Guatemala: Quinto Día

¡Hola de Chimaltenengo! Yesterday was the fifth day of our adventure in Guatemala, and we had a blast! The day began with a breakfast of tomato and mushroom omelets, accompanied by black beans, plantains, corn tortillas, and fresh orange juice. We traveled for about 45 minutes by bus from our hotel, Finca La Loma, to a building in the town of Comalapa, where we met the becadas for the first time. The becadas are young women, usually between 14 and 18 years old, who receive educational scholarships from our partner organization, Mayaworks, and we were absolutely blown away by these lovely young women. Each Castilleja student was matched with a becada, and the pairs chatted in Spanish about their lives, families, hobbies, and beliefs. Castilleja students gave the becadas a quick introduction to iPads, which we will be using to record our interviews with the Mayaworks weavers. We also played group ice-breaker games, and six of the becadas welcomed us with a traditional Guatemalan dance.

After getting to know the becadas, we all walked through a market, which offered everything from food to shoes to yarn. There were even some live chicks! The becadas also gave in depth explanations of the murals that line the cemetery of Comalapa. Mural themes included the Guatemalan Civil War, corn harvests, Mayan culture, and the community’s dreams for the future. We enjoyed comparing these Guatemalan murals to the murals of the San Francisco Mission District, which we viewed in November.

Next, we dined with the becadas at a local restaurant. The lunch included chicken, beef, rice, beans, and, of course, tortillas! We enjoyed continuing to get to know the becadas and learning about their lives in Guatemala, and though the lives of the becadas are different from our lives in America, we bonded over our love of education.

After lunch, we split up into groups of five: two Casti students, two becadas, and one adult. We took tuk-tuks, which are the Guatemalan equivalent of a car (though they are much smaller than American cars), to the homes of the Mayaworks weavers, who we will be interviewing. Each group of five met with a different weaver and got to know a little bit about her life, her family, and her role in Mayaworks. After spending a little over an hour with the weavers in small groups, we all reunited at the building where we originally met the becadas. Here, we discussed our time with the weavers and shared things that we learned.

We then said goodbye to the becadas for the day and drove back to the hotel, where we relaxed for a couple of hours before dinner at 7:00. The dinner included beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, and bread. After dinner, we took a walk up a small hill to a breathtaking viewpoint that overlooks Chimaltenango. The stars twinkled through the night sky and seemed to be reflections of the thousands of lights from the city. We ended the evening with a bonfire and s’mores.

We hope all is well at home, and we can’t wait to share all of our experiences with you when we return!

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