Buenas tardes amigos!!

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We’ve had another wonderful week here in Guatemala!

Our large group split in half this past week and went to two different locations, switching halfway through the week. My group started the week off by making a two and a half hour journey to Panajachel followed by taking a boat across Lago de Atitlan to the town of Santiago where we stayed for four days.

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While in Santiago we partook in a few tours led by workers from MCC (Mennonite Central Committee). In first semester this was the organization that held some sessions for us during our week in Saskatchewan. The main location that we visited in Santiago was Anadesa. This is an organization run with the help of MCC that reaches out to the indigenous women in the community. At their facility, women are taught methods to successfully run their own businesses, such as selling beaded jewelry, chickens, tortillas, etc. At Anadesa they also have the opportunity to learn/teach each other better ways to prepare meals and some healthier choices that go along with preparation. They are also given information on how to be more environmentally aware which helps keep their community cleaner and healthier. Among these things, it is also a place for women to spend time together and discuss various topics, like their faith or the struggles and joys they are experiencing in life.

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One of the days there, we had the pleasure of going to the market with a few of the ladies who work at Anadesa and then helped to prepare our own lunch: tamales and sopa (soup) with chicken and various vegetales. It turned out awesome!

Another tour we did involved going to a coffee plantation to learn how café is made and produced. My favourite tour was of Adisa; a location that serves people with mental and physical disabilities. They told us of the various programs they run and the jobs they are able to create for these people.

I think it’s amazing that they have a centre like this out in Santiago. For the residents of these rural towns it can be so challenging to get help for their loved ones who need extra care. One of the only other places with this kind of facility/assistance is all the way in Guatemala City which, with all the travel time, takes a whole day trip. Now at times it’s not been easy for Adisa to operate due to financial or social factors, but this organization has come so far with what they are doing for these kids and adults!

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While we were here, we were split into groups of 2-4 and stayed with local Mayan families in Santiago. I really enjoyed staying with my family, even though they mostly only speak Tz’utujil; which is the indigenous language spoken in this area. They were so excited and told us how they felt so blessed to have us stay with them. This really warmed my heart because it’s these relationships that we make that you can’t plan for. It can be so hard to just communicate, let alone bond with the families we stay with, but when I get past the language barrier I become solely filled with joy that I get to meet these people and share their home with them. I feel just as blessed as they do to spend the few days we did with them and feel the full extent of their generosity and love!

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The second half of our week we took an eight-hour bus ride to Lanquin where we spent a few days enjoying one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala! Our group went river tubing and enjoyed the peace and quite of our hostel on the first day. And on the second day we did various water related activities; caving, climbing and jumping off a waterfall, doing a short hike up to a look-off, and ended the day with swimming in the natural pools of Semuc Champey. It was a wild week full of such a variety of activities and experiences, but now we are settled back in our home stays in San Juan del Obispo for another week of español!

Gracias por leer,
Thanks for reading,

Kiera

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