Welcome to the blog for the 2017 Alice Deal Guatemala Program with Walking Tree Travel!
Written by Sarah James
Hoy fuimos a Panajachel, un pueblo al otro lado de la lago. Muchos eran muy triste para ir de San Juan y dejar a nuestro familia nueva. Teníamos un ‘savenger hunt’ en Panajachel donde mi equipo era preguntando a los locales dónde eran lugares específicos. Luego fuimos a un restaurante donde comimos pizza. El resto del día teníamos una reflexión y fuimos de compras. El mercado teñía mucho joyería y tejidos que a mi me gustaron.
Today we went to Panajachel, a village on the other side of the lake. Many were sad to leave San Juan and our new families. We had a scavenger hunt in Panajachel where my team asked locals where certain places were. Later we went to a restaurant where we ate pizza. The rest of the day we had a reflection then went shopping. The market had a lot of jewelry and weavings that I liked.
We wound down our trip with a longer bus ride back to Guatemala City to catch our plane back home. Our departure is bittersweet. We are excited to return home to see our families that we have all missed, but are sad to leave all those we have met here in this wonderful place. Hasta luego Guatemala- regresamos pronto! :)
Written by Luke Widenhouse
After lunch we went back to work. We worked for a while and then one group rotated into the museum to teach a group of kids. I continued to paint. After a few hours a new group rotated into the school. We taught for a while and then went to cook dinner. After a while we all went home to change into Mayan formal dress. We then went to dinner which was very fun.
After dinner we had time for dancing, where we all had a ton of fun. However, there was a sadness in the atmosphere. It was almost palpable but it wasn’t blatantly obvious until the goodbye. Ms Diaz came up and talked about how it was her dream to show all of us another part of the world. Then a few of us came up talked, and cried a lot. We were all very emotional about the upcoming end of the year. However, we all handled it differently. Some people cried, others laughed, and I went crazy. There were tearful goodbyes and happy cheers. We were leaving a part of the world that until a few days ago had had no idea each of us existed. They had welcomed us in and embraced our differences and in the few short days we stayed with them we discovered, not only a new part of the world but also how similar we really are. We were leaving all of these wonderful people and going back home. And yet we were excited to see our families again.
Our time in San Juan la Laguna was truly eye opening. We discovered ourselves and discovered the lives of different people. Our goodbyes were tearful and frustrating and yet we we’re excited we are going to return home.
Written by Xavier Jackson
In the morning Oliver and I woke up at 7. I went to use the bathroom but Juana my host mom told me that there was no water so I had to put water in a bucket when I was done to rinse down my liquid waste. Then I went to get dressed and eat breakfast. For breakfast we had corn flakes which was unusual because we usually had some interesting meal but Juana felt that we had been eating a lot of food we weren’t accustomed to so she gave us corn flakes. After breakfast we went right to work painting the mural. We had made a lot of progress when Noah called us into a meeting group for a break. So Oliver pulled out the snacks we bought yesterday. They were both chips. One was a green Doritos bag labeled radiant green and it tasted like jalapeños. It was good, and then we went back to work for another 2 hours and then went to lunch.
4-18-2017 “La Nariz”
Written by Will Reynolds and Seth Roan
We woke up at 5:30 in the morning today, since we were planning on taking our long hike today, about 4 hours. I had originally chosen the shorter hike which was only about 2 hours, but everybody had to chosen the long trip not even knowing what was coming for them. When we began climbing the hill , it wasn’t as bad, and not that many steep portions. But about 45 minutes later, my legs began getting tired. My thighs were on fire, and the group at the beginning began splitting up into the medium group. Thankfully I train a lot for sports, so I was able to make it up quickly. There were some difficult portions of the mountain, but we all helped each other out and made it up safely. So after two to three hours of hard climbing we go to see the amazing view at the top of “la nariz”. The view was immaculate. We were able to see the entire city and more. Then on the way back it was even harder as people were slipping on the downhill. Not to worry, we all made it down safe with just a small scratch here and there. After the hike we went to the houses, ate lunch, and simply relaxed. Well needed after that long hike!
Some of us watched the champions league soccer game with our families during lunch. After lunch, we played some basketball and other games together because it was raining super hard. Finally, the rain slowed down and we were able to start painting again. We got a lot of work done and learned plenty from our local painting guides. We ended around five and were finally able to shower off all the dirt and paint that had accumulated throughout the day. At our house we had a delicious bean based meal and some mango juice for dinner. We had some time after dinner to sit and chat with our families. We were all exhausted so we finally got to bed. Excited for tomorrow!
18 de April – Our Homestays, in Spanish
Written by Milagro Santos
Ya estamos situados en nuestra habitación (Milagro y Zoe) y es muy bonita. Hay un mural en nuestra habitación que es muy linda. Las camas tienen cobijas lindas y colorosas. Nuestra papá nos estaba hablando mucho de cómo ellos recojen el cafe y lo preparan en muchas diferentes pasos, y después traerlo a los Estados Unidos. Después empezamos a hablar con las dos chicas que ellos tenian quedando con ellos y hablamos con ellas sobre nosotros, quién somos, y nosotros enseñamos fotos de nuestras familias. Después era tiempo para que las niñas iran con su familia. Nosotras las decimos adios y ellas se fueron.
Luego nosotros preparamos para la cena que ellos hicieron. El hijo mayor, Eric, nos habló de cómo su vida es y qué es lo que el hace para su vida. Después de eso alistamos para irnos a dormir y escuchamos mucha lluvia y animales. El próximo dia levantamos a desayunar con ellos, y para dessyuno era panqueque con fruta que era muy delicioso. Fuimos a empezar a pintar y dibujar, y entonces regresamos a almorzar con ellos. La comida era muy delicioso hasta que comimos toda la comida. Después era tiempo para la cena, y algunos fueron a ayudar a cocinar. Venimos todos juntos y cenamos como familia, y yo recojí todo los platos de mi familia y los llevé para lavarlas y ayudé a toda las madres a lavar los platos. Después, Zoe y yo ayudamos a nuestra padre cargar los platos y cuando regresamos a la casa despidimos y fuimos a dormir.
El próximo dia levantamos temprano y nos arreglamos para montar. Fuimos a ayudar a nuestra mamá con nuestra desayuno, cortamos las frutas y yo lavo los platos después. Nuestra mamá caminó con nosotros al parque, y de allí la despedí y dije que nos vemos mas tarde. Después de montar el nariz de dios de la maya, regresamos a nuestra casa y alistamos para pintar. Fuimos a comer el almuerzo que era espagueti, vegetales y pollo para mí. Regresamos de pintar y yo fui a bañarme y me lavaba todo la pintura de mi piel. Luego nuestro “hermano” Eric nos dijo a venir para cenar, y cuando llegamos ayudamos a nuestra mamá con las tortillas y Eric tomó videos y fotos de todo. Cuando terminamos sentamos a cenar que era arroz, vegetales, pollo con salsa y plátanos con té. Durante la cena hablamos con nuestra “hermano”Eric sobre artistas que murieron y otras que estamos enamorado con. Después de cena recojimos las platos y yo y Zoe empezamos a lavar los platos. Cuando terminamos todo despidimos de Eric y fuimos a dormir.
4-17-17 Good Work and Good Food
Written by Maya McDaniel
After the morning we returned to our respective houses for lunch. My housemate and I had mashed potatoes, tomato sauce, chicken, cucumbers, and radishes. It was amazing! After lunch, we returned to the site where we were painting our mural. I worked on painting the textile pattern while others worked on painting backgrounds and decorating columns. The work required a lot of concentration, but was enjoyable. It began raining sometime during the afternoon but the mural was under an awning so it was not damaged. Scaffolding had been set up earlier and a few students stood up there and worked on the higher parts of the mural. I got the opportunity to climb up there and paint, which was fun. We worked through the afternoon until about 4:30.
We then sat in the park and talked about our experience before splitting into two groups. One group headed over to The Office while the other had free time. I was in the group that went to The Office. There is a large kitchen space there, and we helped prepare tonight’s communal dinner. To be specific, we prepared a sauce made of cilantro, garlic, mini tomatoes, and other herbs. The other group played sports and hung out with their families.
After that we all got together for a dinner at the office. We had a lot of amazing food, but the juice (jugó de rosa jamaica) was really the best. As I learned, it was made from a plant. I also watched them add a big bag of sugar which might have been a lot, but then again, we all deserved it. After dinner was adjourned, we all returned to our houses and got ready for bed. That is where I am now, listening to someone playing a guitar outside the window. We have been informed that we are going hiking tomorrow, first thing in the morning. I’m excited and do not want to be tired, so I am going to bed. Goodnight!
4-17-17 First Day with Host Families
Written by Oliver VanArsdale
Today was our first full day in Guatemala. Xavier, Luke, and I all woke up extremely early even though we had close to 3 hours of sleep. Jet lag works strangely sometimes. During the first half of the day, we wandered through Antigua Guatemala, exploring the streets and hiking up mountains. We went to a Chocolate factory, and were given an exclusive tour and free samples. They carried basically every product of cocoa there was. I saw a poster on the wall that I’m pretty sure was trying to be a meme- “Coffee. You can sleep when you’re dead.” We headed back to the hotel, packed our stuff, and climbed into the bus with our suitcases shoved into the back with no room to spare. An hour later, we ate our first lunch in Guatemala at Kape Paulinos. Refried beans, hand-made tortillas, local goat cheese, and tortilla chips were served.
After stuffing ourselves full of fresh Guatemalan cuisine, we were driven to the water and led to a small, rickety dock next to which tiny boats bobbed up and down on. The suitcases were to be placed on top of the minuscule motorboat, and we were assured they wouldn’t fall off. The entire ride I was sure we’d hit a wave and watch our belongings float away in our wake. Finally, after a nerve-wracking 20 minutes of crashing through surprisingly harsh waves, we arrived at our homestay town, San Juan De La Laguna, a small lakeside town where we will be staying for the next 4 days.
Xavier and I were placed with a really nice family- Marcos and Juana Perez and their 3 kids. Their house, with a nicer roof and electrical infrastructure, would have gone for millions in the US. There was a rather large yard where ducklings and their 2 dogs stayed, and the house itself was stretched around the open courtyard complete with an iron fence around the whole thing. That was just the house though. Marcos also owns the next 2 or 3 plots of land over, where he grows coffee and keeps the cow. Although the house was large, it wasn’t like a mansion in the US. The roof was a thin sheet of tin, the walls were worn plaster, of course no wifi, and the water supply cut out often. Regardless, the family was super nice, and continually assured us “Que no tienes pena” for anything we did even remotely incorrectly. Juana taught us how to roll and make Guatemalan tortillas. Xavier dropped 4 before he gave up. Massive plates were handed to us, stacked full with vegetable rice, chicken, and more tortillas than one could possibly imagine even trying to eat. Still full from lunch, we tried to eat as much as we could until we literally could not even move.
The original plan was that Noah, the program leader, would visit each of the houses that night for a check in, but right around now is when the Guatemalan monsoon season begins. The pounding rain, only amplified by our tin roof, made it impossible to even step foot out of shelter. Around 10, we could no longer keep our eyes open and fell asleep.
4-17-17 Our First Few Days
Written by Margo J.
Hi everybody! It’s been a hectic few days but it’s been wonderful so far. Let’s recap!
On the plane ride here, most of us listened to music or watched movies on our way from Atlanta. The landing scared me awake, but everyone else didn’t react. After we landed, we put our bags in the hotel and went around the corner to watch the procession celebrating the burial of Jesus, since it was Semana Santa, or Holy Week. It seemed a little cultish, with incense everywhere and foreboding music, but it was still really cool.
The majority of us woke up extremely early, still thinking in East coast time. My roommate and I ran out fully dressed and with our bags thinking it was six fifty. It was four fifty. However, it gave us time to shower and get ready for a delicious meal. (It was awesome.)
Afterwards, we set out for a tour of the city of Antigua, accompanied by an old friend of the Oyster kids, Kia, along with her mother Kali. (Kali says hi to all.) We went to some old churches designed in the baroque and rococo styles. Then we hiked the Cerro de la Cruz, where we were greeted with the most beautiful view ever. This giant volcano stood in the distance with the city sprawling out below, and the sun was right overhead.
Afterwards we headed to a cafe, where we toured the chocolate factory part of it. I bought my friend some earrings, and basically everyone else bought chocolate. Throughout the whole time, canons were going off in celebration of Easter. Sometimes we would just stand there passively, laughing evilly as others flinched visibly, but most of the time we jumped a foot in the air and shrieked.
Later on we began our bus ride to San Juan de la Laguna. We had our own DJ by the name of Seth (with the help of Thomas’s and Zoe’s phones) and jammed out. For lunch we stopped at Kape Paulinos, and they had the best milkshakes on Earth. Then we set off again, this time with a list of songs to play, like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “American Pie.”
Eventually we arrived at this little port town where we got on a boat. Oliver, Xavier, and I sat in the very front, joking, talking, and basically acting like fools. We all made a new hashtag, #PrayForTheLuggage, since every time we hit a wave we looked back, expecting to see the luggage falling into the water.
Finally, we made it to the village, where we met our host families. They are all extremely nice, and just being there for only a few hours has helped improve our Spanish. I can tell that we’re improving rapidly, and luckily our STAMP test is right after we get back.
Today we started working on the mural, after an awesome lesson/ musical performance by some locals. We’re pretty far along, and it looks really good. That’s all for now, until next time!