July 22 and 23
Guat’s up friends and family? All but one of the girls have arrived safely and are at home base here in Quetzaltenango. Alexis will be joining us in the morning. Yesterday, our students trickled into Guatemala in multiple waves. The flights from the west coast landed bright and early at five in the morning. The majority of girls arrived midday, but some were landing as late as 10:00 p.m. Today, we had breakfast with a view on the roof of our hotel in Antigua. Our accommodations, courtesy of La Quinta Santa Lucia Hotel, were beautiful! The rooms bordered a gorgeous courtyard and had lots of character. We left after breakfast and drove to a local shop where the girls and mentors learned about the Mayan culture through a weaving workshop and wedding reenactment. Not only did we learn about the customs and clothing of the Mayan people, but also about how they are diligently working to preserve their culture, which is currently threatened by the more efficient technologies of large manufacturers. We then drove an hour to a beautiful restaurant in the countryside where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of either chicken, beef, or a veggie kabob. Next, we hopped back in the vans and drove 30 minutes to the ancient Mayan ruins of the town of Iximche. We continued to learn about aspects of the Mayan culture and also found out that the Spaniards could not pronounce Iximche, or Cuauhtemallan, so simply called the city Guatemala, which became the country’s namesake. After the ruins, we proceeded on our route to Quetzaltenango. During the next two and a half hours, we zigzagged through the mountains. Urban areas turned to farms and lush forests, but the number of stray dogs roaming the streets did not change, and they continued to pull at our heart strings. As we ascended even higher into the mountains, we literally drove through the clouds. Finally, we reached home base, where we had orientation and received room assignments. Our service at the school begins tomorrow, and we are all very excited to meet the students and to continue getting to know each other. Even though it’s only our first full day here, we are already very close and having a blast! We are in such disbelief that we are finally here that we keep asking ourselves, “A-mayan Guatemala for real right now?” Stay tuned for more updates to come!
July 24, 2017
Hola everybody! Today was our first full day at home base. We woke up ecstatic to get to the school and meet all of the friendly Guatemalan kids. We piled into the van and took a short drive to the school and were immediately greeted by over 500 smiling colorful children all with interesting stories and personalities. After a tour of the school by one of the teachers at the school we could not be more excited to contribute and add more to all that GLA has done for this community. It was amazing to see how school life is like for these kids compared to our daily lifestyles and how little they have yet how happy they are. We learned about the 3 different service projects we will be working on at the school during our stay in Guatemala. The first project is a mural that we will be working on and finishing to help improve the students addition, multiplication and division skills. We are also working on finishing a classroom that the previous sessions began by smoothing the walls and plastering. The final project is teaching the 5th and 6th graders english and helping them to improve their skills. This is a lot harder than it sounds but we have been working together to develop lesson plans and games that will keep the students entertained. Recess was probably the best part of the day where we had kids begging for piggyback rides and teaching us their games that they love to play. They were so friendly and happy to be playing with us and we all could not get enough of the them. We left to head back to home base for lunch and were so excited to go to our next adventure! After our feast of food that everyone inhaled, we then got into the vans to head towards a tour of a church. After singing and jamming out in the vans for 40 minutes, we arrived at this eye brightening church! It was more colorful than anyone could imagine. Reds, yellows, blues, greens, and whites. The church portrayed symbolism of their culture. We then hiked up the steep streets and made our way to see extremely beautiful views of the mountains at the high elevations. After snapping photos of everyone at the beautiful views, we made our way back down and stopped to see a traditional dance of a guy acting like a monkey. Then, we went to visit a lady who makes traditional patterns that take around six months to make. We got to see her live in action and then a couple of girls got to try on the traditional outfit as well. We then made our way to a house that we received homemade hot chocolate that is made in this town and also a traditional bread that was both delicious! The hot chocolate was different from the hot chocolate that we are used to, but was awesome too! Trying not to slip down the steep streets, we finally made our way back to the vans and headed to the home base. 30 girls squeezed on a couch but surprisingly it worked and was super comfy! We watched a TED talk which was about we appropriate cultures from different countries. After discussing what we wrote on flashcards about three things that we thought represents the United States and Guatemala. It was extremely interesting to see how everyone thought our where they live compared to where we are visiting now. We headed to dinner and then after showers and hanging around, the people who had to teach the next day needed to plan their lessons. Since we were divided into groups for service, the three groups planned their lessons while others watched Grownups on the couch. As everyone went their separate ways to their rooms, we settled down ready to wake up for a new adventure in Guatemala tomorrow!
July 25, 2017
By: Charlotte Howard and Ellianna Bryan
Today was the second day of service and we started the day off splitting up into our groups to teach, construct and paint. The teaching groups headed into their classrooms introducing themselves and began teaching things like “I like..” and “I do not like..“. It was more challenging than we all expected and even though we felt super prepared with lessons it was difficult to maintain the students‘ attention but once we got the hang of it we really felt like they were learning. The best feeling was when the students were able to answer our questions in English and show they were understanding. After the lesson it was recess and we spent another hour playing games with the kids. The construction groups plastered the walls and continued working on the classroom, while the painting group worked on painting multiplication tables on stairs. We headed back to home base to get ready for an exciting afternoon of chocolate and salsa dancing. As we arrived to the chocolate workshop, we were all seated in a large room and row by row, we went up to get our choice of fruit with the homemade chocolate. After our faces were covered, we went outside to see and understand how the chocolate is made. We then received hot chocolate and before taking the first sip, we made a wish and then drank the warm mug of hot chocolate! As everyone jammed into the chocolate shop, bars after bars were purchased. We headed out and made our way to learn the traditional salsa dance. After sweating and laughing immensely, we all were wiped. We came back to the home base and all squished into the living room to listen to a veteran from Guatemala speak. After listening to his astonishing story about his war experiences, we all ate and then the groups for teaching tomorrow planned their lessons! Extremely tired and wiped out, we all crashed and were ready for the hot springs and another day with endless smiles!
Howdy yall! It’s May and Brianna from Houston, TX reporting live from Guatemala! This morning we woke up and ate some delicious pancakes and then headed to the school. The GLA student teachers taught the children family words and school subjects in English. Girls in construction plastered walls for the storage room. Painting people finished painting times table onto the stairs. After lots of playing with the kids, we headed back to home base and ate delicious beef, mashed potatoes, and cucumbers! Soon we took an hour drive into the mountain where we swam in the Hot Springs! The scenic route was breathtaking. No picture could do it justice. We were literally in the clouds! When swimming in the Hot Springs, the sulfur in the water made our skin very soft. It was a good time to relax from our previous very busy days. Finally and most importantly, our best part of the day was going to WALMART!! Wise GLA students decided to splurge their parents’ money on light-up blue-tooth fidget spinners and live turtles. PSA: be prepared parents when your child returns. But obviously, every student bought way too much junk food (if that is even possible). We ended the day at home base reflecting upon an anthropology article describing Americans in a different perspective, reminding us to not be close-minded and listens to everyone’s stories. This is your favorite bloggers signing out.
Gracias por tu attencion!!
Thursday, July 27
Hey everybody! Its Anna Conneely and Ellie Bryan checking in from Guatemala! Today was a day full of car rides and big spending. We woke up to a classic American breakfast, the first one we’ve had so far. We climbed into our vans and drove off towards Chichicastenango, the biggest market in the southern hemisphere. We jammed out to some throwback songs for a couple hours in between falling asleep on top of each other. Finally we arrived and unloaded from our van and were allowed to wander around the market for a couple hours. We were amazed at all the colorful souvenirs and brushed up on our bargaining and Spanish skills. Everyone bought lots of sweatshirts and gifts for home (so get ready parents)! After a couple of hours in the market, we had lunch at an adorable hotel in the middle of the city, filled with parrots and other crazy birds. Then we drove another hour to Panajachel, a lakeside market town. We got another few hours to wander. Some of us caught up with friends from home in the internet cafe, shopped for more gifts, sat by the lake watching the sunset, or got henna tattoos (they’re temporary!!!). We then settled into our gorgeous lakeside hotel where we roomed with some friends that we’ve made so far. We hung out in our rooms getting even closer and laughing our butts off through the night. See ya next time!!! Xoxoxo
-Anna and Ellie
Friday, July 28
Hi guys!!! We’re back! It’s Anna from Chicago and Ellie from NYC!! We spent the night at the hotel by the lake and woke up to the sound of birds and chickens outside our window and the sun above the lake. We got a nice surprise of breakfast at 8 rather than 7:30! Then after a breakfast of PLANTAINS outside in the hotel garden, we headed down to the docks to board the boats for a ride to San Jose, a town across the lake. There we got lots of time to wander around the streets and EVEN MORE MARKETS! We got frappuccinos at a local cafe and waited to board the boats again. We bargained some more and looked at pretty paintings of Guatemala along with other bracelets and souvenirs. The boat ride back was a little bumpier than the way there but still just as amazing of a view. When we safely arrived back at the hotel we had some free time to relax in our rooms and pack up for the drive back to Home Base. During the drive back we went through the clouds after a rain storm and everybody was falling asleep. Once arriving at Home Base we all hung out and had free time until dinner time, during which we celebrated Ellie’s birthday with a piñata & cake! Afterwards Orlando started a dance party and a couple of us got super hyped up. Nicole and Ana, our mentors, were singing along and laughing at our silly dance moves and how we knew every word to every song. They also said we were the most entertaining and the best session yet, obvi 😉 After our dance party, we headed to bed tired and excited for everything in store tomorrow, including zip lining!!!!!!! We’re having the best time and already so sad that we only have 6 more days here in Guatemala. See ya next time!!! Xoxoxo
-Anna and Ellie
Saturday July 29
By Caroline Foshee and Lydia Bailey
Hey everyone! We’re still here in Guatemala. To begin this eighth day on foreign soil, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of French toast, fruit, and bread. It was refreshing to have a meal at home base after a night away. After breakfast, we hopped in the vans for an hour drive to the ziplining course. There, we partook in a series of ziplines cascading down the mountains. But first, we had to take a bumpy truck ride through the woods. Once we were all harnessed up, we went down the nine different ziplines one by one, stopping along the way to let everyone catch up. After that fun adventure, we drove back to home base where we ate a lunch of steak and veggies. Once the rain cleared, we went to the school and broke into groups to paint and construct. It was weird being at the school without any kids there. However, it gave us time to work without distraction. The constructors continued to cement the walls in a classroom, while the painters worked more on the times tables painting on the school’s stairs. Both of us, in addition to Gray, Juli and Kristin began a mural, which is turning out beautifully! What was once an orange wall is now a budding masterpiece. Upon returning to home base, we had an ex-guerilla speak to us about the Guatemalan civil conflict. This presentation was truly touching, and it was fascinating to compare the speaker from earlier this week to tonight’s speaker. Then, we ate dinner, which was tamales. After dinner a few of us watched a movie before going to bed.
July 30, 2017
By Caroline Foshee and Aeryn Massenza
Have you ever hiked a volcano and gone to a Guatemalan circus in the same day? Because we have! After breakfast, we left for the hike up Chicabal volcano. The drive in the vans was about 40 minutes, but once we arrived, we piled into all–terrain pick–up trucks that had seating in the truck bed. The trucks carried us over hilly, dirt roads to the trailhead. Then, we began our hour-long trek up the steep and slippery paths to the top of the volcano (don’t worry- it’s dormant). The trip was hard, as the air got thinner with every step. Finally, we reached the lookout point, where we had an eagle eye’s view of both the sacred lake and the surrounding area. Then, we climbed down hundreds of stairs to reach the lake’s edge. Being at the lake felt like being in a different realm. Clouds and fog scraped the water’s surface, blurring the lines between earth and sky. At the lake, we had a snack to replenish our energy and participated in a sacred Mayan ritual ceremony. The ceremony involved the burning of fruits and sugar, throwing of candles into the flames, the making of wishes, and a prayer in a native Mayan language. After the ceremony, we headed back for the trailhead. On the way back, a dog followed us down the mountain. The dog belonged to the man who led the ceremony. Finally, we returned to the bottom and headed back to home base. For lunch, we ate Domino’s pizza and breadsticks, which have never tasted so good. We had some free time after lunch, then we went to Walmart for even more snacks. From Walmart, we went to Internacional Circo de la Luz (aka the circus). What originally appeared as a haphazard spectacle in a small tent, it was actually very entertaining. The clowns made us laugh, despite our lack of fluency, and other acts kept us on our toes. There were acrobats, tightrope walkers, dancers, jugglers, fire spinners, and other talented performers. During one of the acts, Anna was whisked onto stage by a German man playing a cannibalistic animal. After the circus, we came home to a dinner of baked potatoes and veggies. Then, some of us planned lessons for school tomorrow while some of us played cards or just hung out. We went to bed easily, after such a fun, but exhausting day.
July 31, 2017
The Chicago and New York ladies coming at you live all the way from Xela Guatemala! Today was another day at the school where we all helped out in different ways. Some of us plastered, some painted steps and mural, and some taught. Everybody had an awesome time with the kids at recess (as always) and it was an awesome way to take a break from all of our work. The highlight of today’s recess was that someone brought about 800 stickers, and the kids could not have been more thrilled! Faces, hands, and clothes were covered in stickers by the end. As we resumed our work, Anna and Charlotte (authors of this blog obvi) ended up plastering a total of two whole walls. That may not seem like a lot, but trust us it was, you all should be proud. We suffered through blisters and were covered from head to toe with plaster by the end. We went home for lunch and after a couple hours of resting, we went out to a local coffee shop to hear the ideas of a man who had lived in both America and Guatemala. The shop was a non-profit organization and part time art gallery. The speaker opened all of our eyes to how one can be wealthy with money but poor in relationships. Everyone left the talk with something new to think about. We stopped at a bakery on the way home, and it was a riot. Everyone was grabbing donuts, muffins, and pastries, all courtesy of Brian. After we got home, we all hung out, played cards, and crashed. “Boy were we exhausted” -Charlotte. Overall, it was another amazing day in Xela where we all learned so much and got to experience an amazing culture! XOXO Anna and Charlotte
August 1st and 2nd blog by Olivia Ketcham and Ava Green.
Hello parents and others! Yesterday started at home base, with a delicious breakfast that we didn’t make it to, because we slept in, but others said it was great! After that, it was back to the school where we made our finishing touches on the cementing, painting, and teaching. Back at home base, lunch was later served, and then to the Marimba work shop we went! There, we listened and participated in the beauty of the art. Later, we reflected on our days, and discussed. Dinner was made and later there was some well-deserved free time. Personally, we watched movies, played board games, made brownies, and had conversations with Brian (the counselor). Finally, it was time to go to sleep, and we went to sleep. The next day, again we slept late and ate dry cereal on the way to the school (but again, others said it was great) and finalized GLA’s hard work this past summer. After the students and faculty presented us with gifts and did dances, they thanked us and we thanked them as well. Okay continuing on, after the school we had lunch and later went to the weaver’s house, where we learned how the threads are made, and some bought more bajas, blankets, and scarves. We also got to eat and make delicious tortillas. Then we had dinner and another discussion, but this time about our experience overall, and what we’re going to take away from it. The reflection challenged us to think in different ways and incorporate multiple perspectives while exploring and learning about this beautiful country. Currently, we are watching movies, packing, and making brownies. Everyone is sad to go home, but the journey was amazing and the memories and friendships we’ve created over the past two weeks are irreplaceable.
Here’s some other beautiful photos from our time in Guatemala. Enjoy!