDURAS, with its own unique attributes and its own capacity to love and inspire me.

April 9-17: Well….April 9, really. I get hit by a truck while running outside. Yep. Can you believe it? It’s true though. I was running along el “21,” one of the major (i.e. one of the only paved streets) in Siguatepeque and there were 4 cars illegally parked, so I had to go into the street and though I looked both ways and didn’t see anything, as I entered in, there it was, a truck going about 35mph about 2 feet in front of me. I had seconds to react and tried backing up, but I more had the shock of “Holy crap, I’m going to get hit by a car!” It tried to break but was too close; it still hit my leg and I fell back on my hands and knees. I was definitely in shock and started getting really embarrassed when everyone in the car (and everyone in any surrounding comedor restaurant) came out to see what happened/how I was. I freaked out, got up, could easily walk, so I told them I was sorry, that I was okay, that I was going to be fine and then I went on my way as fast as possible. Honestly, I was more embarrassed that I, la gringa, Johanna Chapin, got hit by a car. I walked home and while I was sore and had some bumps and bruises, I was totally fine and didn’t feel it necessary to see a doctor. I then realized that I was speaking English the entire time with the people on the street, so they probably didn’t even understand me say that I’ll be okay…until of course I walked away in tears like a crazy person.

Moral of the story? Don’t run outside on the 21. No actually, the moral and after-thought is much bigger than that. Truthfully, that entire day I had off work because of Semana Santa (Holy Week) and I spent the day sitting on my computer in my apartment job searching. Worrying. Wondering. What do I do next? What does my future hold? Where am I going next? How do I get there? What’s waiting for me? As I walked back from getting hit, the tears started flowing a bit, I said a little prayer, and realized that I am HERE, NOW. Yes, I do need to be thinking about what’s to come and doing what is necessary to get there, but if I don’t LIVE in the NOW, HERE, I’m not going to learn and use skills to the fullest during my time with this organization or with this experience. If I’m here, then I want to be fully engaged, not worrying about my next step. Just trust I’ll get there, and that I’m being prepared for it while in the moment here, in this city, in this job, with these people. Though I’ve always disliked when people say “live in the moment” because it always just seemed like an excuse to be irresponsible or indifferent, but I’m realizing that in some sense, it is true and necessary because in any moment, I could be taken away. So little by little, I’m learning to live for the present and enjoy what I have in front of me...for as long as it is in front of me.