Lessons from a Mochillera

By Emily Zielke

1. Do not fill your bag with underwear. How frustrating is it to look in your backpack and see that the only clean clothes you have are underwear? Even if you knew how to sew and even if they are the prettiest underwear you own, you will NEVER be able to put them together to make an outfit wearable. Not even in Guate, where design and chaotic originality is key.

2. Diet and Exercise DO Matter. This might seem obvious to most, but as a person who has never been on an official diet and always under 115 pounds, imagine my surprise when I gained 20 pounds in 4 months. I admit, I ate lots of tortillas for the first time. But I still find this 20 pounds…shocking. 

3. When you find yourself exhausted and your butt hole itches really bad, you have worms. Enough said.

4. Do not follow a guidebook (religiously, at least) and limit your native language speaking. I admit that it’s always a relief to happen upon people with whom I can speak English. But looking back, some of the most poetic and wisest of words have not been in my native tongue. Be it Tzutujil, Nuhuatl, Belizian Kriol, Rama, Kuna or Chinese, you never know who is going to speak the words you need to hear, so listen more often!

4. Condiments are for spoiled brats. I love that I no longer need a chaser for any type of hard liquor I drink, nor a lime, nor any of that silly extra stuff. And that goes for salt (it’s usually excessively included anyway), pepper, cumin powder, Worcestershire sauce or Earl Grey tea after dinner.

5. It’s okay to fall in love twice (or even seven times) a day. Everyone does it. People who are traveling or have found where they want to be in life are easy to love. Everything in passing holds more weight than what is solidly placed in front of you. Don’t assume that these lovely people are always lovely, because they usually have terrible gas, say stupid things, get drunk and, at times, even break your kneecap.

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