So much has happened in these past two weeks that I’m just going to start off by breaking down the basic things we did day by day and then divulge.
- September 11th: The first travel day. We met the group (17 of us and our three program leaders). A girl named Jen was not there because unfortunately she had to come a little later due to some strange cold she had. We flew from D.C. to Guatemala City and then drove all evening to a lovely place on the outside of Tecpan. There we ate dinner and played a game that allowed us to start opening up to one another. That night I was placed to room with Tess who has now become one of my closest friends here on TBB!
- September 12th: We woke up early ate breakfast and traveled from Tecpan to a hostel on the other side of Lake Atitlan where we would then be spending the next week or so doing orientation. I got to room with Tess again and for that entire time 🙂
- September 13th: We got a tour of the small town next to our hostel called “San Juan de la Laguna” and we had our first seminar discussing “What Is Development?” and it got deep and confusing but intellectual and interesting.
- September 14th: We went swimming in Lake Atitlan, went shopping in a town across the lake, picked up Jen (Finally!) and that night after dinner we watched a very intense movie about humanity called “Human”
- September 15th: It was Guatemala’s Independence day! We went into the town to watch the parades they held and saw all the cute kids dressed up and dancing to their own little marching bands. Also that night we felt our first (and only so far) minor earthquake while in bed reading before falling asleep. It was so quick that only when I realised what it was that it ended. But all the girls on our floor got so excited and we were jumping up and down from the adrenaline.
- September 16th: We hiked a large mountain. The formation of this mountain looked like a face looking up into the sky and so we hike the highest point, which was the nose. It was hard but so beautiful and not to brag or anything but I made it to the top first. Then on the drive back down poor Matty got carsick and puked so that made the trip back a little longer than expected. That night I shared my “River of Life”. Every night of orientation three of us (including the Program Leaders) shared basically their lie story. All of the good and the bad, significant events in our lives that have lead us to where we are today. I felt as though mine was very long. I got pretty vulnerable (as we all did) and ended up crying at one point but it was overall so nice to share everything with this group. Now we have started off this 7 month journey together being vulnerable which has helped us become pretty close from the get go.
- September 17th: Nothing much happened. More orientation seminars and safety conversations. We did go into the town and watch a local soccer game in our free time though, which was cool and fun.
- September 18th: Again just more orientation things. Mostly chill free time and that night we got to have our first “EST” which means we were allowed to have one alcoholic drink with dinner and we got to have that because it was after we had discussed TBB’s alcohol policy.
- September 19th: I went to bed early rather than staying up and talking with the pals like I usually did.
- September 20th: We shared our fears and hope for the upcoming 7 months with each other and with that we were finally done with orientation! After dinner that night a Mayan lady came in and performed a lovely “Closing Ceremony” for us.
- September 21st: Travel day! We were going to Antigua but we stopped at a macadamia nut farm and also a Mayan place where they showed us a typical Mayan wedding ceremony.
- September 22nd: Possibly the best day of the trip! We hiked a volcano and roasted marshmallows at the top. Then we got to have free time in Antigua where Tess and I got our Tragus’ pierced and then came across some dance lessons! Tess, Claire R, Andrew, Ben and I all took an hour long dance class for 20Q each ($3.00) where we learned basic Meringue and Bachata. We had a blast making fools of ourselves. That night after dinner we got to go dancing at a club! It was so much fun and we got a shout out from the DJ multiple times because he “Loved our Energy!” hahaha.
- September 23rd: Possibly the worst day of the trip! (For me) We left Antigua and traveled to Guatemala City where we are going to be spending two weeks in the small home base with another program of kids. So things are pretty cramped. But they weren’t there when we arrived because they leave every weekend to do a different activity. For some reason the crampedness and the reality of started to do actual work and my commitment to applying to transfer to colleges while I’m abroad really hit me and I began to have an anxiety attack for like 6 hours straight. I finally calmed myself down and contacted my little sister.
- September 24th: I was completely drained from the anxiety of the day before so I layed low and just stayed at the home base instead of going out to explore GC.
- September 25th: Today! We got a tour of the city. Like a real tour from a local who told us all of the issues, showed us the poor areas and talked about the problems with the gangs here. We also watched a video that talked about their past and current political situations. Right now it seems as though Guatemala has a sort of DJT situation going on as well, but they’ve been dealing with it for two years now. The U.S. government got involved during the cold war and basically provided the weapons for the Guatemalan military to commit mass genocides against the native Mayan people and even though that’s over now everything is still corrupt and there is still so much racism towards Mayans. Even though everyone here has got to have some Mayan descent. If you ask them they’ll deny it.