Greetings from the Summer Trip,
I can’t believe were already nearing the end of our trip. During the week we have spent our mornings with our work teams and our afternoons enjoying Spanish immersion classes in Antigua at La Union, but on the weekend we were together as a whole group.
On Saturday we hiked up into the forests of Pastores. The ground was still wet and muddy from the torrential rains the night before, but there was singing and laughter between the gringos and the chapines. Some even raced up the hill. The Reforestation group seemed the most excited, because this was their opportunity to show the rest of us what they’d been doing all week. Olivia and Sarah took the lead, dividing everyone into groups and sharing some of the knowledge they had picked up from their work. Eva and Walter translated the instructions from Don Daniel on how to properly plant a tree. Then we grabbed tools and spread out in the forest with our arms full of baby pine trees. By the afternoon we had planted 430 trees. Total the Summer Trip has planted 2,000 trees!
We returned to our homestays dirty, but feeling accomplished and ready for a long siesta before venturing back out in the afternoon for a coffee tour. First Aurelio walked us up to the church to explain a bit more about the history of San Miguel then we divided into groups and took turns visiting the fields and getting a lesson on coffee sorting, roasting, and grinding.
Sunday we all ate breakfast at the GV office before heading out to Mixco Viejo to see the ruins. Our plan hit a snag when we were waylaid by traffic at a town festival, but we made the best of it, dancing and laughing on the bus and playing endless rounds of the Alphabet game. When we finally arrived at the ruins it was worth it for the view alone. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to upload photos soon because words wont do it justice.
This will be my last update from Guatemala before we begin the journey home.Here are some more reflections, as recorded in the “Leader of the Day” Journal:
“My name is Jason. Its one of the few phrases I can speak in Espanol. It’s also one of the few points of the day I really needed to step up and be a leader. The day began as usual, with the slow, painful wakeup call, an amazing breakfast cooked by my amazing host mom Mirna. We had eggs and beans for breakfast, made all the better by actually being hungry because of working so hard the day before. GV staff walked around to the houses picking us up and walking us to the GV office. I say GV office, but really it reminds me more of a military compound. The walls are made of concrete, foot thick, the doors are made metal with little peepholes in them and jagged lines at the tip of the walls. The only building is situated along the back and side wall leaving the rest of the area open with concrete and grass. This isn’t because we are in a particularly dangerous area. For those who have been to Spain, I hear the architecture style is very similar and was passed on by the Spanish Colonization of the area along with language and other cultural practices.”
“Today we had reforestation work and during the day we dug about 300-350 holes. Afterwards we had lunch/siesta then went to school. After school was the first day of salsa lessons. After salsa we left school and came to GV where we were dropped off at home. The thing that stuck with me the most was how Max kept walking after having hundreds of ants in his pants, and while keeping a huge grin on his face. The night before, as a group, we made a promise to step outside our comfort zone, and for me that was speaking Spanish. I always get flustered when I say something wrong and I made sure that I kept trying to talk even when I messed up.”
“It’s really hard to believe there is only 2 full days in Guatemala left. It did not feel like that much time. It feels like only a few days ago we were at the airport. In a few days we will once again be in the same
airport. Today was the last day of work teams. Everyone I think felt sad and happy, at least in construction, and happy we’ve done so much. I definitely wanted to work more. I’m definitely going to miss the chapines. A few in particular, but all the same. When GV says, ‘your Spanish will get better,’ they’re not kidding. Talking and understanding Spanish is a lot easier way to learn than textbooks. Also translating is a good way. The Antigua tour was fun. I thought Antigua was big, but really it’s pretty small.”
“Today was a very good day. We all went to our work sites and worked very hard. In the hospital, I never had to gently remind anyone to work harder or talk to more people. My team is amazing. After work was language school and everyone is being very respectful and following the break rules of coming back from the bakery on line. We had a whole group reflection after school and it got really emotional. People were sharing about their lives or experiences they had on the trip. People really opened up and you could really feel the love and trust in the room. I really feel closer to everyone now.”
I have been unable to check my GV email today, I’m not sure why, so if you have any urgent concerns please email me at my gmail address. Thank you. Take care and see you soon.