July 3, 2016:
Over the weekend at San Lucas, we had lots of free time to do whatever we liked, which has proved to be an exciting part of being here in San Lucas. It really helps to provide a healthy work-life balance for us here and gives us something extra fun to look forward to. The past weekend Sarah and Aurora went to San Pedro to spend time with other UVA-GI students who traveled from other towns where their projects are to meet up, have lunch, and have a weekend out on the town. When they got back they told me about all the fun times they had, returning to the Zoola restaurant and going out on the town spending time together. They even got to go horse-back riding in San Pedro as a group!
Meanwhile, I stayed back in San Lucas and had a relaxing, peaceful Friday night, and an amazing Saturday morning and afternoon hiking! I went on a hike up the mountain Iqitui, which is a very close-by mountainside to San Lucas right next to Lake Atitlán. It was very incredible how I got to be connected with a guide; it was actually the brother of Carmen (the chef at Rigoberta Menchú), Juan. He brought his 10-year old son, Fraí, whom I jokingly called Papa Frita (“French Fry”), which was super awesome. We hiked from 7am until 12:30pm, and we got to see amazing views of the town of San Lucas and of Lake Atitlán AND of Volcán Atitlán! We also got to hike through coffee fields that people work and tend during the week. The hike itself was so thick and dense, making it feel like a jungle expedition. Fraí was actually having an easy time hiking one of the steepest hikes I had ever done!
Later, Juan invited me to return to his house to relax a little. Then we went over to Carmen’s house, where she and Mayra, the other chef who also lives there, cooked a meal for us all! This was a real family moment, where I felt really close to them all. It was much different than being prepared a meal by them at the Foundation, much more intimate. I was so tired afterwards that I went back to the Foundation, took a nap, and then met up with Fraí and Juan again at the lakeside to swim in the lake together, which was one of my highlights from Guatemala!
Last weekend on Sunday I got to go to church in San Lucas for the first time! I was excited for this. In Xela, I went with my host mom to Catholic mass in the Central Park Cathedral, which was giant! But last weekend I was invited to an Assemblies of God church by Silvia and Matea, the two teenage younger sisters of Mayra! This was amazing and so refreshing because it was very similar to my church back home. I found myself in tears at the beauty of the service and the Guatemalan people worshipping.
This Saturday night I got to a vigil at Carmen’s house! Carmen invited me to her house at night for a small prayer and worship gathering with about 12 of her friends from the Catholic Church. When I went, I was blown away by their love of God and they way they worshipped and prayed with such passion. It was a much more intimate moment than a church service, and gave me a new perspective on Catholics that I had never seen before! It was definitely one of my favorite moments of the entire trip.