The Gringo Giant



Three weeks in Guatemala and my face feels big, noticeably big. Like Andre the Giant big.

Also, I wish I had a car. And a driver. And a translator. And a security guard who follows me around with an earpiece and one of the many sawed of shotguns we see here in Guatemala. All of these things would have made our first weeks in Guatemala so much easier. I mean with that kind of mojo I could have gone anywhere and spoken to anyone (well, had someone speak for me), and gotten a lot done. I mean, if we really pushed it Georgia and I could have seen the whole country by now. We could come home tomorrow and claim all kinds of success, at least in terms of “doing stuff.”

But alas, we have none of those things. This whole FTF immersion thing finds us on foot or in a bus where people are very kind and also very amused. It is now clear to me that I’ve been telling people, and with a creepy grin, that I “have a man” when I mean to tell them that “I am hungry.” Why does man (hombre) and hungry (hambre) have to sound so similar? Not cool. I know now that when I start speaking in Spanish I speak louder and louder as I make less and less sense. That’s funny if you are not me. One thing that really has me sideways is this whole “wait till he’s finished and ask his daughter what he just said” syndrome. It’s just as it sounds. I speak in Spanish and then the people with whom I’m speaking turn (rather impolitely if you ask me) and wait for Georgia, my 17 year old kid, to translate. I mean really? I tell her they do this because her complexion could pass for Guatemalan but the Guatemalans tell me it is because I sound like a bludgeoned cat when I speak Spanish. Whatever. Also, I’m a giant here, and that’s good for something unless you are trying to get a fair price at the market. Gringo giants get ripped off big time, which is a temptation to be anything but gentle.

So what’s the point of this? As we’ve said before in other blogs the point is to become useful in ways that a capital investment is not. And the other point, of course, is the acquisition of humility. And man is that part hard. Not being sure of yourself, being new here in Guatemala, is like a humidor for introspection.

So we’ve only just begun. Our beginning is slower than most other NGO’s overseas. The first part of our mission is a broadside against the ego, against pride, against being "giant". This immersionship, as we call it, is when we are forced to become something very quiet, raw and frail. That kind of “training”, the profound rigor of relying on others and trusting in things unseen, is what makes us assets later on. Next time I write I’ll talk about some specifics. I think you'll find our day to day worth a read. And I think you'll see that your investment in us might just pay off.

Go here and support what we are doing. Your money won’t be wasted. Projects are already forming out there in the mist which is our Guatemala. The outlines of truly brilliant entrepreneurial projects are all around. Help us #stopaidstartpeople