Day 9: Goodbye to Guatemala

By: Jamie

Today we woke up and had our usual breakfast of eggs, beans, and bread before heading to the much anticipated ziplining excursion. It’s safe to say that the feelings were very mixed: both excitement and anxiety were in the air as we boarded two jeep-like automobiles that took us into the depths of the mountains. However, by the time we had finished, relief had replaced nervousness, and smiles were present on everyone’s faces. We were all very proud of Nickie and Meredith, who both confronted their fear of heights and took part in the activity (despite being given the offer to do another activity). Meredith even said that she would be willing to do it again! I think it’s safe to say that the activity was a success.

In the afternoon, we were split into two groups. One group went to the Chocolate Museum for two hours while the rest of the students were given “free time,” or time to roam the streets of Antigua (with a friend, of course!). Two hours later, the groups switched.

Personally, I LOVED the chocolate museum because not only were we able to learn about the history of chocolate, but we also got to create (and taste!) different chocolate drinks during the tour and create some yummy chocolate to bring home. In the span of about 30 minutes, we went from Mayan slaves to Mayan Royalty, Aztec to Spanish, performing the tasks that these groups did in the chocolate making process. Many of us were shocked at how difficult it was to create the cocoa bean paste from the mortar and pestle when our tour guide had us compete for a free drink (surprisingly, I won!) As much as I want to bring some of my homemade chocolate back to the states tomorrow, I seriously doubt that it will make it that long!

After the chocolate museum, our group had a period of about 3.5 hours of free time to explore Guatemala. We split up into about 3 different groups. I’m not entirely sure how everyone decided to spend their time, but from what it sounds like, most groups decided to grab a bite to eat before hitting the markets again for a final time. Our bargaining skills improved immensely, and we returned to the hotel, happy and content with our purchases.

After returning, we were given about an hour to prepare for dinner and pack for our departure tomorrow. Dinner, which served everything from pasta to steak to stir fry, was fantastic (it even had dessert!). We walked back, happy and content with our meal.

Overall, today was a wonderful day, only dampened by the fact that this was our last day in Guatemala. As a result, we were forced to say a couple of goodbyes. First, we had to say goodbye to Julio. This proved very difficult since Julio, over the course of nine days, now holds a special place in our hearts. From cracking jokes that made everyone smile to squashing spiders when the rest of us were afraid to, we have grown to love Julio and everything that he has done.

In addition, tonight we had to part ways with Lucia, our extremely awesome and amazing tour guide. From the moment she picked us up at the airport, Lucia made this trip so much more enjoyable with all of her hard work planning and leading our group of 18 girls (plus chaperones). Even though I had only known her for 20 minutes at the time, I was disappointed to hear that she would not be with us for our first full day, and I was beyond excited when she joined us again. Her (contagious) positive attitude had everyone smiling, and I know I speak for everyone when I say that we will miss her alot when we return to the states.

Tomorrow we will have to say goodbye to this amazing country; something I know will be difficult for everyone on this trip. I, personally, have enjoyed every minute of this trip, and I am so glad I was able to share this experience with both the people I traveled with and those I met.

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