Time Capsule Letter
It seems like just yesterday we were all together in Guatemala! Its wild to think how much time has already passed since proud parents Corentin and Ella celebrated Melissa and Nick’s Mayan wedding. Or when Britney busted out professional moves on the Salsa dance floor. Your group brought a thoughtful dynamic which showed through tight friendships and a meaningful program in Guatemala.
Something I reflect on fondly is that Nick and Anna ALWAYS had good tunes on our bus. Keep that vibe alive! Bus rides became the heart of this trip, whether we were driving the winding roads to Lago Atitlán or the route past the cemetery/Burger King. I am so glad we all survived our weekend trip in Panajachel, Chloe really stepped up as Leader of the Day when we needed that first aid kit! Let’s not forget Simone starting the poncho trend that took our group by storm.
I was so proud that our whole group hiked up to the sacred Lago Chicabal, taking part in the Mayan ceremony as the fog rolled past. Amber, always keeping spirits high, ensured laughs were had on the way back down too.
We lucked out visiting service sites on Teacher Appreciate Day, remember the huge ceremony we watched? It was so impactful to see you change during your time at service. From owning your mural, to practicing Spanish and playing with the kiddos! Like Nuala’s painted vine, the children at the school will grow wild and free.
Each developing curiosity, creativity, and knowledge wandering amongst your beautiful, meaningful murals. Javier still proudly reflects on the collaboration animal mural- Paige painted just the cutest Zebra.
You were truly part of a group of leaders. Baylee set the bar high with personalized letters as the first Leader of the Day! Everyone showed personal growth throughout Mentor Group Discussions. (Shoutout to Shelnian Pabacomi!)
We were all grateful for our translators throughout the program, especially when Michelle helped barter in the market and Melissa interpreted at the cemetary. Meaning would have been lost without you. As true leaders are not afraid to speak up….I will never forget hearing dancing queen being sung at the top of your lungs!
I was really impressed when the group came up with the One Meaningful Goal (OMG) to ‘Take Initiative’. This goal is so powerful because each person in the program had their personal plan for how they could take initiative- whether for themselves or within their community. Do you remember what you felt compelled to take initiative with??
Well in case you forgot, I included our epic picture from the rooftop in Antigua set amongst mountains and volcanoes.
GLA loves to hear about how you are BEING the CHANGE so please share your personal goals and initiatives.
This summer will be unforgettable thanks to YOU and the positivity you brought to Guatemala!
Cheers to one more weaving demonstration,
Sheila and the Guatemala Squad
P.S. Remember, if in doubt, your Quita Pena has your back!
Wednesday June 19, 2019
After many miles traveling and different arrival times, the group arrived safe to Guatemala. We met at the hotel in “Antigua” and we had a delicious dinner.
At the time of this photo we were still waiting for 3 students. Chloe, Jake and, Nicholas, so they are not pictured.
Everybody is excited to start the adventure!
Thursday June 20, 2019
Last night the last part of the group arravied we are complete now! We wakes early to leave “Antigua” to take the way to our homebase in Quetzaltenango (Xela). On our way we stopped at an collective of mayan women, who showed us a traditional mayan wedding. Also, we visited Ixminche, one of the most important mayan ruins. Todays is Corentin’s birthday! We celebrated with brownies at the lunch time!
Now we are at the homebase in Quetzaltenango resting for a new day.
Friday June 21, 2019
Today with the whole group we set off to visit schools GLA has volunteered at in the past. The first school was having its Teacher’s Day celebration, where a group of about 30 kids honored their teachers with songs and gifts. It was incredible to see how valued the teachers are in Guatemala.
After visiting 2 more schools and having lunch, the group headed off to a chocolate demonstration, where they learned the rich history and importance of the cacao bean for Guatemala. The group also got to try the chocolate and different chocolate drinks. Finally, the group went to a salsa class, where we all stepped out of our comfort zones and learned how to salsa.
Our night ended with a delicious taco dinner at home and our first Mentor groups. Home Base is really starting to feel like home!
Saturday June 22, 2019
June 22, 2019 was a wonderful day for the GLA guatemala program. Today we went zip lining, not to forget the amazing journey we took to get there. We took quite an adventurous jungle road to reach the serene setting for our gran aventura. We rode for a while before we approached the first zip line. Using some teamwork, the crew successfully navigated the lush surroundings . We learned we had 11 zip lines and buckled up for a wild ride! After a few screams, everyone laughing at people’s zip styles, we headed back to basecamp.
The rest of the day was still to come. We relaxed at homebase before we visited the school we would be working at for our service. We got to see all the walls that we are able to paint on and got to create some ideas. We made it back to basecamp to have an eye opening conversation about how gender roles have a place in society and the differing ideas people/organizations have. Not to forget the ceremony at the end of the night to pass on the fanny pack and med kit. Overall an action packed yet stress free day.
Sunday June 23, 2019
Today was a great day. We ate breakfast and then picked up the buses to head to the town of Chichicistenango. Upon our arrival we sharpened our Spanish bargaining skills with a visit to the world’s largest Mayan market. It was an eye opening adventure to see such a bustling market of handmade goods and other things. After many laughs at lunch, we continued our journey to Lake Atitlán.
After arriving to our hotel by the lake, we went out for coffee and an exploration of the city, not to mention some light shopping! We wrapped up the night with a fun game, excited for what tomorrow will bring.
M & M
Monday June 24, 2019
We spent our last morning in Lake Atitlan with a boat ride, 20 minutes later, we arrived in San Juan and saw a weaving demonstration, we learned how cotton was made into thread and dyed using natural resources (like rosemary, carrots and flowers)!
Later, we looked around and shopped for handmade clothes, art, and other souvenirs to bring back home. It was a beautiful town to spend time in with the big lake below and mountains all around.
While some of the group rested after our big adventure, the other half of us walked around the lake and journaled about values and what experiences here related to them.
After lunch, we loaded up in the vans. Once we got back to homebase we had time to work on our mural ideas for service.
The day ended with our mentor groups and the ritual passing of the funny pack to tomorrow´s leader.
-by Chloe Kaplan
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Today, students began their first day of service! Groups began painting murals at a local daycare center and were able to spend some quality time with kids during recess (piggyback rides were a must!)
After lunch, our volunteers embarked on a trip to the town of San Andreas Xecul, where they learned about how ancient Mayan and contemporary Catholic cultures mix today in Guatemala.
The journey was not complete without a quick trip to a local Walmart where GLA students stocked up on items not found at home. The day ended with a energetic karaoke night that got every teen on their feet and singing!
Wednesday June 26, 2019
Today, students started off the day by continuing service at the local school! Together they picked up paint brushes and made additions to the murals that they had started the day before. The murals have begun to take shape and are really coming together in all of their colorful glory.
We then finished off our visit to the school by joining them in their play time activities. The volunteers joined games of soccer, Ring Around the Rosie and generally stayed just as active as the kids were. Additionally, students sat with some kids and read simple books in Spanish with or to them.
After lunch, students loaded the vans with swimsuits and towels in hand to go to the hot springs! They traveled to Zunil to visit Fuentes Georginas. There students all enjoyed the views from the forest and even experienced a little visit from some small monkey and raccoon like creatures. Of course though, many students enjoyed the steam and warm temperature of the springs by going swimming, making a relaxing afternoon!
We ended the evening with some delicious tamales and meeting with our mentor groups. This is always a great way to end an amazing day.
Thursday June 27, 2019
Our 9th day started with our service project again. We started the first half of service working on our mural projects. One group included the participation of the children by using their painted hand prints as leaves on a tree. Our murals are all coming together very well to decorate the school. After painting, we had more time to play with the kids. We played soccer, read books, and drew with chalk. After our service time, we had to say our final goodbyes to our new little amigos as we parted ways.
After service, we returned to home base for lunch, then departed for a pottery demonstration. We watched Don Julio shape beautiful candle holders, bowls, and cups out of clay. After the demonstration, we returned home to listen to a story from a special guest speaker, Arturo, about the Guatemalan civil war. We listened to his story from the revolutionary side of the civil war. We, then, had dinner at home base. After dinner, we played a team-building game then concluded the day. Overall, it was a great day, but sad because we had to say goodbye to the beloved school children.
Saturday June 29, 2019
Our day began bright and early with our last day of service. Unfortunately the kids were not at the school today, as they are now on their “summer break”. We still went to the school though to finish our murals, which all turned out beautifully, might I add. We finished are last day with a discussion on the service experience and how we would take what we learned back home, and into our own communities.
After our lunch break at home base, we headed out for the highly anticipated cemetery trip. Before we entered the cemetery we were prepped with the the story of “The Gypsy who died of love”, whose grave we then visited. Some even left roses and wrote the names of special someone’s. we ended our outing with a trip to a pupusaria, where many experienced their first papusas.
Back at home base, we listened to our second civil war speaker, our speaker today was on the opposite side of the gentleman yesterday. We all enjoyed hearing multiple sides to the same story. after dinner and quick mentor groups, in which we talked about our beliefs and values, we were off to bed and fast to sleep!
Sunday June 30, 2019
We started our 11th day with a beautiful morning hike to a lake where a shaman performed a
traditional Mayan ceremony. He taught us more about nawals which represent different
individuals spirit energy and during the ceremony gave us the opportunity to make wishes by
tossing candles into the fire. The hike was a little tiring but luckily the rest of the day was very
chill. We got to listen to our Local Director Nayo tell us stories about his life and we learned that,
among other things, he built a town! We had nice group hugs with Nayo and then another
delicious dinner followed by a viewing of “Coco” for movie night before bed. It was a another great
Monday July 1, 2019
Today was our last day in Xela! We started off the day by going to a weaving demonstration in rural Xela and got to see how the artisans brush, dye and finally weave sheep’s fur into many beautiful pieces. We got the opportunity to shop around and also have a tasty treat of tortillas guacamole and salsa! We started our journey back to home base for lunch and after we headed into the center of Xela for some cake and coffee.
We got to walk around and listen and dance to the music being played in the beautiful square. Finally we headed to our local director Nayo’s work shop for a demonstration of the hard work and creativity of a carpenter craft. We finished of the night with dinner at home base and a reflection of the lessons we learned in our past weeks here in Guatemala!
The final full day together in Guatemala began with leaving Home base at 8:15 in the morning, with a 2-3 hour car ride ahead of us to the city of Antigua. But before reaching our destination in Antigua, we stopped at a local coffee plantation where we learned about how coffee is made in Guatemala and saw the process of making coffee from planting to roasting of the coffee beans.
From there we checked into our hotel and had some time to walk around Antigua as a group and take plenty of pictures in the town center. Then we went back to our hotel for our final group activity, and then proceeded to our last dinner together in a very nice restaurant. All together the day was wrapped up by saying our final goodbyes in preparation to come back home. Everyone is looking forward to safe flights and travels alike.
-by Jake and Britney