Last Day of Service
Today was our last day of service. After finishing cementing the outside wall and painting the walls of the school’s courtyard and classroom, we created three unique hopscotch boards. The kids were so excited to play. We had to stand over them until they were dry enough and even then, one of the boards was smeared from playing on it too soon.
Towards the end of service, the kids both thanked us and promised to take care of the walls we painted. We got a ceremony from the kids in the school and got a trdtitional Guatemalan tamale and tea. We then headed to a larger field to play a proper game of futbol.
We ended up getting creamed by the kids and then we all said our goodbyes.
We then came back from our last service and had lentils and rice for lunch. We then had to pack our things for tomorrow and then left for a coffee shop. We then left for the mall to complete our GLA evaluations and have our second day of Wifi. We had our last day to shop so we all bought milkshakes from POPS. We came back from the mall and got into mentor groups to come up with an action plan for when we come back to the U.S. We had dinner (spaghetti) and our final workshop (sharing compliment sheets).
A Fun Day
We started the day with delicious pancakes. We then went to the school and nearly finished our projects. We had a fun day playing jump rope and other exciting games with the school kids. We also went to the hot springs, which was breathtaking. The scenery was beautiful. We had a relaxing and fun time. At the hot springs we had the opportunity to meet and get to know the other GLA group . For our evening activity we learned about social media influence and watched organizations’ advertisements. We learned that ads do not tell the whole story. The best kinds of ads are the ones made from the people’s point of view rather than the organizations’ point of view.
Our morning started out with a breakfast in preparation of our hike. We took a bull car and a truck to the base of Laguna Chicabal. From there it was an uphill battle to the peak, which upon our arrival we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of Laguna Chicabal. At the lake, we had a snack and rested beside the serenity of the lake and low-dipping clouds. Our relaxing open afternoon was spent watching the semi final World Cup.
We started today off with a breakfast of banana oatmeal and freshly cooked french toast. At 8:00 a.m., we went to service for the first time in three days. The school was empty due to the recent earthquake, but we continued service normally and completed scraping paint off of an entire wall. During our break, we played a few rounds of Mafia, which everyone enjoyed. At around 12:00 p.m., we returned to the home base and ate chicken and rice for lunch. We then played World Cup soccer outside as an afternoon activity. We left at 2:00 p.m. to visit Cerro Baul, where we witnessed a fantastic view of the city. On our way back, we stopped by a few local houses to learn about the daily lives of the townsfolk. We returned to delicious ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. After eating, we finished the day with some bonding activities and conversations about our experiences here in Guatemala.
A Shaky Day
We had a shaky start to the day–pun definitely intended. Being woke up at 5:30 am by two earthquakes was no one’s idea of how to start the morning. Unfortunately, there was no service today due to the shakes so we busied ourselves with group activities, the favorite being futbol (soccer). There was an attack of the wasps while the group was outside but luckily only one person got stung. The afternoon included a marimba workshop and hearing the story of Guatemala’s war from the side of the army. Afterwards, all of us went to participate in evening activities. These entailed a game type scenario that taught team building. Then we had a small amount of time to relax before lights out.
This morning we woke up with two tasks: pack up to head back to home base, and eat breakfast. We had eggs, beans, plantains, and bread; a typical Guatemalan meal. Once everyone was content and full, we set off in the vans for the city of Chichicastenango. We drove for about an hour with the view of clouds rolling over the mountains out the window. Once in Chichi, we unloaded into a classy hotel to use the restroom before facing the market. We split into groups of three to tackle the largest indigenous craft market in Central America. As the group set out, we saw our friends drown in vibrant colors and dedicated Guatemalan salespeople. The few hours spent in the market were hectic in the best of ways. Ponchos, wallets, worry dolls, fruit, backpacks, and jewelry became common sights throughout the twists and turns of the vendors. We met back at the hotel for lunch and recuperation from the morning bargaining. After lunch, we took one more hour to make last minute purchases. Soon it was time to make the drive back to home base. We loaded the vans and drove about three hours. Once home, we all participated in an activity which determined all of our profiles as leaders. The categories included Architects & Analysts, Drivers, Relationship Masters, and Spontaneous Motivators. We then played a group game of Mafia, a mind game, to pass the time until dinner. We had a delicious meal of spaghetti then wound down for evening activities and mentor groups. To round-out the day, we reflected on how our consumption and purchases at the market affect the populations around us. Overall, today was vibrant, enlightening, and productive.
-Cami and Sarah
Today we got an early start. The day began with a lengthy drive to the town surrounding Lake Atitlan. Once we arrived we took a boat ride across the lake to the town San Juan and were given free time to explore the town and shop. We then returned by boat to our hotel, Paradise Inn, and had a cultural lunch. We finished eating, split up into groups of three or more and set out on our own individual adventures in order to explore the markets and shops surrounding the lake. Some kids enjoyed the time we had watching the World Cup, while others set out and experienced the crafts and talents of the native people. Many students acquired the new skill of bargaining, it really does come in handy. After meeting back at the hotel at 6:30, we enjoyed a delicious dinner. We then continued on to encounter evening activities, which were filled with a lot of laughter. Today was ultimately a day spent relaxing and enjoying each other’s company while also experiencing the beauty of Lake Atitlan and the town surrounding.
The Week Winding Down
It was Friday, the last day of the work week, and a rhythm was finally starting to set in place. Wake up at 6:40, dinner at 7:30, service until 12:30, then an afternoon immersed in the local culture. We ended the week by hitting some important milestones with our service projects. Most of the first floor was painted, almost the entire outside wall was re-enforced with concrete and the classroom wall was finally stripped of its moldy and humid paint. We then explored San Andres Xecul, a town which exhibited a fascinating mixture of both Catholicism and the native Mayan customs. There were pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jaguars. Priests carrying out baptisms and statues of Maximon, a Mayan rebel against the Spanish who is often sought out by people for advise. And then, when we finally returned to the home-base we were greeted with the wonderful surprise of fireworks and S’mores – a gift from the mentors to celebrate the 4th of July.
A Full Day
First Day in Xela
What an exciting first full day in Xela! After moving into the home base last night, no one was quite ready to get out of bed this morning. However, a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, cereal, and eggs woke everyone up! Following breakfast we drove to the school we’re doing service at for the next week. Service includes repainting the inner walls, applying new cement to the outer walls, and playing with the K-6th graders during recess. At 12:30 we drove back to the home base in the rain where we ate a lunch of chicken and rice. Afterwards we all got a chance to bond for an hour during free time. In the afternoon we toured the pottery studio of a man and his wife in Toto. We finished out the day with pizza and a movie on the Guatemalan Civil War. Hasta luego,
-Abby & Jessie
Saludos desde Guatemala!
All of our students have arrived safe and sound and are excited to get started. We had a packed day in which we learned about traditional Maya wedding ceremonies, visited Mayan ruins in Iximche, and participated in a Maya ceremony. We’ve settled into our home base in Xela and are looking forward to beginning service at the school tomorrow. We have a busy two weeks planned with tons of fun excursions, dedicated service, cultural exchanges, and leadership challenges.
All students have arrived and are ready for an amazing program! Stay tuned for blog posts and photos!