"I just wanted to see what kind of food they were eating!"
Hello from Antigua!!! It sure is beautiful here, sunny and warm, defintely the kind of weather I'm told people back home are missing! This will probably be my last entry until we get home, so I'll try to be as informative as possible.
Yesterday we left Quetzaltenango for the last time, saying goodbye to our families, which was sad. They didn't want us to go, but they cooked us an awesome meal on their new stoves!!! That was so incredible for them to do that for us.
We drove for what felt like hours, and visited Mayan Glassblowers, which was awesome. They even let some of us blow glass as well, which was cool to watch! And then we got back in the van, and drove for some more, and then we got to the ruins at Xichimel, which was the capital of the Mayans when the Spanish conquistadores invaded. I was really into that. Although the stairs of the Mayans show that they had smaller feet than we could ever imagine!
Then we drove and drove until we reached my new favorite place : ANTIGUA!! Antigua is beautiful - a colonial style city with lots of shopping and museums - I'm sad we're only here for a day, so I intend on getting the most out of today.
We fly back tomorrow around 2 out of Guatemala city, and then we'll fly to Atlanta. Once we get to Atlanta we'll fly from there to Dulles International Airport in DC, and then we drive home to the center of the Universe, Ashland Virginia.
All in all its been an amazing beautiful trip. I know you're not supposed to look back at where you've been...but I have the feeling I won't mind looking back at all.
Hasta Luego from Antigua, Guatemala!
We're finally back from Lake Atitlan in Panajachel and Chichicastenago - we had an amazing - if not unbelievable time!
Panajachel is my new favorite city - its beautiful and super sunny - sunscreen is essential to being there - but taking that long amazing ferry to the town across the lake is worth it. We went to the town of Santiago Atitlan, which is beautiful! We went for two things : one, bargain shopping (don't worry family - I got you some cool stuff! :-) ) and two, the church at Santiago Atitlan. This town was subject to military possession in the 70s and 80s, and this priest, Father Apla (who was from Kanas) was a constant defender of the townspeople who were subject to the military violence. He was martyred in the church in the rectory, which was so beautiful but so sad. It was incredible to visit the church, which had been around since the 1500s.
After a freezing cold boat ride back to Panajachel, we all began making our plans for the night. We had the night off - and alot of us went to the discoteque - it was a pretty good time for us.
This morning we went to Chichicastenago, one of the biggest markets in the entire world. It was amazing - sort of overwhelming, but you can find some amazing things there. We also visited this weaving project titled the Ruth And Nohemi project, which is a support group for women whose husbands were murdered in a massacre in their town right by Chichicastenango. They had some beautiful things to buy, I am still in shock that every footlong panel takes a month to make, so these women are working on blankets for YEARS. Its mind-blowing.
We are back in Quetzaltenango now, having just eaten dinner and everyones showering, before going to bed. We head back to the village tomorrow, to finish our projects. Jessie Tucker and I are helping paint the school - it's hard work, but its definetely worth it. It's time to get some sleep - so good night!!
Adios para la momenta!!!
Today was our last day of our first week in Guatemala...we'll be home in a week! Its insane to think how long we've been here already ; we're halfway done with our trip. Time sure flies when you're having fun!
We headed back to the village today - and my group switched things up by working with the school, instead of building stoves. We began working on painting the school walls - which were in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. Its sad to think that it wont get done again until next January, when the next group of volunteers arrives. It's also really sad to realize that we won't even get the whole school done - maybe three or four walls total.
I did get to play soccer with some Guatemalan kids today. Man, they sure do love futbol! Enough to play it all the time and rival us Americans, because they are ridiculously good. It was nice to get to interact with them some more. I also got to do some drawing with a little Guatemalan girl, and we had what was in theory a vocab lesson. We'd draw something, and then she'd say what it was in Spanish, and I'd say its English equivalent. It was really interesting, and I learned a few new words.
Then we had lunch and after a quick pitstop at our compound, headed to exchange our money because we were going to a Mayan Weaving Group. We drove up this CRAZY hill that I thought we for sure were going to run off a cliff in our van, but we made it succcessfully and reached the top of this giant hill. When we got there, there were twenty Mayan women who looked so excited to see us. They greeted us hello and we played this game called "The Garden" which is a person-weaving game - long story short, your arms hurt afterwards. So we entered their village (which was full of puppies and kittens!!!) and saw all these BEAUTIFUL tapestries they would weave and saw a thousands of years old process of weaving that actually has mathematic calculations in it. These weavings are all amazing. They are created out of memory,and each line of weaving tell some sort of story. It is a beautiful process that leads to a beautiful finished product that I can't even begin to describe.
We didn't get to go rappelling today, we're going Monday instead. But tomorrow we head back to Panajachel for about two days to sight see around Lake Atitlan. However, theres not any internet there, so I won't be able to talk until I get back. I'm told theres a 1Quetzal/ 15 minutes internet cafe down in Pana, so maybe I'll pop in and drop a quick line for yall. But, thats a maybe because things are going to be crazy. For sure, I'll talk to you guys Sunday night at the latest! Adios y Buenas Noches!
Let me start off with saying that we had the best breakfast EVER this morning, a Guatemalan version of french toast, with fresh mango, pineapple and bananas, and fresh squeezed orange juice. It was definitely the best thing I think I have ever eaten.
We returned to our families today and my group finished Senora Carolina's stove today - it's hard to believe we got it accomplished so fast - especially after learning how to do it the day of starting it. I took alot of pictures, and some video of us working on it, so I'll figure out how to put those up sometime later.
After we finished and ate lunch, we played a game of soccer with the Guatemalan kids, and it was a fight to the death! Those kids played so hard, but they were so determined to show up the college kids - and they did, winning 4 -3 ( I think - it was a very close game).
We got to do something very interesting today - we went to the Festival de Christo Negro, which is a huge market-like fair, complete with vendors and delicious smelling food, like fried plantaines and funnel-cake-like treats. It was recommended to us not to eat anything, being that we didnt know how it was cooked, but it all looked and smelled delicious. The only thing that stood out was it was clear some of the locals didn't want us at their festival, and they let us know too. It is very weird being a minority, and even weirder having people tell you to leave. But alot of people have been very welcoming to us, and made us feel that we are indeed welcome in this beautiful country.
After we left the festival , we went to the Parque a la centro del Xela (Xela Central Parkl), which was beautiful. We got to walk around and see the church at Xela, which was destroyed in an earthquake in '79 except for the main pulpice that still stands today, and it is very beautiful. The parque reminds me of Rome, the way it is set up. There was even a Mcdonalds (the first one seen on the trip) that the majority of our classmates made a pit stop at.
Once we got home, we had dinner and then had a meeting with a representative of the Archbishops Office, who talked to us about the effect on mining in Guatamala and on its resources, which was really interesting. We learned alot about both the impact of mining on Guatamala and the countries that have underlying interests in the project. It really changed my look on entreprenurial interests following NAFTA guidelines.
That was today's day - I'm even more sunburnt now, but it's been worth it to see all these things. I'm glad I get to share them with whoever wants to see these. Tomorrow we're supposed to go rappelling after lunch, and then over the weekend we're heading back to Panajachel to go on a boatride over Lake Atitlan, so if theres no posts from me for a minute - don't be worried. I'll come back with alot more interesting stories! Adios for now!
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
Greetings from the high altitudes of the Guatamalan Highlands. I can say that with a bit of irony, as being so high up you're closer to not only the equator by being in Guatamala, but also, THE SUN. I have a horrific sunburn, and was only outside for a few moments. I didn't get to see my family today - I have a minor case of Montezuma's revenge, so I stayed in today to recuperate. My roommate has the stomach flu - we are some under-the-weather kids! But we are determined to make it out tomorrow - we want to see our stove get completed and the look on our familys face as we got as far as we did in one day was well worth it. It takes about three days to complete a stove. We got to day two in about five hours, so that was definetely awesome. While my roommate and I were recuperating at Il Refugio, the compound we are staying at, our classmates went out and began restoring the school in the village we are working in. They cleaned, swept, mopped, and painted, and did some major renovation to the school We all found out later that that will be the only time the school will be cleaned again until next year, which makes me really sad. Those kids deserve a good school - and its not fair to them to have to stay in a school that will not be near par with American schools - not only in education, but in academic settings as well.
it's getting late, but I thought I would do a quick post of how today went - my next post will be much more informative than this one. We head back to Panajachel this weekend - there is even some talk of rappelling (of which I am incredibly excited about!) We're supposed to head to a really big market called Chichicastenango, where we'll do alot of shopping (something I've had a tiny bit of practice of - haha!) and then we'll see where the (constantly blowing) wind takes us!
Greetings from the highlands of Guatamala!!! It has taken three airports, two flights and NUMEROUS hours in multiple vans to get here - but here we are!!! We''ve been out of internet access, but we just got it back so I'll try to update ont he last few days!!!
We left Sunday at 2 AM, and flew to Atlanta, and then to Guatamala city. The first flight was a little rocky, but the second one was amazing. We drove for hours to the BEAUTIFUL and super colorful town of Panajachel, which is on the shore of Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is a lake surrounded by 4 volcanoes, which caused the formation of the lake with their eruptions over 85,000 years ago! It was truly breathtaking, and I feel like my pictures cannot even do the landscape justice to what we saw.
We left Panajachel yesterday, and arrived in the town of Queztaltenango, or Xela as the natives call it. We went to meet our familes that we are building stoves for, and got to participate in an ancient Mayan ceremony that was over 1500 years old! We got to participate in something that was ancient and beautiful - and I feel so lucky.We got blessed by a Mayan Shaman and it was truly incredible.
Today we started building our stoves for our families. My family is adorable - the mother is a teacher, so she was working in the Mayan school for registration while we worked on her stove (it is their summer break - they were registering for next semester), but we got to meet her children. They are so cute, they helped us build our stoves and I got to practice my spanish. They even saw animal hair on my shirt and brought me their cat (Don't worry, I gave the kitten back - haha!)
Our trip has only begun, and I think that it will become one of the defining moments of my life. While I do miss home (and working toilets), I can't imagine someplace more beautiful to be. Ciao for now, and I'll be writing again before you know it! Hasta Luego!!!
Today was our second day of classes, and I feel like I'm learning so much - although it is hard to cram all the information we have to know into 40 hours of class (thats 5 days of 8 hour classes)! I am getting excited though, I love to learn about mythology of other cultures, and the Mayans are chock full of gods. I wrote my term paper on Gods and household influence, and yet I feel like I haven't even tapped into the stores of knowledge there are!! I can't wait to visit the Mayan temples - I've been to Chichen Itza, and that was one of the most amazing places to visit, I can't wait to see more Mayan historical sites and learn more about their culture.
We have been learning alot on Mayan history, culture and economy, so we are beginning to learn just what we are going to see and I'm really getting excited about leaving(although I am not quite excited about leaving at 2 AM). I'm sure it will be just fine and I can get my sleep schedule back by the time we get on the plane. I found out today that we will really only be an hour behind EST, so it wont be that much of a difference. I'm not quite sure what else we're going to learn, but it's all been so interesting so far. We have began to bond together, by playing games and learning interesting stuff, I'm sure the best is yet to come.
My next challenge before I leave :figuring out how all my stuff is going to fit into my tiny suitcase!!!