Along with language school, we took part in several cultural experiences throughout the country. One Saturday, we climbed the volcano “Picaya.” It was about an hour and a half up the mountain and once we got there, we got stuck in the rain! It was very cold at the top, but we could stand in or near crevices that had steam coming out of them because of the lava below- this kept us pretty warm!
We also climbed “Cerro de la Cruz,” “The Hill of the Cross,” which gives a breathtaking view of the city of Antigua. It’s a good workout too!
One Friday, we visited a group called “Corazon de Mujer,” “The heart of the Woman.” Guatemala has a sad history of civil violence that ended within the last thirty years, but the effects are still evident. The indigenous Mayan population found themselves victims of a horrendous genocide. Even now, as it is safe for them to return to their homes, some refuse. This group, Corazon de Mujer, is made up of several Mayan women who weave for a living. Their products are scarfs, headbands, table runners, purses, etc. Basically anything you can make from woven material. Pictured below is a picture of myself with the two women who made the scarf and headband I bought.
Guatemala is also known for exporting Macadamia nuts. That being said, one of the after school programs offered a trip to the macadamia nut farm. While there, we learned the process of making macadamian butter, candles, and natural oils.
I’ve also had the opportunity to learn some salsa around town! They offer free classes on Monday and Tuesdays. I’ve learned the Pachata, Salsa, and Merengue. Once I get more settled in, I hope to take more classes!
We also took a field trip to Guatemala City, where we had a Bible study with the staff of CEDEPCA. CEDEPCA stands for “Centro Evangelico de Estudios Pastorales en Centro America.” CEDEPCA is an ecumenical program in Guatemala that hosts visiting groups from the states, provides education on women’s issues, facilitates emergency assistance during times of crisis (such as landslides and earthquakes), provides assistance to working single parents and works fervently with community ministry programs. There is some chance that I will assist with groups visiting from the United States in the future.