Take daily one-on-one Spanish lessons to bring your language skills to the next level. Immerse in culture with a homestay and build lasting relations with your host family. Work on a reforestation project for community lands illegally logged. Kayak across Lake Atilan, from village to village. Learn about indigenous history and culture.
Explore the volcanos, trails, caves, lakes, and beaches from El Peredon to Semuc Champei. Meet people from all over the world and be part of a global community. Spend Semana Santa in Antigua and take part in the processions. Head down to the Yoga retreat with somebody you just met from Estonia and then go buy a papaya and fresh made tamales at the outdoor market.
The goal is to immerse ourselves in new experiences and new cultures. Guatemala is not like Europe or Costa Rica. Most people who live there are indigenous. Poverty is huge. When you travel on a chicken bus you’re expected to share your seat, if you’re lucky enough to get one, with at least three or four other people. Yes, we’ll go to touristy areas and boat across gorgeous lakes nestled between volcanos while eating fresh mangos, but we’ll also try and connect with local lives and real places where the lifestyle and world view will be so different from yours that it’s hard to even understand. We will spend time during the fall to talk about what kind of experience participants want and the skills they’re wanting to develop. Staff will be on hand to offer support and meaningful engagement throughout the ten weeks abroad.
During our travels you will be able to see firsthand important issues playing out like deforestation, poverty, women’s rights, and immigration issues. You’ll cross boards and see less lucky potential immigrants waiting to do the same. You’ll stand among 30 chicken buses and try to find the one going to where you want to go. You’ll meet people who grow their living on an acre of steep rocky hillside and others who support their family selling tacos. You’ll collect stories of their lives and yours and share them over an avocado picked straight off the tree.
We begin in Phoenix Arizona. We’ll go camp in the desert and catch up with each other and swap stories about our winternships. Next we’ll divide into smaller groups (each with a staff) and make our way south to and then through Mexico. It will mean over a 1000 miles of staring out the window at different lives and worlds, stopping now and then to get out and explore and sample the local food. We’ll cross the border into Guatemala, get on a chicken bus and head to Lake Atitlan where will spend a week together getting oriented to Guatemala and make plans for independent and smaller group activities and travels.
Then you go off and adventure. Staff will be available for anyone who encounters any issues.
Now and then we’ll come altogether to share stories, create new options and groups, exchange back massages and horchata, and get ready to do it all again.
Finally, we come together and head north again, this time going a different way through Mexico. We’ll end up in Arizona where we’ll celebrate and part ways.
In the past we’ve had participants pay the cost of airline tickets to Guatemala and pay us more tuition, which then we mostly gave back to them so they could buy food and rooms while traveling. This year we’re charging less tuition but will ask you to have access to enough cash to pay for such things yourself. This way, if you’re thrifty, the benefits go directly to you. We will also pay for your overland transport to Guatemala and back. Some of you will choose to do it cheap by, for example, volunteering with organizations through Workaway or WWOOF that help cover food and lodging during your stay. Others who are wanting pursue more expensive options like yoga retreats or daily language school and customized tours of the country can expect to spend more like $2,000-$3,000 for the semester.
We will cover the cost of food and lodging during our all group together and the cost of buses through Mexico.
Study Spanish and experience cultural immersion with homestays
Work on a reforestation project
Explore the volcanos, trails, caves, lakes, and beaches
Volunteer on organic farms or coffee plantations
Explore your spiritual side with yoga, meditation, and traditional healing
Surf, eat mangos, kayak through mangroves
Get a job at a local cafe
Learn indigenous skills from boat making to weaving