Tuesday June 19, 2018
Today was arrival day – and our staff were super excited to meet the students! As students arrived they met with each other and began bonding – we had a large group come in at lunchtime so we all went to Pollo Campero, a beloved Guatemalan chicken restaurant that the students really enjoyed.
We then traveled to Antigua where we hosted some icebreakers, had a brief orientation to the program and our staff, and then went to dinner at a restaurant for a mix of American and Guatemalan traditional fare.
A second group of 6 students arrived later and went to dinner with Cathy, one of our mentors, in a tranquil neighborhood of Guatemala City minutes from the airport and multiple embassies. They arrived to Antigua and went straight to bed, but all are excited for seeing a coffee plantation and traveling to Xela tomorrow!
One of our students, Allie, is not pictured, as she arrived at 5:30am and spent the day in Antigua with a mentor while we did pickups for the rest of the students, but we will share another photo tomorrow with the entire group!
-Patrick (International Director)
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Today, we were packed and ready to go by seven in the morning from our hotel in Antigua. We ate a traditional Guatemalan breakfast and headed to San Antonio Aguas Calientes for a weaving demonstration and a wedding (director’s note: just a simulated wedding, folks! No students were married on this program :D). There, we experienced how authentic clothing and blankets are made only by hand, something that is rare and difficult to come by. We also watched two of our group members get “married” in traditional wedding outfits. After that, we hand-flattened corn tortillas and got the opportunity to eat them with a cup of coffee. We then continued our day at a coffee farm where we learned about process, culture, and history of coffee production in Guatemala. We got a chance to try and buy coffee home-grown at the farm. We began to finish up our day by driving four hours to Xela, our home base.
-Blog and Photos by Olivia and Jack Phillips
Thursday June 21, 2018
Today was GLA’s first day working with the children at the school, or Centro de Atencion Integral. Both groups were eager to meet each other! We got to work beginning their murals and helping out the teachers with their classes. After lunch, we drove to a local family owned chocolate factory, where we sampled natural Guatemalan chocolate and learned about the history of chocolate production. Finally, we ended the day with a Salsa class in downtown Xela. It was a busy, exciting day for our group!
Friday June 22, 2018
Today, we woke up to the smell of pancakes which made everyone very excited. After, we returned to the school and spent more time with the children playing games and painting our beautiful murals. “Pato Pato Ganzo” or “Duck Duck Goose” was one of the favorites. When we finished our morning full of service, we drove an hour to Momostenango to visit a textile factory run by a Guatemalan family. We learned how the wool is taken from the sheep and turned into beautiful textiles. Some of us bought bracelets, jackets, and blankets. A day full of fun!
-by Laura S. Photos by Morgan H.
Saturday June 23, 2018
This morning, after breakfast, we left our home base to go to Panajachel for an overnight trip. We took a boat ride where we saw many mountains and volcanoes. Then we walked around a small town and shopped. After that, we went back to our hotel and ate lunch. Finally we went to city where we could do some more shopping and bought souvenirs for our families. We also did an eye-opening activity which was called “Privilege Walk” where we realized how lucky and privileged we are. My favorite part of the day was eating ice cream in Panajachel. Overall we had a great day!
-Blog by Laetitia. Photos by Genevieve
Sunday June 24, 2018
Today we went to the market in Chichicastenango. There, we found many different shops filled with textiles, food, and many types of clothing. When we wanted to buy something, we had to bargain with the sellers to bring the price down. After the market, we went to lunch at a hotel where there were talking birds. After lunch, we took a two hour car trip back to home base, had a leadership activity and watched a very powerful documentary about Guatemala called When the Mountains Tremble.
-Blog by Marina. Photos by Elise
Monday June 25, 2018
Today was very interesting. First we had a very good breakfast, it was french toast. Then we all got on the bus and headed to the school where some of us finish out paintings on the walls while other played with the kids. After that we came back to the home base and had spaghetti that most people thought was amazing. After that great lunch we returned to the school where most of us scrubbed paint off the walls while others painted fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria for the kids. After a long day at the school we went to Walmart for a little bit to shop for some food. Then after a long day we return to the home base and had dinner (chicken tacos!).
Tuesday June 26, 2018
This morning we started the day with delicious breakfast burritos before heading off to the school to do service work. My group began caring for a dozen of excited toddlers as the other groups painted happy-looking fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria. Recess is always an exciting part of the day as we run around giving piggy-back rides and playing games with the children. Our groups split up and some of us worked on scraping old walls and repainting them, even while some plastered. The other groups worked with all ages of children in the classroom and prepared activities and made crafts like colorful fortune-tellers.
After lunch, all of us loaded the busses and headed to the hot springs about 45 minutes away far up in the mountains. The drive seemed to constantly continue upward as we went farther and farther into the mountains. After a while we could hardly see anything but the road and the clouds surrounding us. Once we arrived we viewed beautiful hot spring pools right before we rushed to take a dip in the steaming waters. After we finished swimming we left for home base ready to take showers and a nap.
-Blog by Erin. Photos by Patrick and Elizabeth
Wednesday June 27, 2018
Today was another day painting and playing with the kids at the school. During the first half of the morning, the kids went to different stations and played with paint. We finished up the wall murals and enjoyed spending time outside with the kids. After lunch we had a surprise activity led by Patrick. He took us to a famous cemetery and then we participated in a scavenger hunt in downtown Xela. We finished our activity with a trip to a hot chocolate café. We came back to home base and listened to a guest speaker who told us about the history of Guatemala’s civil conflict. We finished the night with mentor groups and our resting up for our last day with the kids.
-Blog by Brooke and Alexa. Photos by Mariló and Hadley
Thursday June 28, 2018
Today was our final day of service and as we rode to the service site everyone made sure tissues were in hand. We started the day off by finishing up the final coats of paint and completing the sign outside. After that we had some time to play with the kids before finally having to say goodbye. We all stood in a circle and held hands and the kids began to sing us a goodbye song. More than a few tears were shed as the director gave us her final words of thanks. With a couple more hugs and teary, “I’m going to miss yous,” we said goodbye to the kids and walked out the door.
After lunch we got back in the vans and took a quick ride to San Andres Xecul. We walked around with our tour guide, Juan, and he explained to us the Mayan Catholicism of the town, the culture, and significance of the churches. He also took us to the house of woman who embroidered detailed fabrics that take six months to make. Juan took us to his house afterwards and treated us to hot chocolate and tasty bread. The view was breathtaking from every location and even though the walks were incredibly steep it was all worth it when we got to the top.
Another quick ride back to home base and a tasty dinner later we all begin to settle down for a movie night. We are excited for the rest of our exciting trip in Guatemala!
Friday June 29, 2018
Today we woke up bright and early to go to a zip lining course. We ate breakfast and then started the hour drive up to the course. The end destination did not look much like Xela anymore, there were a lot of bugs and the moss and trees made it look like we were in a jungle. We put on harnesses and helmets and took a short but very bumpy ride in the back of a truck to the first of nine zip lines. The zip lines over looked a valley between two mountains with a waterfall. Once we were done with the course we drove to home base.
At the home base we had a lunch of lasagna and chicken soup. Once lunch was finished we had a few hours of down time to nap and relax. A guest speaker, Don Jose Castillo, came and talked to us about his perspective on the Guatemalan civil war. Don stood with the Guatemalan military, his perspective was very different than our first speaker who was on the Guerrilla’s side of the war. We were given some more down time before dinner. After dinner we had a book end group activity and discussion and then snuggled into bed!
Saturday June 30, 2018
Today, we woke up at seven and drove to an hour to a volcano, Laguna Chicabal where we met students from another other GLA group to hike! We started our hike together and ended an hour later at a very special lake where we participated in a Mayan ceremony. We then hiked back to the buses and drove back to the home base. After lunch, we said our farewells to Juan, our friend from Spain. This was very sad and we all cried. We then had time to pack and rest before we had mentor groups. We then had dinner followed by a surprise activity: a birthday party and dance party for our friend Georgia!
Blog by Noah. Photos by Anna & Julio