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    [post_content] => Over the course of this adventure I have been having weirder than normal dreams. From being a runaway bride, to finding a dog with a litter of puppies in my bed, to accidentally killing someone, my dreams have been an adventure in themselves. A lot of the other students mentioned and shared having strange dreams on the trip as well.

Towards the beginning of the trip we met a shaman at IMAP. He passed on a warning from his dreams that the leaders of the group should be careful. He said not to be worried, but to be aware and to use care. And they did. So take your dreams as warnings and proceed in the school of life with caution. (But not TOO much). :)

-Makayla
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Rivendell Guatemala

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Dreams.

Makayla Coffin,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

Over the course of this adventure I have been having weirder than normal dreams. From being a runaway bride, to finding a dog with a litter of puppies in my bed, to accidentally killing someone, my dreams have been an adventure in themselves. A lot of the other students mentioned and shared having strange dreams […]

Posted On

04/29/16

Author

Makayla Coffin

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-28 13:42:14
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-28 19:42:14
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One thing that I have noticed here in Guatemala is that families live together. What I mean by this is that grandparents, parents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in the same house or house complex. I think this brings the families closer together both mentally, emotionally, and physically. The fact that families live in the same house surprised me a little bit because in the United States most families live miles away from each other, and families aren’t as close as they are here in Guatemala.

I grew up in a small town where I am related to most of the people in the town and in the surrounding area. I grew up being really close to my family and doing almost everything with them. Whether it be playing after school or going away for summer vacation. I like this closeness; I think it makes us appreciate each other more. Especially when we are away from one another.

This trip is the first time I have done something without my family and I have missed them all so much. I’ve learned a lot of things, but mostly how much I love and appreciate my family and the things they do for me. I know that when I get home I will have a new view on what family really means, and how lucky I am to have the family that I do have.

-Heather

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Rivendell Guatemala

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Family

Heather Dexter,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

One thing that I have noticed here in Guatemala is that families live together. What I mean by this is that grandparents, parents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in the same house or house complex. I think this brings the families closer together both mentally, emotionally, and physically. The fact that families live […]

Posted On

04/28/16

Author

Heather Dexter

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-27 17:28:06
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We have less than a week left here in Guatemala and its been an amazing experience so far.

With the absence of my daily routine as a student, this trip has made me realize how grateful I am for the life I have back home.

Just to see how different a part of the world can be from your own home is important and something every human being should experience. It opens your eyes to just how big the world really is.

We’ve been talking and learning about a lot of things, but one that is always connected to whatever we may be learning about is nature. Nature is so important here. These people follow nature, and they depend on nature.

In my short time here I’ve had two very important moments with nature. One was when I reached the top of the hardest part in our trek. When I made it to the top of the last huge hill, I felt an energy I had never experienced before. Even thought I had just used so much energy, I gained a new energy by being at the top and having that amazing view – which probably helped. The second was when we went to a hot spring. The water made me feel so revived and fulfilled and fortified. It was a simple but important moment for me.

We are now in our second homestay and by ourselves. I think everyone in the group is settled into their new homes and are enjoying the familias. We will be with these families until Wednesday, then we go back to Antigua. We started this adventure in Antigua and I am excited to end it there as well. Our instructors have been amazing and I believe each student will have lots to share when they return home soon.

-Melissa

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Rivendell Guatemala

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Less than a week left…

Melissa Eaton,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

We have less than a week left here in Guatemala and its been an amazing experience so far. With the absence of my daily routine as a student, this trip has made me realize how grateful I am for the life I have back home. Just to see how different a part of the world […]

Posted On

04/27/16

Author

Melissa Eaton

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-27 17:27:47
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    [post_content] => Here, Trillium is learning the art of the foot loom.

-Brynne
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Loom Life

Brynne MacMurtry,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

Here, Trillium is learning the art of the foot loom. -Brynne

Posted On

04/27/16

Author

Brynne MacMurtry

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-27 17:27:29
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    [post_content] => Guatemala is a country full of sounds. There are many natural sounds like the birds endlessly chirping and the dogs barking, all of the animals making their own distinct noises. Even now, as I am writing this a massive storm has entered Pachaj and much more noise has entered the scene. The rain hitting the roof, the wind moving the metal fences, and unexpectedly loud claps of thunder. It seems this country is indeed not silent. But these natural noises are always accompanied by man-made noises too. As you walk down the street you can hear people advertising their products. You hear wood trucks, and other vehicles making loud sounds, to let everyone know that they are coming by. It is not uncommon then, to be woken suddenly in the night by fireworks going off, or a radio turned way up, so the entire town can hear its music. And when there is a celebration, such as a fútbol game or a wedding, then of course, these noises are multiplied. There are so many sounds around you at every moment in Guatemala, whether you be in the center of a forest, or in the center of Guatemala City, I imagine. This makes me wonder why other places are different. Everywhere there are natural noises continuing into the night. But not all people create their own sounds. The United States too has fireworks, but they only light the night sky once a year. Guatemala has many noises. Beginning with natural sounds of the weather and animals, Guatemalans imitate these noises - They imitate their natural world. This is another way, through sound, that Guatemalans act in similitude with nature.
    [post_title] => Noise.
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Rivendell Guatemala

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Noise.

Max Haehnel,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

Guatemala is a country full of sounds. There are many natural sounds like the birds endlessly chirping and the dogs barking, all of the animals making their own distinct noises. Even now, as I am writing this a massive storm has entered Pachaj and much more noise has entered the scene. The rain hitting the […]

Posted On

04/27/16

Author

Max Haehnel

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-25 22:05:55
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-26 04:05:55
    [post_content] => 

     Today we arrived in Pachaj, and settled into our new home base. It feels nice to have some more movement going on again. The hostel was nice, don’t get me wrong, and the hot springs were awesome, but I wanted to get moving again.

     It’s kind of like when a soldier “quits” the sea for a while, but then the sea calls back with her seductive cry, and he jumps back onto the next ship into her loving grasp. That’s the way that this journey has been. The chunks of rest in between are nice, and as soon as we settle, the wanderlust starts back up, and like any pandaren or kender, I want to grab my pack and staff and head off.

     The comfort was nice, but it felt good to be back at the grindstone.

     Chico Mendes Reforestation Project is really cool, and kind of feels like I’m back home at Mill Gardens a little, what with the saplings and seedlings and all. Plus, they have a super friendly golden lab named Fuego, so that helps quite a bit. It’s nice of have something to pet.

     Armando showed us around Chico Mendes, talked a bit about their mission, and relayed to us their mission statement of sorts: “No guns, no violence, no war, but yes to intelligence.” They are fighting the environmental fight with brains and guts, not bullets.

     Like an eco-friendly Batman……

     After Armando showed us around, we had lunch and waited for our host families to arrive. They did, and soon I headed off with my host mom Flor. We met her husband Juan on the way home, and then once we arrived I got to meet the kids; Carolina, who is 13, and Evan who is 8.

     Their house sits high above the rest of the Pachaj, looking down upon the rest of the town like an old bear watching deer who have become her friends.

     Not the best analogy, now that I typed it. It feels kind of like Bag End. I have an amazing view from my window, from Pachaj and its surrounding towns, all the way to the Volcan Santa Maria.

     The house and room are nice; comfortable and cozy, but not the pampering I received at Chona’s in San Lucas.

     The kids are awesome. Carolina is a bit shy, but is a great artist, and Evan is a stellar soccer player. He has taught me several different forms of soccer kicks and defense, as well as several hand games.

     But the best thing about my home-away-from-home is the nighttime view. As the sun goes to his golden hammock, the street lights flick on, and soon, when the moon rises from her platinum mat, everything is enveloped in black, leaving only the street lamps. And it is then that I feel like I am floating in the sky as the street lamps transform into brilliant stars.

     It is here that I feel the most rooted on this trip, the closest to the earth, the closest to the gods, and the closest to home, as if Pachaj is simply a ley gate connecting Guatemala to New Hampshire.

     There is a quote I’d like to end on:

“Why do we fight? To ask that is to ask why the leaves fall. It is in their nature. Perhaps, there is a better question…Why do we fight? To protect Home and Family. To bring Balance, and preserve Harmony. For my kind, a better question is: What is worth fighting for?”

- Cameron

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Rivendell Guatemala

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The Wanderer

Cameron Day,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

     Today we arrived in Pachaj, and settled into our new home base. It feels nice to have some more movement going on again. The hostel was nice, don’t get me wrong, and the hot springs were awesome, but I wanted to get moving again.      It’s kind of like when a soldier “quits” the […]

Posted On

04/25/16

Author

Cameron Day

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-25 21:32:38
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-26 03:32:38
    [post_content] => 

I sit huddled in the corner of the bedroom with my back on a dresser trying to make myself look as small as possible and remember what it was like to be 9 years old.  No specific memories come to mind as I glance around the child’s room.  I see toys and shoes scattered in my corner and around my bed.  Surely I must remember something.  I wrack my brain for memories.  I went to school when I was 9.  I had dance classes and piano lessons.  I played outside and built with Legos.  I read books.

             When my 9-year-old host sister Gilda finds me in her bedroom and claims victory in our game of hide-and-seek, my mind is on my own childhood bedroom as well as the one I’m crouching in.  Looking at her bedroom, and her life, I see more similarities than differences.  She goes to school, too.  She plays games and colors, and although her tastes are more girly than mine I see much in common between us.  I can recognize her childhood.

            That’s not to say there aren’t differences.  Her family is large and has a more formal dynamic than mine.  She plays with her cousin, while I was always alone.  She doesn’t do many, if any, extra-curriculars.  Most striking to me is that she leaves for school in the morning by herself, something I could never do as a rural child.

            None of this pondering, while personally interesting, has any real point or value until a few days later when I’m trekking through farmland.  I have left my host family, Gilda, and the bedroom far behind in San Lucas Toliman.  I see little kids, about 9 years old, carrying wood with straps on their foreheads.  I check my watch and try to remember.  It’s around one in the afternoon on a Wednesday.  9-year-old me is in school.  I look again at the kids, who wave as we pass.  I wave back.

            9-year-old me is in school.

            I have known, in an abstract sort of way, that kids all over the world work instead of going to school.  I’ve read the statistics and discussed the causes.  Now, though, it’s different, because while I remember my schoolday, these kids are hauling wood up a mountain.  My mind flies back to Gilda’s bedroom.

            Where is Gilda now? School.

            What does she think of these kids?  Is she as oblivious to their existence as I was at age 9, or even yesterday?  Is this something she’s more likely to think about because she lives in Guatemala, or is that just an assumption I have based on the stereotype of Guatemala as a poor place?  Does she know kids who aren’t in school?  Are they just kids to her, friends, or does she look down on them?

            I reassess the situation and ask new questions.  Are these kids never in school, or are they just not today?  That’s not an assumption I should make.  What brought them here in the first place?  Is this their usual job, or is it occasional?

            Assuming that they are never in school and that they work like this all the time, what do they think of a life like Gilda’s or mine?  Are they envious, or are they happy as they are? What would 9-year-old me, who is still in school, think about these kids?And most of all, if since these kids aren’t in school, how can the world get them there?

            The bedroom and the field travel on with me, demanding answers to these questions that I can’t give.

- Trillium

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Rivendell Guatemala

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9-Year-Old Me is in School: Questions About Childhood

Trillium Cserr,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

I sit huddled in the corner of the bedroom with my back on a dresser trying to make myself look as small as possible and remember what it was like to be 9 years old.  No specific memories come to mind as I glance around the child’s room.  I see toys and shoes scattered in […]

Posted On

04/25/16

Author

Trillium Cserr

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-25 09:05:25
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-25 15:05:25
    [post_content] => 

FROM THURSDAY, APRIL 21st:

Yesterday, Wednesday the 20th, we walked about 11 miles from somewhere outside of San Lucas Toliman to a little town called Santa Catarina de Ixtauacan. Along the way, we climbed long, steep hills, boarded streams, waved hello to the locals, endured grueling down hills, and much more. It was a long day of hardship, joy, and learning so we all felt pretty drained when we staggered into Santa Catarina in the early evening.

            After getting settled, eating dinner, and taking a turn in the sauna, we sat around a campfire and reflected on the day. At the end of the discussion, we were presented with two possible plans for the next day. Plan A was to continue the trek as planned while Plan B allowed for a more relaxed day with bus transport to our hotel in Xela.

            As the instructors took a break, us 13 students had an in depth discussion about how the group felt about continuing the trek the next day. In general, we were very divided on the issue but despite differences in opinions, feelings and mental states, we managed to come to a decision that everyone agreed on. One of the objectives of the discussion was to come up with a decision that was best for the group as a whole. We came to the understanding that this didn’t mean simply a majority rules situation but that we would have to make a decision that everyone would be okay with.

            In the end, we did pretty well. After a lengthy discussion we finally decided to go with plan B. The people who wanted to continue the trek agreed to get over their disappointment and look forward to whatever other opportunities the next day would bring. We also all agreed to try to keep the group, as one combined unit, in mind for the future.

            Another important thing that came from our discussion was a reflection on our group dynamic. We recognized that on the first part of the trek, we didn’t function as well as we would have liked to and resolved to change that. Moreover, we did it in a way that was calm and courteous. I’m impressed. I can’t think of any time where something has happened so smoothly. Our discussion really showed me how important it is to communicate and be honest about what is going on and what people are feeling. It shows that something like group unity is actually possible.

            The way that we were able to have a discussion where every voice was heard reminds me of the images we looked at a while back at IMAP. In one of the Beehive Collective art pieces we assessed, it shows the plan for Mesoamerica through the eyes of outside settlers and big companies that only see Mesoamerica in terms of it’s value when it comes to resources. In the second image it shows the people of Mesoamerica resisting these external powers. In contrast to the first image, the second one shows everyone’s face (in the first picture there are no real faces and it is clear that these powers have no idea what the people of Guatemala and the other central American countries actually want and desire for themselves).

            In our small group, we did much better than these big corporations. We listened to the people in need and came to a decision that everyone could cope with and agree upon. I recognize this is not an easy thing to do and that it rarely happens on the large scale. However, it was incredibly valuable just to see how others were feeling even when we couldn’t meet everyone’s needs and wants. It is incredibly valuable to listen and hear other people before making a decision. It is one of the only ways that you can begin to understand how other people feel.

            On a different note, our discussion also reminded me of another key part of Mayan Cosmovision: Being grateful. In one of our sessions at IMAP, we were taught that the Mayans believe that we are indebted to life, because it gave us life.

            Some people might look down upon the Guatemalan people and feel bad for them, for various reasons. While we were on the trek I noticed kids with loads of wood on their backs walking the same trails we struggled with. We saw people in the fields growing the food they would eat this year. We walked those trails so we can understand how difficult they are. Carrying wood and working in the fields is something that people do every day. Sure, Guatemalans don’t have some of the luxuries that we Americans enjoy. But that is not to say that they are below us or not as fortunate as we. Juancho says that Guatemalans do want a better life, and I am sure that that is the case. Most people do. However, it really speaks to me that they are very grateful for what they have. I’ve seen many examples of this. At IMAP, one of the purposes of the Mayan ceremony that we attended was to give thanks and gratitude. The man whose music we listened to after our trek explained that he was blind but was grateful that he had been given his gift of music. Even one of his songs was about being thankful for what he was given in life.

At IMAP, Rony expressed his belief that the reason things don’t work out well in the world and that people are unhappy is because they aren’t grateful for what they do have. In the United States we have a concept called the American dream. People believe that they are somewhat entitled to a better life. It is good to dream big and to work hard but it is also important to balance that with understanding others and being grateful for what you do have. As for me, I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity to learn about and explore a new place with a great bunch of students and instructors.

- Karina

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Rivendell Guatemala

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What we have.

Karina Ricker,Rivendell Guatemala

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FROM THURSDAY, APRIL 21st: Yesterday, Wednesday the 20th, we walked about 11 miles from somewhere outside of San Lucas Toliman to a little town called Santa Catarina de Ixtauacan. Along the way, we climbed long, steep hills, boarded streams, waved hello to the locals, endured grueling down hills, and much more. It was a long […]

Posted On

04/25/16

Author

Karina Ricker

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Rivendell Guatemala

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THANK YOU

GRANNY T,Rivendell Guatemala

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It has been wonderful to see and hear about your journey in various person’s own interpretations. We are pleased to hear about the surprises, challenges and amazing opportunities you have experienced. With a beautiful week of spring time weather here in northern New England, but still few trees leafed out it’s fun to envision your lush tropical surroundings. Enjoy […]

Posted On

04/22/16

Author

GRANNY T

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I’m beginning to see.

 We sit in a bus and drive through towns not thinking about the earth. Sometimes we sleep, sometimes we look out the window and take pictures of the road with the gas stations, dogs, and people walking by. Today we didn’t do that, we walked 11 miles to our destination. A quote that I think is relevant to say here is “Sometimes to travel is better than to arrive”. Today was hard for many of us. Most of the hike I was thinking of how long until we get to the top, or when will we have a break. How I got over each mountain happily was by enjoying where I was. Each time I would think about what we had ahead I felt miserable. Instead I noticed the trees and the people. On our hike we passed many people carrying wood on their backs. 8 year olds and older would come out miles away from home in the heat to bring wood back to their families. This wood would only last up to 5 hours on their cooking stove. This really makes me so appreciative of having our wood delivered at home, or having a washing machine for example. Although I am appreciative I also feel stupid. Using all these trucks and more plastic is ruining this world. If a small child in the U.S. was hand-washing the families clothing and sheets, or carrying logs strapped to their forehead people would say “that’s impressive” or “wow, that is an amazing child”. Very few people would think of doing that themselves. I learned that we need to be aware of everything we do, is it really necessary for us to wash our clothes everyday? We need to think more about the impact each of our actions make on the world.

-Sienna

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Rivendell Guatemala

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I’m beginning to see.

Sienna Paley,Rivendell Guatemala

Description

I’m beginning to see.  We sit in a bus and drive through towns not thinking about the earth. Sometimes we sleep, sometimes we look out the window and take pictures of the road with the gas stations, dogs, and people walking by. Today we didn’t do that, we walked 11 miles to our destination. A […]

Posted On

04/21/16

Author

Sienna Paley

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