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The Art of Happiness

By Flora Gray 5 months ago
Categories Yucatan

Playa Del Carmen is an extraordinary place; you wake each day to its changing face. It is warm and familiar with wise eyes, it is a stranger who stares back, it looks to you adoringly and offers a hand like a lover. But with each day, each different face, it always smiles. You smile at Playa and it smiles back: its streets, its people, its sun and beaches.

I arrived in Mexico as a shadow of the girl who writes this for you now. A shadow who never stood still for the sun and changed shape throughout the day. I didn’t know what I was- coming or going, up or down- and felt unsure as the sunset loomed ever closer. But I smiled.

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Evenings fast became drowned with belly laughs as inviting as big hugs, sharing stories with the fellow volunteers I consider my family. These gorgeous people, from around the world, have seemingly known me my entire life and not just the short 4 weeks I have been here. When I look at their faces, beaming with love and compassion, I smile and my heart grows several sizes with all the adoration I have for such wonderful people. They hold the world in their hands without even knowing.

During my time here, I have worked in a disabled school called Escuelita- something very daunting and scary at first. It was tough. Undoubtedly so. However, I still smiled throughout. I cannot comprehend the amazing efforts of all the staff in this incredible school and the children who gift you with their kindness, their patience and their acceptance. I recall my first day, to be truthful I wanted to give up on myself for not being able to give them everything: all their hopes and dreams. Reflecting on it now, I smile because- whilst these children may not be the same as you and I- they excel every example of a good human being and I am honoured to have known such beautiful souls.

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My favourite project whilst at GVI was Invasores: every Thursday volunteers would create a workshop for the children of a squatter community. Invasores constantly radiated with smiles and hugs! These children who have so little are contented with a simple ‘hello’. They have grins wider than Cheshire cats just for seeing you. I never stopped smiling when at Invasores- how could you? The day is filled with running, dancing, singing… I owe my biggest thank you to this small but wonderful community. I found true happiness here is in giving and giving and giving then, like the children of Invasores, never expecting anything in return.

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So thank you GVI. My heart belongs to my utterly perfect volunteers, the glorious children I am honoured to have met and to here: Playa Del Carmen. Playa, you have taught me happiness and, as I am leaving, I know I shall not cry because it is over as I can only ever smile because it happened.