When you ask people from Guatemala about the government they respond by saying that anything to do with the government is normally corrupt. It tends to be the typical battle between those that have not and those that have too much and want more. But they don’t just have too much and want more, they are the ones with the power to take as much as they want. When I was climbing the volcano a couple weeks back our guide told us that the volcano would be turned into a National Park the following week. We all thought that was an awesome thing since that meant there would be more protection for this amazing natural treasure. But our guide scoffed and said all that meant was there would be government guards at the gates taking entrance fees from all those who wanted to climb the volcano and she doubted if that money would ever make it back to the volcano. Instead that money would probably end up in the pockets of government officials. Of course there are exceptions and those that have the power and use it in a thoughtful way such as those I have seen while traveling around to villages with María for political rallies.
But it seems that unfortunately when a place is full of poverty more often than not it turns into a mad struggle to do whatever necessary to get as far away from poverty socially as possible. This seems like a reasonable desire seeing as poverty is horrible. Poverty is getting used to smelling the trash that lines the roads, getting used to eating not enough and teaching your stomach to be full when it is not, and getting used to living with pain. While poverty is all these things, it is also experiencing these things and finding a way to survive through them, and that kind of survival is pretty powerful to witness. So while the conditions, the material aspects of life are dramatically different for some groups of people, the characteristics of the people remain the same. There is still laughter, compassion, curiosity and strength within all communities. Among the dirty diapers and plastic bags strewn across the way there are always children running and playing and laughing always eager to greet you as you walk by. There are always families willing to share the little they have just because you might need it. There are amazing sunsets, musical jungles with loud birds and monkeys, stunning green and turquoise rivers and pools, crashing ocean waves on black volcanic beaches, and of course inspiring and magnificent volcanoes booming and echoing throughout reminding everyone of how powerful the world can be.