“Guatemala, land of eternal spring where Native people and Europeans have lived together and made the country rich with traditions and culture” is how my Guatemalan friend Dana describes her country. I couldn’t agree more.

JOsh_iserhoffI had the chance to attend the World Indigenous Business Forum in Guatemala in late October and to facilitate a youth discussion. Once there, “Indian time” got the best of us so I used my time accordingly, discovering that Indian time is international.

When Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina arrives fashionably late it is exactly the right time for him to stroll in. In the meantime, we the people have to kill time and fill in dead air. CNYC Youth Ambassador Nick Wapachee was able to join me because of his passport, filling one of the empty seats for the post-secondary students. Nick and I enjoyed the president’s opening remarks through a translating device. Many of our Manitoban friends were able to meet-and-greet him but your Cree pals were in the shade enjoying Mayan company.

On the evening of the last day of the conference, we made a trip into Antigua. I always thought Antigua was a Caribbean island! Thanks to Google, I discovered there are two, including the historic colonial Guatemalan city. Your beloved Cree pair met and entertained several hot locals there. What a treat that was! I swear if they had platform shoes they’d pass as Crees – except they hustle to sell (“mak sale”) great and beautiful things.

We, the Cree, do not hustle that much. We’re given a price and what do we say? “Kiaboot.” I will always remember our guides Kevin and Elizabetta. Every time we stopped to take in the view and breathe in the history, shared with such passion, Nick and I felt their huge pride in speaking of their culture. Their enthusiasm and storytelling impacted and, in some ways, challenged me to embrace my culture, as I should.

This is what I love about traveling and interacting with other cultures. It awakens you and whatever moment you encounter stirs you to the core of your being. I think one of the definitions of being human is to feel, acknowledge, see and hear our fellow peoples.

What a lovely country Guatemala is, but I couldn’t find any fashionable boutiques such as All Saints. That’s okay – I have the president’s number if I ever want to request anything. I jest.

Weeks back, I mentioned a “bucket list” and since then I have been carefully adding to the list. Fortunately, the greater Force then granted me an opportunity to be in the presence of my all-time favourite band: FLEETWOOD MAC! Thanks to my pussycat, Edna Neeposh (MCC’s), I was able to purchase my dream to see and hear Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie sing together. What a fantastic, euphoric show that will be! Next on the bucket list is to meet Stevie and sing with her.

Hey, I can sing, why not? I am not going to be a politician forever! Maybe one of these days I will sing a Spanish song while Lyle Stewart and Otto cheer me on. OMG, snow is here. Can I go back and be an official Ambassador of “Guate” to Eeyou Istchee? Can we pass a resolution pronto?