These are throwback photos to 11 years ago when my husband and I lived in Guatemala. We packed up most of our belongings for storage and, with a few bags, moved to Quetzaltenango for 6 months.
We went entirely to study Spanish and experience life from a different perspective. We studied, we traveled to neighboring countries, we listened and we learned. We learned about the civil war and genocide in Guatemala that the country was (and is) still recovering from. We learned how chocolate is made. We learned Spanish. We learned how the choices that one country makes can and do greatly impact others around the world.
It was hard and it was beautiful. I struggled with illness for most of our time down there, and Spanish never came easy to me (unlike my husband who was fluent in like 3 weeks 🙄), but it was a time I would never take back, and it changed us for the better. Only six months. A blink. I can’t pretend that I learned everything I needed to know from that short time, but it did open my eyes a bit more, and I’d like to think I’ve been working on continuing to open them day after day since.
So why this story? I came across this picture, and I can still feel myself in that place. With my small bag of colored pencils and watercolors - drawing and painting. Discovering a new art form to love, and one that would bring me to here. Many of those drawings created 11 years ago are on Whimsicals Paperie products that I still sell today.
I owe a lot to Guatemala and Central America — to its people that taught me so much, to the abundant color that is found everywhere, to the sense of strength and courage the countries hold, and to the people who work hard and love well. Thank you for welcoming and teaching us. My hope is that we can become a country who welcomes you. ❤️
Sarah Collins is the artist behind and owner of Whimsicals Paperie. She grew up in Wyoming and spent time in Minnesota and Guatemala before settling in Colorado. She lives with her musician husband, endlessly curious daughter, and fancy black cat.