We just finished our 10-day orientation a few days ago on lake Atilán. It was overall really great! It has been so much fun getting to to know everyone and it already feels like we have all known each other forever- crazy that it has only been 2 weeks. Our eco lodge was pretty isolated- we flew into Guatemala City and then took about a 4 hours bus ride to Tecpán. ( a small village near lake Atilán) The next morning we drove down to the lake and then took a 45 min boat ride to the lodge! It was insanely gorgeous surrounded my huge green mountains.
Through out orientation we had multiple seminars focusing on safety within each country as well as communication within different cultures. One of my favorite activities we have done in orientation was sharing our “rivers of life”. Every night 2-3 people would share a 15-min version of their life story. It was super awesome to learn so much about everyone in the group. Outside of scheduled seminars and activities we were given a lot of free time to explore different parts of the lake and the nearby town called San Juan. One of the highlights was going to the Independence parade in San Juan that was full of kids and college students from nearby towns. We also did an amazing hike where we walked to the “top of the nose”. Probably one of the harder hikes I have done but definitely worth the amazing view of the lake. Some of my favorite things were to explore different stores within the town- we went to one store and learned how to make yarn from cotton. At the end of orientation we took a boat ride back to main land which was a really hard good bye. Before heading to Guatemala city we spent 2 nights in Antigua which is one of the most touristy parts of Guatemala. It was super nice and cute with lots of stores and food places. One of the days we hiked to a volcano which was really amazing. At the bottom we were flooded by people asking us if we wanted to take a “taxi” by riding a horse up to the top. Once we got to the top we were one of the only groups there and it was gorgeous- we were even able to roast marshmallows in a volcanic crater.
Now we are in Guatemala City for 2 weeks staying at a home base with a few other students who are doing different gap year programs. We will be getting into a new routine pretty soon where we will be taking Spanish classes and starting to go to our work sites.