barefoot traveler

Day Four in Guatemala.

I saw a woman walking barefoot on the streets of Antigua. She wasn’t a native there. She wasn’t a tourist either. I discovered while being here how many people end up backpacking through central America. I’ve seen tons of them in Antigua, Guatemala. Most of them young adults, scrapping by, finding jobs as they need them, moving from city to city, from country to country. This young lady walked barefoot by choice. She strolled down the street with a dog on a leash and a hiking stick in the other hand. Beside her was another “traveler,” what I’ve been calling them being as “tourist” seems entirely inappropriate a term, talking about his decision to live in Guatemala for a season. The crowded streets make it easy to hear one another’s conversations, and seeing as how they spoke English, it was the only conversation of interest at the time.

The young man had been traveling all over Central America, but had developed a fondness for Guatemala. So he had decided to stay for a couple of months. She seemed intrigued by his decision. They turned the corner, a direction opposite of my destination, and I watched them walk away for a second. I would have preferred to hear more of their conversation, but that would have been far too awkward and creepy on my part. I did notice that the man was wearing socks. No shoes whatsoever, but socks. The traveler’s life seems cool.

There are bare feet all over Guatemala, though most of them are not by choice. They aren’t travelers seeking a life of adventure free of responsibility and commitments. Quite the contrary, they are everyday Guatemalans begging for steady income and freedom from poverty. They are barefoot because they have no shoes. It isn’t some spiritual journey. They are in need.

The woman, who did nothing wrong by being barefoot mind you, served as a reminder to me of the work I have come to do. To clean water, to preach hope, to invest in lives, and to give the power of choice back to the people of Guatemala. Today was an off day for our team; and yet it was simply a prompt to lead me in thinking of the many people in our world that never have “an off day.”

I saw some bare feet in Chuluc as well. The feet of women that served us a meal. Humility rains down again. But the children ran around wearing shoes. Boots, sandals, and slip-on shoes for the kids of Chuluc. And someone leans in and whispers to me, “pretty cool right? We gave them shoes in December. Now they’re not barefoot.”

Now that is pretty cool!


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