I’m not sure what the statute of limitations is on high school exchange program rules, but I have to assume that after nearly 36 years, I’m in the clear.
So here’s my story:
I did not behave myself in Guatemala when I spent five weeks there during the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school.
I rode motorcycles in the rain, danced in discos until the wee hours, skipped school, and flirted with cute boys.
I climbed volcanoes, water-skied, rode in a helicopter and crashed a wedding.
My friends and I turned up the volume of a pick-up truck radio parked on the side of the road and danced under a streetlight.
Catholic, uniform-wearing school girls who were relatively well-behaved on our home turf, we took every advantage for adventure Guatemala had to offer.
We saw amazing things — wild horses grazing on a mountain, lush coffee plantations, colorful villages, and magnificent Tikal, a Mayan ruin built deep in the rain forest that once housed 100,000 people and included 3,000 structures.
We met cool people, and I’m still in contact with some of them.
Yesterday, my husband cleaned out our garage and handed me a dusty envelope.
“Thought you might want these,” he said.
I peaked in at a bunch of old photos, and the summer of 1980 came rushing out at me.
Though I had to squint a little to recognize myself, I felt proud of the girl happily perched on a motorcycle on the edge of a Guatemalan volcano.
A quote attributed to Mark Twain, which may or may not actually have been written by him, reads, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I’m thrilled that more than 30 years from my Guatemalan adventure, I am not disappointed at all by my sail away from the safe harbor.
And I want to thank the now potentially horrified people who made it possible.