At home with la familia

At the start of the year I travelled to Guatemala, a country where I once lived and worked.  

I had thought that the Guatemala chapter of my life was over. It wasn’t somewhere I'd have chosen to go on holiday - my experience there (and several years’ work afterwards) had been concerned with Guatemala's dark side; human rights violations, corruption and violence, and her people’s struggles for justice after genocide.  

I thought that my awareness of all that ugliness and strife would always cloud, for me, the beauty and charm of the country and her people. 

And then, four years ago, my half-brother Tom, who was a teenager when I lived there in 2007, visited Guatemala at the start of a planned three-month trip around Latin America. In the hippy town of San Marcos La Laguna, on the famously beautiful, volcano-rimmed Lake Atitlan, he met a girl… and never came home. 

In September last year Tom’s girlfriend Pam (who’s awesome by the way) gave birth to a boy, who they named Hunter. The three of them, with their three dogs and two cats, live a chilled-out life in a strange house buried in the forest behind San Marcos. You can just about see San Pedro Volcano through the trees. 

It was magical to spend time with them there. 

I thought that Guatemala was in my past, but going back made me realise that it had been in my blood all along.  And with family there now - a real blood connection - Guatemala is also in my future, whatever that will turn out to mean.