Okay so I know I haven't posted since like October but in my defense I've been really busy enjoying myself and learning insane amounts. Okay so from where I left off....We said goodbye to our Host Families in Tecpan and then went to Guatemala Enrichment Week. That was an absolute whirlwind. We went to Coban, Flores, and Livingston. We also saw Tikal, the huge mayan pyramids which was mindblowing. An insane sight to see. We also enjoyed the sunrise and sunset on top of mayan pyramids. One of the coolest experiences of my life. Then we had our 60 hour flight pattern from Guatemala to Bangkok which was absolutely exhausting but I love planes so it was really okay. Then we spent 4 days in Bangkok, getting over jetlag and chillaxing which was nice. I got my nose pierced in Bangkok!!!! Then we moved in with our first homestay families where we stayed for two weeks. We stayed in the Bang Chang community next to Klong Jinda, an hour out of Bangkok. Some highlights from that homestay: Our Thai host sister, Ping Pong, slept with us the first night. We had the cutest cat named Dumping in Chinese. My roommate was Caroline, btw. We went to insane markets and traveled to temples with our host uncle named Pi Tam and made some insane memories with him. We were dressed in all white and were taken to the full moon prayers which was so interesting. Oh our family and Tess's family were related so we did everything with her too!! I ate so much in that community that I think that I will be full for the rest of my life. I am also now obsessed with soy milk. Then after that community we flew up to Nan, the city in Nan Province and drove an hour up to a Hmong community in a national reserve park called Khun Sathan where we are doing our longer homestay. Tess joined us for this homestay and we are having a blast!!! We only have 4 more days in this homestay which is really sad but I have loved every second of it. Our host mom is named Pi Sia and she is so sweet and really very nice. They have a kid who is 4 named Banku who is the cutest kid I have ever seen in my entire life and a cat named Meow Meow and a puppy named Chi Ti. Our host dad is a teacher for students who drop out of school but want to still get a degree. Like a Hmong GED program which is so cool!!!! Some highlights from this homestay: We dressed up in traditional Hmong attire and participated in the Hmong New Year which is so cool. There was performances and we performed Jingle Bells and Panama Dance in front of the entire Hmong community. Yikes. Our host mom took us on a photoshoot in our Hmong clothes. In the middle of all of this we went on our Thailand Independent Student Travel where Emma, Clare and I went to Chiang Mai where we had a relaxing three days. I went for yoga both days in the morning which made me love yoga. I will defintely continue it in New York. We also went exploring the temples and ate some amazing food. (Photos taken by Clare Irene McKenna Photography of us in the Hmong New Year). For Christmas, we went to Nan and watched Star Wars and got Thai Massages. I also opened my surprise letters from friends and family so thank you to everyone who wrote me one!! It made me so very happy :). Oh my media project this time is about English Becoming a new global language. How do you guys feel about it? Comment below. We will be spending New Years in Nan and then travelling to Cambodia on January 2nd. Happy New Year to everyone!!!! Love you and Miss you all!!!
aHey!!! I just finished my Independent Student Travel which is basically where we plan and go on our own mini-vacation in the middle of each core country. For the IST, we decided to go to Antigua again and then hike the 3rd tallest volcano in Central America!!!! It was the most difficult thing i've ever done in my entire life because it was completely sandy and a 40% incline the entire time. The volcano was called Acatinango and the active volcano we saw erupt was called Fuego which literally translates to fire in english. Our guide was named Billy and he was absolutely awesome!!! Within the first 10 minutes of the hike I was so tired and done, I dont know how I managed it. It was an overnight hike so it took 6 hours up to the campsite with a 45 minute break for lunch which was super scrumptious and healthy which I enjoyed thoughroughly. Then we went higher and higher and experienced three different microclimates which was amazing!!! We were in the cloud forest which was a bit chilly, actually it was super super cold. For the last hour of the hike on the first day, it was pouring rain and it was so cold, I dont know how I survived! Once we got to the campsite, we made a fire and sat by the fire for hours until it became dark. In the dark, we could see the neighbouring active volcano erupt which was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my entire life! I unfortunately could not take pictures as my camera wouldnt capture the beauty and also I decided to just enjoy the moment rather than worry about capturing it correctly. After these amazing views alongside a bomb dinner, we decided to go to bed. It was really chilly in the tent and I was unable to sleep really well but its okay cause we didnt get to sleep for long anyway. The next day we were up at 3:45 am to summit the volcano in time for sunrise. This was probably the most difficult part of the hike because it was pitch black, freezing cold and steeper than the rest of the hike but we made it just in time to enjoy the sunrise. That was such an amazing experience to see 8 hours of hard work pay off with such mesmorizing views. That is a pic of Gabi and I walking toward the sunrise on the summit. The summit was 13,000 ft high!!! Then we ran down to the campsite which was really really fun too!! We ate a healthy and nutritious breakfast and then hiked down for 3 hours to the base to be taken back to Antigua. The total time we hiked was about 12 hours: longer than anything I have ever done before!! Remember that this is only my third hike ever in my life!! The funny thing is that I did the entire hike in Nike running sneakers which was not fun for me or my feet. In the end, I wouldnt trade the experience or the views for anything in the world. Then we went back to the hostel in Antigua and relaxed for the rest of the time we were there. I am currently writing this from a cafe in Tecpan and I am super sore everywhere. All of my muscles hurt so bad!!! Ahhh!!! We only have 2 more weeks in homestays and three weeks left in Guatemala total!!! Time flies by so so fast!!!
Tecpan has been a whirlwind. We got here about three days ago and already so much has happened. I am rooming with Gwen Jones and I really like her. She and I get along super super well. Our host mom is named Martha. She has a 3 year old boy named Marcito and an 8 year old girl who reminds me so much of Samaira named Dalia. They have 2 Parakeets 1 Bunny 6 Chickens 1 Rooster 1 Dog and 2 Fish which is crazy. I know. The rooster wakes me up at 4 am every morning so I dont even need an alarm clock. How cool is that!!! Just kidding. I have been doing agricuture work every morning and having seminars and media project work time in the afternoons. The first day for our work site Matty Nishtah Meg and I were each given machetes and told to cut the weeds down in a corn field for 4 hours. That started well but then ended a bit abruptly and I now have a dozen blisters and sliced off a bit of my skin with a machete which is okay. The next worksite day we were given hoes and shovels and pick axes and told to dig a trench. This trench is for the town of Panamacoc which wants running water. The trench will be long enough for a pipe line to go through so the pipe can get to the tank to supply the water. My media project is about media imperialism and the western influences on everyday Guatemalan life. It is super interesting as I have been interviewing many people and getting various points of view. I am working with Andrew and Jen for this. The typical guatemalan food dish that my host mom cooks is black beans and corn tortillas. We usually have that every dinner and sometimes even breakfast. It is super filling and I havent gotten sick of it just yet. Some funny moments... I fell in the trench while digging countless numbers of times. I got bit by my host dog named Princessa so many times and I think she might have broken skin. I have eaten so much bread since there are various bread places here that are so so so so so so good. There are many inside jokes between me and Gwen that are hilarious. Tortillas give you constipation. Just saying. Guatemala is freeeeeeeeeezing. I dont even know how. I have tripped so much I dont know how. I think I am going to have a complete life change when I get back home. Stay tuned for more!!!!
Hey everybody!!! I finally have wifi and it is super weird getting back online. Besides from talking to my parents and friends, I have been attempting to blog! So we started off our trip in this Eco-Lodge in this little town called San Juan on the Lake Atitlan which was the most gorgeous experience. We all got to know each other so well in those ten days mostly cause we didn't have access to the outside world and because we were forced to share our entire life story. I LOVE THE PEOPLE I AM WITH! They are all so kind and generous and I can't wait to make more memories then I already have with them. We went through orientation and then we explored the town we were next to. In addition, we hiked a mountain known as the 'Indian nose' mountain which was super difficult but worth the hike!!! Everyday, Yasmin and I went canoeing in the lake for two hours at least and it was so relaxing because the views were absolutely gorgeous. We also witnessed the Guatemalan Independence Day parade which was really cool as well. Then after orientation, we went to a different, more touristy city called Antigua which was quaint yet very nice. There we hiked up an active volcano known as Pacaya and roasted marshmallows on the top which was so fun!!! Then we got to Guatemala City.......