Today we arrived in San Lucas, Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, where we will be carrying out our survey of local communities to find out about their sustainable technology needs. Before coming to the Lake, however, we spent three eventful weeks in Quetzaltenango (Xela), studying Spanish at Celas Maya Spanish School, exploring the city and its surroundings, and preparing for our project. With the warm welcome we received from our host families and teachers, we quickly adjusted, and began navigating the city, visiting open air markets to buy local fruits and vegetables, scaling the many hills to get a view of the cityscape, attending salsa lessons at a popular discotheque, and eating our fill of the delicious bread at Xelapan! We also had the opportunity to go on some adventures. Early one morning, we hiked to see the eruption of Santiagito, one of Guatemala’s active volcanoes, and we ended up having an impromptu salsa lesson on the mountainside while we waited for the eruption, courtesy of our guide! We ventured one weekend to Chichicastenango, the home of one of the largest markets in Guatemala, where we were surrounded by colorful fabrics, handmade crafts, and hundreds of people. For some relaxation, we visited Fuentes Georginas, a collection of hot springs originating from a nearby volcano; the waters were soothing and the atmosphere peaceful—Alena even went back for a second time, by bicycle! Of course, we were also working hard at studying and practicing Spanish for five hours each day for a total of 75 hours, which we put to use in translating our survey and delivering a presentation about our project to our teachers at the Spanish school.
Immersed in the culture of Guatemala, we have seen the immense beauty and vibrancy of this place, as well as the heated political climate, lack of infrastructure, and severe poverty that a large portion of the population experiences. While we were enjoying the experience of exploring Xela, we also took time to reflect on our role in the country and its troubled history of violence, some of which was instigated by the United States. We have immense gratitude for the hospitality of the Guatemalans we have met, and we look forward to expressing our gratitude and appreciation for this country’s vast potential through our project at the lake. More updates to come.
Lauren Catlett, Clinical Nurse Leader Class of 2016
Alena Pugacheva, Clinical Nurse Leader Class of 2016