Tomorrow we’re checking our bags and our sweet 85 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy and flying south to Guatemala. For four months we’ll be living in the land of forests and volcanoes, farming and textiles, open roads and warm tortillas. I keep pinching myself. Is this really happening? And how did I marry a man who is up for this?
I’ve always had a love affair for travel, particularly to the places off the beaten track, where things are still being done by hand, the hole in the wall discoveries, the chaos and calm of third-world countries. For me, this kind of travel is endless curiosity. Somehow I found a man who felt the same way, especially if it includes opportunities for dirt bike rides. I don’t want to be overly dramatic here, but the first moment we set foot in Guatemala last year was a stepping-into-Narnia moment. A place we had hardly heard about, despite being only a few flying hours away, yet we discovered a land of regal volcanoes and lush jungles, deep teal lakes and open (really good) roads, incredible food and rich local coffee, intricate Mayan weaving and people quick to smile. We started talking about coming back to Guatemala for a longer free domestic shipping on orders $150 or more period of time. We couldn’t stop talking about it. I began designing with some weaving cooperatives I met during my trip, we started looking for rentals, we got our dog a pet passport (yes, it’s a real thing). And, in three days, we’re boarding that plane.
To me, this move means immersion in a country and culture that I have fallen in love with this year. This is the place where Ara Collective was born, conceived from the discovery of Mayan craftsmanship and random meetings with traditional weavers eager to work together in a new way. Four months isn’t a long time but being in Guatemala for this uninterrupted time means I get to build relationships with the artisans I’m partnering with, discover more of their designs and craft, understand their process and their challenges with more depth, and get my Spanish-speaking skills back up to par. It means I get to experience this land, culture, history and development beyond being a tourist or a business partner 3,000 miles away.
i want to look at a map and be able to remember how i was transformed by the places i’ve been to, the things i’ve seen, the people i’ve met. i want to come home and realize that i have not come home whole, but have left a piece of my heart in each place i have been.
The opportunity to explore a place, a culture, a way of life is a rare thing. A gift, but not all romantic. It’s inconvenient moving all your stuff into a storage unit and stocking up on toiletries for the next four months. People miss you, you miss people, you miss celebrations. Figuring out the in’s and out’s of a new town is always a slow and awkward process. These things can put you on your knees sometimes. But, in exchange for this, you get to learn a new language and local recipes, discover hidden cafes and breathtaking natural beauties, meet incredible individuals and new ways of doing things.
I’ve moved a lot in my short lifetime and I’ve learned this: There is loss in a move but there is also abundance. And so we go.
“When I say want to travel I don’t mean I want to stay at resorts and go on tours with tour guides or buy key chains from souvenir shops. I don’t want to be a tourist. When I say I want to travel I mean I want to explore another country and become part of it... I want to meet people who are not like me, but people who I can like all the same. I want to take pictures of things and places and people I meet. I want my mind to be in constant awe of life on earth. I want to see things with new eyes. I want to look at a map and be able to remember how I was transformed by the places I’ve been to, the things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met. I want to come home and realize that I have not come home whole, but have left a piece of my heart in each place I have been. This, I think is what is at the heart of Adventure and this is why I plan on making my life one.” | Cassie (via hisworkofart)