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  • Writer's pictureAaron Bartlett

A day unlike any other day. Both holy, and historically.

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Today is a day significant on multiple levels. It's exactly the bicentennial of Guatemalan Independence Day. 🇬🇹 That's 200 years to the letter of when Guatemala first signed their Declaration of Independence, in the year of 1812, much like our constitution States-side from 1777 which we speak of so frequently. This document secures a nation's ability to assemble, independent of foreign ruling powers. Meaning, the Spanish no longer had any control over the Guatemalan people, legally. They now had their own government, which many would say the local Mayans may not have had an interest in; perhaps feeling separate from these legal games as they already had an established self-governing body of their own they called the 20 tribes. However, in this day and time, organization serves a nation better than to let another nation perch up a capital and say they "rule" over you. So here we have it.

It also happens to be Yom Kippur.

It's interesting how different cultures can overlap in very strange and seemingly synchronistic ways. Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year to the Jews, happens to fall on this bicentennial of Guatemalan independence. This is the day of atonement, where we fast for 24 hours at sunset and refrain from working or toiling for an entire day, in order to cleanse ourselves of busy energy and solemnly reflect and repent for our sins. In doing so, we can be ready for a new a beautiful year, free of the last years "sins" and problems, but starting fresh and new for a "sweet new year". I personally practice this ritual, despite not having a deeply religious Jewish upbringing, because I find it helps me to connect with my idea of a higher power and consider that even for one day, we could only benefit from being in pure reflection, and not bothered by the normal 'busyness' of day-to-day living.

So, for just one day, I will not use any of my technology: no phone, tablet, computer, and will not respond to emails or messages. Normally I'm quite responsive, but I must have a day of rest after all this hustling and bustling in Guatemala has gotten me quite in need for some rest. Per the ritual, I also will not be eating any food or working just for the single day. It allows us to reflect, meditate, and consider how we would like to not make the same mistakes of yesteryear, but improve our spiritual condition and strengthen our resolve in who we are.


But I'll give ya the Perros Libres current state-of-affairs.

See, banking along with many first-world conveniences are not so easy to access for the average person here in Guatemala. As an American generally the only way I can access money is through an ATM, which charge very high fees for foreign banks to withdraw cash, and of course up to only a certain amount. That requires us when moving a large amount of money to find a way that is not just many cash withdrawals from the ATM, as that would waste so much of resources it'd be ridiculous. Could have cost hundreds of dollars.

Thankfully, Andrés takes PayPal and saved us a lot of money in this process with his technological wherewithal. Thank goodness for modern technology. Guatemala, like many other countries, can benefit so much from technological growth akin to the types of services we have in the United States, but it will take good people to take the time to help build infrastructures like that in places where there is not the same kinds of resources. But there is a plus to this more rustic world, too. It is for more connected to nature, the people have a stronger sense of community than I am used to in the States: everyone really knows their neighbors, and knows them well. The family unit is strong, for families must stick together to thrive among a world without large grocery stores on every block. People must farm together, build together, and plan their futures together. These things tend to be easier, and feel much more emotionally bearable, when you have family to help share the burdens with you. This is something the Guatemalan people teach me every day, and I am so grateful to get to be so close in their company.

But back to business! Next step: architecture!

Tomorrow I go to speak with the architect who has joined our project. He is helping me design a house, which will serve as the volunteer house for people who come to help Perros Libres take care of the dogs. As the house is built and live-able, it will be easy to continue to develop the Sanctuary area for the dogs surrounding it, as someone can be on the land 24/7 tending it, and creating a comfortable home for both people and dogs. This is the most exciting thing I could ever imagine getting to plan in my life. I couldn't be more stoaked, and filled with powerful emotions to create something which can benefit not just myself, but the community all around here, and especially the animals who are all in need of a home. This is my dream-job, and you all are helping me live it. Thank you. And G'mar Tov! Which is a shortening in Hebrew for: "May you be sealed in the book of life".

L'chaim. 🔯

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