Don’t cry for me Guatemala, the truth is I never left you……..
Well I did. We did. And a couple of weeks ago I went back with my family, with my 3 Guatemalan hybrids and without my Guatemalan and it was damn weird going back in time, solo parent, Saskia on my lap, and my boys either side on the two planes via Panama.
When I discovered I was pregnant in Buenos Aires in 2004, I walked the streets of Palermo slowly processing the consequences of my rapidly changing life. There is a part of Palermo where all the streets are named after Central American Countries and I stopped at Guatemala and took a long look. I even took a photo of that street name. I realised that if I decided to have our baby, which I already had, I could never forget about that troubled little country that the world had managed to forget about ………. A genocide that some people want to sweep under the carpet. Maybe we all do in a way, because the reality of what happened in Guatemala is too much for a lot of us. But thankfully there are some people like my husband’s family who could never turn their backs on the truth.
There is nobody who could look me in the face and tell me that the name Rosal Paz y Paz is not a noble one, no matter what side of the fence your politics falls. Principles, humanity and honor are things that we can all recognise in people.
I spent 8 years in Guatemala. All my children were born there. I met some great people and learnt a lot about love and life. I can’t say I was happy living there, but my husband and my children brought me a quota of happiness that was just sufficient to get me through and good friends contributed in keeping me topped up.
I made Guatemala a paradise for my boys, but at times I could not hide my unhappiness from them and I regret that. It became my prison. My beautiful prison, with Volcanoes and Jacarandas and Bourganvilias. I thought I would never be able to leave. The feeling made me anxious but my boys always brought me back to life. I was a mother and a wife and that was what I had to try my best to be and do, regardless of the madness of the country, the history, the hypocrisy, my frustration, my boredom.
But an opportunity in Cuba came along and rescued us, just in time. We escaped as history began to repeat itself. A military government back in power, noble people persecuted and accused. Short memories, and a fresh batch of hypocrisy and lies for a new generation.
So I went back for a week, travelling on British passports without my Rafa and I spent that week recreating the paradise for my children. Their town, their friends, their nanny, their old daycare, their volcanoes. Good friends who love us and we love them. I have always been fortunate to find the good people wherever I am……….. and I thank those people for saving me when the serendipity and madness balance was tipping dangerously over to the wrong side.
My Rafa says he wants to die with his volcanoes, but right now we are relieved to be away from it all . My beautiful dark-eyed Saskia, who is a happy soul, will grow up with her first memories in Cuba with the added bonus of a much more relaxed mother. We already have good friends here and I don’t have to keep my mouth shut or keep looking over my shoulder.
To all the sweet kind people of Guatemala. We will be back one day and I wish you all a lot of luck in the meantime.
Phew ……… it took a long time coming that one. Next stop back to crazy happy days in Cuba 😉
Film check: The best documentary I have even seen about Guatemala …….. Lecciones para una Guerra by Juan Manuel Sepulveda. Synopsis taken from Festivalscope:
Between 1982 and 1996, the Ixil and Quiché people took refuge in the mountains as a last resort to save themselves from the massacres carried out by the Guatemalan Army, which took the lives of more than 200,000 indigenous people. After those fourteen years, the communities ended up settling in the northeastern part of the range, an area currently under siege due to the wealth of natural resources to be found there. LESSONS FOR A WAR is a celebration of the resistance of people preparing to defend themselves against another coming war. A chant of hope of a community that will not give up.