When we arrived in Guatemala, we drove from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua for the night. There we got our first tastes of Guatemala, from the massive downpour as we were falling asleep, to the parrot that woke us up in the morning, to the beans and eggs we ate for breakfast on Day 2. After we left the hotel in Antigua, we drove to learn about how to weave in the traditional Guatemalan style, and what a Guatemalan wedding ceremony entails. Then we were able to wonder around and buy some of the textiles the 5 families who thought us had made. Then we drove to a Restaurant on the way to the Home Base in Quetzaltenango, where we met up with the 4 late girls, had delicious lemonade, and played on a plates before we started the 3 hour drive. When we arrived at home base we settled in (and had to take a rest after carrying 50 pound bags up 3 flights of stairs). Then we played a crazy game of rock paper scissors that involved chasing each other around a field for half an hour. After that we had free time before dinner, but most of us went bowling in the single lane bowling ally attache to the hotel where our home base is. For our first real dinner in Guatemala we had chicken tacos and pico de gallo which was delicious, as well as a delicious hot spiced tea. After dinner we had some more time to fully meet everyone before our first GLA family meeting. At the meeting we talked about the rules for the trip, as well as our general schedule for the rest of the trip. Then we broke off into groups to compete in a activity where we had 10 minutes, pasta, tape and a marshmallow and we tried to build the tallest tower. My group tied with another (their tower was taller but they didn’t stop when time was called), and then we watched a Ted Talk about how Kindergartners perform better than adults in tis activity because they use trial and error to create the best structure. Then we had a discussion about they activity we did and how it can relate to our travel and service in Guatemala. Then we went to bed excited for the next day of exploring Mayan ruins!
Today we traveled to the mayan ruins, where we toured the ancient Mayan ruins. On many of the sites, there were creatures that would face the sunrise/sunset. The creatures facing the sunset were commonly nocternal, and would represent death; whereas the creatures facing the sunrise would represent life and health. After we traveled to the ruins, we drove to a very nice hotel, where we ate lunch and were given the opportunity to bond with the other students on our trip. Next we went back to our base house in Xela and rested after a long day. I am definitely excited to continue on my journey through Guatemala.
This morning we woke up ready for the big day ahead, knowing it would be a tiring but exciting day. We first drove to the base of the mountain. We met up with the other group from GLA that is currently in Guatemala. The mentors told us that we would be piling into the back of two pickup trucks. Everybody seemed a little worried, but it was a good bonding experience. The trucks took us through a village in the mountains to the base where we would begin hiking up Laguna de Chicabal. We knew it was a steep volcano, but did not expect it to be so difficult. We stopped frequently in order to let everyone rest. When we arrived at the top to the lake, the sight was well worth the climb. At the lake, we also experienced a Mayan ceremony. It was very interesting to see this tradition of their culture. The travel back down the volcano was much faster and easier. After this adventure we returned to home base for lunch and had the opportunity to bond with the group and rest.
Today we had to get up a little earlier today to be at the top of the mountain at 10am . We thought the hardest part of getting up the mountain was going up the mountain but we didn’t relies until we got there we would go into the back of two pick up trucks up the base of the mountain to actually start the hike we all cramped the pick up trucks and went up to the mountain with a lot of dumps and bruises on the way it as nice to finally start our hike. some had more trouble climbing the hike it was soon steep but we would stop every few minutes so the ones in way back could catch up.when we finally got to our destination it was lake and it was breath taking we also got to see a tradition mayan ceremony where there was a fire and we got to throw a candle in the fire and make a wish after our hike we went home and everyone talked and some played soccer.
Today we went to the school for the first time. We were all expecting to have a day with the kids, but since it was a day off for them we got a great head start on the murals and construction of the library room. Personally I worked in the construction area…so we had to first go down a couple of blocks to get the scaffolding and carry it back to the school. We set that all up and then started installing the sheet rock on the outside of one of the walls. It was definitely a learning experience for all of us working in that area but Nayo was a great teacher, and thankfully we accomplished a lot without any injuries! We all had a lot of fun and construction was a great team building exercise. Cannot wait for the days to come, and spending time with the some 600 kids!
Photos from the past few days:
On Monday we went to the school for the first time. The kids had the day off, so we were able to get a lot of work done. I worked on painting with several other people. We were able to get multiple caterpillars and a hopscotch court done as well as begin the map of Quetzaltenengo on the wall. After we finished at the school we came back home to base for lunch and had a little down time. In the afternoon, we went to downtown Xela and made several stops. The first place we went was to the grave of Vanushka who was a famous gypsy in Guatemala. We all placed roses on to her grave because legend says that if you do so she will help you find your true love. After looking at Vanushka’s grave we walked around the cemetery until it started to pour rain. Our second stop was at El Balcon where we sat on the balcony in the rain and looked out and El Parque Central de Xela (Central Park) and drank horchata. Our final stop was at Xelapan which was a bakery with a large assortment of baked goods including especially good banana bread. On our way home, we picked up Don Orturo who spoke to us about his time as a member of the guerrilla soldiers during the Guatemalan Civil War. We ended the night with dinner and cake from Xelapan and planned for the following day with the kids at school.
today was our second day at the school but our first day with the kids there at the school. I really enjoyed being able to have a day where we could get the hang of things before all of the kids get there. That day i was on painting and i really liked how we could really be creative and choose what we wanted to. So Ali and i worked on the blank white space outside two classrooms, where we painted green vines and flowers and on the other sides we did patterns where two girls who were about 11 came up to us and where amazed at our paintings and they asked us if they could paint and their painting wasn’t the greatest painting but it made me happy to know that the art we were adding to their school was helped by them . The kids there were truly precious, even if they didn’t even know you they’d come up to you and and hug you and hold your hand. They also always asked you tons of questions like “whats your name?”, “where are you from”, and”how old are you?” they where just so interested about us and wanted to know everything about you. But i also found it difficult to communicate to them because I am not fluent in Spanish but they talk so fast it made it kind of difficult but its funny to talk to them because you have no idea what their saying. after the school we went the drumming class where i kicked ass ( just saying) it was wicked fun. after we proceeded to a cafe where we were suppose to get wifi but we all tried to use it at once so we crashed it so that didn’t work out as planned but no big deal because we went to WALMART 🙂 which made up for the no wifi. Then later that night we had a surprise birthday party for Sinclair super fun we had cake and pinata. then we all went to sleep:)
Today we helped run a carnival fundraiser at the school, learned about how chocolate is made while eating locally grown chocolate, went salsa dancing, and listened to a Guatemalan military veteran talk about his experiences and the history of the civil war. We split into two groups for the carnival; one playing games with and painting the kids’ faces while the other helped construct the library, and we switched midway through. The kids are sooo energetic and happy to play with us and it’s amazing how friendly they are. I’ve played soccer and basketball with a 6th grader named Luis and his friends every day and although it makes sense that they act just like any other 5th or 6th grader, I didn’t really believe how similar they were to American children until this trip. The chocolate shop was unbelievable. It was owned by a family that has been involved with chocolate for five generations, and it was the best chocolate I’ve ever had!! We dipped fruit in a chocolate fountain and got to make and eat our own little chocolate sculpture while learning about the multiple uses of chocolate. After that, we learned the basics of salsa dancing at a club. A man named Don Pepe talked to us about the history of Guatemala’s civil war once we got back home. While saying some controversial opinions about the US involvement in Guatemala, it was super interesting to listen to. Just like my previously held opinion about children growing up in Guatemala, this trip has really changed my view about many things. I’m most surprised about how developed some parts of Guatemala are. For instance, we went to Walmart yesterday and I definitely did not expect to see all the iPhones and electronics everywhere. Overall, this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with some of the best people!
Pictures from 7/21-7/23
All students have departed safely!