We began the day by loading into a van at 4:30am. Then commenced a 30 minute drive on gravel roads until we finally arrived at the base of the mountain. While I don’t remember the name of our guide that morning, I will never forget his story…
Let’s Back Up…
About two and half years ago I made a trip to Guatemala – my first international experience. During this trip, I wanted to take in all that I could, adventures included. My fiancé (girlfriend at the time), took me to the beautiful Lake Atitlan to climb a mountain, cliff jump and enjoy the most beautiful lake I have ever seen.
We arrived at our destination after taking a 30 minute boat ride from the port on one side of the lake to the other. As soon as we unloaded at the dock, we were approached by a local who was eager to greet us and point us in the direction of a hostel to stay in for the evening. I quickly learned that traveling in Guatemala is a very on-the-go thing as sleeping accommodations were often made at the last second and transportation arrangements made on the fly.
That being said, we had no where to stay and let the indigenous man guide us to our hostel for the evening. As we made our walk to the front office, the man began asking us if we were interested in any hiking or adventure during our stay. Of course! The gentleman certainly had his sales pitch mastered because immediately after finding us a place to sleep, he had us signed up for a private hike the following morning up the mountain known as ‘La Nariz’, or ‘The Nose’.
The Day of the Hike…
Jessica and I woke up rather early, a bit hesitant as we had trusted this man enough to pick us up in a van hours before the sunrise to hike with us. Sorry mom, it’s how we did things a lot of the time in Guatemala.
We arrived at the base of the mountain, and the morning was as serene as possible. Trekking through fields and over boulders. The only noises for some period of time were those of our feet crunching whatever twigs and branches they landed on. Then, our guide began speaking. He began asking questions. He was interested in learning more about us.
At this point in time, I had never traveled out of the country, and I certainly didn’t know a damn bit of Spanish. I let Jessica carry on conversation with him a little at a time. Periodically, she would break from Spanish and summarize their conversation.
As his story unfolded, I became inspired. I was appreciative. I was speechless. This man’s story was startling. During the 30+ year civil war in Guatemala that ended in 1996 (only 17 years ago), members of his family were savagely killed, and he was left to build a better life for himself – and that he did.
He went on to marry, and he couldn’t express more how much he loved his wife. He had two daughters, one of whom was pretty sick. This is where the story gets fuzzy for me (old age is creeping in), but what I do remember is the sacrifices this particular man made so that he could provide for his family.
He specifically told us how every bit of money he earned was used to ensure that his daughter could be healthy, and he could put food on the table for his family. Mind you, the daily minimum wage in Guatemala is equivalent to less than $3/day in the US – per day, not per hour.
This man never criticized or blamed anyone for his misfortunes. He only did what he knew was best. He turned to God, and kept faith that God was the only person who would provide everything he would need.
We arrived at the mountain peak just before sunrise. At the peak of this mountain was a ‘mirador’ or lookout point. We had overcome the darkness, the uncertainty of where our next step would take us. We slipped, we fell, we conquered. Our guide assured us that all of our hard work would be rewarded when we got to see the view from the top – he couldn’t have been more correct.
Having made the trek up several mountains and volcanoes when I returned and lived in Guatemala, I still reflect on this one as the most memorable. Not only did I share in this experience with someone close to me, but I felt like a built a relationship with a complete stranger. I learned a little bit about his story in that climb. It’s one of the better stories I have read, because I experienced it and lived it.
In our own lives, we are going to climb one mountain after another. Some higher, some more difficult than others. It’s the journey along the way that helps to create our story. We are the authors of our own book. Yesterday’s page has been turned. Tomorrow’s page will come, but you must do the things today that are most important.
I encourage you to write the story you want to write. Lead the life you want to lead. Live with faith and conviction that God has provided you with all that you need. Use those resources, and keep writing your story, one page at a time!
What makes your story amazing? I want to hear! In 50 words or less, let’s hear it!
*Note – the main photo of this post at the Lake with the boat is Lake Atitlan. It is considered to be one of the top 3 most beautiful lakes in the world. I am blessed to have had the opportunity visit on several occasions while living in Guatemala