Photo of the Week
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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' Guatemala: Mundo maya 4-wk Summer Program. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.

Weeks One - Two:
Orientation at Nueva Alianza cooperative farm, on the tropical Pacific slope. Volunteer collecting macadamia and coffee, learning about plants and sustainable farming; continue to Todos Santos Cuchumatanes: Language school, home-stays, civil war and Maya cosmovision, service learning opportunities with local schools.

Weeks Two - Three:
Quetzaltenango language study and home-stays; volunteer and service learning with NGOs; focus on development issues, human rights, Latin music and dance; trek through remote mountains to Lake Atitlan.

Week Four:
Travel to Peten; rainforests and visit Tikal, study historic Mayan culture; ISP presentations at Finca Ixobel; return to Antigua for finish with an ascent of a volcano.

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4-wk Sample Itinerary

Dragons Administration,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ Guatemala: Mundo maya 4-wk Summer Program. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for […]

Posted On

10/23/08

Author

Dragons Administration

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    [post_date] => 2007-12-16 00:00:00
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This is a little assignment I had in my writing class at school, I thought i'd share it with you guys.

Getting out in the morning was the hardest task of the day. To protect myself from the dry frigid air, I would have to pile on my few layers of clothing. Each item was uglier than the next. The fog banked on the hill above my house trickled down into the streets of Todos Santos, and eventually by noon it would wear off. The smoke from each fireplace made the fog incredibly dense. This phenomenon was what gave this sacred place the name of a cloud mountain town. In Todos Santos, all the smells were saturated with the thickness of the air that carried them. Every vendor sold fried chicken and potatoes, which called for lots of oil and grease. I could not tell you where that grease came from, or how many times it had been used, it reminded me of the car grease that you can find between the hinges of the door. Where they cooked these items, was unknown. I knew that in my family, they cooked all their food over an open fire on their roof. In that fire there would be plastic bags, tin cans, styrofoam, food, dirt and maybe the remnants of a battery here and there. But for absolute sure there was never any wood in a fire. Maybe that just wasn’t practical.

Living on the highest non volcanic point in Central American was a bonus. There was so much free ‘tierra’ (earth and land). No one felt obliged to take up more space than they needed. The population was well under a hundred thousand, and felt well under five hundred. This must have been one of the most exotic parts of my time in Todos Santos. Everyone was so friendly and humble. They would not pass by without greeting one another. Yet their presence was so sparse. They were mostly up in the hills, contently working, as we call labor. Their daily routines consist of planting, cooking, gathering, building and chopping. As I was first experiencing this, I categorized this simply as a life based off of raw materials. But these Mayans put so much more meaning into their purpose on this land. As much as they took they gave. They were so conscious of how fortunate they were to have this rich land and rich life. They wanted nothing more. They didn’t want to know about the number of dead soldiers in Iraq, so they didn’t have newspapers for that. They never even had to know about Britney’s fake boobs, for that they had no cable TV’s. This led me to rethink our American ways. Only then I realized that we had no individual ways. Compared to these people Americans function off of the media.

Encountering the basic life seemed raw and unlivable. Every night I went to bed sick and woke up the same. There was no cure for my own physical adjustments. But nothing had killed me yet, not even a single mosquito. To know what the Mayans remove themselves from to get into the United States is unreal. Primarily they leave their life. No more traje (authentic clothing), no more fresh food, no more freedom, no more land, no more family, no more money and no more identity. They leave all this to start a new chapter. But what they put themselves into, is an adventure that will never wear off. It sticks to them as a burden. Meaning they cannot ever take the memories and feelings away that they had in the States. Whether those be bad or good.

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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Todos Santos

Kayla Nikles,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

This is a little assignment I had in my writing class at school, I thought i’d share it with you guys. Getting out in the morning was the hardest task of the day. To protect myself from the dry frigid air, I would have to pile on my few layers of clothing. Each item was […]

Posted On

12/16/07

Author

Kayla Nikles

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Here's some photos for that e-mail that was just sent around.

1) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto5.jpg

2) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto2.jpg

3) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto1.jpg

4) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto3.jpg

5) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto4.jpg

"hookay" enjoy!!!

Thanks

- Kaylita

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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Photos for the contest/ website

Kayla Nikles,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

Here’s some photos for that e-mail that was just sent around. 1) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto5.jpg 2) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto2.jpg 3) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto1.jpg 4) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto3.jpg 5) http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f181/kkjub/yakyakphoto4.jpg "hookay" enjoy!!! Thanks – Kaylita

Posted On

10/3/07

Author

Kayla Nikles

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weaking up in Menzion Meza after hours of struggling with the tough of all of you guys gone...I woke up and the sun is shinning. Look for the medkit to handle meds..."oh yeah, it´s over". I didnt want to take a shower and less to shave to go home...

Para donde va me dice el taxista? para mi casa le digo!

Driver hating the trafic and the heat...I am loving every twist!

"You should take a shower and cut that beard" mom says to my head. Trees in my backyard and my dog hapy I made it home safe.My house seemed HUGE and the bathroom so alien.

I had a licuado de fresas y banano...mmm..que rico...cuanto cuesta? its on the house!

Awareness, self connected, inner peace...I open my backpack "whats that smell"??? Voices speaking, laughs and tears inside that backpack, a children smile I found as I unfolded my clothes, a lessons of life in every line of my journal...beatiful thing this journey was. Thank you dragones, this is just the beggining...dont let the flame softens. You are there, and I am here but the whole universe is conspireing with smells, sounds, toughts, emotions, knowledge.

Desde Antigua un abazo grande para todos en los Estados!!

Luispe

ps: chicken ride today radio playing Mana...shivers from head to toe! Proxima estacion????????

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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Me quedo y usted se van…*sighs*

Luis Pedro,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

weaking up in Menzion Meza after hours of struggling with the tough of all of you guys gone…I woke up and the sun is shinning. Look for the medkit to handle meds…"oh yeah, it´s over". I didnt want to take a shower and less to shave to go home… Para donde va me dice el […]

Posted On

07/31/07

Author

Luis Pedro

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WOW...i cannot believe this is all coming to an end. But what an incredible ending its coming to. These past few days have arguably been the most amazing days of our adventure so far. We took a night bus up to the hot jungle lowlands of the Peten, where we were greeted by crystal blue, Tahiti-esque waters with thatched roof huts resting above. We were in awe that these waters were contained within the same county borders that also contain the chilly, cloud-filled mountains of Todos Santos. Together, we explored the ancient majestic ruins of Tikal--a city which was once a capital of the Mayan world. we learned about astronomy, agriculture, and theories of the ending of this age. From there we travelled--without a plan--deeper into the jungle. We were met with wide arms by a wonderful family who fed, sheltered, and entertained us with reggaeton music, creative sign language, and soaking wet rain soccer. we learned about the inspiring community conservation projects and were taken deep into the jungle where we saw first hand how gum sap for bubble gum is collected--amazing. and then were welcomed back by more food and memorable interactions. and what was best--we all experienced this together as it was our first full-group homestay. We are all loving each other and loving this country and are about to start preparing for the return. we have located ourselves in a lovely farm and are sleeping in hammocks, playing soccer, reminiscing, and deciding what incredible activity to do tomorrow. and who knows, maybe some students are even missing home. but to me, it really seems like more than anything, they are fully enjoying being present in this wonderful moment. i know i am! I LOVE OUR GROUP, THIS COUNTRY, AND THIS TRIP!!!

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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ending…

adelaide nalley,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

WOW…i cannot believe this is all coming to an end. But what an incredible ending its coming to. These past few days have arguably been the most amazing days of our adventure so far. We took a night bus up to the hot jungle lowlands of the Peten, where we were greeted by crystal blue, […]

Posted On

07/24/07

Author

adelaide nalley

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    [post_date] => 2007-07-21 00:00:00
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    [post_content] =>   

From San Pedro to San Marcos

From San Marcos to Pana

From Pana to Santiago

From Santiago to Antigua

From Antigua to Guatemala

From Guatemala to El Peten....

3 days, several destination, many faces, many tastes and bright colors,

confrontation between the night and the day

the land and the sea

the fire and the air

the sacred and the prophane

the wholy and unwholy

the focus in mistery

the bullet and the flesh

the mind and the spirit

the sounds that we hear

our perseverance and resistance

all brothers and sisters

we are now walking with the ghosts of the DEATH

we are ALIVE..with our spirits being precious...

proxima estacion: Uaxactun...

love from the second lung of las americas,

Luispe

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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time flies like an arrow

Luis Pedro,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

From San Pedro to San Marcos From San Marcos to Pana From Pana to Santiago From Santiago to Antigua From Antigua to Guatemala From Guatemala to El Peten…. 3 days, several destination, many faces, many tastes and bright colors, confrontation between the night and the day the land and the sea the fire and the […]

Posted On

07/21/07

Author

Luis Pedro

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    [post_date] => 2007-07-20 00:00:00
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LOOKING BACK...The long bus ride from Todos Santos de Cuchumatán to Quetzaltenango, the ancient city of Xelaju Noj, extracted my deepest smile.Three weeks have passed since I navigated the concrete jungle of Guatemala City and the stack of powerful memories grows like the corn in July.Imagine you’re on a 1986 Blue Byrd school bus painted in bright red and blue colors, emblems of eagles flanking the driver, chrome dazzling in the dawn sunlight, skittering out around gravel switchbacks at breakneck speed.The mist moves in and soon you burst through drifting clouds of vapor: a journey through time and space to the mystic mountains of Cuchumatán.‘Poof,’ you pass through a cloud, the view opens up, you stare slack-jawed at jagged mountain cliffs jutting to the sky beyond the scope of your bus window.White pine and cypress cling to the rock and a cold mountain stream tumbles down across the road.In the distance you see a slender spire of smoke spiraling up from a dark cave and realize you are traveling through sacred lands.

A journey through Guatemala is never a “simple” experience, for Guatemala is a country of layers, and to the trained eye, a place of constant struggle and conquest. The guide who will takes us up the mountain is a gentle fellow, smiling and speaking softly of the spirits in the trees and streams. Upon further conversation he will begin to tell his story, and before long he describes having seen his uncle splayed on ropes hanging from a roof in his small village and tortured by soldiers until the purple body falls unrecognizable to the coble streets below where an entire village weeps and wails. The miraculous ending to this story is that after having been left dead by the brutal soldiers, he survives, breathing through a puncture in the back of his neck from the barrel of a rifle. The story of Gerónimo’s uncle, told to our group on a rock outcropping over 12,000 feet above sea level is violent and hidden, and represents the story of the people of this land… tortured, beaten, left for dead, and risen again, persistent, still breathing. Guatemala is not a place to put your mind at ease, but if you want to immerse yourself in the layers of the Americas, bienvenidos!

THE MIDDLE... of the western highlands of Guatemala, the rebel state of Queztaltenango, the indigenous capital of Guatemala, the second largest city, intellectual center, haven for resistance. This bustling city, in spite of its many thousands of inhabitants feels like a big town, an international gathering point for students of Spanish. On any given street corner you might overhear conversations in English, K'iche', Kaqchikel, Ma'am, German, Japanese or Spanish. For us the city of Xelaju offers lessons in salsa, Spanish, medicinal plants, reforestation, Development with a capital D, Ladino indigenous politics and rebel radio. We spin and stroll, taste and touch, but after a week we must head for the mountains, dig deeper in to the layers.

THE LONG WALK... took us over 42 km from the city of Xela to the most beautiful lake in the world, lake Atitlan. This giant caldera is understood to be one of the seven most sacred sites along the Maya territory which extends from S. Mexico and the Yucatan down to Honduras. Along the way we weave our way through lush green mountains where White pine and bananas stand side by side. Neither continent nor island, isthmus nor peninsula,the eclectic nature of this Central American ecosystem represents a vortex of biology and culture. With its bizarre mixing of N. and S. American species it is utterly unique to planet Earth; no other land formation resembles it, and with only 3 million years of existence, it is the most recent major land formation on the planet. We get intimate with the earth, touching the moss, sliding down steep embankments and soaking ourselves in the evening rain. Waiting for us at a long day is a mud brick kitchen with a warm hearth. Fresh tamales and soup warm our souls, while troops of children jump and tumble, touch and smile. These communities have no public transport and unreliable roads... though only ten miles from the bustling city of Xela as the crow flies, they are a world apart and lost in a different dimension of time and space.

So here we are now... moving through the layers of Guatemala... having traversed the Lake and landed in the ancient colonial city of Antigua Guatemala, perhaps the most beautiful city in the Americas. Reflecting on the work we are doing here with the “Dragons” watching teenagers open their eyes to their history, their people, their land and their contemporary socio-political reality I take a deep breath and feel satisfied. There is so much to live in life, I am glad to see a small group of us pushing things a little further at an early age. More than anything I feel blessed to be a part of such a formative and life changing experience. Together we are immersing ourselves in the layers of Guatemala and opening ourselves up to new changes.

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

"Live in the layers,

not on the litter."

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz

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Living in the Layers

Simon Hart,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

LOOKING BACK…The long bus ride from Todos Santos de Cuchumatán to Quetzaltenango, the ancient city of Xelaju Noj, extracted my deepest smile.Three weeks have passed since I navigated the concrete jungle of Guatemala City and the stack of powerful memories grows like the corn in July.Imagine you’re on a 1986 Blue Byrd school bus painted […]

Posted On

07/20/07

Author

Simon Hart

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after leaving todos santos, we headed off to Xela, the second largest city in Guatemala. It was such a change from todos santos and was very exciting. From the minute we arrived there, we got placed with homestays. I was placed with a family of 4 who turned out to be awesome. I loved living with them for a week and truely became part of their family. I went shopping with my mom for a dress to wear to a quincenera, brought their dog to the vet, went to movies, and visited one of the homestay brothers in the clinic when he fell off of his moto and injured his leg. I also learned to love Xela. The city was amazing, even though the first night i got lost out of my mind for a good hour and a half. I was very sad leaving Xela but have loved every day since.

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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XELA

Mollie Sholl,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

after leaving todos santos, we headed off to Xela, the second largest city in Guatemala. It was such a change from todos santos and was very exciting. From the minute we arrived there, we got placed with homestays. I was placed with a family of 4 who turned out to be awesome. I loved living […]

Posted On

07/19/07

Author

Mollie Sholl

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the guatemalan deity of maximon is known as a mix of mayan and catholic values and spirutality. passed around by a small group of 'holders' who keep the wooden statue representing the God for a year at a time, the maximon figure is a wooden face drapewd in colorful cloths with a cigarette in his lips and money at his waist. legless, 1 quetzal coins sit around the floor as offering in a quest to gain good standing with the man known for sleeping with many women and throwing around a lot of money.

Lago Atitlan is one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen in my life. with both active and dormant volcanoes surrounding it on every side, the lake seems to go on for ever if you're standing on one of its lush, bright green banks. The towns surrounding the 'mirror to the heavens' lake Atitlan are all named after saints, and there certainly is something divine about the towns and people surrounding the lake. maximon and Santiago, the town famous for Maximon's residence, are unforunately perhaps the least sacred places i have seen so far.

with lines and lines of german and american tourists lining up outside of maximon's current home, it seems impossible that the deity and his followers have been able to maintain any sort of sacredness in this spectacle. charging two quetzales to enter, a young boy excitedly scans the crowd counting dollar signs after dollar signs. At first i was embarassed to be similar to the tremendously touristy germans in this boy's eyes, but then i began to wonder if i was any better. because i could speak a little spanish i initially thought of myself as superior, more unbderstanding, more travellery and less touristy...however especially upon entering maximon's room i felt no better about myself than i felt about the throngs of german tourists shouting outside.

Sitting immediately behind maximon were four or ive cackling men even more excited than the boy outside to see the dollar signs rolling in. they said things like buenos dias, bienvenidos, etc etc but i have never felt so unwelcome in my life. not by the men sitting behind maximon, but by any guatemalan who actually believed in maximon's power...because these men certainly did not. i felt disgusted by the commercialization of religion, and wanted more than anything to unsee this awful shrine and take back my two quetzales entrance fee. this is roughly equivalent to thirty cents, but i would have done anything to retract my money from these men sitting behind the wodden, smoking, maximon.

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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maximon on the lake

willis mathewson,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

the guatemalan deity of maximon is known as a mix of mayan and catholic values and spirutality. passed around by a small group of ‘holders’ who keep the wooden statue representing the God for a year at a time, the maximon figure is a wooden face drapewd in colorful cloths with a cigarette in his […]

Posted On

07/19/07

Author

willis mathewson

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Speak spanish?

Leaving Todos Santos at 5.45 am, the sunrise announced what will come in this next adventure. Jumping on a chicken bus with bananos and pan dulce, we witnessed the most amazing views in the western highlands og Guatemala. Floating in the clouds and bouncing in the dirt roads.

"Para bailar la bamba se necesita una poca de gracia..." chicken bus ride from Huehue to Xela was a rollercoaster. Leaders front seat lifting arms in the air...dragons eyes wide open!!!

Now Xelaju welcomes us with splendid ladino families. At 2335 mts. the second largest city has become one of the best sites for spanish imersion and school programs. Everyone is taking 5 hrs spanish 1 on 1...and this afternoon we are taking a field trip to the wonderful hot springs of Las Georginas.

Everyone is happy with their families and coming along with spanish progress...Arriba Dragones!!

We are preparing everything for a 3 day hike from here to the most beatiful lake of the world, Atitlan...everyone is looking forward and as we anticipate this weekend for now life goes tranquilo here in Xela.

Adios y abrazos para todos!

Lp

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Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

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Speak spanish?

Los lideres,Guatemala 4-week, Summer 2007

Description

Speak spanish? Leaving Todos Santos at 5.45 am, the sunrise announced what will come in this next adventure. Jumping on a chicken bus with bananos and pan dulce, we witnessed the most amazing views in the western highlands og Guatemala. Floating in the clouds and bouncing in the dirt roads. "Para bailar la bamba se […]

Posted On

07/10/07

Author

Los lideres

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