By Mariana Guzman

The first time I closed my eyes was on the plane to New Delhi. All I could hear was the rumble of the engines, the squeaking wheel of the trolley cart and Mr. Cola snoring. It reminded me of the soft hum of my ac in my room just five short hours earlier. With my eyes closed, my lack of excitement was worrying. When I woke up the next morning, after being in the air for close to twenty hours, the reality of the trip really hit me. Dude! I am in India!!

The second time I closed my eyes was in the back of a TukTuk driving through the crowded streets of the city. The stinking of the cars and bustling of people nearly drove me insane. Later, as we were exploring the spice market, the spice combination that assaulted my senses was almost suffocating.  I sealed my eyes shut against it. When I opened my eyes, the majesty of the buildings and the friendly nature of the people overwhelmed me. 

The next time I closed my eyes was when we were walking through the forest on our way to Beach #7. The buzz of the insects and the songs of the birds coupled with the rustling of the branches and the sounds of the leaves in the breeze to make a beautiful composition. I did not fully open my eyes again until a few minutes later while snorkelling next to the reef. Everywhere I turned, there was new beauty to be admired. 

Hours later, when I closed my eyes, I focused on the gentle tug of the changing tide, the soft chirping of the birds behind me, and the smooth sound of the wind in my ear. As the setting sun warmed my neck, my soul was calmed. On Havelock, every time I closed my eyes, my thoughts drifted to the movie set of the world I was on; the stage I stood upon. I was in paradise. 

The next time I closed my eyes, it felt like we were sliding down a Himalayan mountainside with the back wheels of the bus dangerously close to the edge. Moments before this happened I was sitting next to Hunter. We all felt how the bus stopped and got very scared. I jumped to the other side of the bus and when I looked back at Hunter’s seat, he was not there anymore. I looked everywhere near his seat for him until I finally saw him somehow already getting ready to get out of the bus. He was at the door but stopped everyone and yelled at me: “Mariana, throw me my fishing rod.” After I threw him his fishing rod, he got out of the bus and let everyone else behind him get out too.

After that, I closed my eyes and I found myself in a small and beautiful village in the mountains. A place where all the people were so friendly and welcoming that they made me feel like I was at home. For some reason, I felt like I had been to this place before; it was easy for me to communicate with the people there. I did not need to say a lot, and we could understand each other with only making eye contact. 

But now when I close my eyes, I hear the wind. A different wind. I hear the rusting of the leaves, the bouncing of the four square ball, and the chatter and fret of students running late to class. India is still so fresh in my mind. The ghost of Agora’s laughter, the tingle of Havelock’s sun, and even, perhaps most vibrantly the wretched smell of Dehli´s sewers. The trip is technically over, but the impact of the experience and the connections I made will last for a lifetime.

Closing my eyes will never be the same. 

3 responses to “When I Close My Eyes”

  1. Dave's Mom Avatar
    Dave’s Mom

    Mariana: AWESOME post – I was there with you (especially the Mr. Cola snoring part!!!😉). Your writing skills are outstanding… I’m really impressed. It seems you truly experienced all you encountered on your great journey and will relive it throughout your life. I hope you get to go back again. Thank you for sharing so beautifully!

  2. jbyersccs Avatar

    Aha! Where did you learn such a beautiful writing style, in your second language! Well done. The way you relate the concept of awareness with “the next time I opened my eyes”–both literal and metaphorical, is such a great way to convey the power of the trip and the learning. In the final paragraph, you really bring it home with the sounds and images of India co mingled with the “chatter and fret” (nice turn of phrase) of your CCS home. Artistic!

  3. Lauren Little Avatar
    Lauren Little

    Thank you Mariana for sharing all these vivid place making images, sights and sounds – I felt like you were taking me to each of those places in India. I closed my eyes and imagined being there with you just as you so beautifully described! How gifted you are as a writer…I hope you will carry that forward into your future..maybe that was something you surprised yourself?…you allowed yourself to experience India with ALL your senses. Fantastic! Powerful writing…and experience.

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