Oct 29, 2017

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part 24: "A Gift For and From the Heart"

(photo, Francisco Pereira)
(photo, Henry Leonardo Minas Veliz)

I returned from a two week visit  to see my dear, long time friend, Kelsie Reed.  I met Kelsie over two decades ago in Antigua, Guatemala.  She was married during that time to a terrific, well liked, all-around fun guy, and they were a popular pair of "Norteamericnos" new in town and country.  Hospitable, friendly and fun!  These past two weeks we chatted much about Guatemala..and our individual thoughts/feelings on our lives and "Guatemala" days.  My thoughts tonight, the night of my return from Florida, are filled with happy and with moments of sad...real, and very deep, feelings that for the first time in my life I understood because of Guatemala.
I had been visiting, sometimes living and one-person-loving in Guatemala since the early 1980's (I was dazzled by the the lore, the color, the passion, the powerful secretlike force in the place. I didn't even realize there was a ghastly, and deadly, Civil War going on. There were hundreds of thousands who died during those years and I had no idea why I was one of the few visitors.  The Hotels were almost empty.  Few travelers. Few guests.  

 I thought Guatemala was only friendly and cautious and those military "check points" seemed prudent and wise. Many Military Police and Civilian Guard groups stopped me for "passport checks" in my rental car. They were pleasant and sent me along. I drove, windows open sucking in the gorgeous, one-of-a-kind living/breathing grandness of the "Land of Eternal Spring". I was smitten by a kind of deeply rooted love that was something stronger than anything physical that I had known before anywhere (I am well traveled).

My message tonight is that I love Guatemala more and more.  I lost my dearest and deeply loved partner-friend here...he was a younger, kind and loving person and he was an innocent who was murdered. No reason/killer found. I left, then returned for retirement at age 62.  He is always with me and especially each November First.  My grief didn't go away. I returned because my love, my heart, my art and my Soul live here among the Maya, their descendants, and many other friends too.  I am here among the Volcanos and religious celebrations and processions because they embrace me.  I am welcome here. Celebrations fill the streets with incense, flutes singing, drums beating, brass bands playing (sometimes hello to Santos/as and follow and sometimes I join in the Funeral/followers walking behind the shoulder carried coffin)....The celebrations and traditions are breathtaking and spell binding in my town.  Some other early mornings, at Maya ruins, I hear faint chants. I feel presence of the unknowable...it is deep here, so deep even the lakes sometimes don't know how deep they are. Volcano-love is real too.  I know, as I love the Fuego Volcano. It's active and many volcanos I feel kinship with...they are alive. Odd?  Not to me. Not any more. Guatemala grows everything and everyone deep down from inside of itself, inside the ground...sometimes we bloom and sometimes we wilt and sometimes we suddenly erupt...every moment is real.

I love you Guatemala and as a loved friend of mine would say:  

"a gift given and received from the heart"

Leonard Clark Beardsley

Leonardo Ricardo
San Miguel Dueñas
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Central America