It was just another beautiful, sunny day in Guatemala when Site 1 hopped into our big yellow school bus to continue our adventure! After travelling about 8 hours, we arrived in Lanquin, a small village nestled away in the forested mountains near Semuc Champey, for a week of relaxation, adventure and Knowing Yourself sessions. This may be a matter of opinion, but I think Semuc Champey and Lake Atitlan, the two places we have been living for the past two weeks, are arguably the most beautiful sights in the country of Guatemala…and I am very excited to tell you all about them!
We had a few ups and downs last week and were reminded that, at times, there are many challenges and hardships that come with living in community. However, the bumpy road we went down was both figurative and literal. And here’s what I mean by that. Our first full day in Lanquin, we were loaded up into the back of picops (which are exactly what they sound like – pick-up trucks!) and carted up and down cobble stone streets to the edge of a river where we hopped into tubes and floated with the current back to our hostel. Not a bad way to start the week, which also consisted of relaxing in the numerous hammocks strung throughout the hostel grounds, reading, hiking through a cave at dusk and watching as millions of bats awoke and soared out into the darkness, eating wayyy too much amazing food, including some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever, playing in the river just outside our front doors and, of course, learning more about ourselves.
Our Knowing Yourself sessions included discussions about prayer, different ways to pray and how we best connect with God when we pray, as well as sessions about our goals, both long- and short-term, our passions and abilities, and how both of those can be and are influenced by our spiritual gifts. Wednesday of that week was when we went on the adventure that I’m sure was a highlight for many of us. This was the day we actually got to visit the incredible Semuc Champey and swim in the turquois staircase of pools that it is known for. We also went on a candle-lit swim through caves of water to a deep, round pool where we got to climb up the side of the cave and jump into the black water below us.
After our week in Lanquin, we departed for a free weekend on Lake Atitlan, which is considered to be one of the top 5 most beautiful lakes in the world. And let’s just say it was not hard to see why. It was a wonderful place to spend some quality time with one another, whether it was swimming, hiking Volcan San Pedro, kayaking, visiting neighboring villages, scuba diving, sipping licuados, playing cards, learning the traditional Mayan art of backstrap weaving from some of the local women or simply laying in the sun.
Overall, last week was a much needed break to transition between the two weeks of Spanish school before it and the service week in Panajachel that followed. Throughout the week, I found myself thinking over and over again how blessed I am to have all the opportunities I do as I came face to face with God’s beautiful creation and enjoyed the company of the absolutely amazing and loving community of people that I am honored to be on this crazy adventure with.
So until next time…adios, amigos!!