The Tiny Village with the Big Heart

From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay, I passed through so many cool towns but the one place that touched my heart was the Yen Duc Village. Yen Duc reminded me of my homeland, Guatemala. My mom is from a small island called Livingston, which is between Guatemala and Belize. Livingston is a very underdeveloped but beautiful place in Guatemala, and I saw many similarities between Yen Duc and Livingston.

For starters, the local people of Yen Duc were extremely nice to us, foreigners. It’s funny that a few Sloanies thought that the village people were “putting on a show”. From their perspective, we had to pay to visit the village meanwhile the village knew when we would come. Consequently, the locals supposedly had incentives to try things to earn more money.  We saw local kids practicing Kung Fu katas. We even saw how the village makes rice without any electric machines. To an extent, I can see why Sloanies could think that the locals were “putting on a show”.

But, from my experience with poor sections of developing countries, the Yen Duc Village were extremely welcoming to us because they admired us. Every year, I go back to Livingston to visit so I can see my relatives. Each time I go, I am always overwhelmed with the hospitality by the local people who I don’t even know. One time, I left my AMEX card at a bar. The following year, I went back to the same bar, and the same bartender was there and handed me my AMEX card.  I was at a loss of words.

Since then, I learned how to give people the benefit of the doubt. This allows me to keep an open mind. So, when I visited Yen Duc for the first time, I embraced their culture, customs, and more importantly their warmth. The people of Yen Duc didn’t have much, but they knew how to give us everything.  For that, I am forever grateful.

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