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San Marcos with Sarah – Everything in its own perfect timing

Sarah's Dream: A school for midwives that will inspire a local and global shift in birth

We met Sarah, a midwife cum doula from New York, en route her dream in Guatemala, at our IslaVerde sharing session. When we asked the people who came to the sharing to share their dreams with us on their hands, Sarah wrote: A school for midwives that will inspire a local and global shift in birth. Before she left, Sarah invited us to “crash” at her place at San Marcos de la Laguna. “I’d like you to meet the local people I work with – perhaps we can even do a sharing with the women I work with! You can look for me at the Sacred Art Teahouse. I’m usually there with my best friend, Ajna.”

So a couple of days before we were due to leave San Pedro, we wrote an email to Sarah to let her know when we’d be visiting. But there were no replies. Bent on hearing Sarah’s story (and hopefully even filming a traditional Mayan birth); we thought we’d just show up – how many “Sarah the midwife” can there be on San Marcos? Besides, there was always the teahouse we could go to.

With that notion in mind, our hopes were kept high…until we reached the front door of the teahouse on San Marcos – CLOSED.

We rang the bell. Several times. NO ANSWER.

We’d just spent 40Q to take a boat from San Pedro to San Marcos with all our luggage, to look for a person we’ve met only once, whom we don’t have the address to, and the only lead we had to her is “not at home”.

We decided to ask the people around the teahouse; perhaps they could help us contact either one of them.

“When the door is not opened, it usually means that she (Ajna) is not available.”

“Uhm, do you know where we can find Sarah? She’s a midwife.”

“Ahh, Sarah the midwife! Yes, you go out from this path, turn right, go all the way up till you see the main road where the tuks tuks are, keep going, the road becomes bigger but it’s actually the same path, just bigger, turn right and follow the road, then you start climbing up, and keep going until the road becomes smaller, but it’s still the same path, go past the school; it looks like a house but it’s actually a school, ask around for the local Mayan clinic… She’s there!”

We looked at the lady giving us the instructions… completely lost in her instructions.

“No, I mean, she’s here. Look – I believe that’s the Sarah you’re looking for!”

We turned around, and there was Sarah, walking towards us. Tay muttered under her breath, “Why do I always not have the camera rolling in moments like these???”

Think about it. How serendipitous can it get? We were looking for Sarah and Sarah comes walking along the path we stopped at to ask for directions.

“I’m sorry I didn’t reply your email girls. It’s just I’m down to my last 2 weeks here and up to my neck with work and tying up loose ends…and there’s no electricity in my house…and it’s been difficult getting internet…and…oh well, you’re here. And I’m here. Let’s go.” a slightly flustered Sarah greeted us.

We felt bad. For showing up without a confirmation from her. For showing up at what seemed like “really bad timing”.

But hey, if the timing was so bad, why did we bump into each other just at that perfect timing? If we’ve went on to walk around to look for her one moment earlier, we would have missed her. If she’d gone to work one moment later, she would have missed us. But no. Our timings were perfect for meeting each other. So we took that for a sign – that it was ok for us to be there.

And so it was.

Because despite her busy schedule, Sarah managed to help us arrange for a sharing session at the Sacred Art Teahouse with Ajna.

Because Sarah was just-nice house-sitting her neighbour’s house at that time; she thought it’d be great if we could “house-sit” in her place by staying over in that house at night.

Space to work - gaining momentum

Space to work - gaining momentum

Because consequently, this house-sitting mission gave us the space, the quiet, the lack of distractions (and the electricity) we needed to work on our photos and videos.

Robin waiting at our door (since 6.30 AM) in the morning

Robin waiting at our door (since 6.30 AM) in the morning

Because we got to make friends with Sarah’s sons, Robin and Eliot. They came to our sharing session the first time round but were too shy to interact with anyone. But by the 2nd morning we were there, Robin was waiting for us outside our door – just for us to wake up and invite him inside to play.

One morning, Robin fell asleep next to Val while we were working on our computers. It was a precious moment. Because we made friends with 2 little boys.

Because we got to connect with Sarah’s helper, a local woman, over a common local delight (common for us in Singapore; and common for the Mayans in the villages here) – steamed sweet potatoes!

“蒸番薯是阿嫲和我們分享的“簡單享受”。能夠在離家很遠的地方,和他人分享家鄉的味道 – 我學會惜福。(Steamed sweet potatoes is a simple enjoyment my Grandmother shared with me when I was little. To be able to share this simpleness, this enjoyment, this homeliness with another woman, many many miles away from home is a privilege this experience has taught me to cherish.)”Val

Because even though (actually, because of) there was no electricity in the house, dinner became an awfully fun affair..

Mummy Sarah cooking with a headlamp

Mummy Sarah cooking with a headlamp

and then…

And there were 4!

And there were 4!

Because the home-sicked us got to taste dishes our grandmothers used to cook.

Piping hot curry - San Marcos Candlelight Dinner Style

Piping hot curry - San Marcos Candlelight Dinner Style

“The last place we thought we’d be eating things like curry and bee hoon would be on San Marcos, on Lake Atitlan, in Guatemala. Sarah, your kitchen smells like our kitchens back at home. Why would you have coconut milk, coconut oil… and why would you cook spicy curry?”

Sarah smiled and said, “Why not? They’re just good food, really. Oh, and the spiciness was an accident. I put too much powder. No light, remember?”

We say, it’s a perfect accident. We loved the curry and slurped up every last bit of it.

Ever since we reached San Marcos, Tay had been craving for peanut butter. But we didn’t buy any because we wouldn’t be able to finish; and they are heavy to lug around. Yet on the very last night, Sarah served dinner with…

Home-made Bread n Peanut Butter!

Home-made Bread n Peanut Butter!

“I was walking past Moonfish (a restaurant on San Marcos) today and thought – what the heck; I’ll just get their home-made peanut butter. I don’t know why I bought it, actually,” Sarah mused during dinner.

Oh Sarah, we know exactly why.

And someone was mighty pleased that night…
Tay devouring her dinner to the last bit

“People always ask us what are some of the unforgettable moments on our journey. It is these moments shared with the people we met on this journey that we will never forget. Moments where we can all be ourselves, moments where we can all enjoy being in the NOW.”Tay

No, we did not manage to film any Mayan births.
No, we did not even find an appropriate opportunity to record Sarah’s story.
Yet, just like all births – which happen in their own perfect timing
Everything that happened (and everything that did not) – did so in their own perfect timing

For the many serendipity
That was already timed, ever so perfectly
And for the above reminder that our experience with Sarah and her family had given us
We give thanks and remind you who are reading this –
“Everything. In its own perfect timing.”

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