Wow! The time has finally come – I leave for Washington DC on Monday, and will fly to Nicaragua to begin my service with the Peace Corps this Wednesday! I’m ready, as ready as I’ll ever be, and could not be more excited for this next chapter.
Given the fast approaching transition, I wanted to write a quick blog to check in, provide an update on my 2017 to date, and create a clean slate for my next update to be entirely focused on my first weeks/months in Nicaragua. However, given my fast approaching transition, this update will be more brief than usual, at least in terms of verbal descriptions; rather, this update will be formatted more in line with a photo blog; hovering over all of the photos will reveal a brief caption, and clicking on them will expand the photo and for some reveal additional descriptions – I hope you enjoy it!
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to spend the first five weeks of the year in Guatemala studying Spanish and the vibrant Guatemalan and Mayan cultures. I really, really enjoyed my time here, and found Guatemala to be the favorite Latin American country I’ve had the privilege to visit. The people are phenomenal – humble, open, and kind – and the geography is simply stunning.
I spent the first four weeks living with a family in Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site honored for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Antigua is commonly considered the best preserved Spanish colonial city in Central America, and it did not disappoint. The city was lovely; quite touristy, but breathtakingly beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the city.
While I spent the weekdays immersed in Spanish study, I used the weekends to explore the country. The first weekend I visited Monterrico, a gorgeous black-sand beach on the Pacific coast. While there I was able to support a Sea Turtle sanctuary, donating to fund their efforts to rehabilitate the coast’s dwindling Sea Turtle Population.
The next two weekends I visited El Lago Atitlán, a site described by Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful lake in the world. The lake is situated in the Guatemalan highlands, and its deep clear waters encircled by volcanoes is a stunning exhibition of natural splendor. The shores are dotted with Mayan villages, mainly Tz’utujil and Kaqchikel, who still dress in their traditional threads and share their villages with the tourists who come for the awe inspiring energy and atmosphere. I spent both weekends in the town of San Marcos, considered the spiritual hub/center of the lake. The community is filled with traditional Mayan villagers alongside an eclectic expat community of spiritual seekers offering an assortment of opportunities including meditation centers, yoga retreats, cacao ceremonies, fermentation workshops, and even a fungi academy. I LOVED the village, and am so grateful for all of the beautiful people I had the opportunity to spend time with in the forest and on the shores of the lake.
I spent the final nine days of my trip backpacking around Guatemala – what a phenomenal experience! I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to explore so much of the country, meet so many unique and inspiring individuals, and practice my Spanish along they way. Clicking on the first photo below will allow you to scroll through all of them and read a short description included in each.
Until Next Time
Moving forward, I’m unsure what shape my updates will take – whether they will transform into shorter more frequent updates, continue on their quarterly schedule, or take an entirely different form. Regardless, I am committed to staying in touch.
I love you!