There is something very special that happens in Guatemala, or at least for me in Guatemala. The culture is so very different. There is such a feeling of calmness, peace, and tranquility, that at first feels very unusual, but eventually absorbs you. The pace is always smooth and slow, never rushed. Most things that might be considered very important to you and me, are always kept in perspective. What truly is important is family, friends, and faith. One must consider having shelter and food, but everything else is secondary and not necessarily an essential.
I couldn't help but feel in Guatemala and upon returning to the states that what I experience in Guatemala must be what was intended to be the way we should live our lives. People consistently greet each other on the streets, genuinely care about each other, and are always willing to stop what they are doing to help a person in needed. There isn't a focus on saving for the future, but rather living life day by day and sharing what you have with others.
I do realize just how well we live in America, and the many great aspects of being American. There are many wonderful, caring, and giving people in America, and without attempting to stereotype all people, I must say we have lost so many important qualities in our society. We have become very self centered and uncaring.
My view of immigration has changed this summer. During my trip I had become good friends with a Guatemalan man, Rene.
Rene is about ~50 years old, he lives in San Lucas Toliman, he had attended university and has a wonderful demeanor and personality. He was the care taker of the house we stayed in while on vacation / mission. Rene earns the usual minimum wage of 25 Quetzales a day ($3.50). He lives in a small room on the grounds of the property and must buy food from the street vendors, small restaurants, etc. each day. Breakfast cost is 5 Quetzales, Lunch is 15 Quetzales, Dinner is 10 Quetzales. Food for one day = 30 Quetzales. He doesn't even make enough money to eat 3 meals a day, he usually skips breakfast. What if he needs a pair of shoes, pants (By the way he owns 2 shirts, 2 pair of paints), etc.? I spent many nights sitting on the porch talking with Rene. He stated that his situation is no different than most others in San Lucas. His dream would be to go to the United States. He knows that he can get a job for minimum wage (~$7 or $8 an hour = $64 a day) and his life would be much different. He said he could share a small apartment with 5-6 other people, not have to worry about having food to eat, and could send money back home to help his relatives.
He had tried the legal route of immigration through the government, but they denied him. If you are not wealthy, or do not have connections, almost everyone is denied. Also, the government is not honest. The cost of just an interview for possible consideration of a visa is $100 ( He makes $3 a day). The chance of legal immigration appears impossible for this man.