Her smile was as warm as the day, and she welcomed us to her house with open arms. The smoke from the wood oven and afternoon sunlight created a surreal atmosphere behind Maria Trinidad Santos.
Yesterday Abby and I met Trinidad in the hospital's waiting room while she did paperwork for her surgery. We talked to her for no more than 10 minutes. We asked her if we could visit her the next day and she politely said yes.
Asking for Trinidad´s house in San Antonio Aguas Calientes was really easy, everybody knows everybody in a small town. But no one referred to her as Maria Trinidad, instead, they fondly called her “Doña Trinis”. With the help and directions of friendly strangers, we arrived at her house safely.
Doña Trinis is a kind woman. When I talked to her yesterday I mentioned that I craved tostadas with guacamole. Today at her table she had a lot of tostadas for us. I felt so embarrassed because when I told her if it was okay if we visited her today I didn't know that five more girls were joining us; I didn't know we were going to meet at her house either. I didn't know she was giving us free food and, worst of all, that we had to decline the food she had prepared for us because the girls could get sick if they ate it. There are some social, unwritten rules in Guatemala and I felt like we had just broken one by declining her kind gesture. But despite that, Doña Trinis openly told us her story and the tragedies and joys of her life. She showed us the jobs she did and the family members she still had.
Sometimes I feel like my life is in a strange limbo and I belong to nowhere. Back at her house, I felt like I was in a strange middle. I am not from the States, but there were parts of Doña Trinis’s life that I could not relate to. Her house, family problems and some jobs she had to do have never been things I had to worry about. I am Guatemalan but sometimes I can feel how separate I am from a reality most people from Guatemala live with. It´s not something bad, but it is something different, and most of the times it doesn’t feel fair.
Before we left I saw this beautiful eucalyptus tree with a swing, and I could not resist swinging on it. I asked Doña Trinis if I could swing and this 60-year-old lady offered to push me so I could go higher. And for a moment it didn’t feel so different anymore. While I was in the air I was free to genuinely laugh and I felt deeply grateful for the kindness in Doña Trinis´s heart. Because at that moment, the story she shared bonded us in a way that only the people who were present could understand
We said goodbye and graceful rays of sun surrounded us. She blessed us and gave us a tight hug. Slowly she closed the lamina doors and we started to walk, now knowing our way back to the bus from her house.