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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008


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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' "Guatemala: Mundo Maya" 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, 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:
Arrive in Guatemala City, orientation outside of Antigua. Bus to Nebaj: history of civil war; one week of homestays and language study; trek from Nebaj to Todos Santos through villages in the Cuchumatanes Mountains.

Week Three:
Todos Santos Cuchumatanes: homestays, intensive Spanish language instruction, workshops on Guatemalan history, traditional healing, Mayan culture, weaving, marimba; volunteer in local schools; weekend hikes.

Weeks Four - Five:
Quetzaltenango language study and homestays; volunteer and service learning with NGO’s; focus on development issues, human rights, Latin music and dance; from here we’ll bus to Lake Atitlan: Service project with local school; visit the Maximon shrine, swimming and boat trips.

Weeks Five - Six:
Bus to Peten: Tikal, investigate rainforest conservation. Bus to Coban: cave exploration, swimming, waterfalls. Coban: Semuc Champey; Biotopo del Quetzal: 3-day cloud forest trek, rural home-stay with Queq’chi families; ISP presentations.

Week Six:
Bus to Antigua: service learning and volunteer with Safe Passage, disorientation and volcano climb

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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya Sample Itinerary

Dragons Administration,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ "Guatemala: Mundo Maya" 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, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for additional itinerary-related […]

Posted On

10/22/08

Author

Dragons Administration

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So many stories to share. These pics are just a small part.

Many thanks to the families who shared your wonderful children with us for the past month.

Un abrazo para todos.

Stacy, Dave and Eva

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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Pics from our final week together

Instructor Team,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

So many stories to share. These pics are just a small part. Many thanks to the families who shared your wonderful children with us for the past month. Un abrazo para todos. Stacy, Dave and Eva

Posted On

07/27/08

Author

Instructor Team

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For the past three days, we have been completing the ¨disorientation¨ part of our trip to Guatemala. This consists of debriefing the course, sharing fond memories with the group, and some minor ¨storming.¨ We´ve made it a successful experience--from presenting our ISPs (independent study projects) and going for midnight (9:30 pm) swims to adapting to the different food and culture of our final stay (a hotel called ¨Gringo Perdido¨). We all agree that at this point, ironically, that while we´re still Gringos, we´re all a little bit less perdido. As a group, and as individuals, the changes we have experienced are immense, and it has become evident through our diverse ISP presentations how much we have learned.

The ISP topics were as follows:

-The Effects of the Guatemalan Civil War on Today´s Society - Joey O´Donnell

-Mayan Medicine, Calender, and Spirituality (complimented with a ceremony) - Robbie A., Nisha D., and Jennifer R.

-Guatemalan Food and Cooking - Darcy A.

-Guatemalan Medicine through Hospital Volunteering - Brooke L. and Ailie K.

-Marimba Playing and History - Danny R.

-U.S./Guatemalan Relations - Laura Distel

-Sustainable Energy - Elisabeth W.

-Contemporary Guatemalan Politics - Gaby V. A.

-Salsa Dancing - Lauren R. and Nisha D.

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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Disorientation

Joey O´Donnell and Laura Distel,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

For the past three days, we have been completing the ¨disorientation¨ part of our trip to Guatemala. This consists of debriefing the course, sharing fond memories with the group, and some minor ¨storming.¨ We´ve made it a successful experience–from presenting our ISPs (independent study projects) and going for midnight (9:30 pm) swims to adapting to […]

Posted On

07/26/08

Author

Joey O´Donnell and Laura Distel

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Hey everyone, this past week has been devoted a lot to exploring the world of the ancient Mayans. We went to Uaxactun and Tikal to see Mayan sculptures and buildings. Uaxactun was a great dragons style area because it is basically off the map of most Guatemalan tourists, and it was an amazing place with so many Mayan ruins and things to see. We went to see the E groups, which were temples and a pyramid used to see the solstices and equinox, and we saw a ceramic museum inside the hostel/hotel where we stayed. One of the greatest things about Uaxactun was our night time adventure. I have never seen the Milky Way so clearly, it was an amazing sight. We spent the night laying seeing a few more ruins and sculpted rocks which told stories. Laying on one of the ruined buildings we took a 15 minute speaking fast and simply looked around and wondered about the Mayans. The light we were seeing from the stars was light produced at the same time that this building was part of a thriving Mayan town, that was a pretty cool thought that we talked about for a little bit.

The next day was Tikal, the majestic ancient city with an amazing story to go alongside it. In Tikal we climbed up temples and pyramids and learned about the city's history from our guide, Juan. (We also saw a spider monkey, woot. We heard howler monkeys, but didn't see them, oh well) Tikal was a great experience overall, the temples were awe inspiring and the history really painted a picture of what the town was like at its peak. The high point of Tikal for me was seeing above the jungle. It was an amazing sight. There we were, above the trees looking out for miles in all directions, with mountain ranges and Mayan temples popping through the canopy.
Now here we are, three and a half real days left in Guatemala and the adventure dwindling to an end. We've had a great run in Guatemala and we've lived in places that no tourist would even consider spending the night, and for that I am thankful. This is an amazing country with an amazing story and I'll always remember this trip and it will have a lasting impact on me.
Thanks everyone who has been following our journey through the yak yak's and everyone who made this possible for me.
Danny
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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Exploring the Mayans

Danny Rosseau,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Hey everyone, this past week has been devoted a lot to exploring the world of the ancient Mayans. We went to Uaxactun and Tikal to see Mayan sculptures and buildings. Uaxactun was a great dragons style area because it is basically off the map of most Guatemalan tourists, and it was an amazing place with […]

Posted On

07/24/08

Author

Danny Rosseau

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    [post_content] => Two nights ago a group of dragons explored the Mayan astronomical observatory at Uaxatun, hoping to tap into the magic of their ancient culture. By about 10:30 pm, the moon had fully risen and we had finally reached the obersvatory platform.  The sky was unusually clear that night, or maybe it just seemed that way to two city girls who never get to see the stars. We slowly made our way through the long, dark, and twisting passageways of the ancient stone building, leading to the top of the building, open to the night sky. We sat in an awe-struck silence (enforced by Daves speaking fast) and contemplated the spectacular view of the purple sky. Lost in our own thoughts, we realized that the light shining from the stars was created 1500 years ago, the same time that a Mayan was standing on the same observatory looking up at much younger stars.  And so we finally felt a powerful connection to the historical people that we had been learning so much about here in Guatemala, as well as their descendants whom we had lived with for so long. 
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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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One thousand five hundred years ago

Darcy Andrews, Gabriela Van Auken,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Two nights ago a group of dragons explored the Mayan astronomical observatory at Uaxatun, hoping to tap into the magic of their ancient culture. By about 10:30 pm, the moon had fully risen and we had finally reached the obersvatory platform. The sky was unusually clear that night, or maybe it just seemed that way […]

Posted On

07/24/08

Author

Darcy Andrews, Gabriela Van Auken

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    [post_content] => As we stepped into the restaurant we all felt out of place. We took the menus and, searching for beans and tortillas, found only pastas and hamburgers. Then we looked at the prices. A hamburger and fries for nearly $5! We all gasped as we noticed that tortillas cost extra and that everything cost more than 2 dollars. Yes, we were in a tourist restaurant. Not just the normal comedor but a full blown restaurant, with a fan! For the whole morning before we arrived at this restaurant we had been walking around Tikal, running into so many white people that we felt out of place. After nearly a month of living with guatemaltecos we all found the white people to look weird. And then we thought, what are we going to do when we go home and live with white people 24/7?
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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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A little too touristy

Jen Reeve,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

As we stepped into the restaurant we all felt out of place. We took the menus and, searching for beans and tortillas, found only pastas and hamburgers. Then we looked at the prices. A hamburger and fries for nearly $5! We all gasped as we noticed that tortillas cost extra and that everything cost more […]

Posted On

07/24/08

Author

Jen Reeve

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After sleeping for 5 hours, we woke up at 5:00 in the morning to catch the only bus out of Uaxatun. We spent the next 6 hours wandering around the beautiful Mayan ruins of Tikal. We were all impressed by the Mayans ability to construct such massive temples in a time when manual labor was all you had. However, by the time we crammed 15 people into a microbus meant for ten, we were exhausted. The 45 minute ride in this extreme heat put us all a little on edge, and if it were not for our next destination, some "storming" could have occured. This destination, El Gringo Perdido, is paradise. Without it we would have fallen like the Mayans. We stumbled out of the van to find a gorgeous lake, and we immediately began diving into the cool water. As if the lake werent enough, we later found that our rooms were luxurious in comparison to those weve been staying in the past 3 weeks. Not only did we have hot showers (!!), but our beds also had mattresses AND mosquito nets. We have private bathrooms with flushing toilets too. For dinner, instead of eating baskets upon baskets of tortillas, we had freshly baked bread that was warm to the touch. Although its a little strange to spend our last few days eating American food, I know we all appreciate the time we have to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings. As the end of our trip approaches rapidly, we are finding it harder and harder to say goodbye to Guatemala and each other.

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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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El Remate

Elisabeth Ward and Ailie Kerr,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

After sleeping for 5 hours, we woke up at 5:00 in the morning to catch the only bus out of Uaxatun. We spent the next 6 hours wandering around the beautiful Mayan ruins of Tikal. We were all impressed by the Mayans ability to construct such massive temples in a time when manual labor was […]

Posted On

07/24/08

Author

Elisabeth Ward and Ailie Kerr

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    [post_content] =>      After one month of living in Guatemala we can already see an impact the economic system has made on us.  50% of the world´s population lives on less than $2 a day which here is equivalent to around 15 Q.  Our instructors wanted us to experience what that 50% of the world lives like each day and we found it impossible to accomplish this daily budget for lunch alone. While searching for lunch in a slightly more expensive place, we found it difficult to buy a simple lunch for less than 10 Q.  It was also ironic that when we found a meal for 30Q ($4.5) we all said thank you and left the comedor immediately. To live on $2  a day, one must dedicate their  entire life to growing  or raising the majority of their food and living with  many compromises.  But in a country where you might only compare yourself to those who live in the same way, you are more appreciative and your expectations are ¨lower¨.  On one hand, maybe this is good because you don´t have to live with excess things but at the same time one might not strive to move up in society.  Our experiences in Guatemala have showed us that many of the things we take for granted aren´t important at all.  Although the majority of indigenous people live on a strict budget and their lives are not easy,  this is not to say that their lives are less fulfilling. 
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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Less than $2 a day

Brooke Lederer and Nisha Dhawlikar,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

After one month of living in Guatemala we can already see an impact the economic system has made on us. 50% of the world´s population lives on less than $2 a day which here is equivalent to around 15 Q. Our instructors wanted us to experience what that 50% of the world lives like each […]

Posted On

07/24/08

Author

Brooke Lederer and Nisha Dhawlikar

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Dear Reader,

The Guate 4 A Dragons have had the opportunity in the last few days to see nature in its finest, untouched state as we travel further north out of the mountains and into the flatlands. On Saturday morning, we left Nebaj after our excellent 3-day trek in the Ixil area and traveled to Laguna Lachua. Two and a half hours on a bumpy dirt road and a 3 km hike through the jungle brought us to one of Guatemala´s gems. Some think this small lake, perfectly round and over 200 meters deep, is a crater from a meteorite. There´s nothing else quite like it in Central America. Jungle literally spills over its edges into the clear, turquoise waters. This area is home to jaguars, crocodiles, howler monkeys, and over 20 species of fish. Because the area is protected, fish are abundant and literally swim around you when you hop into the comfortable waters! Lachua gave us a unique opportunity to cook all of our own meals, which students planned for and provided, and we had a cabin there all to ourselves.

Yesterday, we decided to maximize our travel up north by stopping in at Raxruja to do some cave explorations and stay the night there, rather than pushing on all the way to Uaxactun (which is our plan for today). In the early afternoon, students hopped into a pickup and headed into the rolling hills of this karst topographic region and were guided first into the white cave, which is an actual archaeological site. Deep within one of the chambers, while ducking around stalactites, we came across a variety of artifacts such as ceramic pots as well as a beautiful four-inch obsidian blade. This was a fascinating introduction to Maya ruins, where we´ll be spending our next few days in northern Guatemala. We then ventured into the mud cave, which as its name suggests, was a real mess (but lots of fun!) Then came the moment we had been waiting for, the cave innertubing. Students floated for about a half hour through dark chambers using headlamps, occasionally passing through small rapids and ¨windows¨ to the outside where the cave had collapsed from above. It was a day of adventure we won´t soon forget!

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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Pura Naturaleza

Dave Schaefer,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

Dear Reader, The Guate 4 A Dragons have had the opportunity in the last few days to see nature in its finest, untouched state as we travel further north out of the mountains and into the flatlands. On Saturday morning, we left Nebaj after our excellent 3-day trek in the Ixil area and traveled to […]

Posted On

07/22/08

Author

Dave Schaefer

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I didn´t think that I could experience more culture shock than I did on the first day in antigua. Then we went to the remote indigenous village of Cotzal, and I felt that uneasy feeling creep up on me again. Everyday necessities were missing: sufficient food, plumbing, electricity, and beds. Unknowing how to react to the scarcities, we all went into a panicky state after the first night.

After spending the three short days in Cotzal, I realized that what we experienced in the village was less of a cultural shock than a jolt of discomfort. Nothing was really missing in the pueblo; despite near destruction during the civil war and constant lack of income, the locals retained the real necessities: laughter, family and love. Growing up in a world of extreme comfort, where the line between luxury and necessity is constantly fading, this type of materialistic discomfort was completely new to me. I never thought a night without electricity or plumbing could make me so upset.

All of the precourse prep could not have prepared me for what I gained in Cotzal--an open mind. I was blinded by my own American eyes from the reality of my host family: They were sweet, wonderful, and happy people in their simple lives.

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Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

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Cotzal

Laura Distel,Guatemala 4-week, Group "A", Summer 2008

Description

I didn´t think that I could experience more culture shock than I did on the first day in antigua. Then we went to the remote indigenous village of Cotzal, and I felt that uneasy feeling creep up on me again. Everyday necessities were missing: sufficient food, plumbing, electricity, and beds. Unknowing how to react to […]

Posted On

07/18/08

Author

Laura Distel

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