On Friday, February 17th we said hasta luego to our lovely host families and all piled onto our bus and headed to Coban! The bus ride consisted of drying laundry, Spanish lessons with friends and lots of music. We arrived (many hours later!) at Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) where we met Rob and Tara. They were our hosts for the week and graciously welcomed all of us into their home (a beautiful log cabin lodge that CMU has been apart of building in the past!). They were very eager to tell us about CCFC and what they do to help the surrounding Mayan communities of the cloud forest.
That week, Rob and Tara were hosting about 30 children from a village community from up in the mountains called Cébop. We had the opportunity to hangout with the children and practice some Q’ueqchi’ (their Mayan language) while teaching them a little bit of English. We explored caves, swam in the stream running through the reserve, played soccer and watched the stars. Our mornings consisted of helping Rob and Tara build the second part of their building where they would eventually be able to help the people in their development program with girls in outside communities. We helped with construction in the morning, then picked up where we left off with the kids in the afternoon: soccer, cutting firewood (those kids were good with machetes!) and exploring the forest surrounding us.
After few days helping build and playing with the kids, it became time for our Mayan homestays. We were paired up and met the child whose house we would be living in for the next 3 days. We hopped into two small busses and drove up into the mountains to the Mayan village called Cébop. During our time there, we got to experience the life of these wonderful Mayan people. We were all graciously welcomed into our families where we played with the kids, learned some Quechi, ate lots of corn tortillas and hiked quite a ways to attend their school. After school, all of us Outtatowners and our host siblings gathered at the soccer field (7000ft up the mountain) where we played many different games with all the children. The last night in our homestays arrived quickly and we all went back to CCFC to share our experiences with one another.
We spent our last day at CCFC debriefing and preparing for our travel week ahead. We talked about our highs and lows: the things we enjoyed, and the things we found uncomfortable and challenging. Rob challenged us with a bible study from Luke 7 about juxtapositions: Overall, Coban was an amazing experience for all of us and were slowly letting this week change our way of viewing those around us. Our goal was to not allow this to simply be an “interesting experience”, but to allow it to slowly change our world, and change our perspective. We felt so privileged to be able to experience something that most people travelling through Guatemala do not get to experience… and it is something we will not quickly forget.
– Alex on behalf of Outtatown Guatemala