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Sharing in Cafe RED Xela – “Aprovechar” The Guatemalan Dream

The thought of stopping had been in our minds for a while. Not stopping as in packing up and going home (tho’ we sometimes do entertain that thought); but rather, to *pause* and really catch up on the writing and videos. We had wanted to do so on Molokai, Hawaii; and the turn of events + issues with our health forced us to recuperate and journey inwards on the island. This time round, the trigger to stop and get our work done came from onlinestoragesolution. The video footage that we’ve been archiving online with them have disappeared; along with their customer service, technicians, helpdesk and whatsoever.

*poof* Just. Like. That.
So archiving and backup-ing our footage online didn’t really work out.

And then we realised, carrying all the stories with us on our hard disks isn’t all that great an idea after all. What if we lose the hard disks (through robbery, accidents, chicken buses etc.)? And with the growing amount of footage that we are filming everyday… How many hard disks can we lug around with us, seriously?

We tried stealing pockets of time after everyone else in the house has fallen asleep to edit videos, photoshop photos, write entries… Nope, we didn’t really produce anything that we’d be proud to share on this website.

One day whilst working on our laptops in Casa Renaissance in Xela, we realised how much momentum we’ve gained in our work, how much we were enjoying ourselves seeing each story unfold, and how relieved we were to complete a video.

We made a conscious decision to stop: Stop bicycling, stop house-hopping, stop school-visiting, stop all forms of sharing sessions… and just park somewhere and get all the backlog of stories done and updated on the website.

We sent out emails asking for house-sitting opportunities in the area, calculated how much money we could afford to stop travelling etc. etc. In fact, we were so tempted to stop there and then, we even asked Thijs (owner of Casa Renaissance) how much would rent be if we decided to stay there for 2 months!

Guilt crept in.
We are still in the process of unlearning the need to “suffer” on this journey.
We are still in the process of learning not to beat ourselves up over changing plans and breaking rules.

“Every time the thought of stopping came up, it is ALWAYS accompanied by ‘What if I stop and everyone else stopped following our journey too?’ But when all our footages shot in Singapore and Luo Papa’s story went missing, when they remained missing after cursing and swearing for at least half an hour, I realized, stopping is our only option to continue sharing stories.”Tay

It was at this time when we found ourselves in Cafe RED in Xela. Compelled by the need to have a sharing session in whichever town we are in, we went venue-hunting and ended up in Cafe RED. What caught our eyes was a newspaper article hung up on the wall. It said something like, “The Opening of Cafe RED – the fulfillment of a Guatemalan Dream“.

After speaking with the owner, Willy, we found out that Cafe RED was founded, run and operated by Guatemalans who were refugees in the States, who had since been deported back. Willy said, “Everyone wants to go up to the USA, thinking they can find an American Dream. We were there. And now we’re back. We want to tell the people here, especially the young people – stay. Stay and realise your Guatemalan Dream. Our Guatemalan Dream.

Our story-teller instincts picked up the potential of this story immediately. Imagine the amount of strength this group of people at Cafe RED has. Imagine the hope they represent. Imagine the inspiration they evoke. This is a story we must, we have to, we are obliged to document and share. Weren’t we looking for a Guatemalan Dream to share with the local people? Here it is, all ready to be told. Necesitamos aprovechar – we need to take advantage of this opportunity.

And then imagine us having a sharing session at Cafe RED. Imagine it filled with the local people. Imagine us sharing our stories. And then sharing Cafe RED’s story. Guatemalan stories for Guatemalans. What an event that would be! Tenemos que aprovechar – we have to make good use of this serendipity.

Long story short – we fell short.
Nothing. Nothing happened as planned.

Willy fell ill the very next day and remained ill for the rest of the week. So filming did not happen. Whatever publicity we had planned for the sharing session didn’t happen, either.

“I knew we had made a conscious decision to stop the work we’re doing on this journey. I also knew guilt, obligations, whatever you want to call that (that being, the thing that makes us afraid of staying true to our hearts) made us commit to this (this being filming of Cafe RED’s story and having a sharing session there). So when things started going out of place… I knew they were signs that were screaming – time to STOP. And really stop.”Val

And on the day of the sharing session, the signs really came on strong:

Sign #1: Projector Cable Broken

Sign #1: Projector Cable Broken

No matter how many times we started and restarted our laptop and the projector, there was no image. We resorted to checking every single cable there was that connected the power to the laptop, the laptop to the projector and the power to the projector before finding the faulty cable.

We searched the entire cafe and the office. There was no replacement cable available. Finally, one of the workers at Cafe RED took a tool and pried the crooked metal part straight. “Try it now.”

We didn’t really want to plug in a funky-looking plug into our one and only Mac (that does all the video-editing for us). But we had to. We felt obligated to. So we did…

Sign #2: No Attendees

Sign #2: No Attendees

Everything was finally set-up and ready. The event was scheduled to start at 7PM. Knowing “la hora del Chapins (the Guatemalan time)”, we thought people would start arriving at probably 7.30PM.

8.00PM. Except for a fellow traveler who was also living in Casa Renaissance, who came because we made him promise he would, there was not a single soul in sight.

We had just spent the 1.5 hours frustrating ourselves over setting up for nobody. It’d been, and still was raining torrents of bitterness outside. Even if we were to pack up and go back to Casa Renaissance now, how were we going to make it back with the equipment safe and dry?

Why did we not listen to the signs???

“Aprovechar” – it means: to take advantage of, to make good use of…

The (bad) situation. The (unfortunate) circumstances.

And also, the available resources.

We went outside the gallery and invited whoever was at Cafe RED to join us. Two did. Two more showed up. And at 9PM, we began our sharing:

“Aprovechar” the fact that even though nothing was working when we first got to Cafe RED – helpful assistants were willing to go the distance to help us set everything up eventually.

“Aprovechar” the fact that we only had 5 listeners – we pulled up cushions, sat amongst everybody and had an up-close and personal sharing session.

“Aprovechar” the fact that we did not get to document Willy’s story of Cafe RED’s Guatemalan Dream – we had an audience who was working with Guatemalans to find and fulfill their dreams; and we inspired them.

When we left Cafe RED the first afternoon we were there, we remarked at how the people at Cafe RED “aprovechar-ed” their plight. One minute you were a refugee in USA, working as a kitchen assistant, a server, a dishwasher, a chef… the next moment you find yourself back in place you’ve never been before, the place they call “home”. What do you do?

The people at Cafe RED “aprovechar-ed” their situation – they made good use of what available resources they had. And they made Cafe RED happen. “We may only have Guatemalan ingredients. But from this kitchen, we serve cuisine from all over the world. In Cafe RED, we live our Guatemalan dreams. “

“Aprovechar” – our biggest lesson from Cafe RED.
And a reminder we’d like to share with you, too.
Perhaps you may be in “the worst imaginable situation” anyone could be in right now.
How would you “aprovechar” it?

A side note to Jonathan:

Fellow Traveler Jonathan giving us a dinner treat

Fellow Traveler Jonathan giving us a dinner treat

Thank you for keeping your promise and coming to our sharing session as our first attendee. We would have gone ahead with the sharing, even if it’s just you; simply because you showed up.

Thank you also, for the wonderful dinner treat, for buying us a craving we’ve been having for a really long time…

Buffalo Wings with Hot Sauce!

Buffalo Wings with Hot Sauce!

Now you have a second promise to keep – that you’d send us a copy of your book when it is published!

Help us share one more story –
Your spare change, even if it’s just $1, will go a long way