Updated: Sep 22, 2019
Day 1: Today is the Day!! We started with a 7:35am flight out of Roanoke, VA and flew to Atlanta, GA. I was so excited to meet up with everybody even though we all saw each other last Tuesday at Ukirk. Nevertheless, once we boarded our plane, we spent most of the time telling first flight stories and looking to see what movies we could watch. After hustling through food court lines in Atlanta, we boarded our next flight to Guatemala City. Most of us are seasoned travelers with multiple flights under our belts, but for a few of us it was our first time out of the country, and even my first time on a plane! But we all were caught off guard when we hit an air pocket during our flight out of Atlanta and took a little nose dive at our cruising altitude.
Once we landed, the mere fact that we were in another country made the almost hour long wait in the line for customs bearable. We left the airport in our bus, and drove to a heavenly smelling bakery to have lunch. We practiced our Spanish, translating the menus, asking our translator and guide about different words and phrases. After buying some cookies for the road, we headed to our hotel. We settled in and found our rooms, and then took a walk around downtown Guatemala City. As we approached the city square, we entered into the Guatemalan Cultural Festival which included an art exhibit of precious Guatemalan interpretative art, an endangered species and biodiversity informational walk through, and the most beautiful display of 8ft bear statues. I know that sounds crazy and believe me it was but, it was so exciting once we figured out what the 150 bears were doing there. It turns out that these bears travel the world and are painted each year by individual artists by each country around the world. They paint to showcase and send a message about what their country means and how it fits in the worldwide puzzle. We walked by each statue to see the intricate designs that represented the promise of peace and prosperity between all the countries regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. It was like a trip around the world within Guatemala. After that, we walked to the underground market about a block away, with all the colorful wares being sold by the marketeers. There was one of everything you could imagine, bags, books, keychains, hats, jewelry, rugs, blankets, etc. After almost getting lost between all the booths, we walked to the Guatemala City Central Cathedral, where we were just in awe of the art and history that decorated every square inch. It was amazing to see how another culture feels so strongly about their religion and how they express that through worship. At this point we were all feeling exhausted to the point of delirium. So, we made our way back to our hotel, took a quick nap, ate some delicious dinner, had a nice reflection time about our day, and now I am sitting at one of the tables in the common area writing this blog before we all fall asleep. Until tomorrow!