From the Journal of: Kara
I don’t know how to feel right now. I have a rush of excitement, knowing we will be landing in Guatemala in a few hours. As I see airplanes take off here it is finally hitting me that this prolonged trip is finally happening. I’ve been practicing my Spanish all morning so I am looking forward to practicing it. I can not wait. Comalapa here we come!
From the Journal of: Erica
Arriving in Comalapa yesterday felt like a dream. It is a whole new world here. The drive from Guatemala City was scenic in so many different ways. We started in a bustling city with bumper-to-bumper traffic. People on motor bikes wizzed between lanes. Colorful buses packed to the walls crawled by. Kristen, the volunteer coordinator for Long way Home, told us that the paint colors indicate what routes the bus travels. Guatemala City was a bustling place, but not 2 minutes after we left the airport did Marcus exclaim, “Horsie!” Right in city limits, there was a horse in a corral. Animals are everywhere and the group is definitely excited by the sight of cows, dogs, goats, and horses. The city left us quietly and we rolled through more rural areas. The views of the mountain ranges were incredible. As the city quieted, so did the group. Several students slipped into naptime while others could not keep their eyes and ears off the sights of Guatemala. We traveled through several more town centers – Chimaltenango and Zaragoza before making a precipitous climb up a mountain.
The road was narrow and winding yet people were literally whipping around the corners, including cyclists. Everywhere we see young children doing what we would consider manual labor. To the indigenous people here, there is less separation between ‘work’ and ‘play’. It is life and they are always living it. Everyone is so critical to the family’s survival as people of all ages raise the chickens and tend the fields. The young children are happy and smiling. Playing with chickens is fun and the family is always together. After climbing the mountain we passed by large cornfields and banana trees. Then it became more citified and Kristen told us that we were entering Comalapa. One turn down a very narrow road and the van stopped. Tin roofs surrounded us. An uncertain student said “Are we…….here?” And we were…. Here. We entered through giant swinging doors and left the street behind us. We were greeted by a smling man with his arm in a sling. Kristen introduced him as the owner of Hotel Comalapa Sol. I asked him “Te duele?” and he told me the story of his fall off of his motor bike without using any words.. only sound effects. We walked into a courtyard with décor made of refuse glass. The students exclaimed that they loved it. Feliciano led us into our rooms – one room with two twin beds and two connected rooms with 5 and 4 beds respectively. The students clamored to claim a sleeping spot. We returned to the van to unload our luggage and everyone just breathed.
We are in Comalapa, staying with a family who will show us how Comalapans live. I was happy to see at least 3 children living here, including Diego, who is just a year and 8 months. The door to my room is plastered with stickers of Mario and Luigi. We sat down to a warm communal meal in the dining area. Bread, butter, tortillas and laughter passed from table to table. After eating, we met with folks from Long Way Home to go over safety and held our first on-trip group meeting. Energy was at an all-time low, so everyone called home and the students went straight to bed. I finished uploading photos and went to check on the group. Everyone was peacefully still in their beds. Dogs barked incessantly throughout the night, but gave way to roosters at about 5am. At about 6am, peaceful folk music magically came on and brought me back to life. Today, we work. The work is what brought us here and the work is what will bring us together.